Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Year Over and a New One About to Begin... in Approximately 8 Hours and 7 minutes.

(I started this post on the 31st of December, but I became a little side tracked. So, just pretend you are reading this three days ago).

It's 3:53pm here on the last day of 2010 here in my pub home in west London. In an hour and a bit I'll start work. I don't really mind working New Year's Eve. It'll be a festive atmosphere and I won't have to spend a penny. On Sunday I'll take the train back to Hastings to start school again on Tuesday.

Up until this year coming up (the one that's already begin- Ed) I have not been a bigger setter of New Year's Resolutions, but I've got a few in mind this time. So here we go...

1. To maintain regular posts here. I don't keep a diary and I am quite forgetful of the little details of the past, so this will serve as a reminder of these times.
The measure will be when regular = at least 1 post per week.

2. To make my way back home. Measure will be based on geographical location as at 31st December 2011. However, this resolution is flexible, it would be a bit of a closed door to all other opportunities otherwise. The simple truth is that while UK is good, it's just not great in the way Aotearoa is.

This is not a secret resolution, nor is it a R18 high in sexual content resolution. I just can't quite articulate it into words yet.

I have spent most of 2010 letting the outside in, absorbing all the people and experiences of the year and thinking a great deal about it all. I would like 2011 to be the year of letting the inside out. The measure will be subjective. I never used to think of myself as a strongly creative person, mostly because I believed that to be creative I must do things like write a masterful piece of literature or paint amazing art or master a musical instrument and compose something outstanding.

I have realised the slightly massive flaws in this logic. Taika helped a bit, but the truth was rising to the surface anyway.


It seems that creativity and ideas can come to the surface in a myriad of ways that can seem pointless and irrelevant to the straight square eye. Really, it's about the little things done in the day to day, as much as the massive things that we become known for.

And that's about as much explaination as I'm willing to give for now. We'll (note the inclusive pronoun) just have to see how this manifests itself in 2011.

Watch this sphere (see what I did there).

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's times like these one must be glad one is not going home to family for christmas

Saturday's plans had to be put on hold as my 90minute journey to London turned into a six hour ordeal. We got as far as Tonbridge, before being told we had to head in the opposite direction to Ashford. Part of this wee journey meant spending an hour sitting on the tracks just outside Ashford International Station waiting for a platform to clear. Ironically, we eventually we made it to London on a European high speed train on its way through from France. Then, the Tube was suffering delays. Luckily, and wonderfully, I was going to a christmas dinner partee, so I arrived to good friends, food and wine. Ahhhh...

Back at the pub in Chiswick, we are serving customers who have back tracked from Heathrow where flights have been cancelled. It makes me glad I am at my christmas destination. Now I just need to get the Christmas shopping done.

In Sainsbury's this morning I was a little bewildered to hear over the loudspeaker something like this: "This is a customer announcement, could Sister Mary please make herself known to staff. Sister Mary, please come to the Customer Service Desk". I wondered if they were going to tell the Sister that her expected order won't arrive until Saturday.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Last Day of Term in a Winter Wonderland

The last day of term dawned with a new light dusting of snow on the ground. The kids arrived cheerfully, some in Christmas attire, with cards and presents to give to their friends. The mood was definitely a cheerful one. Sometime around midday the students were stuffed into the hall to watch the Christmas Revue, that is with the exception of those who had lost their privilege to watch it. This included one of my Year 11 students who had grown his own tobacco. He was caught when his mate brought some to school and tried to sell it. The enterprising lad was fixing one of my blinds in class when a receptionist came in and told me I needed to escort him to a classroom to sit the revue out.

The show was a good mixture of the school's talent. There were a lot of youngsters displaying their singing skills, with X Factor style songs (anyone outside of the UK should count themselves lucky they don't have to endure the hype and stupidity of this TV show). In between this and the hip hop number, the teachers' Take That impression and a couple of others the head teacher came out to say things like "Lucy and Alfie Gillard your parents are here to pick you up now as it is snowing very heavily in your village and they want to get you home".

