Friday, October 30, 2009

Two Funny Conversations With Kids

There is one boy in my class who is older than the others, and likes pretending he is my peer. And in some cases, 12 year olds *can* be like my peer, depending on the situation. But other times, it's obvious just how innocent (thank goodness! I get worried about these kids) and also unthinking in a childish way he is.

Him: So, Miss [Name] do you have a husband?
Me: Nope, I don't. (thinking "hello, my name is "Miss"!")
Girl 2 years younger than him: Do you have any kids?
Me: No kids, no!
Him: Of *course* she doesn't have kids, girl! She just said she wasn't married!
Me: ... ermm... that doesn't necessarily mean I don't have kids, but I don't have any, no.
*girl gives me this total 'what the hell's up with him look'*

This kid would certainly know unmarried mothers. He'd also know many divorced mothers (therefore, no husband). Yet obviously hasn't connected his thoughts up in his questioning process! Education from Life still needs the comprehension skills I think!

I was in the computing room watching a class while their teacher was out (my mentor was supervising both classes at the same time, and the other student teacher was in our actual class. So no duty of care issues, just in case you were concerned).

I went up to one boy who was playing games and asked

Me: Why aren't you doing your powerpoint presentation?
Him: I don't have one.
Me (conversationally) : Oh? Why's that?
Him: I'm just here on transition.
Me: You came here from another school?
Him: Yeah, [mumbles something that was the name of a school]. It's for kids who're being Extended.
Me:... Extended? What do you mean?
Him: You know, extended!
Me: No, I don't know...
Him: You know, the other type of suspended! One is suspended, the other is extended!
Me: Oh! You mean excluded??

Of course the word I didn't hear was the name of the local school for kids that no other schools will take anymore due to lots and lots of exclusions (being expelled) from schools. They have smaller classes and more security, and try desperately to get them back on track if not just contained.

I still thought that his "starts with an ex, is related to suspended, must be extended" logic was pretty funny.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


As you can see, the title of this blog is called "Who Will I Drink Tea With?"

... well it turns out, I won't be drinking tea with anyone for quite a while!
Possibly TMI but it seems I've developed a sensitive bladder from too many years of being able to go to the toilet whenever I wanted or going "Just in case" because my mother did, plus drinking caffeine. I like my pepsimax and I do enjoy my cups of tea. However, when I started going to school three weeks ago, I was also drinking more water than usual, and having to 'go' at the specified times, as well as drinking a cup of tea every morning before school, AND more water because it's getting hot now! My bladder couldn't take it! And it was very very annoying. Until about a week and a half ago when my bladder decided it had had enough and just sent me constant 'you have to go for a trip to the lavatorium now!' all. The. Time. I was freaking out, thinking I had a bladder infection. Which it turns out I did not.

... I just can't drink tea anymore. Or at least for a few months until I retrain my bladder not to freak out at waiting for half an hour.

So there's a little thing that you don't expect to affect you as a student teacher but sometimes will!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sixth Happiest Nation!

Australia is apparently the 6th happiest nation out of 104 nations!

It came in after Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Not bad, since everyone always talks about how great those countries are in terms of economics, democracy, education, health, safety, security, personal freedom, governance and social capital, all things that we apparently came into the top 10 for, and are also indicators of happiness according to the study. We 'lost out' on entrepreneurship and innovation, which the US and UK did best in. But still, pretty good, and we were at 15th place! The survey was apparently done by Legatum Institute, in London.

Canada was 7th, then Holland, USA and New Zealand. It was measured with 79 variables including quality of life.

What do you think about this?

And what's the relevance of the dog? He's a happy Australian Shepherd.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Probably Obvious Tipette

For student teachers.

Most classes of Year 5 kids take a VERY long time to do tasks that you would consider absolutely basic.

What I thought was a five minute sorting activity today took 30 minutes. There goes the lesson!

I had given them pieces of paper with different foods, taken directly off food pyramids (that I was going to explain to them in the second part of the lesson). The instruction was to decide as a group how to sort them into categories, and then sort the pieces of paper. Write down what your categories are. Let me take a photo of them.

