Unexpected employment.

8 Apr

No, I didn’t get a teaching job.

The other day my friend Nicole informed me that Elections Canada is still looking for people to work the polls for the upcoming election. I’ve never worked at the polls before but I figured I might as well apply; lord knows I need the money. This afternoon I got a phone call from Elections Canada asking me if I’d rather be “…the DRO (deputy returning officer) or a poll clerk. The person in charge, the a person who is responsible to the person in charge,” followed by, “Let me put it this way… it pays more to be a DRO.” I said I’d be okay with that responsibility, he said that’s what he was hoping to hear, and as an added perk, the polling station is literally in the building my bedroom widow looks out at (I’m leaving that typo just because the idea of me having a “bedroom widow” makes me chuckle).

So that’s a couple hundred dollars I wasn’t expecting. Sweet!

In other news, tomorrow is Randall’s birthday so tonight we’re heading out to his parents’ place for probably the weekend. Hopefully it will be relaxing even though I have to do a little bit of lesson planning and marking. Last week for lesson planning and teaching. Just one week to go. Holy. Shit.

A good friend of mine, Breagh, finished her practicum yesterday. She had a really unique and awesome experience at a small close-knit school in a rural community and it was really cool to hear about her practicum and catch up with her over coffee this afternoon. I’m sure you’ll hear more about her and see some pictures before summer is out. I’m one of her bridesmaids for her July wedding 🙂

Okay, time to go glitter glue some dollar store disposable wine glasses (some assembly required) and gaudify the most unclassy champagne I could find with ribbon, bows, butterflies and labels. What? Yesterday was Randall’s sister’s birthday. 😛

Until tomorrow!

xx

Teaching causes bipolar disorder. Fact.

7 Apr

Okay, so not really, but sometimes I feel it’s like having bipolar disorder.

Yesterday when I came home from teaching I wanted to lie down, curl up, and not go back again. I had a bad day. I was fed up.

All afternoon today I was on cloud nine. I was greeting everyone with singsong hellos and was practically skipping through the halls. I had my final evaluation form my supervisor (click to enlarge, if you wish):

See those check marks in the “E” column? “E” stands for “Exceeds expectations”.

Squeee!

Getting back to my point, it doesn’t surprise me how many teachers burn out so quickly. Between the amount of work, the stress of planning, the pressure of the overlords, and the emotional roller-coaster of mania, depression, mania, anger, mania, depression, frustration, mania–you get the idea, it’s enough to make a person go crazy.

That aside, the students’ presentations were AWESOME today, and I’ve asked a few of them to upload them to YouTube 🙂 More to come on that.

Hope you all had as lovely a Thursday as I! Until tomorrow!

xx

Oh, this place.

6 Apr

This morning when  was getting ready for school, I was feeling kind of lazy and my hair just happened to look kind of nice in the bun I threw it in to wash my face, so I just tweaked it a but and left it. I also discovered I was out of eyeliner, so I didn’t use any. Last period:

Student 1: Miss Norris, are you okay today? You seem a little down or depressed or something. Is everything okay?

Me: Well, I had a bit of a doozy of a class before this one so I’m just a little frazzled.

Student 1: No, even this morning… you seem a little off, I was just concerned.

Student 2: Yeah! Your eye-makeup isn’t as…um… intense?

Student 1: And your hair is just thrown up like that.

Me: I was lazy. I was also out of eyeliner. C’est tout.

Both students: Oh, okay good! We just wanted to make sure you’re okay. Etc.

Yep. That really happened. I bought new eyeliner on my way home from school today.

Tomorrow is the last day that my supervisor comes to evaluate me. She specifically chose tomorrow because she wanted to see the videos and presentations I got my students to make, which are being presented tomorrow. If they upload them to youtube, maybe I’ll link some later.

It’s kind of relieving because it means I won’t be doing too much of the teacher song-and-dance other than setting things up and giving them instructions on the kickass peer-feedback form I created. She’s also meeting with me to discuss things after school with another one of the student teachers instead of one-on-one. Unfortunately, I know she won’t care that someone else is there if she wants to totally ream me out on something 😛

It’s really blowing my mind that I only have 7-10 class periods left with each of my classes. I’m friggin’ pumped.

Okay, time to tackle the 9 essays I have left and get a good sleep. I need to get my mentor teacher’s advice on how I should follow up a rude, defiant student from this afternoon.

Until tomorrow!

xx

Stressed and excited.

5 Apr

I’m finally on the final stretch of practicum. I’m done in a week and two days. That is eight school days. Nine periods with one class, and ten with the other. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

This is obviously awesome, although it’s making me feel a little stressed. It’s perhaps a milder version of what teachers feel at the end of a semester or school year, and trying to gauge what can be covered in the time left, or if there is time to get everything finished before the end.

