100 Days of Happiness #1 – I’m still @Happsters

This is a rather mammoth task, but if in doubt begin. Each blog post from this point will include a tiny bit of happiness.

Today is easy. In fact I have 2.

1. One of my pupils stopped me in the corridor and said “Miss, the wheelchair really suits you. I’m not being rude. I mean you’re rocking it and making it look cool.”

10 points to Gryfindor and integration. I only wish she realised what that awkward teenage comment did to boost my self esteem.

Also, when can I do this to my chair? No, seriously. Make this happen Mr Geek.

image

2. I spent the evening with an old friend who I’ve not spent a proper evening with in nearly 15 years. We were childhood friends (met aged 7) and misspent our teenage years together. Despite the fact we’re now mid 30s, it was like we just picked up where we’d left off. It better not be another 15 years before we do that again!

Day 1 – nailed it.

Advertisements

Sunday Smells

It rained today. All day. Add to this that LSH has a streaming cold (which could take him from us at any time) and today looked like it wasn’t going to go well.

As it turned out, today was possibly one of the most relaxed weekend days I’ve had in weeks. All down to the new routines we have in place for ‘helping’ and my lax attitude to childcare.

This morning started with the smell of bacon. There is no better smell to wake up to (unless Johnny Depp, as Jack Sparrow doesn’t smell of bacon). And as I staggered downstairs in ruffled pyjamas and make up spread down my face I realised that not only was LSH cooking breakfast, I was up in time to get in on the action! I claim Sunday morning pre-9am my time to be completely incapable of logical thought or conversation. I’m not that much better most other mornings, but Sunday morning I verge on finding Nick Jr an academic challenge.

Breakfast done, I could smell coffee freshly brewing and this liquid nectar was just the thing needed to kick start our Homework Hour. In previous weeks, this has been horrific. Tears, snot, shouting, threats and full on sit down protests have ensued since the start of September (not just from me). But the last few weeks we have learnt about GoHenry and the power of pocket money! (The nice thing about this is not only do they get bonuses for tasks like actually doing their homework, I can deduct money for poor behaviour) They are mercenary little souls, but homework was got out, completed without fuss and done well.

20131013-203235.jpg

They instantly both logged onto their GoHenry apps to make sure next weeks pay reflected their newfound efforts, which it did. Payday is Saturday, so they still have to wait a full week for their money, but they can see it coming and both are budgeting their sweets accordingly. BeanPole even started her take home task by designing an Ancient Greek vase that she is determined to make and paint. She used a photo found online “but left out the Minotaur’s willy in case Mr T gets cross”.

20131013-205018.jpg

After an unusually pleasant homework session, it was my turn. As I sat down, the smell of LSH preparing the pork joint for slow roasting wafted through the house… Mmmm…..Session three of marking and planning for this weekend (I’m breaking it down into 3-4 hour chunks). I set a lot of tests this past week and I’m paying the price this weekend. The upside of this is the lovely progress graphs I’m collating for the term so far. This is a long half term and right now graphs are making me happy. I feel more organised and the more I feel I need to chase people to catch up, the more coloured conditional formatting I use. I am an INFJ – I need to feel in control!

A full 10 hours of marking and planning since 5pm Friday night and I feel back in control for tomorrow. I don’t begrudge this time. It’s what is needed to be effective and give the kids my full attention when I’m at school. I am pleased that I got it all done though.

While the kids played on various computer games & LSH fell asleep in front of the Grand Prix, I snuck into the kitchen with the iPad and attacked the groaning pile of ironing. The smell of the slowly melting pork loin mixed in with the lavender steam from the iron for the next two hours made the house smell lovely and warm in cold contrast to the continued miserable weather outside. Over the course of two hours I pressed and folded what felt like every item of clothing my children own, being kept going by a marathon catch up of Miranda and Mock the Week. I giggled my way through tedium.

Next followed something truly shocking. Having placed each child’s clothing in a personalised pile, when asked to take them upstairs and put them away nicely….. They did! No arguments, noises or arm swinging. I checked. In shock, I duly ticked off the ‘put clothes away’ task on GoHenry and thus another 50p was added to next weeks payday.

20131013-201730.jpg

Dinner finished by LSH, I frantically finish the apple crumble as everyone sits down to eat. Mum is shattered after being in work all weekend – more to follow on that next week… But dinner smells amazing. LSH makes a mean roast dinner and the 6 of us always make a point of making Sunday dinner a family meal. We talk. Or ‘debate’. And the kids make everyone laugh.

