Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Silly Season..

Well, in a bid to recover from a fraught few weeks, there was nothing else for it but to take ourselves out on a good old fashioned family day out. Chester Zoo was earmarked as the ideal way to spend the Tuesday after Bank Holiday Monday. It's a long time since I've been to the zoo so I was interested to see how the place has changed. I was struck to see how the drop in moral standards visible in modern society has contaminated even this most wholesome of family activities. I was shocked to see the apparently respectable families standing in line to observe captive chimps engaging in sexual activity. What is worse is that, as you can see from the notice, these poor chimps are not simply engaged in relationships with their own kind but are not safe from the abuses of any passing bear.

I was impressed by the high quality of habitats provided for Chester's residents. The healthy elephant population is fortunate to have sheltered accommodation, an extensive enclosure, replete with ample bathing pool and shower. So it seems that all that is lacking for a romantic evening of elephant foreplay is the 'Best of Barry White'. It's just a shame that the final act doesn't live up to the expectations...

It's hardly surprising, given the constant thrill-seeking of contemporary society, that even the zoo has to broaden its appeal. Those hoping to find 'exotic dancers' may, however find themselves disappointed, all you will find here is a couple of wild dogs....what? WHAT?

Seriously, Chester Zoo, a super day out for all the family. Loads of improvements since my last visit including fab quarters for the orang utans. The Twilight Zone, a fab free flying bat house was there last time I visited but it was still a great thrill to have Rodrigues fruit bats flying past my ears! The Spirit of the Jaguar was a little disappointing - again a fab building but we only spotted one jaguar tucked away in a corner of the extensive accommodation. All of the animals seem well cared for and are housed comfortably and as closely to the natural habitat as is possible. And of course, Chester do great conservation work with many species whose natural habitats are under threat.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

PGCE Final placement Week 4 of 9: Into the valley of death

I've just had the worst week so far. A crap observation impacted severely on my mood and led to a crap week. I have seldom felt so low. It brought back all of the horrible memories of my PGCE Secondary course (1st placement) which ultimately led to my jibbing the course. Please, God, the only way is up now. I can't express how much is tied up in this course for me and how desperately I need to succeed. The low point was midweek and admittedly it did improve before the end of the week. But I don't think I've ever felt so tired and added to this, the grief of losing Mum managed to surface - I'm having a little bit of difficulty putting that away again. Ever tried to get a tent back into its original container - then you'll get some kind of a handle on what I mean. As for the tiredness, I slept 12 hours on Friday night and 12 hours on Saturday night. I'm feeling a bit more human now.

Thankfully we have a week off now so I hope to get as much work done as I can to try to alleviate some of the stress over the final 5 weeks. As I missed 2 weeks from the Spain placement, I have to add these on to the end, which means I don't finish until 2 weeks after all my colleagues. I really don't understand how this will fit in to my infamous Profile of Professional Development. Am I supposed to meet the same standards as everyone else for the 3rd and 4th review points? And then slip back and only meet the standards for review point 2 at the end? It's all so messy!

Don't know if anyone else does this, I subconsciously sing songs which fit in with my mood at any given time. When I was going through my aborted attempt at secondary teacher training, my mantra was 'Gotta get thru this' by Daniel Bedingfield, which was a hit at the time. Last week I was apparently heard singing 'Every day is like survival' from Culture Club's Kharma Chameleon. This morning I was singing in the shower Labi Siffre's 'Somethin' inside so strong'. I'll try to harness the power of that one for the next few weeks. Will keep you updated as to any changes to the soundtrack of my life...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

PGCE Final placement - Week 3 of 9

Well, 3 weeks down, now, 6 to go. I have never felt so tired in all my life and I'm not yet on full timetable. I ought to be job hunting but frankly I ain't got the time to fill in an application form! I am beginning to wonder if I want a post in September. If I were to get a job now it would mean spending virtually all summer planning and I'm not sure I want to do that! If I knew I could get some regular supply work for the first term, I might feel a bit more comfortable. Oh, I don't know...

The week did not have the most wonderful start. The school was under a bit of a cloud because a former pupil died in tragic circumstances at the weekend. I actually met the lad a few weeks back during my planning week. He and a couple of his mates were off, as their school had an INSET day, and they came in to help out at their old primary school. He struck me as a lovely lad, very bubbly, clever, likeable. It is quite unbelievable to think that a young chap so full of life and promise is no more. The staff in particular were very upset.

It's been a fab week weatherwise, really warm and sunny. Today, of course, it is peeing down! I am getting a bit cheesed off with the centre of town. It's like a building site. If anyone is considering coming to see what Liverpool has to offer as the city of culture, don't bother, it's a mess. I'd leave it for a year or two until the road works are finished and all of the 'regeneration ' is sorted. We are going to have more shops and apartments than we know what to do with. Personally, I can't see what shops have to do with culture. I would have flattened one of the big tatty areas and created a wonderful urban open space with snazzy fountains and benches. All the great cities have these spaces. As for 2008, I would have just cleaned up what we have, organised street entertainments, concerts and the like and done the building works next year. As for the organisation of the whole city of culture thing - well, the words 'p*ss up' and 'brewery' spring to mind...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

PGCE final placement - Week 2 of 9.

Week 2 is over. Not without its ups and downs. It should have been a great week given that we had a bank holiday Monday but I had to still put a full teaching week in (full according to the requirements of my course so far, anyway). I had an observation on Wednesday which was not the most brilliant, I have to say. Not a good way to ease myself into my college tutor's observation on Thursday. The co-ordinating mentor at the school was fab. I had a bit of difficulty judging where I stood with her, as we hadn't had much contact. But she talked me through the shortcomings of my performance on Wednesday and gave me loads of great tips for how to improve things for Thursday. Thursday, as a result, went well.

The kids really take advantage when I am the only adult in the room, but there are a few who are clearly starting to get keen to please me. I am hoping that this will improve in the next few weeks. I do think they are lovely but I need to tame them a bit for me. They are fine with their class teacher. I am going to try to put a bit more order on morning routines. Every morning they are fighting to (a) give out the fruit, (b) collect the milk and (c) take the register back. I'm going to draw up a rota so that there is no fussing over these items and no charges of favouritism. I'm also going to abandon the traditional roll call type register in favour of going around the tables, chatting to the children and marking them in informally. At some point we will have some soft music to enhance the ambience. The next routines to tackle after that will be over drinking bottles and ad hoc toilet visits. But first things first.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

PGCE Final placement - Week 1 of 9 Star of the Week!

Week 1 in the new placement school is thankfully out of the way. The children are a delight, I am growing quite fond of them but naturally, while the cat is away, the mice will play and they do take advantage of the fact that their own teacher is not there. I had to give them a bit of a talking to last week as they really were taking the mickey. But I want really to cultivate the approach of a teacher we can have a bit of fun with but we know that there are boundaries that we mustn't cross. My mentor is encouraging me to go for the positive approach to behaviour management, ie praising good behaviour rather than nagging about bad behaviour. She says that it probably takes longer to win them over in this way but that ultimately the children want to please you.

The high note of this week was that I had to get up and give the merit awards to three children in our class at the assembly on Friday. All of the class teachers have to do this. I got a lot of praise for my first 'performance' in front of the school and before I sat down, the Head Teacher gave me a sticker! I wore it with pride all day Friday!