Thursday, 31 January 2013

Oh To Be A Cat

Today I feel like doing this...

Sabrina relaxes on 'her chair' in the Living Room

I'm exhausted. It's been a busy week.

Roll on Friday...3.30pm precisely!

Hope you've had a good one.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

My Winter 2013

We're almost through 2/3 of our winter months.

Here is a snapshot of my 2013 Winter so far.

Our cheery GYO Snowman
Snowy Telegraph Cables
A Snow Bedford Square
Burns Night Tipsy Whisky Trifle
Cosy candlelight
Polar Friends on our Christmas Cake (that is still to be eaten)
Our garden in the snow
One month to go. 
I wonder if we'll see any more snow or if we'll end February with a mini-heatwave? 
It's Britain after all, so you never ever now what's around the corner!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Back To School: SE1C

My Rob Ryan inspired display from last term's SE1B placement.
I loved 'creating' this. It was used as a backdrop for the class assembly and stayed up for a week or so afterwards.
There are so many jargon words and acronyms to learn in modern life, aren't there? 

For teachers and student teachers they are endless. For example,
SE1C stands for School Experience, School 1, Part C. 

Today I head back to school for the final six week block at my placement school: SE1C. I've been based in a Year 1 class (5-6 year olds) on-and-off since the end of September and this time I gradually take up the lead, so for the first two weeks after half term I'll be THE class teacher. 

In May, I start my final eight week placement. It will be in another school when I'll be let loose as THE class teacher after the first couple of weeks. I'm going to be placed in the Early Years Foundation Stage so will be in a Nursery or Reception Class. 

Being THE class teacher somewhat scares me. It is something I've dreamt of for so long and yet my actual experience could be absolutely amazing or downright awful.

At the moment there is so much to juggle: an essay to get some Masters credits, my 'Specialism' (History - because of my undergraduate degree) project and presentation (I'm trying to find evidence to support the view that you can introduce very young children to ideas and skills related to history), as well as planning, teaching and assessing, and completing an endless lists of 'placement tasks'.

In addition to all this, I'm starting to look for a job for September. Trying to write a personal statement saying that you're an outstanding teacher and finding suitable examples to illustrate this is very hard when you've not had much experience. I'm also really wanting to be an EYFS teacher (Nursery preferably) and it's even harder to provide evidence of being great when I don't start teaching in the Early Years/Foundation Phase (yet more jargon!) until the summer. Groan!

I will need to have lots of tea, vitamins, cake* and snatch a few valuable moments of 'me time' and sleep to keep sane.
Does orange and lemon drizzle cake count as a form of Vitamin C?

But I'm now over half way through the course and I'm determined to get to the end.

I will make it and become a PROPER Teacher-Jo!
(Note to self: look at this post when you're feeling overwhelmed, miserable and need some optimism and cheering up!)

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Dreams Of The North

I am dreaming to be 'up north', specifically in Yorkshire, more specifically in North Yorkshire near the Moors.

I don't quite know why as it really seems silly when my feet at the moment are firmly planted in London. We have a home here, my parents are here and Mr P's job is here. There simply is no reason to up-root and move to somewhere completely unknown.

But I've been reading so much about life in Yorkshire at the moment. The latest Jack Sheffield 'Headteacher' book has been devoured, we've enjoyed cosying up on the sofa and catching up with the brilliant Last Tango In Halifax and so many of the fantastic blogs that I love to read are written by folk living in 'God's Own County.

In fact so much of my reading is about or by people from the county: my favourite author, Gervase Phinn comes from Yorkshire, I've just started reading James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small and you can't beat a bit of Bronte, especially Wuthering Heights.

Then there's the weather. Although we've had snow in London, it never lasts for more than a couple of days. Then it melts, mixes with the grit and we end up with brown puddles. Yuck! I long for a window where I can look into the horizon and watch the changing seasons.

These are all dreams. I know it's not feasible at the moment or maybe even ever (Mr P is from a town near Bolton which makes him a sort of Mancunian-Lancastrian and I'm not sure how he'd feel about moving across the border!) but I do think that sometimes you need a little fantasy to keep you going, especially through the dull, dark winter months.

However, we've made a little step towards spending time in the county: we've booked our summer holiday! Yes, we've already made plans for August! We don't usually think about holidays so far in advance but this year I felt I needed an incentive to keep me motivated throughout the second half of my PGCE course.

So we've hired Ruby!

Ruby's owned by the lovely people at Big Van Adventures
We're going to enjoy her for a whole week and spend time travelling around North Yorkshire and into County Durham and Northumberland. We're also hoping to spend a couple of days in York before we pick her up. We've never hired a VW Campervan before but I think it will be a proper adventure. She looks so pretty inside, it will be just like having a Wendy House again!

