How To Know When You’re a Teacher: Link

For all my teacher friends who have started the new academic year, and for those, like me, who start tomorrow, this is for you. It has been my most popular ever post, and a year later it still makes me smile. Simply click on the image for the post… I promise it will be worth your time.

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You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.

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29 Things That Television Has Taught Me.

suzie81speaks:

Something I’ve really enjoyed creating this week… In case you missed it!

Originally posted on Suzie81 Speaks:

1. Walking down the street in these outfits will make people think I am a style icon and try and emulate my fashion sense.

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2. Teenagers in America, particularly in Stars Hollow and Capeside, posses a mastery of complex vocabulary. I work with hundreds of teenagers every day and if I can get a ‘nah, man!’ out of them I’m doing well.

3. New York City is an affordable place to live and all apartments there are beautifully decorated and spacious.

4. It is possible to be in the vicinity of the murder of hundreds of people in Cabot Cove, New York and Ireland, and not once be considered a suspect. Jessica Fletcher is a master criminal.

5. The louder the TV chef, the more unhealthy the food.

6. The bumbling idiot will always have a beautiful wife.

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7. Your best friend will forgive you for kissing his girlfriend after you…

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Something in The Air?

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This morning I woke up feeling unexpectedly refreshed, despite only having a few hours sleep. I checked my social media sites, as I usually do as soon as I wake up, and discovered that I had received a few private messages on my personal Facebook page.

The first one was from a former colleague – I left my previous school over two years ago and haven’t seen him since my departure. Recently, he has sent me the same message every few weeks, usually in the early hours of Saturday morning. The conversation has always gone as follows:

Him: How are you?

Me: Good thanks! How are you?

No reply.

This morning, I saw his name in my notifications and assumed I had received a similar message. However, I was surprised when it read

‘Look, if you can’t be bothered to reply I won’t bother anymore. I get the message. Take care.’

I was confused. I know my messenger is working and it was clear that my previous messages had been read, and I have definitely replied.

Unfriend.

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The next message that I saw was from someone that I used to go to university with, who is also a music teacher. While we were quite close at university, we haven’t had a proper conversation in years, the last one being a quick message about his name change to his profile page. Since then he has got married (I wasn’t invited to his wedding) and had a child. The message was this:

‘Hi are you still a teacher? I’ve got a job at a new school – how many of your lovely schemes of work are you going to send me before I have a breakdown?’

I couldn’t decide whether to admire him for his confidence or be outraged at the sheer cheek of it. Writing a scheme of work takes hours – was he assuming that I would send him all my work to avoid him having to do any by himself? When we haven’t spoken for years? I decided to go with outraged.

Unfriend.

Finally, the third message was from a former colleague when I was a teenager. It made no sense whatsoever – the person had obviously written it when drunk. It was then followed by ‘sorry, I didn’t mean you but I like it,’ and then another saying ‘should we do that later?’

I tried to decipher what on earth they were talking about, but gave up in the end.

Unfriend.

I’m getting too old for this sh*t. Was there something in the air last night?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.

 

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Bugger Off! 10 Things I Love About My Country #6: Language

We’re over half way through with the ‘United We Stand’ posts and Steve (a scot), Jenny (an American) and I (an English woman) have been compiling lists about the things we love about our countries.

This week’s focus is language. I toyed with the idea of focusing on the different aspects of the history of the english language, but have somehow gravitated towards slang and swear words. Warning: there may be uses of words that you may deem to be inappropriate within this list – if you are easily offended, read the post with your hands over your face whilst peeking out between your fingers.

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1. Bugger. This is a word that I use on a regular basis to in any number of situations:

  • Bugger off – go away.
  • We’re buggered – all is lost.
  • It’s buggered – it is broken.
  • I’m buggered – I’m tired.
  • Lucky bugger – a lucky person.
  • Bugger it – forget it.

2. Bung. This is usually placed in the context of putting something into a specific place (“just bung it in the bin), or to throw (“bung it over here will you”). Bung can also be replaced with the word ‘chuck’ in both of these situations.

3. Gagging. This means ‘desperate for’ and can be used in any number of phrases to emphasise the need for something – “I’m gagging for a drink/cigarette/the toilet.”

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4. Fanny. To put it simply, this means vagina in England, so when the word is used in American television programmes to describe somebody’s ass I can’t help but have a sneaky giggle to myself. It can also be used to describe someone who is an idiot or who has done something stupid.