It’s kind of funny because with one of my classes I’m worried they won’t be able to finish–largely due to their in-class work ethic, and in another I’m worried that the same plan will be done too soon because they work so quickly. Blahh. Oh well, at this point, I’m not going to let a few potentially thrown-together classes drag me down.

In other news, a friend of mine is teaching at a high school outside of town and she’s helping choreograph their school musical–Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog!! The performances are Thursday to Saturday next week and I’m so pumped to go see it 🙂 I’ll go the day after I finish practicum, the Saturday, and frig I’m excited 🙂 (If any Halifax friends are reading this, it’s at JL Ilsley in Spryfield at 7:30 April 14-16 for $6).

Seeing as I’m stressing about running out of time, I suppose I should get to the giant stack of marking I have to do. Sadly, I’m all out of beer.

xx

OH, I forgot! Haha, I made a silly little cartoon because I wanted to try out the GoAnimate site to compare to Xtranormal (Xtranormal wins, imo), and the cartoon is of a typical moment in one class of mine in particular :P. The text-to-speech kinda fails, but meh.

April showers?

4 Apr

As difficult as it’s going to be to post a blog every day this month, due to my hectic schedule IRL, I’m looking forward to documenting the month of April, 2011.  I’ve got two weeks left of practicum, which has been the most difficult and challenging thing I’ve experienced in my life up until now, then I’m possibly driving to Richmond then Orlando with my mom (who is NOT your ideal passenger), and finally pinning down a summer job that will allow me to save enough money to move to England in the fall to teach (oh yeah, I suppose I’ll be getting my stuff in line for that too).

That being said, April 2011 will be a trying month and most likely an emotional shit show.

Right now, I’m mustering up all the motivation I can to continue giving my all for the last two weeks of practicum. I am so over lesson planning at this point. I just want to assign projects, give the students the class periods to work on them, and just conference with them to guide them. In an ideal world, that would work. I’d provide a task that would allow them to develop important skills in planning, goal-setting, critical thinking, purposeful writing, design, etc. and then let them go to it, with my role being that of mentor. I’ve provided these tasks, I’ve designed assignments that will teach them these important skills, but unfortunately I have to provide more structure. Break things down into structured one-hour periods, assign number values to things, mark and evaluate them, do the usual song and dance at the beginning, middle, and end of class periods, because if I don’t, then a) it will look like I’m not doing my job (and when you’re a student teacher, it’s unfortunately all about what it looks like on the surface in many cases), and b) my students are not used to any other kind of working situation, so giving them the responsibility of using “the next x days” to accomplish something just leads to most of them wasting time and leaving everything to the last minute. I don’t blame them for that, they’ve been trained on worksheets and tests.

Well. I didn’t really mean to end up there. But on a related note, the next 12 days or so might involve me ranting, complaining or at the very least talking about practicum and teaching. I’ll try to keep it brief, as I know it’s very much an in-my-head thing that is not only difficult to translate but also deeply uninteresting for non-inhabitants of my brain. Perhaps I shall add a little disclaimer to such paragraphs. Yes. That will do.

So to get back on topic, I think it should be an interesting month, and I’m happy I’ll be documenting it. I wish I’d designed a blogging unit or ongoing project earlier in my practicum. I think it would have been fun. Freedom Writers à la 2011. Perhaps next year if I have a full-time position en Angleterre.

Until tomorrow, kittens!

xx

Note: I actually wrote this yesterday. Look at me go! Rockin’ BEDA!

Nadia – part one.

3 Apr

Oh wow, a Monteverde Invincia Stealth Ball Point! she thought as she picked up the rare pen. She admired it with trained eyes, I can’t believe someone abandoned you, she spoke, wordlessly, to the exclusive pen. With a routine glance around the room to be sure no one was watching, not that anyone ever was, she slid the Invincia into her bag and rushed off to fifth period sociology.

As much as she loved discussing the performative nature of masculinity, Nadia Talbot was not fully present in Ms. Humphrey’s ordinarily engrossing class that day. She was distracted. She wondered who the pen had belonged to prior to fourth period. She imagined scenarios leading to the pen’s abandonment. Had it been lost? Forgotten? Intentionally left behind?

She returned to Earth when a stack of papers suddenly appeared in front of her nose.

“Here you go, dreamer.” he said with a cheeky grin.

“Oh, uh, thanks.” She awkwardly smiled back.

Nadia, feeling bad that she could never remember his name, took the papers and looked down, “Excerpt: Undoing Gender by Judith Butler”. She took a copy and passed the rest along. Come on, Talbot. Pull yourself together. She was glad they were going to be reading Butler; she’d already read Undoing Gender in the summer and had found it most inspiring.

