tinyjo: (cat don't care)
Went to training at my new school on Thursday and the positive vibe definitely continues - I have a really good feeling about the move. We sorted out my application for the leadership course they want to put me on next year and they're right behind the writing assessment project I've got planned which will take forward what I've done this year. Also, on a geeky note, they want to buy me what looks like an *amazing* smart TV thing to use as my interactive board for my classroom, which would be super exciting. I really hope it arrives before the holidays so I can have a play with it over the break as it'll be quite different from what I've used before. Obviously the shiny video on the product website is always a bit misleading but it does look like I should be able to do some really quite neat stuff with it eventually, including controlling stuff on the kids screens and so on.

I am really enjoying the garden at the moment and I can't get over how much more light it gets now that we've had the horse chestnut next door cut back. It does mean that the decking is in full sun in the middle of the day though so I might have to buy a patio umbrella to sit under - it's not good for the laptop, if nothing else! Generally though, it's all looking really nice and the kittens love playing out there. They're only allowed out under supervision at the minute, but soon they'll be having their ops and then we hope to retire the litter tray - not a minute too soon!
tinyjo: (laden coal creature)
Somehow, coming back from a holiday always seems to mean that I've fallen so far behind with things that I have to scramble to catch up again. Thus, I see that I haven't written here since getting back from the Caribbean, even though that was about a month ago now. I think this was compounded by the fact that (a) I was sick for a lot of the Christmas holiday and so didn't manage to get much done then, so I felt like I was trying to catch up for most of term 3, (b) we were away for most of half term, which is when I would normally get caught up with things and (c) the amount of pressure we're under as a result of the ridiculous farce that is KS2 assessment this year means that there's much more work than normal to keep up with. Still, I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere, which is nice and probably not unconnected with the fact that there's more daylight and the occasional glimpse of sun. I even went out and did some garden cleaning up last weekend.

I'm finding the whole thing with assessment this year is really weighing on my mind - I seem to be spending much more time than usual feeling really stressed out or, alternatively, furious with the DfE for putting us in this ridiculous position. We're teaching practically nothing but Maths and English at the moment, even in the afternoons, which is depressing and tiring for all concerned but given that there's no way we're going to reach the targets set this year, we have to show that we've done everything possible to achieve them. Parents evening consisted of a lot of me saying to parents "the expectations have been massively raised this year and while your child would have met the old writing targets, they won't meet the new ones". A few parents asked why the expectations have been raised so much, which is a fair question, and it took all my self restraint not to just say "Because the DfE are fuckwits who don't know what they're doing and have no idea about how teaching and learning actually happens".

Between all that, and the current behaviour of the democratically elected government, I am currently giving serious consideration to leaving the country. Unfortunately, it looks as if my teaching qualification would not be accepted in Canada, which is annoying, so I'll have to look into doing some further study before we could do anything about it, but that's not the end of the world and will hopefully be useful even if things change and we end up not flitting. Bah. I miss just being able to enjoy my job. At least SATs are in May - after that, we can have some fun again, but right now, it feels like a long time coming.

I need to think about what I want to do next educationally anyway, as I'm about to finish my OU degree. Currently, I've reached the bit of this course which I find least interesting, but at least it doesn't matter too much as my mark in this module is irrelevant to my end result and there is another interesting bit before the end. I just can't find it in me to like Dickens! I rather surprised myself in the last assignment by actually writing a poem though, which was a completely unexpected but rather interesting experience. I don't see it starting a trend or anything but it was still very rewarding as a one of experiment.
tinyjo: (who's a rock star?)
Yesterday was the first time in what feels like a really long time that I woke up and felt like I actually had energy and was more well than sick. This has been the most horrible cold season and who knows, maybe this is just a brief respite, but it's really putting me in a good mood. For most of last week, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I needed to do, mostly at school, but also sorting out home maintenance stuff and so on and I feel really pleased that I made the firm decision on Monday that I was going to abide by one of my original stipulations when I decided to try the gym thing and accept that I was not well and that I therefore did not have enough spoons or energy to go to the gym so I skipped Monday and Wednesday without making myself feel bad about it, so yay for positive planning!

