Friday, June 30, 2006

Teaching practicum, day fourteen.

So practicum draws to a close and, well, I'm a little sad about that. I'm not sure if it's the same for anyone else, but it's been a moving experience for me. And I don't know, maybe I've gotten a little too emotionally involved in it all, but I just don't see how one can't be. The last three weeks have been so mentally and emotionally draining. Teaching as I experienced it might not involve all that much physical exertion, but when I get home I'm ready to crash.

I think first prac has got to be one of the most momentous events for teachers. The staff at school I've spoke with over the last three weeks all seem remember their first professional experience with a bit of nostalgia and warmth. It's been hard and at times I'd wondered about whether I really wanted to become a teacher or not, but you know what? I loved it.

There were ups, there were downs. There were ups and downs simultaneously. It was crazy. But the kids were great. Except for year eight. They're idiots.

Listening to:
Title: Catch Me Up
Artist: Gomez
Album/station: Split The Difference (2005)
Length: 3.47

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Teaching practicum, day eleven: creepy-emo-girl.

Hmm, so many grammar and spelling mistakes in that last post. Frustration, exhaustion, et cetera.

Practicum has been good the last few days, relatively. I really quite like all the people I'm working with and learning from - people that I hope to end up teaching alongside at some point in my teaching career, as unlikely as that may be. I like the sense of community, even just within the walls of our faculty staffroom.

I think the thing that has gotten me through teaching prac has been the discussions/bitch sessions I've had on the couches with one science teacher or another; a bit of a debrief after a class helped a lot with coping. It has been a tough few weeks and it's just been so draining. I think I can say that teaching is harder than I thought it was, but it's something I still very much want to do. My uni supervisor said to me that teaching isn't easy, but a good teacher is one that makes it look so.

Anyway, today things with that creepy girl got worse. I was headed back to the staffroom from the canteen at lunch when the creepy-emo-girl from year eight came up to me brandishing an eight-by-ten of that Big Brother tosser she's obsessed with. She held it beside me face and remarked on how much I look like him, which I DON'T. So I did a polite version of a whatever, and just as I turned she put her arms around me. I was all, FUCKING GET AWAY FROM ME FUCKING CREEPY-EMO-GIRL. Well, I didn't quite say that, but I was thinking it. And I couldn't push her away because I couldn't move my arms - that's how she held me - so I did my best to wriggle out, and I pretty much scarpered. One of my year eleven chemistry students saw what happend and asked me if I was okay or if I needed any help, which was nice of him.

When I got back, I told my cooperating teacher about it. Apparently I was meant to say to creepy-emo-girl that it was inappropriate et cetera, which I would have said if I wasn't so CREEPED OUT.

It didn't end there. At the end of day, creepy-emo-girl cornered me by the front gate. I tried to cross the road to get away from her, but she followed. And get this: she told me she loved me, several times over. LIKE, OHMIGOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, BITCH? Once someone had picked her up, I called the other science prackie on my mobile from the bus stop. I was freaking out a little at this stage, and she told me I should probably tell someone about it. I ended up going back to the staffroom and telling my head and my cooperating teachers. Actually I think at that moment, I was more worried about covering my arse. You know, being male teacher, child protection laws and all that jazz. If somehow I pissed creepy-emo-girl off or if her parents got the shits and a complaint was made, it'd forever be on my record - it'd stick to me - despite it all being absolutley INSANE. And that'd kill my teaching career before it began.

I got some support from the other teachers, and some accompanying jokes at my expense too. My cooperating teacher asked if I wanted at escort off the school grounds. Har-di-har. She also couldn't help but say I-told-you-so, too. See, she picked it on the first day when creepy-emo-girl initially approached me. Apparently, she sensed something strange afoot. Then again, it was suggested that creepy-emo-girl might just be a normal teenager, but just trying to rile me up. If that was her motive, well then it worked.

In suppose that in my own ego-fuelled way, I was kind of hoping I'd get a few girls crushing on me. But not like this. It was flattering at first but now it's just, you know, shudders. Luckily I won't have year eight again in any great measure. I don't think many of them will turn up on Thursday afternoon.

Listening to:
Title: Silence
Artist: Gomez
Album/station: Split The Difference (2004)
Length: 2.55

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Teaching practicum, day eight.

