Sunday, December 16, 2012
As exciting as bacon wrapped sausages are, it was after dinner that the real excitement began. There was a disco, by which they mean a DJ and dance floor. I can honestly say, it was one of the weirdest experiences of my life to boogie with a bunch of tipsy teachers. We're generally a pretty straight-laced group of people, very rule bound and professional. Not on Christmas do night. They were letting loose. The Latin teacher was my favorite. She's a pretty big nerd and had said earlier that she'd only dance if they played good music, like Michael Jackson and ABBA. True to her word, when the first few bars of "Dancing Queen" blasted through the speakers she was on her feet and proceeded to flail about in a manner that I can only describe as 'rhythmically challenged." It was brilliant. By comparison, I looked amazing. Having never been drunk, I can't speak to how uninhibited one feels when intoxicated, but having witnessed the work Christmas do, I can honestly say I'm grateful that at least when I make a fool of myself, I'm aware of it. My housemate and I danced the night away and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It totally blew all of my other work Christmas parties out of the water. I think it's a tradition I'll have to bring home with me.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
|Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium|
|Thiepval Memorial, France|
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Friday, June 15, 2012
P.S. The pictures are frustratingly out of order. Sorry about that.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
I have now successfully completed my first half-term at my new job. I’m working at a fancy-pants girls’ grammar school in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Beaconsfield is one of the poshest areas in England, so the girls tend to be pretty posh as well. Perhaps needless to say, there has been a pretty steep learning curve. The school system here is quite different. When the kids are in their last year of primary school, they can take an exam to get into grammar school. If they pass, they’re funneled into the grammar schools, which are the best schools around. The general expectation is that grammar school students will go on to the best universities in the country and excel in everything they do. It’s a slightly different system than the good, old public schools of America that I’m used to. Added to the fact that the students are super clever, grammar schools are single-sex so there aren’t any boys around to distract them or make them feel bad if they’re smart. It’s fabulous. I think I like it even more because of the lack of all the spitting and other nightmares I had to endure as a full-time supply teacher.
Anyway, I was pretty intimidated to work there, since the girls have lofty ambitions that I could possibly destroy through my lack of knowledge of the English school system along with a general rustiness of the old teaching skills. Luckily, the person I replaced spent loads of time helping me prepare and giving me resources to use. Also, it turns out teaching is like riding a bike; once you learn, you never forget. Plus the girls are marvelous, they think I’m cool because I’m American, and they’re super keen to learn. It’s by far the easiest gig I’ve ever had as far as the classroom management is concerned. Basically it consists of an occasional well-placed look of disapproval or, as a last resort, a brief “Ladies, this is not the type of behaviour I would expect from you.” (It has to be spelled with a ‘u’ because it’s at an English school.) That is quite literally all I have to do to get things under control and that doesn’t even happen on a daily basis.
While I feel that I generally have the classroom management under control, the subject matter is another story entirely. The courses are run on a fortnightly schedule so I see each class a certain number of times over the course of the two weeks. For example, I see the year 9s twice per fortnight, while I see the year 10s and 11s five times over the same two-week period. I think it’s a lame system, but it allows the students to take a wider variety of subjects. What it also means is that I’m preparing a whole load of lessons that I may only teach once. Some days I have 5 different lessons to teach, with a different 5 lessons to teach the next day. Add to that the fact that I’m teaching subjects I’ve never taught before, like Irish history and Medieval English history, and you can see that my workload is massive. Luckily, they don’t expect me to grade nearly as much as I’m used to. That being said, I was supposed to mark a truckload of papers over Easter that I didn’t do. Oh well.
I’ve enjoyed learning new material and I feel like the girls appreciate my efforts and are engaged in the lessons. They also really like it when I say words like ‘awesome’ and ‘dude’ so I throw those in there every now and then. My fail-safe method of getting their attention and adoration is to speak in my English accent, which for some reason is exceptionally posh. It never fails to produce gales of laughter. They really are wonderful girls and I’m amazingly blessed to have a job there. The staff members have made me feel welcome and have incorporated me into their world with very little difficulty for anyone. I enjoy working there so much that I’m actually kind of excited to start back tomorrow after a two week Easter holiday. Now I just need to figure out a way to convince the teacher I replaced not to come back off maternity leave…