Saturday, 30 September 2006

Footloose - The Musical

On Wednesday night, we went to the West End and saw Footloose.


And that's all I wrote. Its now October 10 and I just realised, when I made a new post, that I never actually finished or published this one.

Footloose was great - the lead was played by the understudy, which was quite apparent for the first 20 minutes or so, but then he got into the swing and did a really good job. I was expecting a bit more flashy dancing and probably a bit less corniness, but it was fun, the music was (obviously) catchy and everyone in the audience created the right atmosphere.

I've realised that when I go home at Christmas, I will have a big pile of things like programmes to take home. Maybe we haven't seen a whole lot of Europe yet, but we're quite familiar with London's West End.

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Friday, 29 September 2006

Harry Potter on Extras

This was soooooooooo funny. And even funnier, because you just know there are a bunch of Harry Potter movie fan-girls who would have watched it and been freaked out by the 'adult content'. I don't want to spoil too much of the plot for anyone else who might be an Extras fan, but basically, Daniel Radcliffe (who plays Harry Potter in the movies) was one of the guest stars and totally hammed it up - it was awesome. Although, if you're not a HP fan, the Orlando Bloom episode was probably better, especially because I didn't find the constant referral to the "Downs syndrome boy" funny at all - it was SO demeaning, and I didn't feel like they were doing it in a satirical way. But maybe thats just the social justice/special education training coming out.

And if you haven't seen the show (which is probably the case for most of my readers, since it is literally the third episode of the season shown on BBC, who make it, so I dont imagine its made it very far around the world) then this probably means nothing to any of you, but at least I've updated my blog :)

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Sunday, 24 September 2006

Violet Crumble, Caramello Koala and Tim Tam

My long lost friends :)

This morning we went and picked up a package from the post office - it turned out to be a birthday present from Elizabeth which had taken extra long to arrive because, even though she stayed with us for a month, she wrote the wrong house number. Inside were several violet crumbles, a couple of giant caramello koalas, some strawberry freddos (Graeme will probably eat all of those) and a packet of Tim Tams. I'm sure it cost her twice as much to send the things as it did to actually buy them, but they were much appreciated. We have eaten 2 Tim Tams each - the plan is to make them last as long as possible - and you can see Graeme savouring his just there. (The picture is dodgy because I took it with my mobile in bad light, but you get the idea)

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Saturday, 23 September 2006

A lovely way to spend a day

I tried telling this story without giving away too much info about the specific school I work at, but it wasn't coming out right, so I've had to add some more detail - if this helps any anonymous readers work out more about who I am or where I work - good for you. I just hope you're not one of my students...

This morning while I was getting ready, the traffic report on the radio said there was a burst water main near school, so I made sure to go around a different (slightly longer) way, which still got me to school later than I like to because of all the traffic in the area. As soon as I walked through the front door, I was met by one of the senior teachers telling me we had an emergency staff meeting - in my teaching career I've experienced an "emergency staff meeting" once before and it was NOT a pleasant meeting. This one, however, was. Our school had no water supply and therefore had to close for the day. The kids came in and we let them call their parents to make sure they knew and then the kids went home. By 10, the kids were all gone and we were allowed to go too. I stayed a little longer to get a couple of things done and then came home. I brought some school things home to do, but ended up spending most of the day on the couch, watching tv and playing xbox. I was so exhausted and not looking forward to today and now I am feeling relaxed and re-energised. At least I will be after a long night's sleep. I'll probably have to do some work over the weekend, but that's ok - I did basically only work 4 days this week, after all.

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Friday, 22 September 2006

PHS reunion

OK, so there were only six of us from our graduating class, but it did take place in the middle of the city of London, which considering we went to high school in suburban western Sydney, is quite cool.

Me - Matt - Sam
Angeline - Merryn - Graeme

Last night, we met Sam and Matt (and his partner Ed) at a pub where we had drinks and were later joined by Merryn and Angeline. Everyone had more drinks before moving on to a nearby restaurant. We had a good time and, since we are all in touch with different people from school, had fun sharing "where are they now?" stories. Unfortunately, I didn't get to bed til midnight and had to stay at school til 6 today (which is ridiculous - a 10 hour working day is stupid), so my 5 period day tomorrow is going to be hell, but it was worth it.

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Sunday, 17 September 2006

The new school year

Yes, that's right - school has started and the first full week of lessons is done and dusted. Everyone has been asking how its been, so I guess I should let you know.

Its actually a good thing I left writing something like this until the weekend, because I went through a bit of a low patch, but have talked to a couple of other teachers and am feeling much better (though not completely - that may not happen at all). The main problem is struggling with the way things are done here, especially in terms of what the focus of teaching seems to be - getting students through exams, achieving high grades to make the school look good and teaching to standardised levels. So many of the things I value in good teaching don't apply here because things are expected to be done certain ways and students have the system drilled into them so much that any deviation from it just confuses them. We're expected to produce, and stick fairly rigidly to, lesson plans, which doesn't allow for the dynamic nature of anything, especially my subject area. By my second lessons, I was not working from the lesson plans I initially submitted. Anyway, I don't want this whole blog to become about teaching, so I will be avoiding it as a topic here from now on. I'm not totally sure what I'll have to write about though, since work seems to be consuming my life at the moment…

The weather is back to being cool most of the time (although I think they'd classify it here as warm - hovering around the 20 mark) and the days are getting shorter fast. Soon we will be travelling to and from work in the dark. I guess no-one ever said we were moving here for the weather, but it is quite depressing at times - no real sun for days, living in long pants and always having a jacket handy. Add that to the level of pollution and the constant feeling of being surrounded by people and I'm really not getting how people can come to London from Australia and think it’s a better place to live.

Not the most positive of updates, sorry (although I'm sure some of you are a little glad that I'm not in love with the place - at least you know we won't be here forever). In future, I will try to post about more happy, interesting things.

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Wednesday, 6 September 2006

Yes, School's Started... Kind of

See how influential you can be, just by leaving a comment on my blog? My little sister asked "Have you started back at school yet? How's it going??"
So here's my answer...

The school year officially started yesterday (Monday), but most schools had an 'Inset Day' a pupil free day with professional development stuff - same as the start of year back home. Also the same as NSW, only year 7, 12 and 13 started today. Technically, I have year 7 first period on Tuesdays, but since they had all their welcome-to-school-stuff, the ONLY thing I had to do today was a department meeting. Oh, and I had to hand in my lesson plans for the first 2 weeks of school, but I'd finished them on Sunday. Yeah, we have to do full-on lesson plans - there's a lot more paperwork involved in teaching here and one of the other new Aussie teachers and I had a very interesting (to us, anyway) conversation about how they are trying to make people more professional by being more accountable, but in a way, they make you feel much less professional by constantly checking up on you and doing things we haven't experienced since our first teaching pracs.

So the short of it is, I spent most of yesterday in training sessions and talking to other teachers. I spent today trying to get my classroom into some sort of order. Its pretty cool having a classroom(/workshop) of my own, but it has been a bit neglected and has needed some serious cleaning, clearing and organising to get it to be a nice teaching/learning environment.

Tomorrow, the students come in with their parents for Review Day, where we go over their report and they set goals for themselves to improve their performance. They don't do anything else, other than go home again. I have 23 kids that I am supposed to see throughout the day, for 10 minutes each. Most of them probably won't show up. In between, another teacher and I will be working on making examples of the project we're going to do with our GCSE Resistant Materials classes. And hopefully I'll actually get my room fully sorted.

Lessons? They finally start on Thursday.

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