Today has got to be the worst day I've ver had in my life. Everything that could go wrong did.

Because I spent last night trying get a few more futile entries done on my portfolio, I didn't have much time to plan my lessons for today. So I got to school early this morning so I could finish them off (which is a bad idea in the first place) and I was running out of time by recess. I had classes right through from period three until home time, and to top it off, my tertiary supervisor from uni was going to be oberving my year ten class over the periods five and six double.

I was so unprepared for year ten. I'd left so many of my teaching aids up in the staffroom, unphotocopied or elsewhere. It was a practical lesson too; I was teaching them about writing word equations and precipitation reactions. I think I had them engaged for about thirty seconds when I poured a beaker of lead nitrate solution into another beaker filled with potassium iodide solution. When it came time for the students to perform their own experiments, everything went to shit. My instructions were heeded, it's just that my instructions were shit.

Then there was year eight in the periods seven and eight double, the last lesson of the day. It was a shocker. It was a seventy-five minute double-period, and absolutely nothing got done. They did nothing but talk. I wasn't about to talk over them, so I stood and waited. And waited. I told them I wasn't going to start until everyone was quiet. Then for a few seconds they were, and I managed to squeeze a few words here or there.

Then I wanted to extend on the work they'd done a week before with their normal teacher (and my cooperating teacher), and they knew nothing. I wanted them to relate the words they learnt last week, i.e. dependent, independent and controlled variables, repetition, validity, reliability, et cetera, to assess whether Super Size Me was a valid scientific investigation. But they had no idea. I said to them, "turn to the work you did last week" and they say to me, "What work, sir?". What work?! They genuinely had no idea about what I was on about! But I know they did it, and they did the work well; I marked it myself! For some reason it was totally absent from all but a few books. Some kids don't even bring books. They just don't learn. Of course, it's never their fault.

So I wanted to go over them again, but I never got that far. Not even one question was answered. My lesson plan went out the window. I even tried to group them so that they could discuss the task in groups, but they just wouldn't. There's this girl that really shits me who has the biggest mouth. She never shuts it. Bah!

Then I went in to uni to hand in my portfolio for marking. Had to print some more pages off at AccessLabs and then I headed off to the Education Building to stick all the pages in the folder and hand it in. But there was a problem: not all my pages had printed out, and I didn't notice until I was just about tp hand it in. So I ran back to Fisher, but the missing pages weren't anywhere to be seen. Ran back to Education. Ran down to the Education Building AccessLab and had a look at my thumbdrive; I hadn't saved copies from my computer hard drive to it. FUCK!

Anyway, I ended up in my course-coodinator's office in what he calls the crying chair. Wasn't crying, just talking about stuff and how shit I think I've done. He told me that the M.Teach portfolios are marked differently to B.Ed portfolios, so there's hope for me yet. And I've got a few days to get my missing pages in. Crisis averted.

Listening to:
Title: Rio
Artist: Duran Duran
Album/station: Greatest(1998)
Length: 4.45

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Teaching practicum, day seven.

I only had year eight to teach today. I had them watching a documentary DVD on fast food (yes, that one) so I didn't have to do much except play policeman and give the kids who dare spoke a death stare.

I'm settling in quite well at school. It sucks that I'm only there for three weeks, though. I think I'm getting a tad too attached. Despite the tough kids, I'm not even sure if I really want to leave at the end of it. There's such a strong sense of community amongst the staff, and I feel so quite at home there now. I love how everyone supports one another and are just so chummy. It's the kind of community that I want in on.

Meanwhile, I've given up on my curriculum portfolio. I've just let it go and I'm not going to stress about it. At the moment, I've decided that the marks I could gain from doing more work on it won't make up for the marks I'll lose for handing it in late. And I've lost all motivation for it, really. I'll just hand in what I've got and cross my fingers. I'll have a chat to my lecturer too, and see where that goes.

It was getting in the way of writing my lesson plans. My bestmate Sarge noted the irony in that a piece of work about learning to teach was getting in the way of actually teaching.

Listening to:
Title: Lilac Wine (Live, Palais Theatre, Melbourne Australia)
Artist: Jeff Buckley
Album/station: Mystery White Boy: Live '95-'96 (2000)
Length: 5.19

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Teaching praccticum, day six.