So, I had kids dividing it into some pretty bizarre ways, but that's okay! The thing that wasn't was that they took soooo long to do anything at all. We had one table that was Girls Against Boys, another where the boys refused to do any work, so the girls did it all and the boys sat and grinned at me every time I asked them to participate. We had The Meltdown. One of the boys melted down, because he didn't like that I'd given him no mark for the assignment he'd not done, and he refused to participate and sat ripping pieces of paper up. We had the table where they wanted to get it Perfect, and therefore couldn't agree how to do it or took years to move pieces of paper around. And we had the group that worked really well together, but then couldn't tell me why they chose their categories for the foods. Even the people who were on task took foreeeeeeeverrrrrr. I swear I can't remember things taking this long when I was a kid!

... Next Time: I will give a definite time limit. "You have 10 minutes to do this task".
I might make them work in pairs so this group fighting thing won't happen again. :(
I will have a demo version with different foods and do it very quickly on the smart board, plus give them categorising options (even though I was hugely curious to see how they would divide it up).

But even WITH those things, observing it done better by my mentor teacher, I'm surprised how long they take to do really simple things. Ruling up a page takes 5 minutes.

Patience, teachers, patience. Find some balance between trying to force them to work faster, being efficient in your teaching, and also allowing them to be slow- they're kids, simple things are not simple for them.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Do you get easily frustrated when a student doesn't understand what you are trying to teach?
- Samphor

Easily? No. I've only been teaching for a little while and I've had some children not understanding. Sometimes it's because it's a hard concept and will take them a while anyway, sometimes it's because they have massive gaps in their learning, sometimes it is my fault for not explaining well enough or not being able to explain in various different ways. I get frustrated at myself for not being able to get it explained, but I would try my best not to let it show to the student.

However, I do have a confession to make. Times tables and other maths surrounding that still makes me feel that ball of rising panic I felt when I was 8 years old. It is really hard to stop telling myself "I'm not good at maths" and just get down and teach it. It is like a foreign language to me still! I'm improving a lot, and I'm looking forward to understanding it more and more as the years go past. So perhaps that's why I am being patient with the kids- I was like them. I just didn't get something. I know how it feels, and in fact, still feel it. It is my job to help them feel successful so they don't label themselves as 'no good' like I did and put up a mental block for themselves. I want my students to feel that even if they're not getting it NOW they will get it later, and it's okay to struggle with things for a while, it doesn't mean you're a failure and no good- these are hard concepts to master! (for any subject, not just Maths).

I think that's a really important thing for teachers to hold onto, and any students reading this: You CAN improve whatever you're having trouble with, be it art or maths or English or Science or even P.E.

Some teachers get frustrated but I have a feeling it's because they are annoyed that they don't know how else to explain it, or they really want kids to all 'get' important concepts... forgetting that not all students will get there straight away. These same teachers often resent it when the student has the concept explained in a totally different way by someone else and 'gets' it. I honestly don't understand that feeling. I just want the student to understand it, if it's because of me, great, if not, then I have just learnt a new way to attempt it with another student the next year, and this student can now move on. Huzzahs all round!

Parents, you can help your student's frustration by learning what they're attempting to do, and working through it- use different ways to explain it if you can, perhaps one of us will be able to ease this child's mind! Then we all win.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Personal Life of Teachers

Do you ever let your personal life interfere with your teaching? Like if things are going bad at home, do you teach not as well at school?
- Samphor

I think that that is the case, yes. Personally, the worst thing happening in my life so far in my teaching career is simply being exhausted! I spent the first few days of teaching feeling very very tired, due to being very nervous and not sleeping properly. I think it affected my teaching by me not being as bubbly or as quick thinking as I can be. I still did the best I could and I believe I was very successful at 'faking it'.

If I were really upset in my life, I might have less patience for things that I usually am fine with, but I would try my best not to 'take it out on' any kids- it's not their fault. But personal life does affect things a little. I was talking with a teacher who was so upset about things going on with her life that she burst into tears when a teenager insulted her, it was the last straw.

Other teachers I have witnessed actually getting really angry on their bad days. Which is sad, and I really hope I never get like that.

The other day I was really disappointed in the class due to some extremely bad behaviour, so the next day I was certainly not as fun, though I was still polite. I got over it.