One of the things that has been stressing me out, apart from the massive volume of marking that year 6 seems to require, is the fact that my Grenada trip is now pretty close and as part of that, two Grenadan teachers are visiting our school starting next week. I have to host one in my class part of the time, so that's kind of daunting, but also, I have to get a massive amount of stuff planned and ready for when I am away so that my colleagues who are still here don't suddenly have double workload! I spent about a hour of my PPA time yesterday just getting my head around the timetable for the next few weeks because we also have to fit in all our mid year assessments before I go and so I got up to make a cup of tea kind of resigned to doing a bunch of planning this weekend, but as luck would have it, the next few sets of maths objectives are ones that we taught last year as well so I was able to have an incredibly productive couple of hours in which I managed to not only plan, but resource and create the smarthboards for all the maths teaching up to the end of this half term! That took a massive weight off my mind and made me feel just really positive about life and everything - I've missed having bursts of productivity!

So far, I've managed to keep it up today as well. We've had our shower cubicle re-done and as we're not allowed to use it until tomorrow, I have been taking advantage of the dryness to touch up the paint on the ceiling and I'm just about to go up and sort out the floor tile grouting too. I also had a gym session that, while I wouldn't go so far as to describe it as enjoyable, was definitely satisfying. I've managed to figure out a routine for using the elliptical that makes me feel like I am challenging myself but is not too horrible/exhausting and, because I was later than I was in previous weeks, the pool was really quiet - so much so that I'll probably aim for this sort of time next week.
tinyjo: (wine)
Seem to have got rather sucked into busyness at work and having horrible colds in the last quarter of the year! Ah well. Rather than completely paper over that period, let's see if I can manage at least some info about what I got up to.

5 things about October 2015 )

5 things about November 2015 )

5 things about December 2015 )
tinyjo: (relaxing)
Well, this is my final MAST day in Reading. Quite a few people haven't turned up and to be honest, I wish I was one of them - so far no useful content at all and I have a ton of work to do this weekend :( Still, I did get the chance to sing along while driving, which is always a pleasing experience.

I've finally had my day off for next year confirmed and I will not be working on Fridays, which is what I always hoped for because we do Big Maths and Big Write on Fridays so I'll be able to do the whole teaching of the week and my job share will then just do those independent tasks plus whatever he picks for the afternoons (which we haven't talked about yet). It also opens up the prospective of long weekends albeit with Brownies still on Fridays to negotiate around, which is lovely. I only be doing one academic course (which I'm really looking forward to) and hopefully I'll have a bit of actual free time! There's the prospect of having a really good year of just developing my own thing.
tinyjo: (webdesigner - chez geek)
Abkhazi GardenWell, I didn't actually manage to post any more while on holiday, despite taking a day off to do work in* which I could have easily combined with posting but there we are. Victoria turned out to be absolutely beautiful. The place we were staying turned out to be lovely, if a little bizarre. The first night, we ended up being upgraded to the Parlour Suite, which was absolutely crammed with antiques of all periods and satin pillow covers. They were rather bemused that we seemed to prefer one of the less ornate ones when we finally got moved into there after a couple of days! Still, the breakfasts were lovely, the manager was very sweet and it was conveniently close to [personal profile] aveleh and the city centre (sorry, center).

Amongst the lovely things to do in Victoria that we indulged in, under the guidance of the above mentioned lovely [personal profile] aveleh, we went whale watching (and saw some actual whales!), visited the BC museum and the Maritime museum, visited the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (highly recommended, btw), basked on the beach and taken a wine tour. I hadn't really associated Canada with wine but apparently it's the Provence of North America. We did actually try some rather good wines. We bought a few back and quite a few fruit wines, which I hadn't really tried before and so seemed well worth bringing home - I can thoroughly recommend blackberry desert wine, for example. As you might have noticed if you have been on Flickr, we also went to two beautiful gardens - the Butchard garden, which is lovely, and very well known, and the Abhkazi garden, which was absolutely gorgeous and somewhat overlooked and quiet. I actually preferred the slightly smaller scale of the Abhkazi garden, which you could imagine actually being someone's real garden and being enjoyed as such.