Today was great. Period zero: year eleven chemistry. They were a dream. No problems at all, and I got through most of what I'd planned for the lesson. Then, period five, it was the class that I was dreading: year eight. But I stood my ground this time and I conquered them! Well, mostly. Anyway, it's cause for a party.

But there was/is a big downer to the whole day. See, on Thursday I have a science curriculum studies portfolio due. The thing is, I left it too late before I started the bloody thing and now the stuff I have done is pretty substandardly poor. It's all dawning upon me now, tonight. I'm looking at a fail for this unit, methinks. First F EVAH. Yep, that'll put the B.Ed. half of my degrees on hold for a year. Bah!

Of course, it's mostly my fault. I didn't do as many readings as I would've liked, and I didn't critically reflect on things as much as I should've. Oh, and STARTING EARLIER might've helped, too.

Then again, it's also a post-grad unit that we poor undergrads have been co-opted into. Make me feel better. Who else can I blame?

Listening to:
Title: Save Tonight
Artist: Eagle-Eye Cherry
Album/station: Desireless (1998)
Length: 3.58

Monday, June 19, 2006

Teaching practicum, day five.

Year eight are the spawn of Satan. That is all I have to say on the matter, really.

Also I found out today that the teacher I have a crush on is married. Le pout. So much for my gay theory. I mean, not that anything could've or would've ever happened. But you know, he shared the same look and some of the same mannerisms as January Shag. Just slightly older, nerdier and less sexy but more adorable. Ah well.

So teaching prac is a whole lot of disappointments at the moment. But I'm learning stuff.

Listening to:
Title: Where It's At
Artist: Beck
Album/station: Odelay (1999)
Length: 5.30

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Teaching practicum, day three.

I was hit with one class after the other today. First, year eleven (twice), then year ten and finally, year eight. It was a pretty good day considering. Year eight watched Super Size Me so they didn't cause much grief, year ten made models of atoms and year eleven are just perfect regardless.

I had a double dose of year eleven because the other science prac student asked me to sit in on her physics class and be her 'critical friend'. Both my chemistry and her physics classes are pretty much the same kids so I knew them all already. It's a little bit scary being dropped into the deep end like this. Our cooperating teachers are pretty much leaving us with the kids on our own while they seemingly use the time and opportunity to catch up on other work.

Anyhoo, I've spoken to some of the other prac students from other faculties at school and a couple more who've gone to other places, and nearly everyone is feeling the same: dejected, tired, confused. How sad. I think everyone is having second thoughts about teaching, which is a shame.

We're having a meeting at lunch tomorrow for all the prac students at school, and there's quite a bunch of us. I think it'll be more of a group therapy session.

Listening to:
Title: Without MSG I Am Nothing
Artist: McLusky
Album/station: McLuskyism(2006)
Length: 2.57

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Teaching practicum, day two.

Yesterday I felt a little out of my depth. But today I feel totally in over my head. There's so much that you've got to do before every lesson. It's more work than I originally thought. I only have around two or three classes a day at the moment, but I'm so buggered by the end of it all. It's just so draining. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I suppose it's just something one needs to get used to.

I had year eight today and they were a bunch of little shits. I'm still only observing and helping out at the moment, but I don't know how I'm going to cope when I get my turn next Monday. I need to work on my teacher's voice. It's just not in my nature to shout at someone. Like in class today, the kids were supposed to be performing the first-hand investigation they designed yesterday. But instead of putting an iron nail into a test-tube of Coca Cola, some kids pour some Coke into a beaker and drank it. Like ohmigod! People put all sorts of chemicals and shit (literally shit, i.e. dog poo in one instance) into beakers. It's not just potentially dangerous, it's downright unhygenic. I should've yelled. BUT IT DIDN'T COME OUT. Bah!

I bought a meat pie from the canteen for lunch. Oh memories: canteen pies. They're probably made exactly the same way as any other pie, but somehow school-bought pies taste a little different. Maybe it's psychosomatic or something. Hmm. Now I'm well aware that you can't ever be too sure about what's in a meat pie, but at least it makes whatever entrails it contains tasty. I think meat pies and sausages do the world a service: they make offal, which would have been otherwise wasted, appetising.

