Sunday, November 05, 2006

Update. . .

Although I haven't signed it, or seen it yet, I have it in writing (probably not worth the paper it's written on - not that I'm a cynic...) that I will be getting a maternity leave replacement contract for next year (and maybe a few years after). Things are going well now I am feeling more able to cope. I have reports and my VIT meeting for my full registration one day after the other in a couple of weeks. I'm a bit stressed but feel like I can do it. No tears this term and I'm not even counting the days! I can talk about next year at school with confidence that I'll be there and that feels pretty good.

I've been sick heaps, but everyone - including the school nurse - says this is normal for first year teaching. It adds to the chronic tiredness though. As for the kids, Sleeping Beauty is still quite sick and doesn't attend a lot, Snow White's parents are still annoying and she misses heaps of important work because they can't get their shit together to either get her on the bus or get her to school by 9. The others are there all the time and are progressing in some areas with plenty of annoying stuff still to work on. Still hard to get my head outside the square to look at it objectively though. The change to daylight savings sent them all wacky last week and having a 3 day week coming up probably won't be any better... Ah well, I'm only going to try for another few weeks of fully structured teaching before giving in to end of the year and christmas activities/learning. The teacher next door and I have decided to open up our rooms and combine any classes we can to ease the load at the end of the year, so that could be fun!

To add to things, I'm looking at moving house soon so I am closer to public transport and bike tracks to work. I managed to exercise every school day last week and that is really helping the stress levels too.

Gossip: B1 is taking a year off using long service leave to look after her elderly parents. It will be interesting to see what happens in the primary school next year.

Class lists/groupings are a huge sore point around the place at the moment, there is never an ideal possible but things are a bit tense with lots of different motivations in play. I am well out of it and glad.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Term 4

No, I didn't quit.

Things are actually getting better! Term 3 was an absolute bastard, ending (on the last day) with another student death.

Hawaiian day in the last week of term was the highlight I can remember as well as getting fish in the classroom (that didn't last long!) and a visit from farm animals.

This term I am getting more support and feeling a lot better about things. The Domestic Goddess continues to support me in understanding what I am doing in the classroom by instinct. I am going to visit a mainstream prep class on Tuesday which will be great. The new AP is fantastic and has been very supportive. It has been great to get to know her better.

I finally feel like I am finding my place at the school but still needing to find my place as a teacher. It's a bit of a growing up process and growing up is never easy!

I'll do a student update soon.

Things are very busy this term with lots of paper to fill in, but I will try to update how the kids are doing soon.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Sh*t, where to begin?

Things have been going down hill this year. Friday, I took the day off to get myself organised and try to feel like I had my sh*t together. Then I get a phone call that another student has died. This time it was expected but it doesn't make it much easier. This sent me into a nasty downward spiral.

The weekend wasn't pretty and I am having most of this week off work to get myself together again. I don't know how this started, maybe the stress of a new job in a stressful field, lack of support when I started, difficulty of dealing with very emotional circumstances and connections, exhausting my natural reserves of coping ability... I don't know.

What I do know is that last term I made the decision not to run away from this. So, it has lead to me needing more help to get through it but I think in the long run it is a healthier option. I could keep running all my life, when I hit that wall, but for some reason I don't want to this time. Under all the pain that may be circumstance, maybe my biology, I like the job I have and think things will get better.

Maybe I'm foolhardy?

PS: Sleeping Beauty is in hospital again. Same as last time, well sedated. I am not hugely worried but long term it's not a happy senario.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lice not so nice

It's been a good weekend for washing... I've done all the bedding etc and really hope that I've caught the little beasties before they can consider a full scale outbreak! Yep, one of my kids has head lice and after itching at the thought, I decided to take steps to eradicate! I only found a couple of dead adults and maybe a few eggs - once you start scraping cells from your scalp it's a bit hard to tell and really hard to check your own hair to see if there are any still clinging on to your hair... Sigh. The joys of working with children. At least now they have stuff based on essential oils available and preventive sprays with less of the same stuff... I think I'll keep using that on a regular basis as this is the third time kids in my class have had head lice given to them by siblings.

Other things this week...

Felt great this weekend as my week was quite quiet. Goldilocks was sick and off school for three days making my life very quiet. Snow White had an appointment and then was off sick and Sleeping Beauty is barely there anyway.

To be honest I had a bit of a sook this week and it was all about me... I had a wee freak out about maybe, perhaps, possibly teaching actually being what I am good at and enjoy and something I may want to commit to for a bit... It's hard to give up being directionless after so many years, it requires angst to make a big change like that. I hate this growing up thing.

Erk... my cat has bad breath even if he is adorably cute.

The change in my self doubt level and sooky-sooky-la-la level occurred with two events. The Domestic Goddess, whom I admire greatly as a teacher, says she always leaves my class on a Wednesday feeling inadequate... This wasn't enough in itself to shake me from my self doubt, because I didn't understand why. When, with great exasperation, she gave me a run down of my lesson in edu speak I suddenly thought, wow! I did all that? I did, didn't I? My lesson was pretty good. It hasn't done me any good people telling me I'm good when I can't see how. As I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing, the compliments were defeated by my self doubt. The concrete evidence worked. I can make things good instinctively, I just need some more knowledge to see it. Yay for having a mentor type person able to do that for me! I must remember to tell her this next week and thank her.

The sook undoer was talking with the school psychologist. The important bit I took from our conversation about growing up and direction was the thought that even tough my job has presented good and bad sides, I really care about it. This has got to be better (even the bad bits) than all the jobs I haven't given a stuff for. I've been good at them, but never really cared. Good and bad has to beat apathy and boredom.

Had a meeting with my new official mentor, the new AP, and the principal during the week. It was good even though I was still sooky and full of self doubt, I have no concerns about having a job there next year and they seem very keen to accommodate my desires if I wish to move to a different bit of the school. Good to know... although at the time when they asked directly what I wanted to do next year I just whined that I didn't know.

I bought a dishwasher on eBay and my life feels more in control already and the house is tidier, the garden is blooming and the sun was shining. All good.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Because she is 6.

That is the most common reply to any questions I ask about the behaviour of my students. However, it may also be the reason that last Friday Cinderella brought me a posy of flowers in from lunchtime play. Awwwwwww!

This week has been a bit of an exhausting blur. I probably shouldn't have gone back on Wednesday. Not really well enough to face the demands of a day at school. All teaching is hard work but mine is physically very demanding. By Friday I was zonked and got quite cranky at assembly. Made Little Red Riding Hood cry by telling her to be quiet when she was already in a fragile state, rather than just being naughty, will have to have a chat to Cinderella about being rude by not clapping other people's achievements etc., and on top of that had to wrestle Goldilocks for at least half the time. She was quite good and will improve, but it's not that interesting and she needs more physical stimulation than sitting for 45 minutes will give her. I hate being Ms Crankypants!

Snow White only managed one day this week, being sick herself and Sleeping Beauty was only in for half a day on Wednesday and a third on Friday. SB did well though, was very excited to be back and very vocal. The use of PECS is going well despite very little input from my speechie (yeah, I'm a little disappointed about that). She was getting grumpy at the computer, so I handed her the book and she grabbed a picture of her lunchbox. I undid her seatbelt and told her to go to her table and sit down whilst getting the trainee who helps in that session to get her lunch out. SB sat and ate some cheese sticks - no dramas. It was great that we could make that progress without too much of a issue. I hope we can make it work with toileting too. I hate having to put the seatbelts on any of my kids but I don't have enough help to do otherwise in the classroom safely. At least this gives her more opportunity to tell us what she wants.

The cat is the best addition to my life this year and we are learning ways of sharing the lap between the computer and the snoozing cat - with me still being able to type...

Another thing I am thinking about this weekend - other than making books about recent events that reinforce Dolch 1 words - is the emotional cost of teaching in this environment and whether it is worth it. I hear so much about how crap first year teaching is, from so many sources, that I think (hope) next year will be better. This is assuming with 18 kids leaving the senior school and only a handful coming in that they will have a job for me when my contract ends. I think no matter where I taught, even if it were at a high school teaching science, I would be plagued with the want to be better at it. This can be a good thing in that I will continue to learn and improve, but I need to find ways of lessening the self doubt and damaging perfectionism. If there is a job, I will give this another year to improve. If they want to keep me, I am going to push hard for them to make team teaching happen for me so I have someone to learn from and to take some of the pressure off. That's the plan this week.

I haven't even started dealing with my registration dramas yet... won't think about that now.

The Domestic Goddess reckons I should have a school free Sunday. I'll try, but if I catch up with friends they always ask and if I'm at home alone it just creeps in. I will try.