Back home now and the cats have more or less remembered who we are again, which is nice. I've finally finished a first draft of my assignment this afternoon, which is a relief, now I just have to get the rest of the medium term plans done and get my classroom sorted out! Fortunately, Mum and Dad are coming over to help with the latter as there seems to be a huge amount of stuff still to put away. I've been trying to figure out what to do with the new Computing curriculum as we're free to use it now if we want. It'll definitely still need work, but I think trying to get a handle on it now is a good start. We're doing online interaction this term so I've set up a class blog and signed up for a service which matches you up with three other class blogs so that you can take turns to provide audiences for each other, which strikes me as a really good way of getting the kids to actually engage with posting. Maybe I'll even try a class twitter account again - I might even actually manage to post in it :)

* No really. I was stressing about the amount I had to do before the start of term so decided to sit down and write the Maths medium term plan, as all the material I needed for that was online. Yes, I know, I'm sad.
tinyjo: (who's a rock star?)
Well, am back to school - first 2 days done! Like my new class a lot - they are excellent listeners when we have class discussions, although there's one or two who have trouble getting back to quiet after they've been doing group work and they like to do a surprising amount of wandering about. We are making model Mars rovers and then putting delicate scientific experiments in them represented by eggs to see if we can land them - it's great fun!

Inset went pretty well as well - my presentation was very well received by everyone, and I got lots of positive feedback. I also spent lots of time in the afternoons fixing people's tech problems - I love my collegues but they're like little lost lambs when it comes to anything technical :) I got a round of applause at the staff meeting because I had printed out their classes Mathletics passwords on stickers.

I have been having a super organised phase in the last week or so, which is quite exciting. I used to be like this a lot but I really haven't been much in recent years. I've actually done the Brownies and Guides accounts and updated all the records as well as getting started on my OU stuff and getting lots of stuff done for school - bizarre but satisfying! I think my body has finally adjusted to an earlier diurnal rhythm - it's so much easier to get up in the mornings than it used to be - and I think maybe that's helping.
tinyjo: (sunflower)
Well, if I had any doubts about whether it was worthwhile buying my tablet, I can be reassured by the fact that I left it at school accidentally (at least I really hope I did - I was using it to read an ebook to my class so that we'd have enough copies that they could read along with regular books) and am really really missing it today. Normally I would lie around and read a book in bed and then get up and futz around on the internet while sitting in my comfy chair with it. I am actually missing it enough that I popped over to school because I thought they were open for ballet classes and stuff (they weren't actually, which was annoying) to see if I could find it.

In other only semi-in-my-brain related news, this is the first week in which Alex has gone to Oxfam and will be buying books which will end up at school which will actually be paid for by school money! I talked to Rach (our head) and she's agreed to fund us improving our bookshelves by, you know, having some books on them through giving Alex a list of writers and just buying the bloody things. I asked my class for suggestions and got a list of about 20 authors so that should keep us busy for a while!

Also, I am spending far too much time thinking about the experience machine. I wish I could do the last assignment on it but the question about it bears no relation to my thoughts on it so I might have to do something else! I have now started the registration process for my next OU course (Themes in the history of Wales), which is a small one so that I can also do a Masters level course next year without buggering up my transitional funding arrangements for my OU study. My school are offering/asking to fund me to train as a Mathematics Specialist Teacher. It looks interesting and comes to 60 points of Masters study (out of 180) over two years. I emailed Oxfordshire to ask about applying and got an email back saying "Yes, you can totally have a place!" which was a bit unnerving, but I think Rachel had already talked to the person there about me so hopefully it's just that and not that anyone can have a place for the asking! As a result, I'm also being made Maths co-ordinator, as our current one is about to go off and have a baby, so I'm also going to be applying for a salary bump, which I really hope I get as it comes with extra non-contact time attached so I'll be able to cover the extra work! It's a really good opportunity, but I feel very early in my teaching career to be taking on this much responsibility! There seem to be a lot of exclamation marks in there, which feels not quite right. There should be an uncertainty mark or something that I could use.
tinyjo: (Default)
Well, having spent 2 days fruitlessly trying to figure out what causes remote desktop to crash every time I try to connect to our school SIMS server, I would like to recommend Terminals - a free RDP (and many other remote protocols) programme which connected first time without problems and seems to allow me to save my credentials as well, which never seemed to work properly on Remote Desktop for me. Now I can finally get back to faffing around with all the other pre-school starting stuff I have to do!

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tinyjo: (Default)
Emptied of expectation. Relax.

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