I had some hint as to what the final number would be a couple of days ago when one of my Year 11 students had put up his hand and asked "This may seem a bit irrelevant Miss, but where did you get your stockings from?". Seven young men, mostly head students and prefects dressed up as night-club going young women and seemed to enjoy their new identities immensely as they danced to some of today's chart topping pop hits.

By the time we stepped out of the school hall it was snowing and, as is traditional, the teachers stood on the school steps and waved goodbye to the students as they left in their buses, the snow falling in the background, everything white.

The staff 'buffet' turned out to be a few platters of chips, cold sausage rolls and bowls of olives with a few bottles of beer and wine thrown in. Still, can't go scoffing at a free lunch. After less than an hour of farewells and eating, everyone high-tailed it out of there before the snow locked them in.

Today I am hoping to get to London. But every train service out of here has been 'amended' because of the snow. I'm not quite sure whether this means there are no trains running, or I just have to wait six hours until the next one. I have no idea where I'll be tonight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A new song for xmas...

This morning in assembly the students had a lecture about the 'real' meaning of christmas from the religious education teacher Mrs Pope (her real name). She asked the students how they thought various christmas items symbolised god's love. First on the list was the christmas tree. One young boy put his hand up and said "it's a pagan symbol and was used by the pagans to celebrate their festival"
"Err, yes," she replied, "it's true that the christmas tree comes from Germany, but that's not the answer I'm looking for". She went on to explain that because the tree was evergreen it represented the eternal hope for humanity. Although the young boy put his hand up at every opportunity for the rest of the assembly, he was not chosen again to contribute.

I always find it hard to hear young people being (in my opinion) lied to. A slight bit of respite came this evening when a friend posted this:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A bit of light relief

I have and I will go on a lot about the quality of British television. Most Brits will bemoan it as decreasing in quality, but like anything there are gems amongst the dirt.

One show I have come to love is called Have I Got News for You which has been running for some twenty years. It basically a show where people mock and criticise the events of the week. It's what the NZ show 7 Days is based on. I think it's brilliant, funny and accurate. For the last nine years it has had a guest host, this came about because the previous host Angus Deayton had to resign. It came out that he had been hosting prostitutes in hotel rooms and snorting cocaine. Below are the best bits from the show that followed these revelations...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

To Sir/Miss, with Respect.

It's a unique kind of burden being a high school teacher. I am again learning the ways things can weigh heavy on your heart, the things you endure just to get those little successes.

When I first started teachers' college, I thought about the few teachers who had influenced and impacted upon my life. Mostly it was the feeling that they cared about me, they took time to help me. They made me think differently, or introduced new and exciting things. I've never got around to thanking any of them, I hope I will, but I possibly may not for various reasons. I figured then that if I had that kind of impact on any of my students, I will probably never know about it, or at least not until I am very old, that is if I had any kind of impact at all. Based on that reasoning,I figured I could fool myself into thinking I was inspiring my students, they just hadn't realised it yet. Silly as it sounds, it was that thought that helped me get through many a tough day.

Since leaving the Land of the Long White Cloud, I've had a lot of my former students become my friend on facebook. For some of them, I think I am just helping to boost their friend count, but I occassionally get messages from them telling of all the activities they have been up to, their plans for the future. Last night I got a message from a girl I taught last year that really struct me. This shy, yet immensely talented young woman told me how I was one of two teachers who had literally changed her life. It must have taken a lot for her to say it, and I am all the more grateful for it.

It fills me with slight sadness that I never developed a passion for music until I was in my 20s. I would have liked to have spent my teens learning to play music, but my music teachers never took much notice of me. I think if I had been in Richard's class that might have been different, he probably would have leaped upon my shy interest and put an instrument in my hand, signed me up for lessons, said encouraging things. I think similar things about History if I had been in MoE's class, or Drama if I'd been in Fflur's class or ICT if I'd been in TSB's class (except that we didn't have computer classes when I started high school).

When I get back to school I think I might print out the message and glue it somewhere I'll see everyday, in my diary or planner maybe.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010