PECS: Picture Exchange Communication System

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Ok, so this happened last Thursday and I was so happy I could have burst! It's taken a while but after my grumpy episode, it feels like a big bright yellow up yours! It goes all the way around the primary school and just beyond our doors. It has so many great possibilities for mobility and left/right concepts. Everyone was buzzing when it suddenly appeared. I feel really proud that I have been able to make change.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Took my first sick day yesterday (and did it again today). I should have done it last term but at that point I was worried that if I took a day off I wouldn't come back. After a weekend on the couch, it had to happen.

It's hard leaving the the kids to someone else. Really hard. I guess I'm just a big control freak or really believe that they (they who?) will find out I'm no good and any Tom, Dick or Harriette could do my job better.

What I really wanted to write about today was the emotional journey of teaching... but with the antibiotics and painkillers my brain isn't working quite as it should, so I won't. If it were just a sicky I was taking today then I would feel justified in taking the time to reflect on my teaching practice.

What I did do today to get off the couch and convince myself that I was well enought o go back to work tomorrow was drive out to Monash and get some info on applying for a Masters of Ed in special and inclusive ed. I must be mad!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

1st Outing!

Yup, I bit the bullet and took the little monkeys on an excursion. Not a full blown permission notes job, but what our school calls 'community access'... Going down the street for a bit. I let all the parents know, took all the emergency medications, let about a million people know I was going, then went! The kids had a great time, we looked at the birds, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles and many, many fish. And we bought 5 to put in our tank at school. I so hope they are alive tomorrow. (and until I get a lid for my second hand tank I will now be paranoid that a taller visitor to my room will drown in the tank... Ta for that thought B2!).

Math session with help of the Domestic Goddess was ok. I got her to work with the newies who I have trouble working out whether they actually get numbers or not. She has decided that next week she will lead me in parallel doing diagnostics things on a math concept to see where they are at and to teach me how to do it. I LOVE having her in my room. I have a few more hands in the early part of the session and the others did sheets. It was the first time I have had Little Red Riding Hood do sheets and apparently she was really focused and into it - YAY! It's good for her pen holding skills too. The sheet I gave Cinderella looked good but if you read the questions it didn't work as you were supposed to colour one section two colours in answer to separate questions...

In the second half I finally cracked, parked them in front of a TV and showed a video. I felt like a bad teacher. Videos seem like such a cop out to me. But we'd had a big day and it was a kids video about pets growing up from babies. We got through puppies, kittens and fish. I think we have hamsters to go? I talked to various colleagues to help me get over the guilt. I am so silly sometimes.

Sleeping Beauty is in hospital. Had so many seizures that she had to be sedated and hospitalised. It's a worry.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Long time between... posts.

Not sure where to begin this...

I am a lot more relaxed in class because I have let a lot of stuff go after experiencing my first student death. Kids learn better when they are having fun, these kids have enough problems without me stressing about their day. We'll have more fun and I will aim for them to learn something during it and look for teachable moments.

I like the concept of teachable moments. To me it means taking hold of the time when a kid asks you a question about something that they want to know. Who cares if it's off topic. My kids don't stall or attempt to distract you with conversation... yet (with the notable exception of “It's a lovely day, isn't it?” - it could be freezing and wet but she knows you're not happy with her...). Keeping a sharp eye out for these moments means that you know the students are taking something in, learning something that is meaningful to them. They'll keep that far longer than trying to drum into them what I think is important for their 6 year old life.

Big issue is trying to eliminate baby talk. Will not be tolerating “I do that/it/x,y,z?” or “'puter”. There are now two magic words that need to be used when trying to persuade the teacher that you ought to be allowed to do something... CAN and PLEASE. Also, no one uses the 'puter, ask if you CAN use the computer PLEASE and you might be lucky.

This week despite me trying to move on to G will contain many F'y things. Tomorrow a farm is coming to visit, Wednesday we will go get our fish (I spoke to the guy at the shop this evening and it's all coming together – YAY!) and on Thursday I have decided that since Fireman Fred fights fires with foam, we will do some science and make foam extinguishers! Just bicarb and vinegar in a bottle with a small hole at the top, they are 6, it should be cool.

For G we will grow things and measure them for math. We will make grass skirts for when we get to H and Hawaiian day! I may even give myself a break and let them watch a video on how animals grow. This would be cool after the farm as they are all baby animals and we have been reading 'Spot goes to the Farm' about baby and grown animals too.

I still have major anxiety about whether I am doing a good enough job of teaching. I hope I will learn one day to accept I am good at this job. Enough other people seem to think so. I don't want to think I am sh*t hot or no longer aim to improve and learn but it would be nice to be comfortable in my job.

Not much of the other stuff I usually complain about has changed.

I am happy I can type with the cat curled up in my lap.

I am slowly getting more towards evening up the balance issues in my life but still feel guilty for doing no school work on the weekend. Am finding time for the pub on a Wednesday evening after belly dancing as long as I have no more than two pints and leave by 11 at the latest. It's great to see some of my mates on a more regular basis though.

Head of primary delivered me 4 rolls of heavy yellow tape with a “Here's you $200 worth of tape.” And I kind of replied, Oh, ok, um, should I get the maintenance guy to put it on? I don't think she was really that happy with me. But I don't really care because it's the kids that should come first and this will be great for them!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Promises, promises.

First thing this morning I met the Principal in the corridor. I knew she was in the corridor and had tried to rehearse something to say but nothing worked. I think I went with um... Morning. Um I have a question, have you got a minute? Anyhow the upshot of our chat was that the new AP was going to come down for my last session as last week it was the community involvement kid and myself and I wasn't looking forward to it being just me. I say was, because it didn't happen. I thought we'd do some sensory math, finding and counting objects in the tubs we have been using with the OT. Coconut, split peas, raw sugar, rice and I made up some ooey gooey soap flakes and water. The Domestic Goddess had popped in before going to get the cooking gig know-how from the incumbent. She helped me settle the class... and I started some calm/boring things. After they lost interest I decided to go ahead with it anyway for part of the time. Oh my god, the mess! Goldilocks like the noise that happened when the contents of the bucket were liberated onto the table... Luckily the goo was so thick that when she turned the bucket up nothing came out! If I'd had one on one it could have been quite cool. Instead, it was kind of manic. The Domestic Goddess reappeared whilst it was all going wrong. It was great to have her their to a) help me clean up and b)manage the kids. She is so great with them and had some good suggestions about teaching them to wait (that may be harder for me than for them as they get to continue calling my name over and over whilst I ignore it after the first wait I'm busy statement). The cleaning up took ages and the kids were reasonably involved. Little Red Riding Hood really enjoyed the goo. It was everywhere! She won't need soap in the bath tonight! Snow White liked the finer things like the coconut and sugar. Sleeping Beauty was good at getting the objects out and throwing them on the floor.

My math sessions suck. I hope someone will help me plan them better when they understand the extent of my ineptitude... Except I don't want them to think I am inept. Hmm...

Am a bit worried about how I am reacting to my speechie being back. I know I have very high standards for myself (bad thing - constantly never good enough, good thing - always trying to improve) and unfortunately for others. Most people I have to work with at this school meet the standards I set. So far she doesn't cut the mustard and I'm not sure what to do about the way I react to her. Will I be able to let go and let her do her job however she does it? Don't know.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

48 Days til holidays

Ok, it's not that bad, really. I'm back to drinking my tea without sugar... (except for last Thursday). It's still a bit sad around the place and I tear up a bit every now and again when I get reminded. I told the kids yesterday. Goldilocks and SB were blowing raspberries at each other, LRRH wasn't concentrating, SW was kind of blank as she often is and Cinderella was concerned for a few seconds and then was onto something else. It was harder for me than for them, I think. SB's mother brought in a great book about lifetimes, perhaps it's called Lifetimes? It has beautiful illustrations and is designed to tell kids about death... and life. I guess at 6 it's not that real. I won't go to the funeral on Thursday. I am very bad at funerals and I am told kid's ones are the worst. I think I will avoid them until the day it's a kid in my class or one that I have taught.

So far this week... Monday was ok. The pool was open but we didn't have enough people to swim all the kids. After talking with Dolly we decided that since I could swim 2 of mine on Friday and one of them had forgotten her bathers. I sent them to Dolly and they did girl things... They went home with blue streaks in their hair, glitter nail polish and flowers in their hair. As much as it is never going to happen in my room, LRRH's hands were the flattest I have seen them in ages as she showed people her nail polish. I guess any means of getting her to stretch her hands that works is fine by me.

The cat is going mental under a cover I have on a couch. I hope he settles down by the time I want to buy a decent couch. That's a fair way away... he may grow up by then.