Spent the rest of the afternoon bumming around in the staff room with coffee, biscuits, and chatting with the other teachers. Bumming around in staffrooms is becoming my favourite pastime. We talk about all sorts of shit and I'm learning a lot just from the conversations I have there. I was told today in one such chat that we prac teachers won't fail if we fuck up; we'll fail prac if we fuck up and don't recognise it.

Meanwhile, the crush on the teacher who looks like the slightly older, nerdier version of a shag from the beginning of the year goes on. We had a D&M about earning and getting respect from the kids and, well, he's just so sweet. Sweet enough to eat. Le sigh.

Listening to:
Title: Don't Panic
Artist: Coldplay
Album/station: Ministry of Sound: Chillout Sessions, Vol. 6 (2004)
Length: 2.06

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Teaching practicum, day one.

Blogging about prac is actually kind of handy: it sort of gets me going on my prac journal entries. Otherwise, I don't think I'd get anything done. I'm such a lazy fuck.

I managed to wake up on time, four-thirty on the dot (shower me with all your pity now), and I made all my train and bus connections. Other than the freezing cold, it was a brilliant start to the day. But despite the effort I put in to get there on time, neither the class nor my cooperating teacher turned up until some time later. Apparently, there was some kind of strange game with a round ball on the TV late last night or early this morning. Or something.

So in period zero, or what was left of it, my year eleven chemistry class got into some empirical formulae, molar masses and moles. Some of the exercise questions they got were tough, though; even I had a little trouble. Eek. Of course, the kids in this class are a whole lot better behaved than any of my others. But having to plan a lesson is a little tougher, so I guess it all evens out. Next Monday, I've got to teach them about some guy called Gay-Lussac and something about the volumes of gases involved in reactions with metals. I'm probably in over my head on that one; my curriculum studies unit only covered years seven to ten (stages four and five) science. Curriculum studies for senior high school chemistry doesn't happen until next semester.

Went to assembly roll call after that. Gosh it takes school kids aaaages to do anything. The whole school got a basting for uniform related offences from whichever teacher was leading the assembly. Rah rah rah. Does anything ever change in any school? I found the whole lining-up-in-the-quad thing a little beneath these kids - that's more of a primary school thing. Actually, it reminds me of those war movies in P.O.W. camps when the prisoners fall into line in the yard.

Spent most of the rest of the day in the staffroom busying myself with tea, gossip and lesson plans. Bah! Writing lesson plans is teh suck. Sure they'll save your life in a class of thirty-something kids, but writing them is so time consuming and mentally draining. But that might just be because I'm crap.

I had a year eight science class fifth period. Absolutley nothing got done. Because Tuesday is sports day, fifth period only goes for short thirty-five minutes. It took year eight about ten minutes to get settled and with all that time wasted, my cooperating teacher abandoned what she had wanted to do and had to resort to her plan B. Seriously, these kids have some sort of handle on the space-time continuum. I don't know how they do it, but THEY MAKE TIME DISAPPEAR. WITHOUT IT BEING FUN.

There was a little moment in that period five year eight class, though. You know, one of those moments that teachers have. See, the plan B was to get the kids to design their own first-hand investigation into the corrosive nature of a particular famous brand of cola. Now there's this kid who sits off to the side. He doesn't do well in class and normally, he spends class time chattering and stuffing around with his mates. But for some reason, this activity engaged him. He made suggestions about using other flavours, other brands, even water.

At the end of the lesson, my cooperating teacher went around to check books and this kid had not only finished the task, but he did so outstandingly well. She told him it was perfect. I'd never seen a kid so proud. And I don't think I've ever seen a teacher so proud, either. I hope you'll pardon me for being a little sappy here, but something like that would make your day. Despite the shit that some teachers have to put up with, they still keep on doing it. And they've got to be doing it for a reason.

Lunch followed and I tagged along for playground duty. This is when it got weird. A pseudo-goth-emo chick tapped me on the shoulder and when I turned around, she was holding a picture of Michael from Big Brother. She says to me, "you look a lot like Michael", "Michael is perfect", and "I'm going to marry Michael". Creepy girl. Shudder. Anyway, the only thing I have in common with that Michael dude is my first name. Other than that WE HAVE NOTHING IN COMMON. I mean, what the fuck? I look a whole lot better than him nothing like him at all.