Teachers are human, and their emotions do affect them, just like a horrible horrible night at home would affect any other person in their career- they won't be up as much as usual.

Sometimes I think that if things were going great at home/in my other life, I would be really happy in class, so it works the other way too!

Teachers should try to remain professional, but sometimes, slip ups happen. And sometimes people have been so upset for so long they can't control it anymore- I saw that in quite a few teachers I had in High School and Primary School. It was very sad. Remember: It's most likely not about you, if they're constantly freaking out at everyone. Try to stay sane even when they're being stressful.

How would other teachers answer this question about their personal experiences with interactions between real life and teaching?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Dreaming

So according to the Aboriginal Education Officer at my school, it should no longer be called "The Dreamtime" but "The Dreaming" (Which was out of favour 10 years ago and is now back). So there you go. Just thought I'd let you know about the change in attitude!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Living At Home

How common is it for 20-somethings to live with their parents in Australia? Has this changed in the past few years?

I'd say "Very common". Most of my friends live at home. Two went almost straight to jobs from high school (after TAFE or a year or so of uni before stopping), I and a friend are uni students (yep, still, at 24), one friend is married, but if she weren't married she intended to stay home until after she finished her degree. My boyfriend lives in a shared house thing by 'himself', because he lived in the hills and it was too far to come to uni every day, and also he didn't get along with his parents particularly well.

People start thinking about moving out of home at about end of uni (so, 21 ish) but it's certainly not uncommon to stay longer to save money or because you simply can't afford to move out (I won't be able to until... at least a year and a half away.), if you're at uni or if you're not. I really don't even mind, I usually like my family! I also think that people don't want to fuss around with room mates who you might not like, move out with boyfriends or girlfriends you might not stay with, loneliness, deal with renting crappy places, and so on. And parents don't usually go "Right, you're moving out!!", at least not amongst my 'class' of people.

There are of course people who move out at 18 but I've noticed that is very uncommon. People don't go away to uni unless they can't get the degree they want locally, for example if they live in the country. Most Australians live in cities, most cities have universities, Tafes or other ways to have further education (apprenticeships or what ever) in your choice of career, so we just stay home. No dorm life for most of us.

I don't think it's actually changed much recently, I don't believe this is a 'Recession!!!' issue, this is a different cultural attitude and different geographical facts.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


How many constellations can you see there????

Hmn. I've never counted! And constellations are really just humans putting their imagination onto random placements and creating patterns connecting it with things in their lives. I don't know 'how many' to be honest. Most of them are upside down for us so 'Orion's Belt' becomes the bottom of "The Saucepan". Kids look in the sky and see The Saucepan, and also, The Shopping Trolley. (two different constellations). Aboriginal people of this area look into the sky and see a big stingray, where we see The Southern Cross (which is on our flag, and apparently can't be seen in the Northern Hemisphere). I don't know much about the Northern Hemisphere's constellations or if I can find them down here. I just know that when I travelled to Europe the sky looked foreign and weird.

Here are some links that might be useful.
Learning the Stars Downunder.
Some info about (some) Aboriginal interpretations of the stars.

Something you might be surprised about if you ever visit is that the Southern Cross and the two pointer stars is quite small! It certainly doesn't take up a huge space of night sky. But most (I think) Australians can pick it out and find it quite quickly. It can help us with directions, though very few know how to do that properly.

What constellations can *you* see as an Australian?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Our toilets flush clockwise in the northern hemisphere. Is it true they flush counter-clockwise in the southern?

I went and tested. And tested our sinks (Didn't test the bath or the shower, perhaps that would have different results!). And I'm suspecting that things are differently shaped over here!
Our toilet didn't go any way at all. It just flushes. Straight back, no swirling at all. So do the toilets in the school.
Our sink, well our bathroom basin has two taps. The tap on the left the water went anti clockwise, the tap on the right it went clockwise.
Maybe someone else can help me with this?

Are our toilets shaped differently further than the dual flush thing? (We often have two buttons, one for full flush one for half flush. You only use the full flush for more solid waste, and the half for most flushes. Saves a LOT of water, and is compulsory for new buildings to have these now).
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