Today was fine. Still feel disorganised but am loathe to bring work home. Physical program was interesting... Goldilocks was rarely NOT seeking sensory input but did ok once we shifted onto the bikes. Swapped SW onto Cinderella's bike and she hooned around, so much easier to pedal. Convinced Cinders that a pink bike would do her fine and she didn't complain probably because it was pink and I wasn't making her use the scooter any more.

Tomorrow is not really well planned towards the math end of the day and I'm not sure if I'm going to get any help. I will try to ask up at admin if they can find anyone for me, otherwise I'll be alone. The Domestic Goddess, back from overseas, said she was going to come in to check out what she needs to do to cook for next week and that she might come in to play with my class in the arvo. I really don't expect her to do this, unpaid, jet lagged, but I would love it, whatever state she's in...

Actually, I have all sorts of ideas, plans and sheets for the math session centered on the animal theme, but without enough hands I don't think much of it will work.

Things are feeling better in general. Not sure what the change is, lots of things, I guess...
This week: Staying.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Vale (What a week!)

Where to start? Monday, I guess. Not such a great day, miserable mood, despite much planning during the holidays I discovered that you can't plan for robots. My kids were themselves. Perhaps even worse because they were so excited about being back at school – weird to be 6, huh? At least I must be doing something right if they love being at school that much. The pool wasn't ready to be used so we missed yet another swim. My community involvement student is ok, and apparently there are worse, but I have had better and in my frantic first day back mood I probably wasn't doing her many favours. Cinderella had a sore tooth and didn't look well. Got the nurse to call home but we couldn't get hold of mum to give her an analgesic. Was grumpy at the Principal (are they supposed to get a capital letter? It'd feel rude not to...) after school. Oops.

Tuesday was better. I had lots of free time to get my shit back together. Sleeping Beauty was sick all holidays and is not herself at the moment. Doesn't run down the corridors, not even throwing stuff around with any commitment. Feeling a bit better about things – perhaps I was just feeling resigned to more of the same and hoping for better time in some distant future that would arrive if I could just hang on. Cinderella much happier, medicated before school! Part of the playground has finally been finished and as it was sunny I managed to cram 5 kids on to a springed see-saw. They loved it!

I don't know whether it is better that I have written this now or if my view of the weeks events is so clouded by the events to be described that I really should have written every day to give each day the truth of how it felt on that day. The first week has just been too exhausting. Maybe I would have if things had been different on Thursday.

Wednesday. Generally one of my worst days of the week, so I was really hoping that admin would come through on their promises to help me out. Ummm... nup. I know they promised me the domestic goddess when she comes back from leave but they didn't replace her this arvo. Cinderella was at the dentist and Sleeping Beauty didn't home for a nap so I had 4 kids at the end of the day with me and the 15yo! The one day I want Snow White to sit still she becomes very active and actually gets out of her chair and interacts with the other kids... by helping them with their drinks like she is feeding a baby and dragging them around by their arms. It was sweet and she was trying but it really wasn't helping me much when I didn't have the good quality help to deal with it. I blame the Krispy Kreme doughnut she had for morning tea! (Ok, she only ate half of it, preferring yoghurt and fruit but it was of great interest to all the big people around. It was iced with brown/chocolate? icing a appeared to have more icing, perhaps, it was white and sugary looking through the centre and dripped onto the bottom. It just looked like a normal choc iced doughnut with extra sugar. Must be great living out that way – may I never have to find out!).

After school I went down to see the psych she was a bit busy so I wandered around getting over the last session chatting to people in the senior school area. One of the teachers up there is a very blokey bloke. We have had some great early morning conversations based around How ya goin? Done this? Nup. You? Nah, not yet. Started it? Na. It's so relaxed talking to him compared to stressy women. He was great! He was so positive! So different to some of the bitter, resigned women working there. He had no reason to get me on his side, wasn't pushing a point of veiw about my situation. Said it was a great place to work better than any other school, that first year teaching was hard, and one day it would be easier, to hang in there because I was smart and creative and the school needed me (Awwww!). A little bit of blokey she'll be right really hit the spot. I hate working in an almost all women environment. A few more can do kind of blokes would make me happier.

Spent ages talking to the psych about the week so far. Decided to do some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) on the pressure I put on myself by expecting myself to be perfect when it is pretty obvious no one else expects this. I guess it's kind of nice that I work in a job that is support by a psychologist and I have the opportunity to sort my own shit out as it affects my work. Probably be good if more people do it but then we'd have to employ her full time!

Thursday. Wasn't looking forward to the staff meeting, it was a bit tense then the Principal came in almost in tears and took B1 out. Then B2 went out and we knew it was bad news. One of the preps in their class apparently died overnight. The aunt had told the bus driver and he had told staff at school. I'm in tears again typing this. She was such a sweet child that I want to put down the good thing I remember about her that make me so sad she is gone. I guess the first thing is that children aren't supposed to die. Even disabled ones. She was happy and healthy yesterday and walking past in the pony walker with B2 on Wednesday. She was usually the first child I'd see each morning. She would reach out her arm and call out to me if I didn't say hello first. She would be waiting in the corridor and some days if I was trying to get my head together I'd stop to chat to her. When I'd change the hall displays out side my room she'd call out and I'd talk to her about what I was doing and bring her over to see. At lunchtime she'd always rather spend time with you than watch the tv. I didn't get to know her well enough to know much more than her 'come here/hello' noises and gestures and now such a bright little spark is gone.

I didn't cope very well, the others knowing this was my first student death picked up the pieces. Dolly took my class and sent me away with a cup of tea to cry. The new AP took over my class for a bit in the second session so I could go talk to the psychologist. They got our usual one and an extra in to talk to people. I cried at her and eventually found out some good ways of telling the kids and dealing with that. (I still haven't told them yet) I guess it brings it home that these are vulnerable kids and the only thing worse would be the possibility of it being one of my students. It reminds me that no matter how much they annoy me, I love them and cannot imagine how I would manage if it happened to one of them. The intensity and depth of feeling I have for these kids frequently surprises me. It will never be just a job.

Friday. A couple of people who weren't at school yesterday were dealing with the news. I still tear up at seeing pictures of her where her bag went every time I come out of my classroom, then I noticed the pictures of her in the hallway - swimming, watching bubbles and balls.

Admin came through and despite not telling me about it, I got more help. A very experienced OT will be in my first session, taken from B1s class who apparently hadn't been told either and wasn't very happy. I only had 3 kids for the day, Snow White is at integration on a Friday and Sleeping Beauty was going to come in at lunch but had been very tired and was still asleep. After yesterday that was worrying me. My sessions weren't great but the counting by tens book that Cinderella is making seems to be a great motivator and she is happy to do it and learning what I want her to. Middle session we tried to do some math but Goldilocks was being herself very loudly and didn't want to be involved so I sent her for a walk around the corridors. I had to get very grumpy with her after throwing and kicking blocks around.

The student's teacher came to see them and it was cool to talk to her. It's nice getting an outsiders perspective of how nice an environment I work in. I think I get so involved in my own misery that I forget how much better this place is than a grungy high school. The student had to do a project so I set her up with making a big book of the one we are using at the moment. She put heaps of work into it and I was so excited it was hard to write some professional sounding comments for her! It was something I would never have found time for but will be great for reading as a class. I'll take some photos and get Cinderella and the others to write a thank you note to send to her.

Lunch was ok but when I came back Goldilocks was on the floor and her walker some distance from her. Not unusual, but when I went to tell her off she was just lying there. Not being naughty and trying to get away, just a yawn – which I've never seen from her and put her head down again. I tried to get her up and she sat and tried to flap. It was the slowest, most pathetic thing I've ever seen from her. She lay down again. She was hot and clammy. She wouldn't say anything. I was worried. I got someone to stay with her and went to find the teachers who'd been on duty. She had been fine and as annoying as usual. Now I was really worried and called the nurse. She didn't like the look of it either, especially for a child not prone to fits. We got her into her pusher and she actually said something. Now she was looking pale and her eyes weren't moving very fast. The nurse called her mum to see if a sudden tired crash was normal and we took her to the hall to see the circus anyhow. She managed an excited flap for the national anthem but not at her usual speed or volume of comments. She started breathing a bit funny, huffing, and holding her jaw like a yawn but not completed. The nurse stayed in the hall but Goldilocks wanted to be near me no sit with her. I think she just watched my face and when I looked alarmed at the breathing change and then later at Goldilocks saying 'Mm.. It's dark in here.' Then mum came to pick her up because none of this was usual for her. After Thursday I wasn't feeling very comfortable with the situation. But the circus was funny and Little Red Riding Hood even managed to keep herself under control to watch it after a minor scream at the start. She didn't even scream at the fire juggling. Cinderella went out the front to help the clowns. She was great, Hg look at this, look at this!

