crystal's capers

one girl's international adventures

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Illegal Blogging

I feel like I'm blogging illegally. Despite beginning my week's holiday's for half-term break today, I have a million things to do. And I already feel like time is running out!

Part of it is my own fault because I made plans to fly to Germs for 4 days to visit the inlaws. Riccardo will be there next weekend anyway, since he has to go Monday for a work thing. Plus, Ryanair opened a new route, direct from Birmingham to Frankfurt (Hahn), which cost me a total of 40 Pounds, return, so I couldn't really pass it up.

In the meantime, this is what I'll be doing (because I KNOW you care):
  • Finish Personal Action Plan and email to several classmates and to Professional Link Tutor
  • Mark Media coursework
  • Reread/watch 'Macbeth' and prepare prereading lesson plan for Yr 10
  • Prepare sentence level grammar lesson plans for Yr 10
  • Plan series of lessons for 'Lord of the Flies' from Ch 6 through to end
  • Complete 1.5 additional Uni Portfolio Research papers
  • Revise and email off Uni Academic Writing task
  • Mark Yr 7 APP tests
  • Write 'Riverboy' Scheme of Work (minimum 12 lessons, total)
  • Mark government Coursework Moderation pack
  • Update ICT Log and Training Diary (email Training Diary for first half-term to Uni)
  • Reformat seating plan for Yr 10
  • Catch-up on Uni textbook reading (x2)
  • Work through grammar text activities
  • Continue reading to update Subject Knowledge
  • Meet with Subject Tutor at Uni

I should also find time to contact the podiatrist to reschedule my appointment; to shop around for a better rate on our home insurance renewal and to inform our gas and electric company that if they seriously raise their basic rates by 30% we're switching companies. Not to mention that my hair desperately needs professional attention.

Should I really be more stressed about half-term break than I am during term-time?


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Got Skillz

All trainee teachers in the UK have to complete three skills tests. Fail the tests, you simply do not qualify for teacher status, no matter how much schooling you do. Thankfully, candidates can retake the tests as many times as they need, though the governing body of teachers does keep record of this.

So my tests were on Monday. I decided to attempt all three in one shot. I was fairly certain I'd pass the literacy and ICT (computer technology) tests, having twice passed the online trial versions for both tests. Numeracy was another thing. In case you didn't know...

I hate math!

So I stressed. I took the online trial and failed. And I stressed. Riccardo helped me study. I took the online trial and failed. And I stressed. The weekend before the test I decided to wing it, take my chances.

I was nervy going in, but thought I'd start off easy with the ICT test. 35 minutes to get through four tasks with various instructions in each. The software used for this test is notoriously quirky, so when about halfway through the test I couldn't find an 'ok' button to complete a task, I was sure it was the program. Yet, I searched for another method to complete the task for about ten minutes, forgetting about the time limit. In the end, I had to submit that task incomplete, as the software offered no way to continue; what's worse, I ran out of time at the end, and had to submit the last task incomplete as well. So annoying.

I'm not shattered because I know I can pass the ICT test. It really is basic, and I'm confident in my tech skills (at a word processing/emailing/slideshow level). It's just really irritating that the test itself was glitchy - and I promise it's not an excuse.

Off to a bad start, I was rather negative about my next test, the numeracy one. This one is tricky even for a decent mathematician: 18 seconds per question, no calculator. Extra bad news for someone who is retarded at long division - can't do it, never have.

Thankfully, the real test downplayed the division, and by some miracle, I passed! YAY ME!!

Last was my literacy test. This was actually a challenge, but quite easily passable. I even managed to finish this one in about half the time.

Overall, I am quite happy with my Skills Tests experience. Still completely stunned I passed the numeracy one, first go!

One step closer to the real thing.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

School and School

Things are going mostly well at school and school. I am just managing to keep my head above water.

Being back at university is strange, especially because it's here in the UK. School at all levels is very different here than in Canada. Thankfully I've only got to go one day a week, or I'd probably go batty.

My programme is in transition this year. It's the first year they've offerred it in conjunction with the Master's Degree. This is a good thing, because I want the MA anyway, but I believe that it is the route of the total disorganisation of the course. We're a month-and-a-half in already, and no one is entirely sure yet how we're being assessed!

My new workplace is great. It's become apparent that not all kids in the UK are totally insane. The huge class divisions here are also coming more to light - very strange! But I'm settling in well; liking (almost) all my classes; and am befriending the staff. I absolutely love that work is now just 20 minutes drive from home. I also love that there are several people in my department that live within 5 minutes of me (not that I've taken advantage of that yet, but I will). I've been 'encouraged' to apply for a permanent post that's opened up in English department. It wouldn't start until my course is finished, but as I'd love to stay on there, I've agreed to apply. Fingers crossed!

So now I'm just working like the crazy woman that I am. I teach about 8 lessons per week, most of which are observed and graded by other members of staff. This involves about 5 pages, typed, of lesson planning and evaluating. I observe another 5-or-so lessons per week; another 3 pages of recording. There's marking and meetings and seminars and scheme-of-work writing, as usual; and then there's Uni stuff to fit in: researching, report writing, textbook reading, auditing, training diary-entry writing, homework tasks, subject-knowledge enhancement tasks, mentor meetings (I have 5 mentors) and so much more. I haven't even started on the 50,000 word dissertation I have to write for the first (of six) modules of my Masters. And my actual teaching load is set to increase within the next month or two.

Why do I get myself into these things, again?


A Flu Is So Not A Bad Cold

This one, I've learned from experience. There is a reason why people 'get the jab' to avoid the flu. It's because getting the flu sucks.

Last week I was knocked on my ass by a nice one. Haven't been sick like that in a while. Wednesday I taught four lessons (3 of which were observed) and stumbled home directly after work. By the time Riccardo got home at 6:00 my temperature was over 102 F. I was freezing, even in full pajamas, with the radiator blasting and with my huge duvet up to my nose. I didn't leave bed for the next two days.

One of the worst parts of this particular flu were the aches and pains. I've had soreness and stiffness before, but not like this. My hips and legs were aching so bad I had to lie with my legs elevated and it still kept me up through the night. And when that was finally under control, the cough set into my chest.

The first trip to the doctor got me one prescription and two over-the-counter recommendations. In addition to the medicated lozenges, tea-diet, Vapo-rub and Tylenol I was already living off of, of course. That was on Friday. By Monday I still wasn't better, though had to return to work anyway (way too much to do, despite my colleagues implying I'd be better off at home), and went back to the doctor where I was prescribed an inhaler. Fun.

Tuesday was the first time I was able to sleep through the night, but by then my dear husband was coming down with the special present I had passed on to him, so there was no rest for the weary. In addition to the day he worked at home so that he could drive me to the doctor, he's now been off work for 3 days, plus tomorrow. Poor boy.

Is it a positive that I know where he's coming from?


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