fog, photos and body parts, as well as a long distance lesson

foggy morning

Heavy fog blanketed most of my drive to work this morning, but the day opened up into a summery day, except this is suppose to be autumn in Australia.  The weather man declares a cold change is coming, but I don’t think 29C days are building an argument for him!

Staff photo went well. I got to stand in the second row for the staff photo – ground level more importantly. I was prepared to refuse to climb their scaffolding this year – I have depth perception issues due to only having one eye, and I am finally at an age when I feel confident enough to say “no way am I doing that!” However, I didn’t have to. I did refuse to remove my glasses though. My glasses tint up in the sunshine and so I look as though I am wearing sunnies in the photo, big deal. The photo is going to languish at the bottom of someone’s closet until it goes into the bin anyway!

Home Class photo was accomplished as well. We had everyone turn up a. to school and b. from various classes at the appointed time (my home class has students from years 10,11 and 12). There was one young man who kept making silly faces and so they kept taking more photos until the rest of the cohort was ready to punch him and then he became serious.

One of my seniors said that during his individual senior photo “the photographer dude touched my dick!” Not sure if he was serious, I asked if he wanted me to talk to someone about it, but he replied no. I suspect it was an accidental and very fleeting brush at some stage in the photo process, if that, and a rather large exaggeration in the retelling. What surprised me more was a student using the word “dick” in a conversation with a female teacher, an older female teacher. How times have changed.

Then again, I heard one year 8 student call another year 8 student the “c” word in the library the other day – and when I reprimanded him, he couldn’t understand, amongst other things, why the word is disrespectful towards women!

Tomorrow is parent teacher student interviews. I have none so I get meet and greet for an hour on the door. I always seem to get meet and greet, but hey, no complaints from me!

The other amazing thing today, well not really amazing, but a reminder of what a great time we live in, was that I spent 90 minutes involved in a webinar with an IT person situated on the west coast of the USA. She was able to speak to over 70 librarians spread across Australia and take us through a tutorial where we could ask questions as we went. No, not the first time I have participated in a webinar, but isn’t it great to think how global education is now? It must be great to be student these days, compared to the days when all we had for research was a set of encyclopaedia – if we were lucky!

Yes, apparently, tomorrow is another school day.

tea legs

are we jettisoning our children into solitary confinement?

house 1

During the recent state elections I confirmed that my students are an excellent barometer for what the community is thinking. I asked them what they thought of the State’s Premier, and the Opposition Leader. I did this knowing full well that they would be parroting what they heard adults saying. They all hated the Premier, and were more favourable on the Opposition Leader. Election Day, the Premier lost his seat in the state’s parliament, but his government appear to have lost the election, though it is hanging on a knife’s edge with vote counting still taking place.

This week, I asked them if they ate dinner with their family at the table each night, or did they all take a plate and sit in front of the television. I was not anticipating their answers.

The majority of the students said that they actually took their meal and returned to their rooms to continue doing whatever they had been doing, such as playing on their computers.

That struck me as incredibly sad. These children are away from their families all day, and yet they are not even coming together in a central place to be together.

When our children were at school, we always ate together at the table, and some of the conversations were memorable. Since they have flown the coup as adults, Mr FD and I have fallen into the habit of taking our plate and watching the evening news together, which we debate hotly. We are still communicating.

These children are functioning on a minimum of parental time, and that saddens me. No wonder we are having to teach this year’s, year seven and eight students to say please and thank you, for a start!

Another place we used to be with our children was driving to and from school. Now I see the students riding in their family cars with earphones firmly inserted in their ears. If we aren’t careful, they even hide them in their hair and use them in class!

Are parents too exhausted from modern life to go the traditional mile with their children? Why are we jettisoning our children into a solitary confinement? Where are parents finding the joy in their parenting?

I have decided to be happy because it is good for my health… and the expected lifespan of those about me!

calm

Over recent years I have really worked on controlling feelings of anxiety that I experience from time to time, sometimes so intensely that the feelings become physical. I think I am the umpteenth generation in an anxiety ridden family.

Some six or seven years ago, I did a short course in relaxation and meditation. From time to time I would utilise those rudimentary skills in trying to survive anxious moments, days, weeks, months! More times that not the relief I experienced was hard won and fleeting, for it is not easy to quieten the internal voices of anxiety.

Surprisingly, since moving to the country and gaining a degree of peace and serenity, I have turned to meditation on a more regular basis. Often it is just to quieten my mind at the end of a long day, and I practice it lying in my bed, quite happy to fall asleep mid-meditation.

During the recent holidays, now jut a fleeting memory alas, in the spare time I had, I endeavoured to be more disciplined in approaching my daily mediation practice. Over the years I have found that I need a spoken meditation, a voice to centre me and take me through the process. This is probably because, despite the passage of time, I am still quite a novice.

By chance I came across an app for meditation called, Headspace. Now let me clear this is not a paid or endorsed advertisement for Headspace. I have found that it is working for me, and perhaps it might be of use to one other person out there, who knows. The first 10 days were free and after that it is a paid subscription. As I write this, I am up to day 12, or phase two of the program and yes, I have paid for a subscription. My health is worth it.

I find American accents really annoying in meditation, and also female voices, so I am happy to say that so far, the narrator is a male, with a British accent. Well, I hear it as British, and so it meets my needs.There are sometimes short introductory animations that assist me in zoning in, so another plus in my case.