So now I'm still a bit shaky. Going to see Clare Bowditch tonight with a mate and then to a party if it's still going. Have some fun. I need it. Am glad I have the cat, he is great company and comfort. I should stop reading blogs and get on with shopping and cleaning my house. So much for keeping on top of things this term. It's been a hard week. I think I'm doing ok... And I rode my bike (and took the train) twice this week. That was good maybe 3 times next week.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Do I really have to go back?

The brief bit of fun I had thinking up cool stuff I could do with the kids and justify as educational has transmuted to a nagging anxiety that:
- admin are full of sh*t
- my time will be just as difficult
- stubborness will lead me to continue with this job long after it ceases to be reasonable proposition.

After the last two weeks of last term, I feel that the chances of admin comming through on their promises is very slim. I so want them to justify my faith in them.

The experience of the love/hate relationship I am developing with this job alarms me. To feel this passionate about something is unusual for me (... and I tend towards a fatalistic mind set that assumes everything will end badly - possibly not a great combination). I want to be positive and think - I can get through this. I will see change in the establishment over time. I will learn and become a better teacher. I am a good teacher now.

Why is self doubt so crippling? When will the critical mass of complement and praise be reached so that I can actually believe it and pat myself on the back rather than keep beating myslf up?

I wish I could express myself more coherently but I am struggling to control the rising sense of panic about going back on Monday.

In positive news:
I got a kitten! He is very cute and cuddly and scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and stress levels. He also looks like he'll be the death of all my indoor plants but they seem to be growing back and he's only been here just over a week!

The temp teacher who has been such a wonderful source of support will be back as our part time Domestic Godess! 3 days a week cooking with the kids, including one afternoon in my classroom! (Whilst I am excited/relieved at the thought, it is only replacing a person I had last term rather than giving me more hands - not all I am hoping for from admin.

I cleaned my house during the holidays! I will start the term on a better footing with things more organised and more of a clue what I am doing. Apparently normal in one's first year of teaching or even full time professional employment. A con for trying a different school next year is having to start all over again rather than build on these small victories.

I can make sustainable transport work! A 40 minute ride across town and 20 min train ride will give me excercise, stress relief and 'me' time that driving will never be able to do. It will also be cheaper! It may not be everyday, but I'm hoping for 3 for starters. I can always shorten the ride by getting a train out of the city if I am really tired.

I am doing an Auslan course one evening a week. It will be great to be able to practice at work with the kids and with the Domestic Godess who is proficient in it. I had the first class in the last week of term and it was so nice to have an hour and a half learning something new and not thinking about school. Another small step to finding some balance in my life!

I feel better after writing about the positives.

Oh yeah, and the psych will organise a meeting in the second or third week with admin to review what they've done to help me. So at least I have her support in trying to get some help.

Only 11 weeks until next holidays...
55 days...
How many sickies do I have again?

Monday, June 19, 2006


Have decided not to post this week after now, but to give myself a bit of space to get my life back together. Relax, breathe, work out how to face next term mentally and then next week I'll think about planning etc.

It's a beautiful sunny day, which makes me feel more positive about everything and means I can get out of bed and get things done (although this morning was hard with the staying up 'til 4 am to watch the world cup match between Brazil and the Aussies...).

The last week of school was really hard and promised support didn't eventuate and now I feel apprehensive that nothing will happen to help me next term either.

So here's where I'm at now:

  • I reckon there will be politics and annoying people wherever I work.

  • The main motivation for fighting for more support for myself is that if I don't it will be the kids I teach that don't get a fair go. They deserve better than I can give them with no help. (That sounds professionally responsible rather than wimpy...)

  • I need to do something difficult for once and not run (ie. grow up)

  • I actually care passionately about the kids in that school and the work I do (which is really unusual for me and a bit scary) and want to make the place better than it is.

  • I am probably in a good position to make change happen in the school if I can work out how to do it.

  • Am I arrogant or what?

  • The problem is now that I don't trust admin to let me have what I need or my own strength and conviction in fighting for it. I am too much of a wuss to stand up when I don't feel 100% on top of the situation. I can't see myself as someone who can create change right now, I feel weak, scared and powerless. ... and tired so very tired.

So my plan for the holidays is to clean my house, get a cat, see the psychologist and try to work out a way of getting through this, catch up with people I love, rest, watch the football/soccer, plan for next term, ride my bike, get my life back together... That should be achievable.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Thanks to those who posted words of encouragement. It meant a lot to me and made me aware of the communitarian possibilities of the blogoshpere (I may be making up words here, but I hope you get what I mean).

My school is filled with beautiful caring people who have helped me get through the last few weeks encouraged me to find solutions. I would have been nice if 'mentoring' had worked and functioned as it is supposed to but we have all learnt things from this experience.

Things I learnt:
Anger is better than misery.
I can use my anger to make things happen.
Crying too frequently is a bad sign, not something normal that happens to everyone. It shouldn't.
My mentor wasn't.
Admin have very little idea of what happens in the rest of the school.
Admin like me and were very upset that I wasn't being supported.
Admin can accept responsibility for getting it wrong.
I am the first really new staff member for a very long time.
I am not responsible for everything.
Communication is sometimes difficult but sooooo important.
Ego is the biggest barrier to admitting I am not coping and need help.
It is professionally responsible to ask for help.

So, to fill in what actually happened... I was struggling and felt like I was failing. Many teachers other than my 'mentor' were picking up the pieces and I started to realise that I wasn't really being mentored at all. After another weekend of tears, I got angry, really angry. On Monday I got even angrier and typed it all out. Wednesday my 'mentor' finally asked how I was going and decided we needed to talk. I wasn't in the mood by then (too little too late) and she couldn't read the signals that I was giving to get the h*ll out of my face. Thankfully, Wednesday is the day the psychologist is in and I took her my 1000 words of anger that I had typed out. She took it to the principal (and AP) for me and they were quite shocked, upset and determined to make it better. I felt better than my pain had been acknowledged and the psychologist told my mentor to give me a bit of space, something I am incredibly grateful for. Admin were away for a conference but scheduled a meeting for Monday which I was very wound up about over the weekend. But I managed it and didn't cry. They were quite emotional too which was kind of nice that they actually care. I asked them for my ideal world – 2 days a week with a team teacher/mentor preferably the temp who has been in the room next door. I wont get that, but will get a couple of different people over my hardest days. It looks like they want me to work with B2 which will upset my mentors apple cart just a wee bit but the AP is willing to take the fall out over that (I don't feel any need for revenge or wish anyone harm, but anything that will upset B1 seems to make everyone else happy... that worries me in it's own way). I told admin the areas I felt I needed more knowledge in and the kinds of support I felt would get me through. They promised me team teaching for next year, but I am not thinking about that yet. They said that they see me as the future of the school! That scared the crap out of me and to cope I cracked a joke and asked when the violin music would start. At least they get it when I'm joking.

Other things I should talk about are:

Work experience/community involvement kids


Maybe later...

1000 words of anger

This is what the Principal and AP got to read, and a couple of my collegues (who nodded a lot and couldn't think of anything to add).

Names have been changed.
It is unedited and some of the sentences don't quite work.

29th May

Last Friday I considered not coming back to this school. I was so disheartened and felt so much like a failure. After processing a lot of feelings and things that people have been saying to me, I turned a corner and now I’m angry and frustrated. I don’t want to leave but things can not continue as they are. I now feel that I have done the best I can under the circumstances and it is the school that has failed me.

Things that have made me angry (in no particular order):

The mentoring process is non existent and the one meeting to discuss it talked solely about the VIT process rather than the concept of any of our expectations of mentoring or whether I was actually getting any. By the time a regular meeting was offered, I had been seeking support from other staff who are much more amenable to the task. I feel I can not be true to myself and honest with B1 as she reacts very strangely when I am open and forthright in asking for help. I feel like I am shocking her.

Almost every other teacher has offered to take one or all of my students on a regular or ad hoc basis if I felt I needed it or it would help the student’s individual program. After talking with a speechie about more appropriate program for one of my students when the idea was brought to B1 it was completely out of the question because “We couldn’t possibly have 11 students”. This shocked me, considering the support I had already had from other staff, that she is my mentor, and it is supposed to be a team supporting the prep transition.

