Tuesday, May 17, 2011

oh, that's right, i'm meant to write in this thing...


Accidental blogging break for a week there. I have about 5 assignments due in the next 2 weeks so I think I'll probably still be a bit quiet, and then I'll be in QLD where I probably won't have regular internet, so, hey! I mightn't be around for a while. But I'm still here. And I'm still reading people's blogs, etc.

Stick around!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

if i could them again, maybe it'll be different...

I'm doing my maths assignment, sort of.
As in, I'm getting distracted, but I'm getting distracted by a book on teaching maths. It's just that it doesn't relate directly to what I need to be doing.


But I was reading this passage and it made me laugh. Anyone who's worked with kids should be able to appreciate it. Background: It's a book on teaching kids to become good problem solvers. They're given a problem, and can use any materials in the room to solve it. Then they share their solutions and have to back it up.
So this was the problem provided to a year 1 & 2 class:
"There are 14 legs in a barn. What animals might be in the barn?"
One girl's solution says: 7 Cknz (7 Chickens)
This is what the book says about how she got there:
"Maris took 2 toy cows from the sorting tub and counted their legs. Then she took one more cow from the sub and counted all the legs. She took a fourth cow from the tub and counted the legs. She put the fourth cow back in the tub, then recounted the legs on the remaining three cows. She paused, then returned the remaining cows to the tub.
Next, she took out two sheep and counted their legs. Then, she took out a third sheep and counted all the legs. As before, she took out a fourth and counted all the legs. She put the fourth sheep back into the tub, then counted the legs on the remaining three sheep. She paused, took out the fourth sheep again, recounted the legs, and with a big sigh put all four sheep back into the tub. She repeated this same process using pigs and horses" (This is where I laughed. Poor girl).
"Finally, she took out two chickens and counted their egs. She added chickens one by one, recounting the legs each time. When she had seven chickens on her desk, she counted the legs and said, "OK, that's fourteen".
At this point Marisa looked at me (the author) as if she had finished the problem. I read the problem to her again. After looking carefully at the plastic chickens, she said nothing.
"What does the problem want you to find?" I asked.
"An animal with fourteen legs" she replied.
"What animal did you find?"
"How many legs does one chicken have?" I asked.
She answered, "Two"
"So if there are fourteen legs," I continued, "How many chickens are there?" Marisa thought for a while, then counted the chickens. "It's seven chickens in the field," she said. From Share & Compare, Larry Buschman.

Anyway. I can imagine this poor girl counting counting counting the legs, one two three animals- excellent, 12 legs! Maybe if I add one more... DANG!

Nic is coming to School with me tomorrow!?
Did I say this already??
Now I just want to challenge my kids with animal-based numeracy problems.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

future living arrangements...

School day today!
And tomorrow!
And Thursday!
Nic is coming with me on Thursday to see if he wants to go back to school (again) and be a teacher. If nothing else he gets to meet the kids I keep talking about.
Today was a good day though, I actually kind of did some teaching. Oooo, aaahh. The kids were quite good, since they know me and like me- I think they were excited cos me teaching was a bit of a novelty, haha.

But in less related news, we got a letter in the mail today telling us that our 12 month lease was up in August (yep, it's only May) and could we let them know within the next 14 days if we want to go on another 6 month, 12 month, or month-to-month lease. I'm not sure how it works elsewhere but here, if you sign a lease agreement, you sign something saying you won't sub-let, and anyway if you do, and they ruin the house... well... that's trouble... or, if you go month-to-month, they can basically boot you out at any point with a month's notice... so, you have 0 stability, and the landlord has 0 stability, so that's not so hot...
Problem is, in 6 months from August, it's Feb. The school year in Aus starts in Feb. If we want to move to somewhere rural, we'll need to have done so before Feb. This is, as you can see, problematic.
However, if we don't move, OR if my School offers me a job... we'd want to be on a 12 month lease so they can't get rid of us till August next year. Is it assumptive to ask the Principal of the School if she'll be likely to have a job for me 9 months from now? Haha.
ASSUMING the landlord (who is lovely) doesn't want to move in here now. She's 20-something and lives with her parents while renting out this house to us. She works full-time. I can only imagine it'd be a matter of time before she actually wanted to live here.
So.... that's a little problematic.