After dinner, it’s bath night. The kids are duly scrubbed clean for Monday morning. Hair is washed, and the lovely orangey scent of their shampoo makes me want to hug them tight and sniff their heads once I’ve dried their hair and snuggled them up warm in their pyjamas. This is not to be though as they opted so spend some of yesterday’s earnings on sweets which they had for pudding instead of my apple crumble (rude!) and were subsequently bouncing off the walls. Ah well, it’s LSH’s turn for bedtime. So while he reads them something in a low monotonous voice in the hope of boring them to sleep, I can sink into a lovely Radox filled bath and contemplate just how nice today was. And that Sundays smell really nice.

Jumping out of the private frying pan and into the state fire

It’s official. I survived the first week at school. And with some hindsight, and a steaming hot bubble bath, I am now weighing up my decision to jump out of the private frying pan and into the state fire.

20130906-201233.jpg

When I jumped ship, I got the regular low mutter of but aren’t the kids out there awful? Do you have a stab vest? Well, actually so far the kids have been more respectful! Yes, some are disaffected, but that’s a challenge that I’m up for. The atmosphere is different – my best compliment all week has been from a year 11 – “are you our new teacher? Miss, your skirt is well swag!” Cue me responding in a Miles Jupp accent… I’m afraid the posh is here to stay. Turns out my age is catching up with me, personally I thought the skirt was stylish and quirky. Who knew I had swag? Perhaps I do indeed OLO! (See? Totally down with the kids isn’t it?)

I loved my old department and I really miss some people from back in my familiar Hogwarts surroundings, I miss knowing everyone, dressing up like batman & I still can’t listen to Jerusalem with a straight face or lump in my throat, but being consistently on edge about everything, there wasn’t the atmosphere I have now. It’s manic, like the start of every term but this initial message of ‘do your best’ is taken to heart. Results count, but the pastoral side for both students and staff is just as important. On which note, I have seen my girls every night before bedtime this week. I have been home by 6pm (aside from parents evening). They have their Mummy back.

I keep waiting for the catch. But instead I just feel more confident as a teacher. I’m tired, as you should be at the end of the first week, but it’s a satisfied tired rather than the laying on the floor crying after being on duty for 15 straight hours tired that was a regular aspect of my term time.

It’s the same job description (with less system support, and more year 7s), but on another planet.

This is my arm – it translates to ‘good enough’ as in ‘your best will always be good enough’.

20130906-194913.jpg

I began to doubt that my best was ever going to be good enough last year, but I think my best probably will be here. Not because I have lower expectations, but because without the overwhelming pressure and stress, I now have the freedom to grow rather than be moulded. That rebellious streak in me just won’t allow me to be beaten down ever again. I know I’m good at this and can get even better. And B-Dog apparently also has swag!

Note: I had to read that last bit out loud. It sounds ridiculous in my southern British accent!

While The Sun Still Shines

It’s been a weird one today. It’s the final few days of the summer holidays and we’ve all got nearly September gitters. So, today was the final day spent in the open air with my friend (the wonderful Mrs GypsyTree and our tribe of kids before the kids go back to school and I go back to work and we go back to snatching a few hours together on the occasional weekend we’re both free. But for today, the sun was shining and we abandoned our homes for the top of a hill from where we can see all of our town and out to sea.

20130829-224603.jpg

We’ve said before that we don’t need to live in each others pockets to be close, and over the years we have sporadically lived in close proximity with patches of time where we are only contactable online. Despite this, we still parent each others children like we see them every day, and my girls see them as siblings rather than friends. The grown ups are given the title ‘Aunty & Uncle’ not just a respect thing, but because they are family in all but blood.

This summer has had it’s Enid Blyton moments.

20130829-224950.jpg

Although, in the background what you don’t see in these pictures is me and Mrs Gypsy huffing and puffing our way up the hill with picnic bags strapped to us venting our stresses at each other and eventually seeing what an amazing childhood we are giving the small scruffy wildlings in our care. We’re not meant to be the ones rolling down the hill. We’re there to provide the lashings of ginger beer (or shandy / water in their case), and we’ve done an admirable job of providing sustenance for tree climbing and hill rolling this year!