When I am occasionally asked if I need anything I find that B1 doesn’t understand where I am coming from. My stress does not come from being disorganised or unplanned but from not having the underlying knowledge base to have a variety of plans, assessment structures and management experience to meet my student’s needs, moods and behaviour. I haven’t had time to get my head around teaching as a whole let alone in a special setting and with small children and those in their first years of school. These are unique challenges that I had and, unfortunately, continue to have.

My prep students and I have been hugely disadvantaged at an important time with our lack of Speech therapy. The supply of a speech aid for one session a few weeks ago, bringing our total up to 2/3 scheduled speech input. With my lack of experience in communicating with these children and their unfamiliarity with the school environment this has been unacceptable. Unfortunately, there has been no offer of support in this area from others with more experience working with preps, it had been considered to be admin’s responsibility.

The pregnant co-worker was a regular presence in my early days at the school and a great support in practical matters in establishing the classroom and discussing ideas but should not have been considered an adequate substitute for proper mentoring and continued support.

Team teaching would have been an ideal situation for this year so I could actually learn from someone whilst on the job. In the small amounts of time I have spent with my students and other teachers I find this a very valuable way to see how others teach and interact with the students, especially with managing behavioural issues amongst my class. I feel like the learning opportunities that would have supported me in the beginning were overlooked despite full knowledge of my lack of training and experience. In the next three weeks I will endeavour to make opportunities to do this in other classrooms.

Program and reporting support has been provided in a ‘here’s what we’re doing, you can alter it for yours’ fashion rather than by teaching me how to understand the students in my class and plan for their needs. I am not learning by this and often find the approaches given do not work for my students who require more stimulation and behaviour management. When I asked for someone to come and see how they interact I was offered a session where the video was put on and we planned the program.

I understand that I need to ask for help and have many questions for everyone, but what has distressed me most recently is the realisation that I can not, in my ignorance know all the things that I need. When I was pushed by other staff to give them one thing I was worried about that they could discuss with me, I chose assessment as an area I felt was beyond my grasp in this situation. They asked me was I doing X and Y and I had no idea what they were talking about, apparently common assessment techniques for this kind of setting that I was completely
unaware of.

Level 1 team does not exist with me as a part of it and I am left to capitulate or find y own way. Most recently was talk in PS staff meeting about the upcoming assembly with things to be done in levels and a song to be chosen. What level one were doing was given as an example and it was the first time I’d heard about it.

Whilst my class are adorable, they are very hard to manage and from other people’s observation this does not seem to be a failing on my part. To have given me such a disparate class with so many differences and behavioural issues, it seems like an unfair expectation to expect me to cope or do the job to my own satisfaction. I don’t know how to train preps or what they need and how to interest them, I have a student who is well in advance of the rest of the class and has done it all before and deserves to be extended more adequately than I can manage whilst keeping the others in their chairs. The other ‘grade one’ also needs extending but in different ways due to her attention span and physical difficulties. At my level of experience I feel I am under staffed to cope with these challenges.

It is now too little too late… I am very angry that when I have been at my lowest everybody except the person who is supposed to be supporting me has seen it and asked how I am going. Perhaps I would have been too honest. People ask me how I’m going and I tend to tell them.

I’m not sure what to do now. I love working with these kids and the possibilities in this type of education but I can’t see me wanting to stay for he next half of the year if changes are not made somehow. I want to learn and grow in this profession but without increased support I don’t think this school is the environment for me to do it in.

Friday, May 26, 2006

worst school week ever

glad I don't have to pay to see the school psychologist

Monday, May 22, 2006

18 days + a PD

Yeah, I am counting to keep me going.

Today wasn't great. I was tense. I swore at innanimate objects in company. I used the f-word after school in front of the head of primary. Thankfully I haven't sworn in front of the kids yet. It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't 6!

I have a busy week ahead and it wasn't a great start.

Speech aide who comes in because I still don't have a speechie was frustrated by Goldilock's usual behaviour. I am with her all day, every day. They are all hard work.

I was chatting to the art teacher this morning about how I'd been feeling over the weekend. She gave me a beautiful reply to the people who comment about teachers and all their holidays - yeah, there are lots of holidays, but in between is teaching.

Teaching ain't easy!
(The kids were good today though... :o)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Meltdown #? (3 or 4, I think)

Picture of the board outside my classroom.

The class made the letters in art and we made the dinosaurs in our Hand Program with our OT. You can also see a standing frame and 2 kaye walkers used by some of my students.
I'll shift the yellow to the E on Monday.

Haven't stopped thinking about work all weekend. Have got 2 PowerPoint books almost ready to be printed and put together, a ton of ideas and stuff loaded onto the work laptop ready to get to work when I find a spare minute.

Had a weepy and stressed week. Not a fan of feeling like that. The colleagues I am most comfortable with emotionally Dolly and the temp next door had me in tears before 9 o'clock on Friday. I just managed to hold it together through the day and then they had me in tears again at the pub (I don't want to recount the conversation there, it wasn't helpful and I am not sure how much of it to believe. I need practical solutions not to be told I shouldn't have been put in the situation). I ended up giving the temp a lift home and we talked and talked until 3am! At least compared to the start of my day my shoulder wasn't crunching every time I moved it (that's where I hold most of my tension). Got lots of great ideas and things I want to try.

Saturday I ended up on the phone to a mate, who has also just started teaching this year, for 3 hours... What did we learn? That despite me teaching 6 year olds in special ed and her teaching math science at a secondary school it is the same sh*t in different buckets. The problem appears to be that teaching is a challenge and we are both used to an easy ride. Life has been good to us and we have cruised along feeling confident and competent at school, work, uni - nothing too hard. Teaching is hard. We need time to grow into it, years longer than either of us has the patience to contemplate. Perhaps we are not getting all the help that would be ideal, but we are learning as we go the hard way. We are at different life stages to our colleagues. We feel isolated and unsure of the politics, machinations, loyalties of the people around us. We will both be exploring our options at the end of this year. We are both trying to teach our kids to put their hands up and listen to each other- looks like that is a never ending chore of teaching.

I feel like I have a better perspective on teaching and my place in the experience of it now. I hope this feeling lasts me at least this week with PSG meetings for the preps, reports needing to be done and a visit from Snow White's teacher and integration aide from her other school.

I don't consider myself a poet but I really liked this post over at An Identity of One's Own.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tired, very tired

Um... mentoring, yesterday's PD, the kids, dress up day, p*ssed off paper shuffle dance...

Starting with the fun stuff... dress up day! I was a pirate - those who know me will not be surprised by this. The kids thought it was hilarious! I had 2 faery students, a clown, a witch and a late arrival (after 3 days sick) who became Shrek at short notice. In our literacy session, my OT was a fairy godmother and my literacy support person was another fairy - but much bigger! Helpers I had throughout the day turned into a big Shrek and disguised detectives (there was a trench coat in the dress up box). We went a bit silly and played around with words and new names for ourselves, the clever clown, funny faery, fantastic faery, wicked/wonderful witch etc. We took lots of photo's and we agreed that alliteration and having fun with words were good things to model for the kids... and I'll make a dressing up book that we can read in class and they can take home.

Apparently yesterday Cinderella was quite concerned that I wasn't there to look after them and it looks like I'll never get a day off with approval from the kids! Snow white was a bit unsteady and bewildered by my non appearance too. 2 of them were away and Goldilocks would have called out for me but not been particularly bothered. Sleeping Beauty is unwell, lots of seizures. Mum brought her in for a bit today but didn't really want to come. She had a small seizure in class and recovered ok. Completely off her food, not even throwing it. I sat with her during part of hand program after the seizure, she kept rubbing her head and Mum had mentioned that something was going on there. I stroked that bit of her temple and she calmed down and was no longer focused on touching it but looking around at what the other kids were doing. It was interesting. In the same session Snow White did a lot of independent work but didn't stop where we though her work looked nice and finished, but went on to add some really odd things and cut it in half after mangling it with the scissors and stick white paper over her colouring before she was satisfied. I wish she could tell us what the heck she was thinking.

PD - might save that one til I get around to writing it up for school and VIT assignment.

This morning I got told there was a meeting this afternoon with the head of primary, head of secondary, myself and the principal about the mentoring program. Mostly it was about making sure everyone understood what I was needing to get through the VIT registration process and that those opportunities were being given to me and we were on track. The P said she had assumed that being the heads of departments, those two would take on mentoring duties... but didn't tell them that. B1 and I had already had this discussion but now it is formalised and I have to have someone who has done the mentor training. They asked if I felt it would help if I had a regular time to meet with B1 and that was definitely a yes. I guess you should never expect to get everything you need from one person but it's a pain to have to 'shop' around for the practical and emotion support that I need. I feel a bit bad that I wasn't particularly perky during the meeting. I was there in body, I am just very tired.

p*ssed off paper shuffle dance - Premier's reading challenge, PSG's for preps, PD report, Diaries, Reports - take your pick.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Aftermath of PD

I feel overwhelmed by the concept of teaching. I doubt my capability to do it properly, or, more accurately, to the standards I set myself. I don't like feeling incompetent on such a regular basis. I know this is supposed to be a learning profession and I don't want to get to the place where I am complacent but I would like to feel proficient, just for one day, where I feel I have the knowledge and resources to do the job as it should be done.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I don't mind Mondays

Had an awful lot of trouble getting my head together this morning and can't say I managed to achieve that aim at all today.