5. Piss poor. This has nothing to do with urine, it emphasises the fact that somebody isn’t just short of money, they have absolutely nothing. Like ‘bugger,’ the word ‘piss’ can also be used in lots of contexts:

  • I’m pissed – I’m drunk
  • Piss off – go away
  • I haven’t got a pot to piss in – I don’t have any money
  • Pissing about – messing around/doing nothing/being silly.
  • Piss up – a large drinking session with friends.
  • I’m going for a piss – I am going to urinate.

6. Right. This is often used by people from northern England and means ‘very.’ Example phrases are “I’m right knackered,” and “I’m right pissed off” meaning “I am very tired,” and “I’m very annoyed.”

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7. Wanker. This is a word that is often brought up by foreign celebrities when questioned about the differences in language during interviews when they visit our country. It simply means that you are describing somebody as an idiot. Here are other words that can be used in the same context:

  • Tosser.
  • Tw*t. (I detest this word, which is why I have bleeped it out a little.)
  • Scumbag.
  • Arsehole.

8. Rubbish. This can be used to describe something that is put into a bin, or to describe something that isn’t very good.

9. Wangle. This can also be used in lots of contexts, but essentially it is managing to obtain something: “I managed to wangle an invitation/discount/extra day out of them.”

10. Sod’s law. If something can go wrong, it will inevitably go wrong.

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11. Chav. This is used to describe teenagers and young adults who generally wear tracksuits, caps with the Burberry pattern on them, sovereign rings, claim benefits and hang around on street corners and parks, smoking cigarettes and weed and drinking cheap alcohol.

12. Slapper. This is often used to describe girls who are considered to be promiscuous.

13. Gobby. This is of no relation to a Harry Potter house elf, it is used to describe a loud, obnoxious person.

14. Arse over tit. This means to fall over. I use this often.

Warning: most of these words are considered to be moderately offensive, and shouldn’t be used in conversation with anyone who you deem to be in a position of authority. Saying “bugger off you wanker” to your boss, the police or your parents is not likely to get you any brownie points.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.

 

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Reflections of Summer: My Favourite Posts

It’s almost the end of the UK summer and in a few days I will be back at work, ready for the start of a new academic year. The last few weeks have been the quickest I have known for a long time, and while I have spent a large amount of time doing school – based activities I have been able to relax and catch up with friends, films and some much needed sleep.

I have blogged on a daily basis, my posts reflecting my mood and ideas that I have thought of during my adventures. I still have a number of posts to finish off, which I intend to do this weekend, but I thought it would be a nice idea to share with you my favourite and most successful ones of the last six weeks for those who may have had a blogging break and missed them. Rather than reblogging each one, I have collated the all into one post. To view them, simply click on the images below.

Cheri Lucas Rowlands/The Daily Post

Revisiting My Youth

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A Tale of a Sociopath

The Teachings of Ralph Wiggum

The Teachings of Ralph Wiggum

Would You Like Fries With That?

Would You Like Fries With That?

There is Always a Light

There is Always a Light

29 Things Television Has Taught Me

29 Things Television Has Taught Me

A Children's TV Presesnter?

A Children’s TV Presesnter?

12 Reasons Wy I am Rubbish at Being English

12 Reasons Wy I am Rubbish at Being English

I Am White

I Am White

Let's Talk About Blogging Numbers

Let’s Talk About Blogging Numbers

Pearls of Wisdom From a Thirty-Something Man

Pearls of Wisdom From a Thirty-Something Man

The WordPress Community Experiment

The WordPress Community Experiment

12 Things Men Should Know About Women

12 Things Men Should Know About Women

I Remember

I Remember

Things People Say...

Things People Say…

If We Were Having Coffee

If We Were Having Coffee

Blog Envy and Trolls

Blog Envy and Trolls

If I Knew Then: What I've Learned About Blogging

If I Knew Then: What I’ve Learned About Blogging

10 Things I Love About My Country: Music

10 Things I Love About My Country: Music

Why I Don't Believe in Soulmates

Why I Don’t Believe in Soulmates

 

What about you guys? Which of these has been your favourite post of the summer?
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog
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29 Things That Television Has Taught Me.

1. Walking down the street in these outfits will make people think I am a style icon and try and emulate my fashion sense.

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2. Teenagers in America, particularly in Stars Hollow and Capeside, posses a mastery of complex vocabulary. I work with hundreds of teenagers every day and if I can get a ‘nah, man!’ out of them I’m doing well.

3. New York City is an affordable place to live and all apartments there are beautifully decorated and spacious.

4. It is possible to be in the vicinity of the murder of hundreds of people in Cabot Cove, New York and Ireland, and not once be considered a suspect. Jessica Fletcher is a master criminal.

