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?