Literacy was interesting this morning. I worked with Cinderella and it was funny how she got all bashful when things were difficult and bored when she could do it. How do you develop a 'can do' attitude in a 6 year old? I felt bad because we spent a bit, what I felt was too much, time planning and discussing ideas. I so wish we had more time in the day to get this sort of thing done without it having an impact on teaching time.

Swimming was good.

Staff meeting was sleep inducing. It would be nice if the speaker would look at the audience and stay on track. It was also too simple. Bored. Want more. Most of the people are tertiary educated - pitch it higher!

The temp teacher in the room next door is having some life issues. I worry about her. It's hard because professionally I really look up to her. Of all the teachers at that school, she is the one I want to 'grow up' to be like. What sets her apart? Perhaps an outsiders perspective on the place we are in; perhaps the way she deals with my questions no matter what their nature - efficient, practical, no bullsh*t; perhaps because she has high standards and similar frustrations that staff who have been in the place for years can just no longer care about. It's hard to articulate at this time of night, actually it wouldn't be easy at any time. She offers me more support than anyone else and she could do with more than she'll let anyone give her. I like her perspectives on the workings of the place and the personalities within. She has a better grasp of school as a workplace and more to compare it to than me. I like it but it feels weird sometimes. She can articulate it and draw the connections I can sense but not see.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Q & A

When am I supposed to find time to think and plan?
- Poor young thing, you are still so naive.

When will I lose my idealism?
- You won't, but you will become realistic.
And bitter?
- probably.

Structure or Spontaneity?

This week I have been frustrated by the lack of structure in my math lessons and the ad hoc nature of my teaching – that's a nice way of putting the feeling that I am lurching from one disaster to another. Being from a science nerd background (and a Virgo), I like structure. It gives me comfort and I have an underlying sense that this is what I should have to be a successful teacher.

This has been a thought that has been nagging me all week but only today have I had the head space to nut it out. I have been scrounging math resources and ideas all week but struggling to decide how to put them together in a sequence. I bounce from time to space to number concepts depending on the situation and interest (ok, and behaviour) of the kids. Then this morning I read an article about an 'innovative' way of teaching preps that pretty much goes with the flow of interest. So, I'm thinking what is the point of what I'm doing erm, teaching? My kids may not end up rocket surgeons but they may be able to... really, I don't want to place any limits on where or what they might end up doing – the point I'm trying to make is that I do have to think about now.

They are 6! Learning has to be related and fun. One of the things I loved about the way they taught at this school was the integrated nature of the learning and here I am trying to compartmentalise it to fit some idea of what teaching should be! I think I will collate resources into areas: measurement/growth, space, time, number/counting activities, money, shapes, etc. and then try to apply them to things we do and structure our math sessions around stuff I can link... probably to literacy topics.

Finish making our own number 4 & 5 next week.

E: elephants, enormous > bigger, smaller, same – trace ourselves?

F: fish (we are going on an excursion to buy a class pet!) number, size of fish, volume of water – more or less?

G: growing, measure grass heads growth, measure height. Graph!

H: haircuts for our grass and measure again – how much cut off? Hair colour graph, who has the longest hair?


Cinderella behaved well yesterday. I gave her achievable stuff to do and she worked by herself and was rewarded by doing some math on the computer. She didn't whine much but I was still ready for the week to be over at lunchtime. Sleeping Beauty is doing an sneering Elvis impression regularly and delivered a brain curdling scream of defiance/frustration at us today - ouch. We went swimming after lunch. With only 2 students in the pool we got some hard work done and a bit of fun... and I relaxed.

Left for Friday drinks/debrief and found the person who I was looking for at admin. Our nurse, who I am becoming friends with, was talking with the principal.

Nurse:- Are you behaving yourself?

Me:- Me? Never! (Look at Principal) – except when the Principal is looking (put on innocent face).

Principal: (Laughs and seems to day pointedly) Not even when the Principal is looking.

Could be my perception, but I now wonder if that comment had anything to do with anything I said or did at the primary school dinner? Too late now, eh? If they don't like me they don't have to hire me again next year.

Have found a heap of new education blogs, and a stack of Aussie ones that I will add to reading list when I can be bothered tackling the Html.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


This morning the primary school meeting ended up in my room. By that point - sadly 8.15 am - I really didn't give a sh*t. One of the other teachers really didn't want to and at least my room was tidy after open day yesterday. So I did my sharing... The sharing thing has always been a strange concept to me in this context. So I did something that was easy for me. I took lots of photo's of the class during a hand program with our OT where we made play dough. Flour, salt, water, food colouring & 6 year olds going banana's! I pasted them into a PowerPoint slide show with some smart a*se comments. The other teachers thought it was great but were dismayed by my use of technology. It looks professional, but that's not really me, it's the program.

Had a good chat with my 'team'. My OT and physio are thinking the same way as me but none of us really have the experience to do anything but experiment for possible solutions. I guess this is what everyone does, but I reckon we'd get there faster with a few more years experience between us. Perhaps that's the point, we learn together. At least they are trained in their fields, I feel I am the one most lacking.

Helped out Dolly with a computer problem. Her formatting was up the creek and she wanted me to help. In the end it was just the page margins that needed adjusting to make the documentfit the page like the original she had. Relatively simple but it really highlights the difference in my comfort with computers compared with most of the teachers I work with. I wonder if this would be different in a school where the kids are capable of using the technology maybe they would drag the teachers up with them.

At the end of today I went to chat with B1 & B2 about my problem with Cinderella and the ohters. I put it honestly, that it pisses me off and when I am tired, sick and grumpy I snap at them and I want to deal with it in a different way. I'm not sure B1 is used to either the way I use language or what I am prepared to be honest about - my failings. She seemed taken a little aback and it was her that replyed that that was a very honest way of putting it. I like her use of 'honest' when I seem to have shocked her a bit. They gave me some different strategies, suggestions and things they did last year. I am still perplexed at the way B1 reacts to me. Maybe I'm too out there for her. I dunno. I won't be anyone but myself, ever. Not doing.

At the PD I went to the other week he suggested we have a telos (brief statement of purpose) - or in my words cheesy quote - to define the important stuff for time management - or sorting out the important stuff... So, I put one up in my room. The kids noticed, so I explained it to them. and in my PD evaluation where they ask what you will implement after the PD, I said that's what I'd do. So this is the quote:

"It is good to have an end to journey towards;
but it is the journey that matters in the end."

Ursula K. Le Guin

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Open Day

or Relatively Painless.

Only had one group through. The kids all said hello and then I was able to get their attention back with a new D game - dress ups! That was actually quite fun and I am looking forward to seeing the photo's.

By the afternoon I was sick of them. I am crook and my tolerance is low. It is hard enough in that class to make it work when there aren't enough hands but I can't be doing with whining! Can't is not a word I want to hear. 'I need help' is fine but don't whine 'I can't' at me. Cinderella had tasks that were within her capability but she wouldn't work at them, and complained she couldn't do them. She didn't try. It really pissed me off a) because she is the one I need to able to work independently and b) because I don't want to encourage learned helplessness - especially not from disabled kids.

I spoke to the teacher next door and she advised me to cut down on the academic challenge in those sessions and work on the persistence and resilience if that was what I really wanted. She told me to worry less and take it easy so I can take a step back and see how far they have come since they started. She seemed to think I needed more structured time with a mentor and she would but she is paid poorly enough for her time and energy anyhow being a short term replacement teacher. She is someone I really like and respect I will miss her a lot when her time here is up.

I need parenting skills. I don't understand 6 year olds and where they are at in life. I can't just teach them things, I need to grow them up too - I really can't think a grammatically decent way of putting that thought, sorry, past my bed time.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Today was ok. Only 3 kids today. Sleeping Beauty had an appointment and Little Red Riding Hood is still sick. I, however am feeling a tad better. Still got a terrible cough but no pain killers required today.

Talked to B1 about not really lesson planning and she didn't seem to think it was something I should be worried about with my group and at this stage.

