Tuesday, 28 January 2014

New Year, New Job

So I've been quiet recently. Really quiet. It's been a difficult few months between the rollercoaster events of last summer, the decision to take a break from unit Guiding and many other things. I fully intended to blog more this new year, but every year brings fresh challenges and 2014's is in the shape of a new job.

I'm now the proud teacher of a Year 3 class. For those in the know, Year 3 is for children aged 7-8 and is the third year (obviously) of compulsory education here in the UK. It's a bit of a culture shock for me, being secondary trained. I have had primary experience before, but mainly with years 4-6, not year 3.

Not only have I already had to deal with planning for so many different subjects, get to know twenty four new people, but I've had to deal with an exclusion, several internal exclusions, interventions, provision maps and all sorts of weird and wonderful things that I've not had to sort before. I've written a scheme of work for gymnastics (yes, me!), set up a languages club that has got TWENTY TWO participants... and that's only from the lower school! It's an eye-opener.

My class is brilliant. I'd say that I've got a couple of characters, but they all are... in their own way. I have the little girl who never speaks (except to crack the most amazing sarcastic joke once a week!), the boy who strangles girls in the playground, the girl whose prized possession is a rock her uncle gave her as a gift... she's been told it's a dinosaur egg! I've got a boy who never speaks, smiles and often refuses to come into the classroom who came up to me this morning, sat down and asked me if he could do show and tell, and I've got a little boy who greets me every day with a hug, holds my hand and tells me that I belong to class one and they all love me.

Each and every child in my class is different, and I love getting to know them little by little. But I also love the little reflections of myself that I see in them and their behaviour. Not because they've picked it up from me (they've not had me long enough for that) but because their reactions challenge me and my own. 

Last week, I had one child really unsettled on the carpet. This particular child sits with his back to the door and is constantly glancing behind him at the door. Knowing my own discomfort at sitting with my back to a door, I moved him where he could see it, and now he sits there with absolutely no problem.

This morning, we did an activity where each person had a sheet of paper and it was passed round the circle so everyone could write something nice about them (they had to write something positive about themselves too!). Once people got their own paper back, we discussed how it made them feel to read the comments. Many of them said that they were happy or proud, some even said "relieved". One told us that he felt loved. But two girls said they were embarrassed and one boy said he was uncomfortable. We explored those feelings a little later, but it made me think about my paper too. I was quick to be dismissive and say that they only wrote because they had to... but that's not what the exercise was about!

Yesterday, I had an observation. It didn't go brilliantly, mainly due to the behaviour in my lower ability group. They were excited and engaged, but a little too excited and engaged (they wouldn't listen to me once they got going!). We did spend a lesson today going over behaviour and presentation, and there was a big improvement. Understandably, I was really upset by this yesterday. Whilst I was sobbing at lunch, my TA came over, gave me a hug and told me to stop being so hard on myself and that there were great things about the lesson. Of course, I wouldn't accept it. Actually, I wouldn't even accept the praise from the head, who insisted that there was no way that observation was going to meet the criteria, really...

But the thing that made it funny was the reaction of a little girl in my class. She's a superstar and one of our gifted and talented children. But if she gets anything wrong (or not exactly perfect!), she bursts into tears. I've chatted to her about high expectations and believing in herself and all these other things... Yesterday, she looked at me and solemnly said, "Miss H, you're as bad as I am. You set yourself expectations that you can never live up to. No-one can." Out of the mouths of babes...!

I love working at this school. It's supportive, fun, challenging. The staff are all welcoming and wonderful. The head is constantly providing advice, reading material, backing me up on various decisions. I have colleagues who make me cups of tea, check I'm eating, text me in the evening and at weekends to say thanks for a great day or just to say they're thinking of me after a rough one. It's nurturing and wonderful.

And whilst noting the nurturing environment and challenging myself, the changes I'm seeing in myself are incredible too. Yes, I was terrified yesterday, but I never had a panic attack. I'm alone in the office with the (male) head on a daily basis - tonight we were the only two left in the building. I get hugs and cuddles and hand-holding constantly, whether it's from my colleagues or from my children. I still don't like it if someone gets me from behind (my TA learnt this the hard way!) but I'm taking the physical contact without panicking or even flinching.