Once or twice my brain has been racing, or my body has been in such a tight anxiety state that the initial 10 minute meditation just didn’t cut it with me. On those occasions I have actually completed two consecutive sessions and felt all the better for it. Phase two have fifteen minute sessions and already I feel a positive impact.

The breathing techniques are great and can be used at ant time. I have used them when needing to be very still during a scan, when in pain, angry, and before medical procedures.  When I need to slow and find my happy place is when they work best.

Now I know meditation doesn’t work for everyone. I have one friend who suffers form severe depression and any form of meditation actually sends her right into high anxiety. All I know, is that in my personal experience, it assists me to find some peace in each day.

Something to meditate upon, perhaps?

 

 

everything old is new again

In this high tech world of creativity and innovation where we all worry and bother about the use of technology and try to be gleaming examples of it in the workplace, a lesson was driven home to me this week. sometimes new technology is not what is needed, and that in fact it should all be driven by task and need.

The most exciting item of interest in our library this week was this –

photo-26

Yes, a blackboard. Not one teacher walked by without commenting on the “great idea” and the benefits of something so simple. I had purchased the blackboard to write motivational quotes and share information. In this instance it was to inform the seniors where their study rooms were during exam period. We have a big rolling electronic notice board screen above but that takes too much time and effort, with the blackboard they can view from outside the library doors instantly and be on their way. S-I-M-P-L-E.

Minerva and I are in competition for best accompanying graphics as well…

post conference exhaustion.

green suit

The conference was better than fantastic, but it was a full on three days. The first day went form 8.30am to 5.45 pm, not counting having to get there early to wade through the thousands to register.

I was solo, and it was great, as I didn’t have to worry about anyone else. If I wanted to sit quietly in a break I could, or if a session wasn’t what i expected I could move to another one easily.

I did meet a couple of librarians that I had been to PD with recently, one I had sat with for an entire day recently. I ended up sitting with her and a few of her colleagues during the first session with Sugata Mitra, but I walked out a different way to the morning tea break and made myself singular after that.

Except people kept attaching themselves to me, which was nice, I suppose, but… One woman kept commenting through a session to the point of irritation and I started calling her “Chatty Cathy” in my head. She was also one of those people who kept making excuses for why she wasn’t doing things, and using her age as an excuse. No excuse at all when it comes to technology. We can do it if we want. I left her in my wake at first opportunity.

The food was incredible, with sumptuous morning and afternoon teas of slices, muffins, danishes. Lunch was always a choice of salads, and not just lettuce and tomato salads, but grain salads, pastas, pumpkin and sweet potato salads, or hot dishes such as curries, fish, hot pastas, roast potatoes and more. There was one morning, the second when our group arrived to find all the food was gone, and we ll twittered our disappointment. It did not happen again.

The other key speakers were Anthony Salcito from Microsoft Education, Sir Ken Robinson, the curriculum creativity expert, whom we all adored, and also Ian Jukes of the 21st Century Fluency Project. Big hitters. At question time I think just about every presenter was asked to speak to our Federal and State Government Education Ministers and ask them to stop using teaching and education as a political football.

Strangely enough, pandering to the voting parent is not meeting the needs of a 21st century child. Institutional models of education like a production line no longer educates our students for today’s world.

Off the soap box, or at least I will leave that until another post! I returned to school on Friday, to be teased by fellow teachers that I had been on holiday, but I shared my notes and I think they can see that the days were filled from start to end. I have learned to much, and have so many ideas, little steps, that I want to implement. Our library shall be a space of creative enchantment.

irrigating the deserts

teaching-with-technology

Back at school today to be told by some of my home class students that they had missed me. I burst out laughing it seemed so incredulous, but there you go, truth really is stranger than fiction! Students never cease to amaze me!

Tomorrow I am going to introduce my ICT students to code. I don’t really know how to code, though we were forced to do a semester of computing back in my undergraduate degree which had us using DOS. I am going to use the tool Codeacademy  and the students will learn how to animate their own names.

There has been a big push in recent months to interest students in computing, active computing not just passive consumption of media, and a new ICT curriculum is being introduced. All students will learn basic coding, right from the start of school.

I won’t be involved in actual ICT classes once the new curriculum is introduced as I don’t really have the skills, but as a teacher librarian I currently teach basic year 8 ICT and use of their laptops (we are a 1:1 laptop school) I also teach information literacy and research skills in the term long unit.

Last week I had the students use PowToon to create a presentation on cyber bullying. I told them the site to use and assisted them in downloading it, and after that they were on their own. What fun they had! My usual difficult to engage students even created and for once, were open to sharing their work.

Occasionally there are lessons where everything comes together for you and your students and it is just magical. Then it is when you realise why you are a teacher. The lessons can be few and far between at times, but when they come along… priceless.

I didn’t have to correct one student for the entire double period. Miracle! They all worked solidly, and I almost became dizzy as I raced about the classroom trying to view all the stages of their presentations when they asked for feedback.

Tomorrow’s class is a little harder and requires them to use their literacy skills in reading instructions to complete each line of code, but I think that with the exception of one young girl who is on a modified learning plan and has the assistance of a school aide, most of them should be able to cope. We can but try!

Or drink.

 

The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.
C. S. Lewis