Got my reports back from the principal with a couple of grammatical changes to make. All fine with me. I think I am getting more comfortable with her now.

Had half the day to get stuff done but am a bit apprehensive about open day tomorrow. I had a visitor principal and some bloke who shook my hand... (weird) this afternoon when we were just calming down from physical program and waiting to go home. Not the best bit of the day to see. We weren't really doing much. I might need to clean up a bit when I get in tomorrow, but hopefully they won't be looking at my desk...

Monday, May 08, 2006

cough... cough... hnaaaaghk!

I don't feel very good. Work was ok, but I feel worse now. I will go to bed soon.

I didn't swim today. I had less kids and there were enough helpers to give me the arvo off. I was kind of fizzing today. Had lots of things I felt really needed to be done, but it really depleted my energy to do any of it. I brought stuff home but I won't do any.

This morning I started with two kids and it was really interesting to see the interplay between Goldilocks and Cinderella. Goldilocks was really settled as she was getting lots of attention and Cinderella was a lot nicer to her than usual. Sleeping Beauty arrived and it was harder to keep a lid on things. Snow White arrived at morning tea.

Handed my draft 'reports' in to the principal and asked if I could hand them in on a memory stick at mid year or whenever I was going to be compelled to waste a lot of trees next. She said that was fine and that she needed to be dragged into modern technology. We chatted about it and she was fine if I was the only one doing it that way. Dolly told me that I shouldn't do that as the principal would want them all to do it that way, but I think she know what the teachers here are like.

Showed the teacher in the room next door my CRT folder. She has done lots of emergency teaching and thought it sounded ok. I looked at some of her math stuff and felt really bad that I don't write lesson plans. I just wing it all the time and have it in my head. The problem is that I have to improvise depending on how the kids react. I have no direction, no forward planning. Just one thing at a time. It makes me feel like an inadequate teacher, no matter how great a job people tell me I'm doing.

I gotta go to bed.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Got their bugs!

I am definitely unwell. At least it has prompted me to finally finish off the information that I need to prepare in case I need a day off.

The important stuff -– how my students communicate and eat; and the less important stuff -– when I have yard duty, what administrivia needs to be filled in etc.

Friday night I went to bed at 9.30 and slept for 12 hours. Not a good sign, nor is the yellow mucous...

The question I'm left pondering goes kind of like this (my brain isn't running at 100%, forgive me if this verges on the incoherent) – when is it morally right to take a day off? I like my job, I don't need mental health days yet. They come to school sick and give me their germs, at what point to I accept that I can't do my job or worry that I will give them something? Soldiering on? When does self sacrifice become stupid? I assume I get 15 sick days for good reason. I know when I am incapable of doing the job, but what about when I'm just not doing so well? I guess if I sound too bad tomorrow the other teachers will mother/bully me into taking a day off. I can't have Wednesday off as it's open day. I need to be feeling OK to be able to deal with that.

I think it may be time to put on a pot of soup.

It's kind of weird that now I feel really crook I have the motivation to nest and do my dishes and clean up a bit.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Just one thing after another

Today I actually had 5 students! Snow White turned up for a day with a nasty cough after having bronchitis for the week. She was a bit unsteady and slower to get going for the day. Mum sent an essay in that had heaps of different things to address... Some days I just can't remember everything. I think I got to the most important things and anything else would have probably overloaded Mum as well.

Cinderella did some great stuff on the computer with our literacy support person, unfortunately Cinderella is better on the computer than her helper and whilst she managed to change the colour of the text they wanted to use, she forgot to activate it. Her helper thought it was just an old computer and it would print in pink... It's interesting that you need someone competent in the skills to get you to the point of problem solving. Everybody learnt something though.

Very tired today after only a moderately late night out for a school dinner. It was ok, but I may have been myself a bit too much...

Had a few good laughs with various people. Tired and flippant is the general excuse... B1 made a gorgeous lemon and cream sponge and I got offered some for afternoon tea after I'd gone in to ask B1 & B2 yet another hundred questions. They had a good laugh at me later when I was putting up some letters my students had made in art in front of our classroom. A, B, C, and D were already there and I added F and E in that order... Oops! Lucky I'm going to do some literacy training soon!

I found a picture I had taken close to the start of the year and it was amazing how blank the walls of the classroom were. B1 & B2 said it showed how much work I'd done. I guess, in a way, it does. It felt good to see the change and to have the classroom constantly evolving.

Ideas for math that I didn't get around to writing down anywhere:
Graphing, grouping, counting - eye colour, hair colour, glasses etc
Outlines of bodies and measuring height in cms, bricks, pieces of string, ducks etc.
Graph tallest, measure other things to compare?
Snakes and ladders group game.
Money concepts to think about.

Mmm... Indian take away dinner at the old's place tonight. Yummo!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Am feeling a bit better about it now but I was very grumpy, no, angry today.

This morning the head of primary tells me that really need to remove the long strip of masking tape that my physio put down the corridor to improve my kid's mobility. I'm like, um, why?

Well, the tape that was put down at easter seems to have left marks as it took the polish off the parketry*. So if you take this off now it will be ok.
- but the floor is crap anyway, why does it matter?
We need it to look good for open day.
- what's wrong with having tape on the floor?
I'll help you take it off. Look it's peeling bits off already.
- Ms X has had hopscotch longer than the easter things were there...
That will have to go too.
-but won't it look better if it stays? Can I paint one on?

No deal. I wander off in disgust at the direction of this conversation. but I must have rattled her cage enough to get her to head up to admin for a second opinion...

Yes, the floor isn't perfect. When they repaint outside they can do a line there.
- sigh

So, I bitched to everyone, made my physio take it off (and took a lot of the surface off so we can probably walk a line without it now - he he he... bitter laughter), and brought it up when I was chatting to the psychologist this arvo. I'm still not sure how to deal with what I felt like was the head of primary being emotionally dishonest with me. It just made me really angry that the floor came before the learning of my kids and there wasn't even a logical response. Just I'll get an agreementr from higher that it has to come off.

After school I went and chatted with one of the APs. I had calmed down and thought of my own solution. so asked her if she knew where I could get that vinyl stuff that sticks with static electricity because... blah, blah, had to take it off and now it looks worse than if I'd left it on... (she laughed at that!) and the floor is pox anyhow (nods). Then we thought about paint and it looked like if everyone agreed, we could get it done, but then the issue of polishing it off became problematic... so we emailed the sign writer who had just done some stuff for us to see if he could help us out or point us in the right direction. If this doesn't pan out we'll take another look at painting in a way that will stick...

An interesting day. An emotional journey. May even have achieved something.

*stupid flooring for any school!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Snow White is still away. Some kids will be sent in with nasty coughs and and snotty, grotty noses but I suspect that Mum wont let her precious baby out with even a hint of a sneeze. Sleeping Beauty is still on half days but doing ok with that as she has a lot of stuff happening at home with the moving house and renovations.

B1, my official mentor, pointed me in the direction of a PD this morning that is designed for people who haven't taught literacy before. It looked kind of interesting so I started filling in the forms. In her sales pitch she made me feel a bit more confident about my future at this school. It sounds like they aren't too keen on the idea of having to let me go. Yay!

I have a math lesson with Cinderella and it doesn't go as well as I had hoped. I guess I shouldn't expect her to get the idea in one go no matter how much quicker than the rest of the kids she is. More quarters. More relation to clocks. Counting minutes too...

I have my time release, including the extra I'm supposed to get, and finish the forms. As I'm taking them up the front ...I realise that the date for the first one is on our open day. I get the reaction I expected - not likely. ...You have a very junior class and they all like to bring family in... ...Who would put a PD in education week? ...Email them and see if they are running it on another date...

Disappointment turns to guilty happiness... I check my email and find out that there are 2 extra dates, still on Wednesdays! I really don't like Wednesdays much. I will feel bad leaving the little monsters with a CRT but it will be a nice break to the week... perhaps.

Oh, and my extra swim on the Friday is coming together. I can fit 3 in for the rest of this term and then keep going. YAY!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Blogging Against Disablism Day!

So this isn't so much about my day today but my thoughts for blogging against disablism day...

The children I teach in my class are all 'disabled'. What does this mean for them? What does it mean for me? I need to teach them the things that will make them able to access mainsteam society and be socially acceptable in it. We can work on their physical capabilities and the behaviour and manners, but can anything we do in a school be enough to create the change that is really necessary.

I am at the point of thinking carefully about separate special schools, integration with mainstream schools and, the 'pinnacle', inclusion. Special schools and integration processes both have their good and bad points but where do we start in creating an inclusive school system, or better yet, society. For me, inclusion is a school/society where it doesn't matter what means you use to gain access to your environment (including people) they are acceptable and available. The dream where everybody is able to see past the wheelchair, the frame and flapping hands, the electronic communication devices and signs, the slurred speech or uncontrollable movements and get to know the amazing people who are more than their diagnosis.