Now we just have to get that work-life balance stuff sorted!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Raindrops on Roses...

This is a really fluffy, trivial post, really. I was out shopping with some friends today and we were talking about things we collect and pretty possessions, so I thought I'd just post a few from some of my collections - favourite things, stories, stuff.

Most people know how much I love my camp blanket (and there are plenty of pictures on here) and my instruments (no pictures). Also, I mentioned Henrietta, my beautiful rag doll from D that she gave me in our last session, but never put up a picture. D also made a badge for my camp blanket - double win! Yes, those (along with my Speak Out trophy) are probably my most prized things, but I thought I'd share some of my other bits and pieces and treasures.

Precious Things

Most of my most precious things live in one of three boxes. The My Little Pony is the San Diego Comic Con 2008 exclusive. She lives in my "geek box" and is incredibly special as some very good fandom friends paid for me to go to SDCC that year. 

The box in the second picture is my memory box, which includes a DVD of my baptism, souvenirs bought by school friends, special cards and letters, my first gifts from pupils and much more. On the top is a card from the Millennium Dome when I was a Young Leader!

The charm bracelet was a gift from Colette, the head of contingent for Roverway. We each got a passport, a hand (to help us with our work), a teddy bear (the contingent had teddy mascots), a trefoil, a key and a little button painted as a Finnish flag. Some of us got extra little things and mine was a wine glass. When all the blue paint came off my button, I replaced it with a little charm and a Moomin charm. I wear the bracelet whenever I need reassurance - I managed two weeks in Finland when scared of woodland, I can manage ANYTHING!

Henrietta... what can I say? She was handmade by the lovely D for me, and is the first thing I see when I get up each morning and the last thing before I go to bed. She's one "person" I don't ever mind giving a hug and is a little bit of D that I get to keep.

The key ring says "change your thoughts and you will change the world) and is something I bought in Belgium in 2012. The trophy was for the Speak Out competition and both remind me that I have a voice and need to use it, whatever the cost.


I collect film props and have all sorts of things from the Tybalt scene from Shakespeare in Love to gloves from James Bond and Wonka bars! But the things here are some of my favourites - a plate from Titanic, prop money from Doctor Who's Runaway Bride, a programme for the art exhibition in Love Actually, a letter from Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, a donation receipt from Evita, a letter from PS I Love You and some coins from Pirates of the Carribean.


I have a family bible that dates back to the early 1800s, but that is tucked away. This, however, was a secret Santa gift and is from the London Illustrated Times. Absolutely beautiful.


 This is what we were talking about today, books. I love them and have some really random things that people might laugh at. I have Kevin J Anderson's Hellhole, for example, because he was a favourite author when I was about thirteen. I also have a couple of signed books by China Mieville (but can't find my book addressed to Dolphin Girl, which annoys me!).

Other than the Grimmerie, most of the books are self explanatory. The Grimmerie is signed by the principle original London cast, including Idina Menzel. I never got Katie Rowley Jones or Nigel Planer as they always used different exits, but one day I will!

The J K Rowling book isn't signed, but was a limited edition of The Tales of Beedle The Bard and is stunning. The book pictured below it was bought when I took the Rangers to an evening with David Almond (which they loved!).

More Treasures from the Geek Box

There are two bits of the Noble Harry Potter collection. They did some beautiful pieces and replicas. These were on sale at a time when I had very little money and were special objects for me! The Continuum premiere invite is gorgeous too, and precious for a different reason. When my friends paid for me to go to San Diego, we were lucky enough to see the premiere and it was amazing!

When I see these things here, I have split emotions. Each item has a wealth of memories and stories, which I haven't necessarily gone into detail about, but seeing the things listed makes me feel a bit guilty and materialistic. Other than a recent splurge on two new books, most of my collection is several years old. I stopped collecting pretty things so that I could go to Finland and Belgium, do things for charity and make sure I had a car. And as much as I feel I should give up these things and store my treasure in the things that really matter, the memories are just as precious as the items themselves!