Friday, 26 April 2013

Starting School: SE2

I'm making my first visit to my new placement school today.
It's the start of SE2 - School Experience 2.

Back to learning the names of 30 new little people and and getting to know and work effectively (effective seems to be the in-word with educationalists!) with another bunch teachers and support staff.

I hate to admit it but I'm still feeling a little concerned about it being an Academy. Although I did have a nice email from my class teacher so I'm hoping that is a good sign.

This is the last big step before (hopefully) becoming a proper teacher.

I've updated my favourite teacher picture for the sunny Summer Term.

(You can make your own avatar here - it's not just for teacher folk!) 
Hopefully I'll be looking as sunny and unstressed as my avatar does come 9th July!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Doubly Good News!

I've been absent for a couple of weeks but it's not all been bad stuff and busyness.

Please join me with a cup of tea and a biscuit to celebrate two pieces of good news!

Firstly, I passed my Numeracy QTS Test. All trainees (and from last September all those applying for teacher training courses) must pass this and a similar Literacy test to acquire Qualified Teacher Status. It's supposed to be a 'professional qualification' meaning that the skills you use for it are ones that you would use as a teacher but not actual teaching.

I sat my Literacy QTS Test back in November as I was very confident I would pass first time (and did) but I put my Numeracy test off time after time because I never found the headspace to solidly revise. I was also anxious about it and conscious that mental arithmetic is a real weakness having relied on calculators for so many years.

Luckily I found plenty of time over the Easter break and sat the test at 8.30am on a rainy Tuesday morning. I felt it was touch and go and was sure I hadn't passed but I was delighted to come out of the exam room and be given the slip of paper that began with the word 'Congratulations'. Brilliant! And at 9.30am on Oxford Street what more can you do but head to John Lewis and treat yourself to some lovely Liz Earle face products?

Another Tuesday morning, a week later and I was heading off for my first proper 'teacher' interview at an infant and nursery school. I had to teach a 20 minute maths lesson to Year 1 (multiples of 5) and be grilled by the headteacher, deputy and key stage leader. It all went well: the children were lovely and very accommodating towards this random, very nervous newbie, and the interview panel put me at ease, seemingly making all the right noises.

I then went off to an afternoon ICT session at uni in attempt to stop me looking at my phone every five minutes to see if the school had called. I had just left uni, when the headteacher phoned to offer me a place for September. 


It's an understatement to say that I'm absolutely delighted. It is a lovely school, the staff seem very friendly and welcoming. I'll be on a 1 year maternity contract but will have my own class and be provided with the same NQT Induction Year training as if I were a permanent employee.

In the past week I've been celebrating the good news with champagne, dinner in a swanky restaurant with Mr P and Sunday Lunch at a country pub with Mum and Dad. The best has to be a trip to McDonalds en route to our dancing lesson on the day I got the good news because we didn't have time to do anything grander.

It is lovely to know what I will be doing once the PGCE is over and begin to think about what sort of teacher I will be when I have a class of my own. You imagine it throughout the whole year but it doesn't quite ever feel real. I don't think it will quite sink in until I have a classroom of my own to prepare for the autumn term and 30 little people to get to know. 

Now I just have 11 final, busy weeks to survive. This includes 1 presentation, a final draft to submit of the BIG essay and 8 weeks on a Reception class placement where I will have my trial go at being the teacher for 5 weeks. I'm rather nervous especially as it is an Academy and they are notorious for having high expectations but I keep reminding myself that it is all good experience that will put me in a great position for being a confident teacher in a school of my choice in the Autumn.

Totally scary but exciting stuff ahead!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Great British Sewing Bee - Week 2

Another fantastic watch this week.

Lovely Ann
I can't be the only person who wants to adopt Ann as their surrogate grandmother? 

She's amazing! It makes me feel very sad that my own dressmaking, knitting Grandma (pronounced Gramma - she was Welsh) passed away when I was 19 and just starting to get properly interested in crafting. I would have loved to have benefitted from all her wisdom acquired over so many years (she was 93 when she died) and taken advantage of her skills by asking her to alter and make me bespoke items. 