“I know that many of you are going to have a lot to say about this piece, so while you’re reading this excerpt over the next ten minutes or so, I want you to make note of thoughts, questions, comment, insights, anything that comes to mind as you read.” Ms. Humphrey instructed. “I don’t care if it’s squeezed in the margin or on a page ripped from your notebook, just write it down.”

Normally Nadia would have been all over this. She always felt a frenzy of excitement when engaging in conversation with the author on a subject she felt passionately about. She loved writing about their theories and making connections to her own experience of society. Today, however, she felt a mild pang of anxiety. She was in a predicament. A dilemma. She was torn.

She wanted desperately to use the Invincia Stealth, to get to know it, but she feared it’s former owner could be one of her classmates and if she pulled it out now, he or she might want it back. It isn’t exactly a pen you see just anywhere.

“Finished already, Talbot?” chirped Ms. Humphrey with a tone of sarcastic surprise.

“Sorry, I guess I zoned out for a minute.” she replied, cheeks turning a slightly pinker shade of their usual olive. I am ridiculous, she shook her head slightly as if to shake away her distractions, and pulled her old standby from her backpack, a 0.7mm Pilot Greenball Refillable–89.2% recycled material (excluding replaceable parts).

When the bell rang, she quickly made her way to the north bike rack, unlocked her yellow beach cruiser, Sara, and set off for home. She named her bike Sara not because because she was particularly  fond of the feminine name, but because it was short for Frelsara, the Icelandic word for saviour, and in her mind, if the world is to be saved, bikes will probably play a pretty important role.

She loved her ride home. Six blocks of busy streets with lots of people and places and stories, then a shortcut along an old railroad track that was no longer used, and lots of time to think. Normally she liked to watch the joggers and business women, the homeless men and the young families, the couples in the cafes and the hipsters proudly sipping their overpriced lattes outside of them; she liked to watch everyone, and she liked to imagine their stories.

Nadia was fascinated by the complexity and uniqueness of every individual’s unwritten, personal narrative. She loved to ponder where that woman was going as she loaded her luggage into a taxi, or why that man ordered three cokes, or what happened to that teenaged girl leading up to her sitting alone in that bookshop with a forlorn look on her face. She liked to listen to these stories, as her imagination told them to her, following the subjects from afar as the fantasized events of their daily lives unfold before her mind’s eye like a silent film. A series of looks, emotions, fights, hugs, days on the beach, cries in the car, exciting secrets behind closed doors. No two people ever had the same or even remotely similar stories. It was this fascination that lead to her reverence of pens.

Self-inflicted panic: a how-to.

2 Apr

Today I thought I would be generous and kind and all that jazz and share some of my acquired if not naturally possessed expertise. Now, I was fortunate enough to be born with a predisposition that allowed me to hone and perfect this skill over time, but if you weren’t born this way, don’t worry, I shall be your guru, your mentor, your sensei, if you will, as you enter the unchartered territory of self-caused anxiety.

Step One: Be a perfectionist.

Almost nothing will cause more stress and anxiety than taking on a task for which you’ve only novice-level skills and setting expert-level expectations for yourself. It’s very easily accomplished as well! All you need to do, is read what the pros have done, aspire to do something even better, because obviously it won’t be that hard, then get to work. In no time, you’ll be stressed and panicked and experiencing those wonderful anxiety-induced cold-sweats!

Step Two: Procrastinate.

While you anxiously attempt to do this task that is unmistakably out of your league, it’s important to remember to surround yourself with distractions. This way, you’ll spend the early hours of the task thinking “Man! I’ve got all the time in the world!” and allowing yourself to succumb to the temptation of all the mindless things you love! My personal recommendations are Netflix, streaming tv, e-reading, and snacking (as an added bonus, the prevalence of snacking does wonders to counteract any clearly unwelcome weight loss as a result of any loss of appetite symptomatic of stress).

Step Three: Pretend you’re pro at something else, while you’re at it.

In order to make yourself feel even less competent about the impossible journey on which you’ve embarked, procrastinate by faking natural adeptness at something else. This will build up your confidence so that the slam back to reality is even more formidable when you get back to work. Personally, I like to convince myself that I’m a culinary mastermind and concoct unoriginally original delicacies with the provisions on my student-stocked shelves.

Step Four: (De)Hydrate.

It’s always beneficial to reward yourself every once in a while with alcohol. I like to do this when I come home from a long, trying day of teaching. I’ll tell myself to unwind with a beer and a show and relax for a minute before I get back to planning. This is particularly effective because it makes you just a little bit sleepy, and once you’ve surpassed the ripe old age of 20, any excuse you can think of will justify sleeping. Secondly, it opens up plenty of opportunity for self-loathing.

