Thursday, 30 October 2014

8 things that happen to teachers during the October midterm break

1. You forget about Bank Holiday Monday because other people's glorious "long weekend" is a drop in the ocean next to your full week off!

2. You try to relax and realised that you don't remember how.

3. You let the adrenaline rush that kept you going through the last weeks of school wash out of your system when, BAM, that common cold hits you. Tissues at the ready!
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4. Home-bound due to that cold, you wrap yourself up on the couch and catch up on an entire series of a TV programme in one day. Congratulations, you've remembered how to relax!
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5. You annoy friends in other jobs about meeting up until they remind you that they are NOT ON HOLIDAYS! This leads you to take up a three-day long hobby such as knitting or sketching. You swear you'll make time for this when school begins again. (You won't!)
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6. The weekend arrives and you don that Halloween costume for the second time. Nobody is surprised or impressed as they've seen your "look what I wore to school" selfies from the Halloween party at work.

7. Tired after Halloween festivities with friends and having become the king/queen of procrastination, you realise that it's Sunday and it's time to do all of that work you vowed to do over the holidays.
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8. Having finished a fraction of the work you had intended to do, you crawl into bed late on Sunday night, ready to be as exhausted on Monday as you were before the midterm break.
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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Posters du PP (de l'IB) en français

For the attention of any teachers working in an IB school where French is taught: 

I have just added a French version of my bumper poster kit to my TPT store. It costs $10 and includes 5 different sets:
  • Profil de l’apprenant de l’IB
  • Savoir-être du PP
  • Concepts clés du PP
  • Savoir-faire transdisciplinaires du PP
  • Thèmes transdisciplinaires du PP

All of the sets are available individually but, if you want all of them, it's cheaper to purchase the bumper kit.

Click on any of the images below to view them in the French section of my TPT store.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

3 months' holidays for teachers - is it enough?

A previous post of mine seems to have sparked a lot of debate. I moderate all comments (to prevent spam) but I have published all related ones. The post in question was written in jest and was intended to be a light-hearted comment on some of the ways teachers can drive people mad! However, lots of comments rolling in on it show that it struck a nerve with some people. The main topic of debate is the subject of how hard-working teachers actually are. Here's my take on it (not in jest this time!).

I'll get right to the point. Do I think teachers actually need three months' holidays? No! Of course not! I must say that having half-term breaks, Christmas Holidays and Easter holidays are a fantastic way for teachers to recharge their batteries and start into the following weeks with more energy and a clear head. I definitely am more focused after a week off. Does it need to be a week? No. I'm sure an extra-long weekend would provide the same results. Do we need two full months to relax during the summer? Absolutely not! I'm just thankful that we have that perk in this line of work!

Teachers often complain of being over-worked and stressed out. Does this occur in other professions? Yes! Then why do we hear so much about teachers "needing" a week off to get their energy levels back up? In my opinion, the root of this problem lies in the fact that the amount of work teachers need to do and the deadlines that need to be met are up to the individual person. It's not always clear to a teacher when to stop and it's often not easy to stop thinking about work. 

In a profession that is increasingly becoming more "textbook free" and where the age-old method of "chalk and talk" is being abandoned (thankfully!), teachers are under enormous pressure to create a myriad of lesson ideas and resources. Not just that, they also have to meet the needs of children with a variety of learning styles and of very different abilities. This takes a lot of time and effort. 

Then you've got the problem that many teachers don't have a benchmark for their teaching and learning. In many schools, you don't get enough feedback. How can you know if you're putting too much into your planning and preparation? If you don't know the answer to the question, "Is it good enough?" or "Am I going about it the right way?" then you can spend far too much time on something that doesn't warrant it.

After careful planning and preparation, a school day is far from stress-free. You've got to be incredibly flexible (timetables change, accidents occur, lessons don't always go to plan), full of energy, hold a class' attention, manage disputes between pupils and guide learning. That's the easy part, where you know very clearly what needs to be done. Once the children go home, you're facing into correcting work, modifying plans (based on what you've noticed about the children's learning), preparing resources for the following days, perhaps meeting with a parent to speak about a child's needs and if it's that special time of the year, prepare for reports or parent-teacher conferences, help to write a script for a show... 

I've just listed a very busy job description. Is it worse than that of a flight attendant, a doctor, an engineer or a person who works in a bar? It's very subjective. (Just to note, in all jobs, you'll find people who work harder than others and those who are lazy and unmotivated). Certainly, in all of the above professions, your shifts can be tiring and you may not have time to think properly. The difference to me is that, with many other jobs, you leave your shift and it is over. Yes, you may need a while to wind down if somebody you encountered during the day (a customer, a colleague, a boss) has bothered you or if you didn't have much time to sit and have a break. 

To me, a huge problem with teachers is that they can't see when their working day ends. It's very clear that when the children go home, the teaching part of your day is over. It's not so clear as to how long you should spend on "the other stuff." Personally, I struggle with this too. I find it very hard to close the laptop and say, "I'm finished. I don't need to think about work until the morning."