So while living in Yorkshire may just be a little fantasy, I can at least indulge myself with being there for a few, hopefully sunny days, and enjoy everything the county has to offer.

Some people dream of travelling to far flung places and I fantasise about being a couple of hundred miles up the M1; but I guess variety is what makes the world an interesting place!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Early To Bed-Early To Rise

Image courtesy of Amazon

In preparation for going back on teaching placement the week after next, this week is going to be officially known in our household as Early To Bed-Early To Rise Week

I will go from having to be in uni for lectures at 9.30 am, to being in school at about 8.00 am. This means getting up at 6.30am and being out the door by 7.15 am. In order to get enough sleep, it means me getting into bed between 10.30-11.00 pm and not a minute later.

If I don't get in some sleeping-waking practice this week, it's going to hit me hard the following week as the days are relentless. I can often arrive in school and work non-stop until I leave at 6 pm and then end up doing more work at home. Whoever thinks that teachers go home at 3.30 pm, needs a wake up call. It's hard work!

This week also means making sure I eat well, remember to take ALL my vitamins, get the house to resemble some form of tidy and think about anything that needs to be thought about(car insurance!) in the next three weeks before I get a brief respite at half term.

I also need to make sure I write all my lists to keep me sufficiently organised and working effectively in the coming weeks. I was told by my Mentor last term that I need to work smartly and rest more so that I don't burn out. I ended up having a nasty eye infection at the end of the last placement caused by being run-down and then got a cold which wouldn't shift itself until we broke up for Christmas. Pace is the name of the game!

So, I'm throwing my BIG question out there. I'm hoping you'll have lots of suggestions that I can try out! 

What do you do to keep yourself relaxed and sane when there's lots going on?
How do you make sure you get some 'me' time and manage to sleep when your head is full of 'stuff'? 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Not So Misérables

I rarely go to the cinema, but I knew I had to go and see Les Misérables as soon as possible.

As BIG fans of the stage show - we've seen it twice - Mr P and I along with Mum and Dad went to see the film on Sunday before it could be spoiled by reviews and comments on Facebook/Twitter. We wanted to decide for ourselves if we loved or loathed it.

I enjoyed every minute and did not want it to end!

There are few laughs - apart from the necessary light relief provided by the Thénardiers - but it provides as much of a whirlwind of emotions on the big screen as it does when performed live. I've always found that the minimalism of the stage show gives it a special atmosphere, but the careful detail, vivid landscapes and numerous extras made the film a different but no-less worthy spectacle. 

The performances were amazing. I'm sure you've already read lots about Anne Hathaway's rendition of I Dreamed A Dream. I was particularly amazed by Russell Crowe's performance (his Rex Harrison style of singing was a valiant effort) but I wasn't entirely sure about Hugh Jackman, whose accent sounded rather Irish at the beginning - bizarre. 

...And, I just couldn't help but fall in love with Eddie Redmayne - absolutely gorgeous!

I'm sure it will become a modern classic or at least a classic musical in the same vein as The Sound of Music and West Side Story. I just hope that a cinema soon starts 'Sing-a-long-Les Misérables' as I couldn't help but want to burst into song. Apologies to the gentleman sitting next to me - the temptation to sing at some points was just far too much!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Wassailing Through To Normality

Wassailing at Bankside - Twelfth Night 2013

I spotted this stifled yawn at the Twelfth Night festivities at Bankside last Sunday. Someone had clearly enjoyed a very busy Christmas.

Our first experience of Wassailing rituals made for a lovely final afternoon of jollity before we returned to university and work this week.

We sang bawdy folk songs and our January blues were danced away. Those that remained were soothed with plenty of mulled wine and mince pies.

Did you find the first working week of 2013 went quickly? I hope it wasn't too painful.

So far I have managed to develop a gum infection and I'm on antibiotics so I can't even toast making it through the week. 

On the flipside, I have managed to lose all the weight I put on over Christmas. I can suggest doing a PGCE to anyone wanting to shed a few pounds without having to think about it.

Anyway, well done everyone. We've survived the first 'normal' week of 2013 - and there are only 11 left until a Bank Holiday! 

Friday, 4 January 2013

The World Needs More Twinkle

Our Christmas Tree - 2012

Aren't fairy lights one of the most loveliest things in the world?

This Christmas I have found magic in all our twinkly lights: on the tree, in our fireplace, and around our dresser.