There is a lot about being the parent of a disabled child that I don't understand. The guilt, the greif, the pain that makes you let them get away with anything and everything that any other kid would be in serious trouble for. That makes my life as a teacher hard and it is very wearing maintaining the consistency of discipline that they need.

I also can never understand what it is like for them. The frustration and anger as they realise they are different and the world is not set up to make it easy for them. I want to thank the people with disabilities who blog and give me an insight into the future for my 6 year old students. It may be a bit early to start them blogging though...

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Thoughts from last week:

I still find the principal scary even when she is welcoming and friendly.

I am used to going through channels rather than heading to the top even if it mean waiting for something I need - like help.

People I have spoken to when upset have kept my confidence.

My students are in a special school for a reason.

I still can't be bothered doing my dishes.

Having my car serviced cost $400! I will have to save my pennies.

My foot is not fixed yet :o(

My graduation was on the same day as my pregnant co worker's (for her masters). She said I should have gone. I told her it wouldn't have made it any less boring!

I now have 7 weeks to try and establish some sort of routine in my life. Ha!

My planning still leaves a lot to be desired.

Reading the archives of other bloggers as they started teaching makes me feel a whole lot better, or at least not complete freak.

Did I blog about Goldilocks and the vegemite sandwiches? I can't remember...

I am getting CRAFT disease. Can't Remember A F**king Thing!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Back to bobbing

Am better today for crying at mum and going belly dancing. More relaxed physically and mentally. That said, I'm very tired and intend to go to bed at 9.30 and sod the dishes!

Today was ok with the kids. I had all of them there this morning and we dressed up as Dippy Duck and I got the photo's done. It was very cute.

Finished the boards in the corridors for my kids, might need another picture for the big VELS level board that I have to do with the other prep class with their level 1 kids.

Have discovered B2's evil twin - and I like her! Dolly (most appropriate name I can think of for the teacher who has become a good mate - my kids swim with her class, I would have mentioned her before) said the evil twin was a lot of fun but would disappear when B1 returned. At lunchtime I commented to B2 that I like her evil twin and she said she would go. Later I dug a bit deeper and she said that the extra work with B1 away had made her tired and flippant. I told her I would make it my mission to get the evil twin to come by more often! Geez, she cracks me up when she is naughty though, and gets me good!

She also told me about her first teaching job in a one teacher country school with 12 kids of every grade level, 2 hours from anyone she knew and her first time out of home! I felt like a big wuss.

Everything was ok today, days like yesterday I hope will come and go (quickly, with any luck!) and although I didn't expect this year to be as hard as it is. Well, I did expect it to be hard but I had no idea what type of hard it would be. I thought it would be discipline with teenagers... he!

Love/Hate... nah, it's not hate yet, but it's definitely love!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. Held back tears a lot today. Cried at mum this evening. I don't want to worry people but it's hard. I knew this was a difficult thing to take on and it will take time for me to get used to it - but I want it better, NOW!

Hopefully my 'mentor' will be back next week and I can see if she can do something about the fact that I should be doing less work as a graduate. I have 15 mins less duty time scheduled, which is far less than the 5% of total workload that I am entitled to. I don't want to moan about it but I think it would really help me out to have more time. That is my plan for next week. Get it sorted.

The kids were naughty and noisy today. Got very close to yelling at them. Other teachers reckon I should just do it, even if it scares the bejesus out of them. I would feel bad. It might happen.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'm not like them...

... but do I want to be?

Yesterday we had a curriculum day and went to see a psychologist talk. He was alright, I learnt some things about different types of people and spent some time feeling pretty uncomfortable amongst teachers. I don't seem to be like them and it wasn't just that I teach in a different setting or that I was in a minority group in a personality analysis exercise, it was more than that, but I'm not sure how to describe it.

There was a lot of talk about kids needing someone to be the adult, someone who seems through their tricks and attitude and can stand up to it. Maybe it's not so relevant to 6 year olds or maybe it's easier as they are so much smaller, but I'm not sure I am ready yet to be that adult for anyone, even myself.

Most of the teachers were, um, a bit boring. They are such 'normal' people. It was hard being in a huge group of people and feeling that you don't fit in. That and I get bored very easily and there wasn't enough detail on the things I was actually interested in. That, and I couldn't really contribute to any group discussion on our table. I met a nice grade 2 teacher and she had some good insights into kid's behaviour that I learnt a lot from.

Today we had a day off for Anzac day. I went to a mate's place to watch the footy. (Go Pies!) Rode my bike over and it was a good ride. Made my foot very very sore by kicking the footy in the street and in the back yard. The ride home was ok but my foot is still occasionally throbbing today. Taking it easy at work tomorrow will be a bit difficult... It's so frustrating that it's still not right and the slightest amount of increase in activity causes pain again. Not happy!

Only three days left of this week. I think I can make it.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Like a tightly coiled spring

I had all sorts of stuff earlier but reading other blogs with similar concerns calms me down so much. I really like the newest posting from Middle School Mayhem, but it worries me that I could be teaching for years and none of this would get any better. I had a chat with the head of the Speechies this evening at about 6pm... We are our own worst enemies. Caring about your job and not burning out - where is the 'how to' manual? Balance. HA!

Tomorrow the assembly will be over and I will go for a drink. Then it is just organising for open day in education week. My room got new tables on tuesday arvo. I have an awful feeling that not only my over attached mums (and families) will attend but also that random visitors and potential enrollees will want to see prep classes... It will be chaos! I hope there will be someone to act as a bouncer at the end of it!

I can't believe how tense I am at the moment. I know I need to swim tomorrow morning but it will be such a struggle getting out of bed. I liked the sun in the morning but hate this dark and rain. No good for my mood at all.

Sigh. No need for pirates either. They are such girls. Cinderella has Mini Mouse on her eye patch and refuses all attempts to persuade her to be a pirate.

Snow White made the sounds of A, B & C today and tried to sing along with tic-tac-toe! She is also using communication books quite well. Wish I had more speech imput for her.

My physio has a bad back and isn't really engaged in her job here. The other physio who has one of my kids is doing thinking for her. I guess it's good that someone is picking up the slack, but then at least she's not ruining herself for the sake of others. Anyway I have to remember to ask her about a corset or something for Goldilocks.

I had a couple of good laughs today which was nice. One was in the middle of the staff meeting and included a snort which wasn't so good, but it was such an hilariously innappropriate comment.

I am going to try to remember to join in for Blogging Against Disablism Day. This link will take you to another site with all sorts of great links on living with disability. If I taught older kids, who were capable of it, I would get them blogging their experiences. It all contributes to the sum of human experience that would impossible to get by simply meeting and talking to people. At least that's one of my excuses.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

One of THOSE days

I'm feeling a bit better now. I've been to belly dancing with my mum and talked to my best mate who is freezing her ar*e off in a tent somewhere...

What's wrong? It's hard to say, but after Easter thing haven't been coming together well. I thought I was getting the balance thing happening but I don't seem to have enough time to get things done. The things I think that are getting left behind are the teaching and preparing decent lessons for my kids. That bothers me a lot.

People are looking out for me, which is nice, but I don't know what to tell them when they ask me how they can help. Stick all the velcro on for me??? I don't know! Although if I asked, they probably would do it for me...

I went to the relaxation session that the psychologist is running. It was good, but at the end she asked how I was doing and I didn't manage much in the way of a positive reply. She patted me sympathetically and I, of course, started crying... it was good to get some of it out and have someone tell me it's all normal. Doesn't make it feel much better, but at least I care enough to be worried about stuff... hmmm.

Cinderella was away today having her eyes looked at. They have deteriorated and she has to wear a patch over one eye for 3 hours a day. If she's not feeling too good about it I have got a perfect excuse for doing pirate things and having us all wear an eye patch in sympathy! It even fits with literacy, we can all be Captains!

Sleeping Beauty hasn't been well and is doing half days at school to try to get her enough sleep to stop her seizures. She has been really engaged in some things we are doing and been great at picking the right name when given a choice and asked a question in morning circle. She has also been verbalising a lot too. But the poor popette is so tired that she will snuggle into anyone who is within reach with a soft limb available to rest her head on.

I think Snow White may have had a seizure today but I'm not 100% sure. I described it in the diary to mum as jerky, shaky movement but whilst maintaining eye contact. I'm hoping it wasn't, or that we'll find out if it was. My pregnant co-worker was there and she wasn't sure either. It was definitely different.