In summary, it's useless to argue about who works harder. People in all walks of life are over-worked or stressed out due to long hours, a high level of responsibility, dealing with conflict in the workplace, etc. For those of you who have chosen to be in a profession where you get paid to do whatever you like during the summer, savour every minute of it. You are so lucky! However, during the busier 10 months of the year (and I need to listen to my own advice here), try to find ways to manage your time so that your working day has an end. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Halloween Costume Reveal

As promised, here are a couple of pics of the Hallowe'en costume that I wore to work today. This wedding dress (a charity shop buy that cost less than a tenner) has served me well with this being it's fourth outing. I made the bouquet of flowers from black tissue paper and twigs.

I'd love to share some pictures of the children but unfortunately I can't! They had some wonderful costumes and make up and really got into the spirit of it.

We're very fortunate to have extremely creative school directors who created a house of horrors that I can't find enough words to describe. The children entered through a pitch black tunnel maze. The only way to find your way through is by feeling the corners. Along the tunnel, there are cobwebs, fake rats and bubble  wrap to create spooky sensations. As you exit, two more "surprises" roared and jumped towards you. Amazing!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Simple but striking door decoration idea

Hi all,

I hope you're all in the Hallowe'en mood. It's definitely my favourite celebration of the school year!

I wanted to share this great door display that my colleague made. All you need is a sheet of black paper, a sheet of yellow paper, a roll of toilet paper, scissors and tape et voilà!

It's really quite striking and the children loved it today. Sometimes the simple ideas are the best!

Here's a quick collage of what's been going on in my room. Be sure to stop by my blog tomorrow to check out my Halloween costume. I've been busy working on parts of it when the children were outside at playtime.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

10 Reasons NOT to date a girl who teaches

This post entitled "Date a Girl Who Teaches" has popped up in my Facebook news feed a few times this weekend. So I've decided to have a look at the opposite point of view. Here are my reasons not to date a girl who teaches (in no particular order)!

1. "Sunday Sads:" Anyone who knows a teacher, knows the pain of last-minute Sunday planning. She will question, "Why did I not start sooner?" Your job is to listen to her hysterical ranting and leave her to do her planning in peace!

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2. Holidays galore: If you have a "normal" job then you'll have to put up with the other extreme of when she's on holidays, completely relaxed and you've still got to work. If she ever mentions not having enough time off, do not, I repeat, do NOT, under any circumstances mention the amount of holidays she has! It won't end well.

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3. Friday nights: Once your girl manages to crawl home after school on Friday, completely devoid of any energy, she will do one of the following: 1. Be sensible and have a nap then enjoy a Friday night with you or 2. Kid herself into thinking she has an energy reserve that the children haven't tapped into and end up falling asleep on you as you watch a movie or going out and yawning her way through the night.

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4. You'll be subjected to children's songs: Every now and then, a song that she has been teaching the children will get stuck in her head and you will hear it on repeat for the weekend. There is no known cure for this phenomenon. Just try not to let it get to you too!

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5. Romantic shopping trips won't happen: So you two want to have a nice stroll through the streets and do a bit of window shopping? Take heed. Anywhere that sells stationery or craft materials, discount stores and bookshops may lead to the loss of your girlfriend for several hours.

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6. You can't throw anything away: Teachers tend to be hoarders. You might think you're doing some good in the world by putting that cardboard roll in the recycling bin. But your girlfriend doesn't see it as just a mere cardboard roll. To her it's a Halloween decoration, a flower, an angel, a car, a fish.... Living with a teacher often means keeping several piles of rubbish for months on end.
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7. You may become her personal cutting and laminating service: Don't reveal your skills with a scissors. This may result in spending your weekend cutting things out, laminating them and, wait for it, CUTTING THEM OUT AGAIN! 

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8. She will never admit to being sick: This will drive you mad! Teachers suffer from the exact opposite of manflu. Sneezing every 3 seconds? Nah! It's nothing! 

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9: People will ask you how many kids you have: as she refers to her class as "my kids" even in social situations.

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10. She might suddenly get jumpy and drag you away when she sees one of her students out and about. 

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Sunday, 12 October 2014

An unusual day at work (in the 1500s!)

Hi all, 

It's been a busy time lately at school so this post is just to give you a quick peek at my Friday at work (and maybe a make you laugh immaturely).

One of the great things about our school is that we go on a trip for every unit of inquiry. In preparation for my next unit of inquiry about the local area, we went to a castle. They had some clues hidden in different rooms which held the children's attention and the best bit was that we got to dress up (teachers and children) in medieval costumes and do a mini-show. It amazes me how unusual your working day can be in this profession!

I couldn't help giggling at these crests around the castle. The man who owned it had a surname similar to the word for a certain part of the male anatomy. So, yes, that's three pairs you see in the family crest. Legend has it that he was so manly, he had THREE of them! Our tour guide told the children they were "upside-down little hearts!"