Anyhoo. I'm sure i had more important things to write about but we all know how School fries my brain. And this week I have 3 days of it! Yay!

Friday, May 6, 2011

feeling tough...

You guys...

I got my ears pierced today.

I had them done when I was like, 8, or whatever. Like (almost) every little girl.
Then somewhere along the line (ie: probably about 4 years ago) I couldn't be bothered picking earrings to wear all the time... so I didn't.
Subsequently the holes closed up, and no amount of forceful prodding would get an earring in.
Then the other day, I can't remember exactly what spurred it on- possibly opening my jewelry box for the first time in a year (yep, I clearly accessorise all the time.) and seeing all my Mum's pretty dangly earrings she gave me- a thought began to grow in my head.
And that thought said: "Lady, you are not too much of a wimp to get this done. If you can do it at 8 (or whatever) you can do it at not-quite-25!"
So I researched a bit.
I read that cos I was getting them re-pierced, it'd be a smart idea to go to a 'professional' place.
I rang a tattoo/body-piercing joint near Uni and told them what I wanted.
"Uh... yeah... see... the thing is... we do body piercing. We don't have the stud gun. And like, if we put in a ring on both, it's like.. $70 each... so... you should just go to a chemist. Or something."
So, no 'professional' for me. I rang the local dodgy hairdresser/piercing place in the mall and they told me to come in.
I sat on the little bed chair thing.
"I'm nervous!" I joked. Mostly. Not really- I meant it. I was nervous.
The girl smiled, snapping on latex gloves and disinfecting my ears.
"I always get nervous too, when I pierce myself. You've got really tiny earlobes!!!"
She gets the gun thingie.
And the other side.
I wince, scrunch up my face.
She looks at me, concerned.
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah, yeah..." I try and shrug off the dwelling pain, and the feeling that my abnormally tiny earlobe had just puffed up to twice its size.

So now I have to keep the little silver star-shaped ones that I chose in for 6 weeks. I tried to pick ones that didn't remind me too much of being an 8 year old child again. They're very demure. I think. Now I'll just pray I don't get some kind of graphically horrible ear infection, maybe try and find some nice sleeper-hoops I can sleep in so that I don't have to have studs jutting into the side of my skull for the rest of my life (this may have been another reason I stopped bothering, come to think of it), and we'll be good to go.

Sorry if I made anyone squeamish. Should have maybe put a warning at the top, hey?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

just dance: it's gonna be ok...

This song has been on repeat at School the last couple of days.

I had an absolutely perfect moment at School today.
It was lunchtime. I'd been wandering around talking to the kids, as I often do.
There'd been a slight patch of drizzly rain and we'd retreated indoors, before a ringletted girl excitedly told me we could all go outside again. I did. The sun broke through.
On the front porch/decking of one of the two school classrooms (and for North American people, our schools are set up and look VERY different to what you'd be used to.) were kids, and music playing.
On the front lawn bit, the grass has only just grown back over the Easter holidays, and kids have been playing soccer out there all week...
I walk over to this building and watch, enraptured.
3 Prep girls dancing.
2 prep boys dancing.
2 year 1 girls dancing.
3 year 5/6 boys dancing.
All of them, alone and together, with great big smiles on their faces.
The older boys, often stoic and 'too cool' to laugh much or make jokes, grabbed each other's hands and jumped up and down, squeezing their eyes closed.
The year 1 girls tried to show off moves they'd learnt in dance classes.
The younger boys' interpretations mostly involved breakdancing-like moves as they rolled and somersaulted and contorted themselves on the floor.
Sometimes they just threw themselves around with the beat.
And it was adorable- they loved having music on, and when it was on, they just had to move.
It was hilarious to watch this angelic prep girl- 5 years old- mouthing the words to some terrible R&B/Pop song, or trying anyway.

And it was just.... kids having fun. Kids dancing. Kids rocking it out as the sun shone and a tune came on.

