"It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching."
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene II.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

I love teenagers!

Staff House Challenge in Traditional Dress -
Our new Principal, Andy Fraser,
in his kilt. :-)
Wow! What a week! It has been my first week back at school after half a term's sick leave while recovering from surgery.

It was an absolute delight to be back at school on Monday. I spent the whole day with a huge grin on my face. I was loving catching up with all my students. They were all so pleased to see me back and many of them said so! By the end of the day I was wondering around the admin block burbling things like, "I love teenagers!" Many of my colleagues did a double take (particularly those who are parents of teenagers) when they realised I was serious! Some muttered dire warnings to the effect of: "This won't last!"  Still, by the end of the day I was physically exhausted and went straight home to bed.

Marcia, HOD PE, in the egg
and spoon leg of the relay.
Day 2: still smiling... to cut a long story short, by Friday I was still enjoying my job but I was VERY tired and the gloss had definitely worn off! The strain of five full time days at work (plus two nights out at choir - not doing THAT next week) had really told on me physically, and I was beginning to snap at people and do a good impression of 'grumpy teacher' instead of 'hysterically joyous teacher'.

Greg (in traditional cricket gear)
pushing Janice (traditional tramping gear)
in the wheelbarrow leg.
Friday lunchtime was the Staff House Challenge: points for traditional dress (I went Scottish with a twist of Maoritanga); and points for the winners of the relay (involving egg and spoon, three legged race and wheel barrow). I did my bit with the egg and spoon.

I could not have survived this week, or indeed been so relaxed about my extended absence, if I hadn't had a very good reliever taking my classes. I was so lucky to get an English specialist teacher who did a fabulous job with my classes and kept them on track. She also kindly arranged for them all to be doing independent work (mostly essay writing) this week, so that my role was roving to give feedback and keep students on task, rather than a lot of whole class teacher-directed work. Thank you so much Michelle Jones!!!  :-)

I still got to the end of the week somewhat shell-shocked, but I made it! Slowly easing back in and have some decisions to make about the direction of my programme.

Year 10s: Have been finishing off their film unit on 10 Things I Hate About You with an essay on whether the film is typical of the teen movie genre. I was intending to move on to an introduction to Shakespeare and a quick look at The Taming of the Shrew - BUT: in Social Studies they are doing the Pursuit of Power unit at the moment (focussing on Hitler) and have just been shown the film of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. There is a fair amount of interest and engagement and I am wondering if I should go on to my Striped PJs novel unit now rather than next term as originally planned. Will decide tomorrow, possibly will discuss it with the class and get their view.

Year 11s: Have been finishing their novel unit on The Whale Rider with writing theme or character essays. These will get formative feedback for the 2.1 external but a copy will also go in their writing portfolios. In the coming week I want to move on to their Connections study.

Chris G and Anna in the
three-legged race (this was
before they knocked over
all the pegs!)
Year 12s: Have had a slightly depleted class this week with some away on an Outdoor Ed trip. The remainder have been finishing the novel study on All Quiet on the Western Front by doing preparatory work for a style+theme essay. By the end of the week it was clear that they needed some help moving from this to an essay so I spent the last lesson doing whole class collaborative deconstruction of the essay question, planning of the essay and writing the introduction. Hopefully they are now on track but I will do some more work on body paragraphs with them in the coming week. When we have finished the novel essays I need to return to mop up the end of the film unit on Platoon which we ran out of time on at the end of last term. Not ideal but it was easier to leave a discrete unit for Michelle to run rather than expecting her to finish a film study I am teaching by ear and creating resources for as I go!

My wonderful colleague, Avatar.
Year 13: In some ways have been the most problematic class during my absence, mostly due to many needing more help to complete their Hamlet research essays (upcoming blog on everything that went wrong with that unit and what I learnt from it). Some of them were working with Avatar (my colleague who was acting Head of Department in my absence) on this during classes in the first part of the term, rather than in class with Michelle studying Nineteen Eighty-Four. As a result, most have now finished the Hamlet essay, but several have not finished reading the novel (the novel I gave out at the end of LAST TERM!) and are nowhere near ready to write a theme essay on it. I have given them some class time this week finishing their essays but most of the time has gone to the first viewing of our film, V for Vendetta, as we must move on to the film study now. Things have been complicated by having several students away on a Geography trip too, hopefully they have watched the film at home as requested.....

I can see that I need to give myself time to settle back in, take the temperature of my classes, and reconsider my year's programme to ensure the essentials are covered. A relaxing weekend has helped. Next week I am not going to try to go to both my choirs (two nights out was one too many). I just have to pace myself and keep healthy.

Advice to myself: Kia kaha, kiddo, don't push it! Keep enjoying those students!