Step Five: Overshare.

This last step is crucial because it serves three primary purposes: 1) You can further procrastinate by taking photos of your savvy sirings (ie – those astounding delicacies!) and sharing them with the world, b) you can whine and complain about how stressed you are and how much you have to do, so that c) you wind up thinking about it even more and being more anxious than you were to begin with! (And again with the self-loathing.)

And there you have it. Five simple steps to make you want to crawl into a hole and disappear until no one remembers how much of a failure you are anymore.

Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Oh. Hello BEDA.

1 Apr

So. It’s been a while. Nearly two months. I suck at blog. That being the case, on the suggestion of my genial and humorous friend Lydia, (seriously, read her blog, it’s spilling over with amusing anecdotes and rollicking rants), I shall be taking part in a little thing we like to call Blog Every Day in April. If I fail, we’ll say this declaration was just an April Fool’s joke. Now you’re hoping it really is, aren’t you?

I haven’t been partaking in my usual online social affairs as of late, and I’ve but one creature to blame: practicum.  For the past month and a half or so, I’ve been teaching grade 11 English at a local high school. This in itself wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to plan the curriculum and create all the resources and material to go with it, but alas, I do, so that is what I’ve been doing on my evenings and weekends, ergo, my lack of social existence.

Even though I still have 2 weeks left of full-time teaching, I decided I could make time to write a quick blog every day, or at least most days–I want to avoid the “Oh my god, it’s been a crazy day, I’m just barely squeezing this in before midnight and I had a great pizza for dinner, bye!” posts, so BEDA is likely destined to be a misnomer. ANYway…

I don’t know how long it’s been since you’ve been in a high school setting, but for me, prior to this year of course, it’s been about 6 years. That’s not a long time. Aside from technology or isolated initiatives, not a lot changes in just 6 years.  That being said, I can’t get over some of the differences between my high school experience and that of the students I’m teaching. The biggest one, which is really at the core of these differences, is a shift in attitude and respect.

Okay, so obviously my classmates and I weren’t perfect in high school, but by no means did we ever have the majority of the class doing our own thing and having our own conversations over the teacher while he or she was trying to teach. I don’t even think we did that with substitutes who were only in for one day. Maybe. Kick them out, some say, but what is one to do? Kick out a dozen kids?

Secondly, when did the attitude about high school become that it’s a nuisance and that participation and respect are optional? I can’t comprehend situations where students don’t work in class, therefore don’t hand in assignments, and conclude by whining about the work? Maybe I should just stop allowing students time to do work in class? But lectures aren’t the way to go either… I’m not sure what the middle ground should be.

That being said, I do have some really great, motivated and respectful students. And it’s so nice to work with teens who, for the most part, a) care about succeeding, b) are nice, respectful, decent people and c) take enough responsibility for their own work that I have time to actually be myself, instead of a nagging babysitter.

But enough of my complaining about my unpaid job, tomorrow shall bring a new topic, a decidedly more positive topic. In which case, I’m totally open to suggestions.

Until then,

Meg xx

If you ever wanna piss me off…

6 Feb

An excerpt from Judy Blume’s intro to her anthology Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers:

In that decade I wrote thirteen other books: eleven for young readers, 0ne for teenagers, and one for adults. My publishers were protective of me during those years and didn’t necessarily share negative comments about my work. They believed if I didn’t know some individuals were upset by my books, I wouldn’t be intimidated.

Of course, they couldn’t keep the occasional anecdote from reaching me: the mother who admitted she’d cut two pages out of Then Again, Maybe I Won’t rather than allow her almost thirteen-year-old son to read about wet dreams. Or the young librarian who’d been instructed by her male principal to keep Deenie off the shelf because in the book, Deenie masturbates. “It would be different if it were about a boy,” he’d told her. “That would be normal.”

That last sentence. RAAARRRRGGGHHH! RAGE!!!! Seriously. SERIOUSLY? Urrrrgh. If I had more time to write right now I’d go off on one, but lucky for you I have 20 hours of work to get done in the next 5.

In other news, I have a two week break coming up in which I plan to start a writing prompt/fiction quick write regime, so perhaps this blog won’t be so neglected then. We shall see, we shall see!

xx

SERIOUSLY?

21 Jan

Today on my prep period I was flipping through one of the free local dailies and discovered a multi-page ad for the publication’s new apps. Considering how much space was devoted to them, and considering that they are proudly and excitedly announcing a new feature, my reaction to the following was a real doubleyew-tee-EFF?!

First:

THEN:

Then finally,

Sigh.

In related news, dear Metro, would you like to hire a proofreader? I’m available immediately.

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