Later we did a sport class with an outside contractor guy, and a kid with autism ended up yelling and crying and sitting on the floor, and the teacher left him to it. I asked her later what was happening in his mind to make him need to act like this- I don't know much about Aspbergers or Autism, so I'm constantly trying to learn... She explained that he's autistic, which I had guessed, and that the stress of having a different teacher, of being in the echoey room in the gym, of everything just getting a bit much, he just had to yell. But looking at him- he was ok, it was just how he had to get through his stress. And the other kids? They went about everything like it wasn't happening.
I asked the teacher- she has two young autism kids in her class of 5 year olds- if she knew a lot about AS or Autism before she joined the school. Because it's a small, specialised private school, they get more kids like this than regular public schools. She told me:
"Well, I figure they're just like every kid. Every kid is different. Every kid has different needs, and a different way of learning, and different ways of reacting to things."
I thought this was really smart. Often we get caught up in a diagnosis: this kid has xyz, so that means they'll behave in xyz manner. She has 2 autism kids in the class and they're completely different. I think probably knowing about these conditions can maybe help us, but I think people too often rely on that diagnosis as a crutch. "Well, he has xyz, so we shouldn't expect him to be able to do...". Which is bad.

Gee, Em. Way to have a strong ending.
"Having low expectations of kids is bad."
Maybe I should use that in an essay sometime.

On a different note, I so need to go for a run. I get home from School and I'm so tired. I get on the couch and can't move. I know, I should get home and go straight away, but I'm so hungry by that point that I think I'd pass out. I'm hungrier on School Days than any other time. I think my body is fairly good at self-regulating hunger at least, which is nice.
Or, I should, y'know... use that gym membership.
Or I could turn on the heater, curl up under a blanket, and force Nic to make me dinner again cos I'm too tired to live.
You guys... this is going to be my life. Teachers tell me you don't go home any less tired, even when it's your job.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

but if i don't go to the disco with a boy, i won't have fun (duh).

Today, I gave relationship advice to a 9 year old.


Two girls were sitting on the couch in their classroom, one of them looking kind of down in the dumps. I came over and asked if I could help at all. One girl (call her T) explained that her friend (K) had 'gotten together' with a boy that had asked her out, and who had subsequently dumped her. Now I'm hoping these kids just 'go out', and don't 'do stuff' together, but we didn't get into that.
The dumped girl thought she had been dumped because the boy actually had a crush on T, but T was with another boy. At least, that was how I understood it. It all seemed a little convoluted, and I think they'd been going out for all of a day, but, whatever.
Now she was sad because of the dumping, but also because she had nobody to go to the disco with.
The disco is a school party (remember, there's all of 50 kids in this school) where they have music and dance and then they all have a giant sleepover party. The kids don't have to go 'with' someone, take a date, whatever- it's probably encouraged that they don't... But here was this 9 year old girl upset because she was friends with all of the boys but thought that the ones who would 'say yes' to going to the disco (I'm fairly certain they're all going regardless) were the ones she didn't like.
As she was telling me about this boy and that, and going out with this guy or that, I felt myself puffing up, ready to get all 'grown-up responsible adult' on them, full of self-righteousness.
After all, they're 9! They shouldn't be 'going out' with boys! They're too young! They should worry about that later! In like, 10 years! They need to stop worrying about boys! In fact, just be friends with them! Just because you like him, it doesn't mean anything! You're too young to know what love is! What you're feeling isn't real! You're just silly children!
And I thought back on me at that age.
I thought of our little club where you had to have a 'boyfriend' to get in.
I thought of secretly holding hands, and quick pecks on the lips that meant you'd 'really kissed'.
I thought of the politics we were involved with- him liking her, but her with him, and they just broke up so now she wants to go out with him....
I thought of how it all felt so real...
And I thought how how I had done what they're doing: they're not worse than we were, assuming they're not like, making out or having sex, or getting naked. So, I couldn't give that talk. I wouldn't be that lame adult.
"First of all, K, you don't need to take someone to this disco. So go with a friend. Or 3."
"Yeah, but... like... it might not be as much fun, if I don't go with a boy".
I looked at her, hard.
"Pick a friend who you know you'll have fun with. Pick a boy friend, or a girl and go there, and rock it. And when that boy who dumped you sees you having awesome fun, then he'll wish he hadn't dumped you. I think, as girls, we need to not worry about not going with a boy! We're ok on our own, or with our friends. And if you get there, and boys are dancing, and you want to dance with one, then great! You can dance with them! And if not- dance with your awesome, fun friend. Then you don't have to worry about going with a boy, and that boy not talking to you all night!"


