Saturday, June 28, 2008

I got tagged!!

I got tagged by Maddie! OK...

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was working weekends in the library, doing other odd hours in other jobs here and there when I could around school hours and Barney's shifts, not yet writing to any great extent and doing the full-on parenting thing with children of 8 and 4 years old.

Five things on your to-do list for today:
It was my birthday during the week so we're planning a day out - local house and garden, meal out early evening, etc. But erm, well, I'll also clean out the guinea pigs and I've just written a thank you letter. What could number five be...? Four's enough for a weekend day surely? Or maybe I'll have time to write to the taxman about a small refund I suspect they owe me.

What are three of your bad habits?
Moderate, inelegant swearing.
Watching Big Brother (definitely qualifies as a bad habit)
Jumping to terrible conclusions when anything just mildly dodgy happens.

What would you do if you were a billionaire?
I really don't want to be a billionaire, so I'd give away all except £500,000, probably to the hospice movement as it's a national scandal that hospices don't get funding directly from government.
I've also always fancied setting up a little music promotion operation - the kind of thing where you arrange for acts to appear in back street pubs and little places - low key. Could I do that with £500,000?
And I'd like to visit a few places - maybe starting with Copenhagen and Barcelona.

What are some snacks you enjoy?
Lemon curd sandwiches

What were the last five books you read?
Two tractors
Shopaholic ties the knot
Getting the buggers to behave
Teaching today: a practical guide (in progress)
Wannabe a writer? (just started - a birthday present)

What are five jobs you have had?
Editor (yes! and they paid me! and I loved it!)
National Travel office assistant
Census enumerator

Five places that you have lived?

Thanks, Maddie! Not sure anyone reads this who I could tag, so maybe I'll leave that bit till later...but just as a general question - who would you choose to play you in a film of your life? I'm nabbing Diane Keaton.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A story earning its keep

Yippee, sold a story this week - haven't done that in ages, altho' I'm down from my usual (last year) average of 20+ out at once to maybe 5. I have others out there but it's so long since I waved them off that I've given up all hope of them finally triumphing - more likely they'll return at some point, shoulders slumped and tails between their legs.

But anyway, this story - I think it's the first time I've sent a story on its way only twice and it's sold to both magazines it's been offered to.

Now, where else can I send it?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A bit of a do

Barney's joint 60th and retirement party tonight - his birthday was last month and his retirement (he hopes) is next month so we're somewhere between the two. We've booked the band (Bob Dylan tribute band), organised the food and venue, and sent out the invitations. But for me the big thing was remembering I'd have to plan Monday's lesson sometime last week rather than this weekend. At the moment I'm averaging seven hours preparation for a 90 minute lesson - that'll have to change, won't it?

Blow up beds have been found and positioned for guests, extra pillows and bedding have been purchased, full English breakfast foods have been added to this morning's shopping list. I've even dusted! But do I know what to wear? Nope. Not yet feeling grown up enough for anything smart, I'm idling through middle age with a selection of casual and sometimes vaguely ethnic clothes, none of which are remotely suitable for Barney's big night. I think it might have to be the newer pair of cropped jeans. They'll do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Well, would you??

'Would you have sex on the beach?'
Sandra, who's 18 and desperately trying to entertain herself in a class where she's by far the most able, looks up at me with mischievous, puppy dog eyes.
'Absolutely not, ' I answer. 'Too much sand - it gets everywhere.'
She laughs and goes back to her chatting.
'I really like you,' she says later, with the usual slight mocking edge. It's another distraction technique.
'Thank you, I like you too. Now, you need to start your writing on...'

I choose who to approach next: Candy, with the sulky face who gives off Don't Mess With Me vibes?; hyperactive and dyslexic Drew who's bright as a button with an unmatched ability to go off at a conversational tangent?; equally hyperactive and dyslexic Ahmed, who has an alleged penchant for knife collecting? They all have their own quirks, problems and charms. And sometimes, just when you think you've had the rubbishest lesson in history, one of them will say something that makes you think it's worthwhile after all.

Yesterday that didn't happen. After an averagely bad lesson, sweet Saffron, she of the dry stone wall face and the giggly manner, (I know, I know, unusual combination), came by. Seemingly, the place she moved to a few weeks ago 'isn't for her' and she's coming back to us. Oh joy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Adding a few links

I'm hoping no one minds if I add links to their blogs. I read quite a few regularly. Very regularly. Voraciously, even.

Hmmm, Add a Page Element and Maddie Moon seem to be incompatible - will add you later, Maddie.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Filin' groovy

A quiet day in Honeysuckle House so I'm sorting out my growing collection of teaching resources - well, the paper ones anyway. The previous system - cardboard files, stacked horizontally - has its limits.

I'm aiming to fit it all into a series of Lever Arch files and A4 pockets. Don't you just love A4 pockets? Me too. Unfortunately I'm starting to think there aren't enough A4 pockets in the world for the amount of stuff I've amassed in eight months of teaching just six hours a week. How did it happen? And what should I do with it all?

Should I shove it all in together and sift through the whole lot every time I need something? Should I just keep copies on disk? Should I come over all alphabetical and attempt some rudimentary order? If so, supplementary question coming up: do 'synonyms and antonyms' come under 'dictionary use' or are they separate?

Can you see how I'm struggling? It's going to be a long night.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Who's bad?

In the observation report I collected from the college office today, my kindly mentor has highlighted the good parts of Monday's lesson and downplayed the lack of discipline. Okay, she's mentioned discipline a couple of times but seeing as bad behaviour was the main feature of the morning, that's not too bad.

Meanwhile, there are big changes happening at home which put greater pressure on me to find a job pronto. Am no good with pressure. Or change. So now is not a very good time for me.

A fellow student has passed on details of a job locally, teaching basic skills to vulnerable people - not sure I even qualify to apply, but I may give it a whirl. Anyway, I like vulnerable people much more than cocky, successful, confident, competent, happy ones, so I may even be able to summon up some enthusiasm for it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Well almost...

Raucous hyperactivity marked the (belated) last of my observed teaching practice sessions yesterday. An over-exuberant, over-large class of huge, late-teen boys and giggling, mobile-phone-wielding girls ran rings round me and guffawed in the face of my attempts to bring order to the lesson. Oh and there were a couple of quiet ones in there too. At one point the department manager was also in there demanding quiet - the effect of that lasted about a minute in noise terms but probably forever in relation to the undermining of my authority. (I know! - what authority?)

Maybe I'm not cut out to be a teacher.

And yet...every other observed lesson has been okay, if not excellent. And those big, laughing, noisy lads quite enjoyed the activities I'd devised. And they all learned something. Most of them learned quite a lot. And there was a good atmosphere in the room.

Think I'll just lick my wounds for a few days before I consider my options.