I have loved the warm fuzzy feeling as I've walked down the road to our house and spotted the lights on the front of our home flickering in the distance.

I've loved wandering around London and making mental memories of all the different lights - strung across roads, in shop windows and on the beautiful Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square.

But tomorrow we'll take everything down and return our home to its normal, unfestive state for the next 11 months until the joy, wonder and sparkle of Advent and Christmas begins again.

Yet somehow I think the fairy lights in our fireplace and around the dresser will not be wrapped up carefully and put away in the loft. Not this year!

As I said to my Mum and Dad as they left our home tonight, this year the world needs more twinkle and I'm happy to be the one to supply it.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

This Is Me...Now

Me in 2013 - made on the amazing Twinkl Avatar Creator

Life certainly feels quite different to what it was two years ago in 2011 when I started this blog.

"I always wanted to be a Primary School Teacher but ended up being a Personal Assistant. They are very different careers, but people control skills 
are essential for both jobs."

Isn't hindsight an amazing thing? If I'd known I would be training to be a Primary School Teacher now, then I wouldn't have worried about the future so much then.

Anyway, although I don't want this blog to get bogged down with the ins and outs of the PGCE training, I thought it a good idea to let you know what I'm up to right now.

I'm really enjoying my course. If you've done a PGCE yourself or someone close to you has, you'll know that it's a tough, whirlwind year. There is so much to cover and so little time to do it in. It's hard for the university to teach you everything you need to know and ensure you're in school long enough to gain lots of practical experience. The days are long and I'm often working late in the evening and all day and night at the weekends.

But it is brilliant and even when I'm so tired and overwhelmed with work, I know I've made the correct career choice. I love being in class and feel really at home with the children. My Dad says it's because haven't really grown up - the cheek!

I had been due to spend my teaching placements in Key Stage 1 (Infants - where I'm currently based in Y1) and Key Stage 2 (Juniors - where I would have been in the Summer Term) but just before Christmas, after a lot of consideration and head-scratching, I submitted a request to the Head of the course to spend my Summer placement in the Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception classes). I had enjoyed my time observing and helping out in the classes with children aged 3-5 so much that I decided that this is where I really want to start my career. I saw some truly inspiring teachers at work who made their classrooms creative but calm and have developed a real interest in early child development.

I also felt that is where I have the most to offer as a teacher. There will be more regular opportunities for me to bring my passions for music, crafting and cooking into the classroom and I can help children to develop life skills as well as helping them to develop their understanding of literacy and numeracy.

Although I'm sad that the Christmas Holidays are almost over and I'll be back into the daily grind at uni on Monday, I can't wait to continue learning and will hopefully have my own class to teach in September.

And in the meantime, here are some other things that I'm loving right now...
  • Tea made with leaves in a teapot. Somehow it just tastes better and it gives me the perfect opportunity to use my Emma Bridgewater teapot.
  • Philosophy Shower Gel - it has to be Cinnamon Buns flavour to make me smell all cosy and wintery.
  • Radio 2 and Radio 4 - I spend my days hopping between the two stations being entertained and educated.
  • Fairy Lights - the world needs to have more twinkle all year round!
  • Clare Balding and Miranda Hart's autobiographies - warm, funny and just lovely. I want them both to be my new celebrity best friends!

So this is me but what is making you smile right now?

So this is me but what is making you smile right now?

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Standing At The Gate Of The Year

Sunset at St Mary The Virgin Church, Silchester - October 2012

It's the 1st January 2013.
Another new year. 
New Year's Resolutions to make...and keep.

After a year away from blogging, I've decided to start writing again. I've missed the creativity involved in writing it. I've also missed the contact with you, my bloggy friends.

I've also been told by my mentors at university (I'm part way through training to be a Primary School Teacher. Yes, that was the BIG thing that happened to me during 2012!) that I need to find more of a work/life balance. So I'm hoping that keeping the blog going will force me to do something else other than always be knee-high in lesson plans and essays on pedagogy. 

The last few days I've had a few lines from this poem going round and round in my head:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: 
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. 
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
Minnie Louise Haskins

It feels very appropriate for the start of this year when there are so many unknowns ahead. I know that I'll finish my course in July and life for the next six months will be focussed very much on that. I also need to find a teaching job for the Autumn Term but where that will be and what age group I'll be teaching, probably won't be known until I've been through endless rounds of applications and interviews. It feels as though I'm on the brink of a whole new set of possibilities which makes it both an exciting and slightly nervous time.

I hope that you will share the journey with me throughout 2013 and whatever happens to you this year, planned or unplanned, I hope that you find it full of peace, joy and happiness.