I helped supervise sport too, but that was one massive bludge. I spent the whole afternoon chatting with another prac student who, incidently, goes to the same uni as my best mate Sarge, doing the same course, a BA/BTeach. Speaking of Sarge, I visited him at work on the way home and had a big long whinge about school. Conveniently, his station is on the route I take between school and home, and CityRail's given him shifts that coincide with hometime.

Listening to:
Title: Angel
Artist: Sarah McLachlan
Album/station: Surfacing (1997)
Length: 4.29

Monday, June 12, 2006

On practicum eve.

Practicum starts tomorrow and I'm feeling, well, a little teacherly. I've got a folder with my class timetable on the front cover and the bell schedule on the back, but all I've got inside at the moment are three class rolls. Mind you, this is the most prepared I've ever been for anything.

The thing that sucks is that I've got a year eleven chemistry class tomorrow morning. Firstly, I'm not a big fan of chemistry. Chemistry is the poor man's physics. Secondly, it's a period zero class. Yeah, period zero. As in the period before period one. I never had those when I was in high school and when they told me that I'd be starting in zeroth period, I thought they were kidding. I mean, to me it was conceptually IMPOSSIBLE.

So I've got to get up at four-thirty and be on the 5.34 train, get there by seven, and be all settled by the start of class at seven -thirty. I did a trial run of the trip on Friday morning, just to see if such a feat could be achieved, and it went well. It doesn't really take one-and-a-half hours to get there of course, but the connections between the two trains and the bus I need to catch are pretty shit that early in the morning.

Also, the bus I get doesn't accept my TravelPass, so now I have to cart around a pocket full of shrappers to pay the bus driver with. Woe is me, et cetera. Just the thought of travelling on any busline other than State Transit is foreign to me. It goes to show how geographically insular I am, really. Just like the children of the corn who never leave The Shire, I don't often leave the territory of Sydney Buses.

Anyhoo, prac should be fun, if not educational. Expect a daily round up.

Ohh and Eastwood kicked some Gordon arse at Chatswood Oval this weekend: 33 points to 12. Woo!

Listening to:
Title: Debaser
Artist: The Pixies
Album/station: Doolittle (1989)
Length: 2.53

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Work, Maggie Thatcher, gay teachers.

Yeah, there are a few things occupying my mind at the moment. Nothing really all that deep and profound but, you know, meh.

Work at Faceless Corporation's Call Centre of HellTM wasn't all that interesting tonight. There was a pretty cute lad sitting across the way from me though and I had a bit of a perve. Dark brown and carefully messed up hair, jeans, black studded belt, and a wanky polo top. Yeah, guilty pleasure: boys with wanky polo shirts. DON'T JUDGE ME OKAY.

Anyhoo, at one point during my shift Queer As Folk came on the TVs all over the call centre, and well, there wasn't much else to do but watch, really. The cute lad across the way had his eyes on the screen too and I thought for a while if he was one to nosh on teh cock, too. Of course, the obligatory scene where Brian fucks someone flashed on the TV and cute-lad-across-the-way averted his eyes. Now that could mean anything. He could be closeted. He might just be a modest kind of guy. But most likely, he's straight. Bah!

Also at work, there's this supervisor I kind of have a crush on (bah, this is ridiculous; Matthew reckons I have crushes on every second guy I meet, which is probably shamefully true). He's got this soft, sweet voice and he always makes me titter when I ring through and he answers. At one point today, he answered me with, "Hey, what's hangin' my brutha?" With his voice, it's so lame but so adorable. Brightens up the start of a shift when he's on the sign-on desk. Le sigh.

To other things, has anyone seen the new Red Cross Blood Service ads? I love this frame from the print ad:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Of all the things that are British and eighties, they chose Maggie Thatcher. Matthew says they probably want to remind everyone what a mad cow looks like. Touché.