Back to Ann though - she's lovely and her comments are brilliant, especially the one about boys wearing jeans made by their mother. But my favourite quote from Ann this week was...

"I'd rather do something simple and do it well, 
than something complicated and full flat on my face."

Wise words! Even though they didn't prove particularly successful for Ann, I think I'll be carrying this motto with me throughout this week!

I was sad to see Mark and Tilly leave. It would have be nice to see the other exciting period creations that Mark could have made and I always liked whatever Tilly made or wore, but I think they were probably the right choices. Onto the semi-final now - definitely hot competition between Ann and Sandra, Lauren always selects such pretty material and designs and Stuart could speed ahead if he chose to create another innovative design.

And one more thing for this week. 
Where can I buy a Stuart style tulip skirt? Absolutely gorgeous!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Spring Sunday

A sunnier weekend meant that there were no excuses not to go out for a walk.

We headed to one of our favourite National Trust sites, Cliveden in Berkshire.

We tiptoed through the last of the primroses...

and admired the beautiful daffodils.

It does seem that they've come out later than usual and don't seem as cheerful. They're probably suffering from the cold and lack of sun as much as the rest of us.

I also endured a Bear Grylls adventure using a stick and hair bobble to retrieve a beautiful, big pine cone from the other side of a high fence. 

Hair bobbles are such handy things!

Finally we took a walk through the new Cliveden Maze. With my navigation skills we found the middle quite quickly. In fact, it seemed like much longer to find our way out. I won't say who was leading then! ;0)

Celebrating getting to the middle of the maze

What did you do with your sunnier Sunday?

Thursday, 4 April 2013

PinkCat Tweaks

This afternoon I should be reading the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework but instead I've been exploring new blogs and tweaking my own. I have an excuse - it's snowing outside and snow in April is a very distracting thing.


I'm jumping on the bloglovin' bandwagon in the hope that I can follow your blogs more easily when I'm out and about.

You can even find me there.

In fact, it was quite fun to enter my blog name and see all my previous posts pop up...
(You can tell I'm not getting out much right now!)

I've also...

added some Pinterest and Twitter buttons (look to your right and up a bit) so you can find me on there.

I do so love Pinterest. I'm finding it an amazing resource for teaching ideas and love the way I can pick and choose all sorts of exciting snippets. I also seem to pin lots of hairstyles and clothes. I think that probably half of the current White Stuff summer clothing range has found its way onto there. There's also a lot of food. 

Are you a Pinterest fan? What do you pin?


One more cup of tea and then I had better pick up a highlighter pen and start reading: 
Ye Shall Procrastinate No Further!

The Great British Sewing Bee

Did you watch The Great British Sewing Bee on Tuesday evening?

The GBSB Team

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I loved The Great British Bake Off for the first couple of series (at the time I was working in the BBC office department that had commissioned it and believe me, it was a very exciting time watching such rave reviews come in) but during the last series started to get a little tired of the repetitiveness. Although The GBSB has followed the same formula, I found it really exciting and engaging.

It was lovely to see such a diverse group of people - men and women, old and young - joined together by something they all shared a passion for. I particularly enjoyed seeing how the men, having never made skirts and dresses before, tackled the challenges. 

I thought that the judges - both adopting Mary and Paul's good cop/bad cop roles - were both critical but constructive in their comments about the garments and it was interesting to see what they were looking for, especially how skill and precision somewhat outweighed creativity. 

For once, Claudia Winkleman did not annoy me (although I've quite enjoyed listening to her on Radio 2 this week). She seemed to rein herself in  and I thought the quirky comments she made were actually better than Mel and Sue's mindless banter.

Have you got a favourite contestant yet? During my 'study breaks' yesterday I found that there is already an official Facebook site and that some of the contestants have their own blogs/websites. You can find Tilly's here - I was very impressed by the risks she chose to take (and I also thought her hair was very nice). I was also drawn to Lauren and her attention to detail and can't wait to see how Ann and Sandra adapt their knowledge and skills to meet the challenges. Wasn't Ann's blouse revamp lovely? I would definitely buy something like that if only you could spot such detail on the high street.