I don't think she found my speech very inspirational. She couldn't let go of the idea that she needed to go with a boy to this disco.

And I find that a bit sad. This kid is 9. I get it, in highschool, when there's hormones, and you actually have a formal/prom or whatever, and it's a bit more lame to go on your own, but there's not this kind of culture at this school. I wonder if the boys feel like they need to 'take a girl' to this disco. I bet they don't.

Also, holy crap. As a teacher, we don't have classes on this. We have classes on treating kids equally, on what to do if they're being abused, about disabilities and gifted kids, but if kids are getting into 'relationships' in your class? If one kid dumps another kid and that affects their attitude while at school? How can you give a 9 year old girl relationship advice because she got dumped a day after being asked out? I told her boys are all idiots and she shouldn't waste her time, but I think this nearly made her cry. Maybe you're not meant to get 'close enough' to the kids for them to want to tell you this stuff? But that's not how I want to work.

Today was my first day with these older kids, and one by one I started to win their 'trust'. That is, getting them to look to me for advice, as well as their normal teacher. For two, it was just helping with their computers. Easy. For another- spelling, for one: spelling, but showing that nobody is perfect, so her not knowing how to spell something was ok because I wasn't 100% sure until I wrote it down myself. Breaking away the layers of suspicion that I'm a newcomer, to the point where I'm a friendly, knowledgable and helpful person...

I miss my little kids, though. These guys are hard work on that front. Here's how it went with (most) of the younger kids:
"Everybody, this is Emily, she's going to help out in our classroom!"
"Hi everyone!"
Instant acceptance. Three girls come up and hug me. Boys as me for help on their models.
To a degree it's the same- there were some in that group who took work, or it took a few times of me helping them... but once I had it- they stopped asking their teacher, and asked me. Buahahaha. Should I stage a coup?!

Monday, May 2, 2011

how to kill motivation in 4 easy steps....

1. Join gym. Work out there 4 nights a week, cycle 17km to work & home, run 3 days a week, and rest on weekends. Watch what you eat, don't snack unnecessarily, and eat lots of vegetables and whole grains. Limit meat. Repeat for 3-4 months.
2. Watch weight drop by only 1kg, with no huge differences in body size/clothes fit.
3. Slack off for a week. Eat chocolate over easter (small amounts). Go camping. Drink wine. Eat macaroni for dinner. Run twice. Don't cycle. Don't go to the gym. Do this for a week only.
4. Lose a kilo in that week.

So, Nic and I have been trying to lose weight since we got back from North Am. in December. We joined a gym, continued to eat right & healthy, ran, cycled, walked, pumped weight...
We did this for nearly 4 months. We weighed ourselves, and week after week after week were disappointed in the nonexistent weight-loss. It took a month to lose 500g, 2 months to lose a kilo. As we thrashed ourselves and got hooked on the exercise, we didn't see the results we wanted, or felt we deserved.
Then we went to Bright for Easter. Sure, we did 2 x 3 hour hikes in the last couple of days, but we also did a lot of driving and ate a lot of bad food, or food that we didn't cook- so, oily, salty, fatty. The rest of that week we ran once or twice, and otherwise lazed around on the couch.
In that week, we lost a kilo.

Now, can you imagine, at this point in time, my motivation to exercise? Or Nic's? Yeah... it's not happening. Because it feels like; Why bother? We try really hard and get nowhere. We stop trying so hard, and both of us lose weight.
So I'm trying to work myself up into taking Mallei for a run before class today- probably an intervals-type run (half as much time spent exercising for apparently twice as much goodness)(so they say), but it's really, really hard. The weather is gloomy, the house is warm, the couch is comfortable, and I'm already dressed (ie: not in PJs), and assignments need to be done.

I do need to get back to the gym though- both of us do. We're paying for a membership we're not using, and maybe we lost a kg in muscle (hahaha. Yeah, right.)... I don't know, people. I've been doing most of my 'workouts' at home using dumbells, or pilates videos... Or running. The gym lets you pause the membership for 3 months or so. Maybe we should do that.