Lastly, after yesterday's post few people have asked me about what I'd say if a staff member or a student from school asked me if I was gay. That's a toughie. See, if was a colleague, then it'd depend on who it was. Incidently, quite a few teachers I've spoken to at my prac school and several others studied under one of my current lecturers/tutors, who's apparently ancient and, well, gay. And one teacher I've spoken to referred to him jokingly as 'that faggot', and stopped short of warning me to be cautious when he was around. Now I don't think come out to that particular teacher, even if it meant lying, and especially while I'm in preservice training.

With students on the other hand, I don't think I'd tell them. It's not absolutely vital for them to know, and there needs to be some kind of distance between them and us anyway. But I'll admit, there is a need for honesty between student and teacher. Students know if you as a teacher are hiding something, and to build trust and a rapport with them, one would need to be completely honest; it's been drummed in to us through this whole semester that if they ask something, tell them. There is, however, a line.

Coming out to a group of one's students may expose a teacher's vulnerabilities. They are kids after all, and particularly the adolescent boys, are probably insecure about their own sexualities. As much as they may have had exposure to positive attitudes of tolerance towards queer folk, some are still going to feel threatened when a fag is around, and that's not conducive to creating an effective learning environment. So in a way it's as much in their interests as mine.

Listening to:
Title: At Last
Artist: Eva Cassidy
Album/station: Time After Time (2000)
Length: 2.58

Monday, June 05, 2006

Classrooms and staffrooms.

I went to my practicum school again today and I got to meet some of the kids I'll who'll be in my class - or whose class I'll be in. Either way. Now I know I've only had a couple of periods with them and that I wasn't the one charged with having to teach/manage them today, but they're the nicest group of kids. The teachers I've spoken to at school all agree that they aren't the best academically when compared to some other schools, but they do pretty well for themselves.

I wanted to get in in time for roll call, but I slept through my alarm. I'm not used to early mornings anymore. Bah! Stupid relaxed university hours. They've ruined me. Aside from trying to wake up on time, actually getting to school today sucked teh ball. It was freezing and wet, and I had to get two trains and a bus. I'm fine with having to take public transport but fuck, what has happened to the weather? It feels as though it hasn't been more than twelve degrees for the last two weeks. This can't be normal; apparently it was five degrees below average today. I'm not geared to wet and cold weather! My wardrobe simply isn't optimized for cold and rain.

It turned out that my year ten class wasn't until third period, so I bummed around in the staffroom with some of the other teachers. Have you ever watched Teachers? Okay well it wasn't quite like that, but how kerrazy would that be? I'd love it! But no, the teachers in the faculty are a top bunch. I went to an observation to a nearby school earlier in the semester, and they totally thought the worst of their kids. But despite similar problems, the teachers at my prac school expected more. I'm glad I've ended up there.

Of course I've also developed a bit of a crush one of the staff, which is typical of me, really. He's a quiet one, green eyes, and a little nerdy. Actually a nerdier, slightly older version of a shag from a few months ago. But ohmigod he's funny. He's got great timing and witty one-liners. Adorable. I ran into him on playground duty, and we mused about the idiocy of some of the kids who just sat in the rain in the middle of the oval. Le sigh.

Listening to:
Title: For The Price of a Cup Of Tea
Artist: Belle & Sebastian
Album/station: The Life Pursuit (2005)
Length: 3.19

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A disappointing first round.

Sydney University, 49.
Eastwood, 3.
T.G. Millner Field, Marsfield.

I don't know what happened. I sat in the cold, cold stands of Millner with my best mate Sarge in disbelief. The Woodies only managed a penalty goal to Uni's forty-nine points in this first round of the Toohey's New Cup.

At least the Woodies beat Uni when it counted, in the grand final last week.

Listening to:
Title: Summer Heat
Artist: The Crustaceans
Album/station: I'm Happy If You're Happy (2005)
Length: 3.04

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The heights of procrastination.

Instead of putting together some reports for curriculum studies and my portfolio as required by the NSW Institute of Teachers, I've downloaded the font used on roadsigns in Australia and North America.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And don't you know it. Did you know that the standard green for signs is precisely RGB(0,110,85)? Or that the typeface is called Highway Gothic? Well now you do. Don't you feel better for it?

Listening to:
Title: Freelove
Artist: Depeche Mode
Album/station: Exciter (2001)
Length: 6.10