5. The louder the TV chef, the more unhealthy the food.

6. The bumbling idiot will always have a beautiful wife.

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7. Your best friend will forgive you for kissing his girlfriend after you have sat in a box and thought about what you did.

8. There are seven basic erogenous zones.

9. James Woods likes candy.

10. It is possible to live solely on junk food and coffee and maintain a supermodel figure without doing any exercise.

11. A wanted criminal can be found anywhere in the world with just a partial fingerprint, a reflection in a window and a few random clicks. Ultimately, they are going to be linked to a terrorist group.

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12. Groups of friends from High School will go to the same college, and will be accompanied by one of their teachers.

13. I am a bad person. I should be donating to the RSPCA, NSPCC, Red Cross, UNICEF, the WSPA and the Humane Donkey Society. I should also be sponsoring a snow leopard, a tiger and several children across the world.

14. A criminal with a machine gun can miss their target a million times. However, a policeman with a Glock will get a perfect shot every time, and never run out of ammunition.

15. Parents will never notice if a boy puts a ladder up to their teenage daughters window at night.

16. Doctors are hot. Super hot. With perfect hair.

17. He is NOT the father.

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18. All locks can easily be picked with hair grips.

19. Spies can travel across the world in less than five minutes without any form of jet lag.

20. Heartbroken women who have just ended their relationship will always go back to the place where she and her ex first met.

21. Emotional breakdowns will cause somebody to walk about in the rain, without an umbrella.

22. The same group of friends will be able to sit on the same couch at the same table every time they visit.

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23. Despite the fact that all the evidence a cop has against a suspect is purely circumstantial, the suspect will admit their crime in the end and give full explanations as to why they did it.

24. When in jail, it is a good idea not to insult the chef’s food.

25. The geek always gets the girl in the end.

26. Childbirth is quick and newborns emerge looking about five months old and fast asleep.

27. When given the choice of a career opportunity of a lifetime and a relationship that has failed repeatedly, the relationship will always win.

28. Large couches should never be places against the wall.

29. It is possible for beautiful women to go to sleep, get up, go to work for a full day and then out to a party at night without once having to do their hair and make up – this automatically remains perfect at all times.

 

What  about you guys? What things have you learned from the television?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

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How To Survive Your NQT Year

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It’s the end of summer and in a few days time I will be sitting in the school theatre, surrounded by my colleagues. Among them will be faces that I’m not familiar with, sitting awkwardly in their new departments, making polite conversation about their summer adventures and desperately trying to hide the fact that they are terrified.

These people are the Newly Qualified Teachers. They’ve successfully completed their training year, whether it be a PGCE, GTP or equivalent, and they are now likely to be in a role of responsibility for the first time.

The NQT year is exciting, challenging and possibly the most stressful. It’s the year where most NQT’s start to develop their style and cultivate relationships with their students and colleagues. It’s also the year where expectations are dashed, sleep is lost and career choices will be questioned repeatedly. I have been a qualified music teacher since 2007, but have worked in secondary schools in the UK since 2005. The profession has changed dramatically even in the years that I have been teaching, but this year I am an NQT mentor. This is the advice I will be giving my NQT:

1. Plan effectively. One of the most important aspects of teaching is planning the lessons that you intend to deliver. There are so many things to consider – outcomes, specific learning needs and how to demonstrate meaningful progress to name a few – that it is quite easy to spend hours on just a single lesson. We all have our preferred style and there are no real right or wrongs (within reason) when planning a great lesson. Try and plan them at least 48 hours in advance – I know of teachers that plan several weeks ahead. However, there are ways in which you can save time – sharing resources and lesson plans (my department frequently does this), creating templates that you can use over and over and developing small projects that can be used across a few lessons at a time are some examples of making the planning process easier.

2. Ask for help. If you find that you are having difficulties with a certain student or class, ask for assistance. This doesn’t mean that you are not capable of doing your job – even the most experienced of teachers sometimes struggle – but telling your line manager or another member of your department will (hopefully) ensure that the correct support is put in place.

3. Complete individual tasks as soon as you receive them. Teachers, while trying to be as paperless as possible, are notorious for sending pieces of paper around the school. Deal with them as soon as possible to avoid them building up. This, admittedly, is one of my weaknesses and am determined to change the way that I deal with paper during this academic year.

4. Don’t take things personally, and remember to be the adult. Working with children can be absolutely infuriating at times, and there has been more than one instance where I have had to walk away, take a deep breath and count to ten. In my career I have had gone out of my way to provide support only to have it thrown back in my face on many occasions, I’ve had personal attacks directed at me, I’ve battled, pleaded, praised and sanctioned with no effect at times and it doesn’t get any easier. The point to remember is that you are dealing with boisterous children or hormonal teenagers. Don’t raise your voice, give out any personal insults or get into any arguments. If a child is not willing to cooperate, quickly and effectively follow the necessary protocols and try not to allow the situation to affect your own opinion of your teaching abilities.