Although I don't really have the time to sew and craft at the moment, the programme has really made me want to get the sewing machine out and have a dabble. I'm not a very confident dressmaker (I had a very bad experience at secondary school) but would love to be able to concoct my own creations using quirky materials and be able to ensure that the sleeves always fit my unusually short arms! 

Oh well, perhaps I should embrace the inspiration and start thinking about little projects for the summer holidays! I know that for the next few weeks I'm going to have a new favourite programme.

PS: Did you know what a Steam Punk was before watching Tuesday's programme? No, me neither! x

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

London From On High

In the past year I've admired London from an assortment of high viewpoints: the Olympic Orbit, the London Eye, the Monument (commemorating the Great Fire of London), and the windows of the Savoy Hotel on New Year's Eve. In the summer we even soared across the skies in a helicopter, rode on the Emirates AirLine across the River Thames and climbed over the top of the 02 in Greenwich.

On a freezing Saturday in February, we headed up to town to take in the view from London's newest vantage point, The Shard.

Old & New London -
 The Old Operating Theatre Museum and The Shard

It did not disappoint. The pictures speak for themselves.

It's always amazing to see the blend of old and new that can be found across the city. Every year there seems to be a new building springing up. It is not really that long ago that we were shocked by the the Gherkin and now it feels like it has been there forever. 

I'm always amazed by the view of London's infrastructure when you see it from above.

It is so interesting to see how the railways and roads weave their way through the city. The network of railway tracks into Waterloo and London Bridge are fascinating, especially where they cleverly cross the river. Trains and cars always look so tiny from above - it's like a little Lego world.

I love the way London is always changing. Capital cities shouldn't really stay the same, they should change to reflect the social and economic needs of the people that live in them and the visitors that flock to them. We all moan about changes when they seem daunting and progressive but I feel we should just embrace them. Look at the beautiful Festival Hall building - thought of as a hideous concrete block back in the 1950s and now it's seen as an icon of its age. 

I wonder, what will be the architecture icons of today?

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A Month In Words: March

At 1 day and 11 hours, I'm getting this done much earlier than last month. 
I can't believe I was posting February's only a few days ago - whoops!

March was a bonkers month: so very very busy and so very very cold. I don't think I ever thought the freezing temperatures, snow and greyness and my ridiculous workload would end. 

But I survived and lived to tell the tale!

Goodbye! Last Day @ Placement School
March saw the end of my first and longest teaching placement. I'd been based in the school on and off since September so it was a very sad Friday when I left. I had got to know the children and staff really well and had a lovely time there. I also feel I was given the opportunity to really grow as a teacher: by the end of the placement I was being left alone to teach the class for the entire day! I had a lovely send-off: lots of cards and flowers and promises to go back and visit in the summer.

With the need to concentrate hard to write my essay, I returned to my favourite composer to listen to while studying. Debussy is so calm and peaceful, I always find I'm able to switch off from everything around me and am then able to completely focus on what I'm doing. I always put it on in my Year 1 class when I wanted the children to be calm during handwriting practice and it worked every time. Highly recommended!

Wishy Washy
First weekday of the Easter holidays and I spent it washing, cleaning and doing all the household jobs that I'd not been able to do for the past few weeks. It was utter bliss to see the flat turn from a pigsty to a sparkly, clean home. Then I enjoyed putting up all my Easter decorations. It is amazing how you can hate doing housework most of the time but how brilliant it makes you feel when the house is clean and tidy. There must be some truth in the proverb: a tidy house makes for a tidy mind.

GOOD Friday
Apart from it being the start of the long Easter weekend (4 whole days with Mr P and no uni/school work to do!), I had some good news on Good Friday. I visited a school last week and submitted an application for a teaching post the next day. On Friday I had an email asking me to come in to teach a sample lesson and attend an interview after the holidays. It was a big surprise as on the visit the headteacher said that they would call on Thursday afternoon to let people know if they had been shortlisted, so by the evening when I had not heard I assumed that I had been unsuccessful. The school is lovely, in the perfect location and has a really happy, creative atmosphere. It is also a nursery and infant school, so exactly the age group I wanted to work with. Now I'm busy planning and preparing for the interview and lesson: two weeks today!