20130829-225246.jpg

We follow these tiny scruffians around with our cameras in the hope that we can capture just enough of this summer outside bliss for them to look back on and for us to hold on to (via rosé tinted glasses). All the time laughing at ourselves to remain sane. For the record, my walk is normal and I could teach an alien to walk very well!

These offspring of ours have spent most of this summer covered in dirt and either up a tree or rolling in long grass. I’ve never seen them so unkempt, or happy.

20130829-225536.jpg

Then there’s the tiny one. She’s nearly one. Wheasy is getting a real sense of humour and making her mum laugh. (You can see why I take lots of my parenting cues from this woman)

20130829-225753.jpg

And then Wheasy shows everyone who’s actually the boss here….

20130829-225900.jpg

This summer has been a blast. I’m mentally and physically recovered from the last term and ready for the new job and all the possibilities that come with it.

I also know that I’ve rejoined my family, immediate and extended. I’m sad that I won’t see Bam’s gorgeous smile, feel Spud charge in for a cuddle, chat with Boo about her knees, watch Bear idolize BeanPole or bore Wheasy to sleep for the next seven weeks, but half term looms and with it comes birthday parties and Halloween!

For now, thanks for making my summer guys. Don’t forget to shout BOGIES!! Xxx

20130829-230436.jpg

Whooooooooo Are You? Who who? who who?

Who am I? Well, there’s a question.

I could point to the wife, mother, teacher things but they are snippets of me. I could point put that I’ve been educated, I’ve written a book, I’ve travelled, but those are things I’ve done.

I am the sum total of all those things and many other things. One thing I am is content. Not happy, not elated, but content. This, all this, and me is enough. No massive highs, and as such no god awful lows. My 20s was a roller coaster, whereas my 30s is a rowing boat that I’m drifting along on tracing my fingers over the surface. There may be all manner of things lurking beneath the water, but I don’t care as I’m up here enjoying the sun.

I have surrounded myself with less drama, with good people, with good humour. There are aspects of life and people that I have consciously distanced myself from, which despite my misgivings has allowed me to become a more peaceful person. I have learnt that you can’t save people, they have to save themselves.

A wise lady recently told me “your friends are supposed to make you feel good, not encourage you to wallow in your pit”. I have much respect for her.

I was raised on the chalk, but I wasn’t destined to be a cheesemaker.

“Yes! I’m me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don’t understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That’s the kind of person I am!”

20130823-004759.jpg

Exam Result Jitters

Tomorrow morning will herald the standard news coverage of teenagers crying with joy and disappointment and the usual debates on whether exams are easier, harder or both than the ‘good old days’. Yes, tomorrow is exam results day for A Level students, and for the A2 students, tomorrow is the day they find out if they actually have their place at their chosen university, or not. And if not, they get to join in the fun that is ‘clearing’, or explaining to parents what went wrong.

It’s the night before, the morning everyone has been holding their breath for. And it’s not just the kids that are nervous, the teachers are feeling a bit sick too.

I know, because I am already nauseous. I will arrive at work tomorrow at 6.30am to ensure that our IT systems hold up. It feels very weird, because I’ve already mentally moved on to my new school and all preparations are focused on my school for September, but I’m going back to the old school for results.

Why am I feeling so nervous then? What possible impact could this have? I’ve left. This is my old school. Well, it’s because I care about the individual students. Every single one has had an impact on me and the way I look at teaching. Each one of them is important as a person. I’m under no illusion, that these exams impact on their lives way more than mine, and as such I have a responsibility for this to be more than just a job. It’s a conscience thing.  Cue some of that Catholic guilt really kicking in.

I’m realistic, I predict that they won’t all get A*s, but I do want them to get the grades that they deserve based upon the work they put in. I’m reasonably confident that they will. But nothing is ever certain.

For the majority of them, I believe that they have listened to my advice, taken my teaching seriously and have done their best. This is the most I could possibly hope for in my students, and I can say with my hand on my heart that I will be as thrilled for the student who I am hoping beyond all hope gets that C, as I will be for the one who I am banking on breaking the 90% barrier. Why? Because I know that that is the academic best for those individuals. I just hope that my gut feeling is right for most of them, and the few that I worry about I am wrong and they worked harder than I thought.

Whatever happens, I know I did my best from a teacher’s perspective. Your best is good enough, because you can’t give anything more. Good luck guys.