5. Set clear boundaries and expectations, follow through with praise and sanctions and be consistent. If you say you are going to do something, do it.

6. Develop a positive relationship with the students, but always maintain the teacher/student boundaries. One of the most frustrating things I hear directed at NQT’s is ‘don’t smile until Christmas.’ I wholeheartedly disagree – setting a positive and friendly tone in the classroom is always more likely to assist when developing a good relationship with your students. Smile and talk to them with respect. Find out about their interests and hobbies. However, it is important to remember that you are NOT their friend. Don’t divulge too much personal information about yourself and NEVER connect with them via social media at any point. I have a few ex-students on my personal Facebook page that I taught a number of years ago, but they have no connection to the school that I now teach at and are all fully grown adults with their own lives, families and careers.

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7. When using social media, ensure that you protect yourself in the online world. Change your name on your social media accounts to prevent the students from finding you – they will undoubtedly search for you during an hour of boredom at some point. It is also not a good idea to post pictures of yourself in various states of drunkenness and/or undress on your social media pages. An embarrassing picture in the wrong hands may mean the end of your career.

8. Accept that lessons won’t always happen as you expected. I can remember a few occasions where I spent hours enthusiastically planning lessons that I was sure would motivate and inspire all my students, only to have had my hopes dashed by apathy and bored faces in one class, and excited squeals in another. Factors outside of the classroom may affect how your teaching day goes. The most useful technique I have been able to develop is the ability to adapt to unforeseen changes and circumstances.

9. Join a union. I work in a good school and am well supported by my colleagues and management. However, I have worked in a few institutions where I was treated unfairly and unprofessionally, and my union rep was an invaluable support. Every school is different, and it is always a good idea to ensure that you are protected should you need it.

10. Look after yourself. Earlier in the year I spent nearly a week in hospital and had five weeks off afterwards because I had ignored a minor ailment to the point where it made me seriously ill. An average teaching day can become extremely busy and non-stop, and I often went through the day without eating and drinking and didn’t take the time to go to the toilet. What it taught me was that my health was important, and because I didn’t look after it properly I became so ill that it affected my ability to work. You are legally allowed to have a break and a lunch. Take them. If you need the toilet and a student is nagging you for something, tell them that you’ll be a few minutes and go. Get plenty of sleep. Exercise. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that you will catch several colds and flu throughout the year, but the healthier you are, the easier you will be able to cope with it.

11. Stay away from alcohol on a work night. There is absolutely nothing worse than teaching a full day with the world’s biggest hangover. I’ve been there. Trust me, it isn’t pleasant.

12. Where possible, cultivate a work/life balance. You will work every evening and most weekends, but in teaching, you will NEVER be absolutely up to date with everything. There are always jobs that will need to be completed. However, it is important that you take some time for yourself, and this is an integral part of surviving not just your NQT year, but every year you spend in teaching afterwards. Lots of my teacher friends have hobbies that are nothing to do with the profession – they participate in performances within amateur dramatics organisations and musical groups, play on sporting teams, volunteer for charities, go to the gym, write and take short trips around the country. It’s imperative to have something else to focus on and enjoy, or your job will become all consuming.

13. While it may sound harsh, try to remember that you don’t know everything that there is to know about teaching, about children and the education system. A driver who has recently passed their test often makes the mistake of assuming that they are now the world’s best motorist, and I have often found that NQT’s have the same attitude (I was one of them). Listen to and follow advice, learn from your mistakes, accept responsibility and don’t assume that just because you now have a qualification which says that you are allowed to teach means that everything that you believe is correct.

14. Remember that teaching is not just about teachers. There are lots of staff that play an integral role within the school – support staff in the form of teaching assistants, pastoral managers or faculty support managers, IT technicians, admin, finance, site staff, canteen staff… at my current school we are even lucky enough to have a school nurse, and their knowledge of individual students and how the school operates will undoubtedly far outweigh yours. It is not a good idea to assume that your job is more important or be dismissive of these staff (I’ve seen this happen on a number of occasions) – they have been an invaluable support to me in every school that I have ever worked at.

15. Enjoy the journey! Teaching is a rewarding, fulfilling, frustrating and stressful profession, where no two days are the same. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll dream about being in the classroom when you go to sleep. Take each day on it’s own merits, celebrate the successes and try not to dwell on mistakes.

 

What about you guys? Do you have any advice for Newly Qualified Teachers?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.

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