Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Zealand, Baby!

Good news: I survived my first term as a full time teacher! There were many ups and downs, but I made it through, and rewarded myself by going to New Zealand for two weeks with a friend, Sara.

We were there for two weeks, rented a car, and drove over as much of the two islands as we could, to see as much as we could. It was a spectacularly fantastic trip. New Zealand has always been at the top of my "to visit" list, so it was amazing to finally go.

Now the question is, how do I sum up 2 weeks of amazing traveling into a blog post? The honest answer is: I don't. I took notes each day on everything we did and I have a billion stories. I can't possible put it all into one simple, measly post and have that be anywhere near adequate. So the plan is to write a post for a day or two and post them sporadically over the next few days/weeks. I won't make any promises, though, because clearly I'm bad at updating this blog. In my defense, I'm really busy! But I do want to share my trip with you, so I will do my best.

I've made up a map showing the road that we took to get from Point A (Auckland) to Point B (Queenstown). We traveled over 3500 kilometres! Check it out:

View New Zealand Trip in a larger map

I'm hoping to have the first day or two up by the end of the week, I just have to get all of my photos onto my computer. The only ones you can see right now can be found on my Instagram account, just click here!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hello, holiday!

I can't believe we're almost done Term 1. Week 6 is over tomorrow! We've got 3 weeks left, and I'm so impressed and proud that myself and my fellow newbie teachers are going to survive it.

It's taken 6 weeks, but I finally feel like I'm getting it. Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) are due tomorrow and I've got one more to write. Yesterday I had 4 to write. I actually feeling like I'm getting my crap together. Like I know what I'm doing.

Today was a really good day, behaviour-wise. I have two very stubborn students, and they sometimes (often) drive me bonkers, but I think they're finally getting that it's my classroom, so it's my rules. I have another student whose behaviour can escalate really quickly and he can become violent. He's new to the school so it's a really big transition for him, and he's been struggling. But I think he's getting used to the schedule and the rules, too, and he's settled down a bit. We're working on it. But he had a really good day, and that makes me super happy.

Anyway, I WAS just going to quickly say that this coming Monday is a holiday!! It's Labour Day here in Australia on 11 March. Which means we aren't working on Monday. So myself and some of my friends from work are driving up into the mountains for a rodeo on Saturday and some camping and outdoors activities until Monday afternoon. We're going to Alpine National Park. I'm so excited, I can't remember the last time I went camping.

Really, that's all I wanted to say.

So chances are, I'll have photos to show and stories to tell. Hopefully I'll be able to find some time next week to write about my weekend. Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, February 15, 2013

In Which I Intend to Scold Myself & End Up Being Self-Motivational

I'm the worst blogger ever.

I know.

I'm terrible.

Please don't hate me.

But honestly, every time I think about updating my blog (which is maybe once a week), I just can't be bothered. I'd love to let you know about my days and my class and everything, but I'm so. freaking. tired. This job is exhausting! We've been going swimming with the kids all week, so that's totally tuckered me out and makes the kids tired which causes more behaviour issues. It's just been crazy.

I'm loving it though. Every day one of my kids will drive me up the wall, but I love them. And I feel like I'm so behind on paperwork and I have a million things to do that I never manage to remember to do or have the time to do. And sometimes I just have a really really bad day where want to run screaming from the school and drown my sorrows in a hot bath and feel totally overwhelmed.

But we're all still adjusting. It'll probably be like this for the whole term, and I'm willing to bet I'll end the term with several things I was supposed to teach, un-taught. But I'm a true believer that we can only do our best. And so if we do the best we can and work our hardest, and the students are safe and learning, then it's a win. Don't sweat the small stuff. You have the teach the student not the material. [Insert inspirational quote here.] And so on and so forth.

I wasn't intending this to be a self-motivational post, but it's feeling like that. I suppose it gives you an idea of where my head is at these days. Which is scattered right now, actually. So much to think about and do....

But it's the weekend! And so I say THANK THE HEAVENS ALMIGHTY. I'm looking forward to going to the beach tomorrow and having a relaxing day. I think it's funny how I can power through the week and, yes I feel tired in the evenings, but I never really know how tired I am until Friday afternoon comes around and I realize it's the weekend and I can sleep in tomorrow, and then my body totally shuts down haha. A few of us went out for pizza since it was the end of the week and we were total zombies, we were so tired.

So, seriously, I'm taking a cold shower because I feel yucky after such a hot day, and then I'm hopping in bed. Chances are I'll be asleep before 10pm.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The End of a Year

Well, hello again! A new year has started, and I'm hoping it brings me a lot of adventures!

Wow the last time I updated, I'd just gotten my job. That's kinda crazy. I'm now a few days away from officially starting it. What's happened since then? Well, considering I'm sure the majority of people who read this blog are my family, there's probably not a lot to fill in. Although I realize I never talked about our time in Sydney...

Our last weekend in Australia was spent in Sydney and we had a great weekend! I don't know why but I really liked that city. We left on Thursday, and since I had to work that day, I took a late flight. Becca spent the day driving up since she had so much stuff to take with her that there was no way she was getting it on a flight from Melbourne. So she picked me up at the airport, and by the time we got to the hostel it was late, and we were both tired from long days so we just went right to bed.

The next couple days were really busy. Since we had the car all weekend, we drove out to the Blue Mountains for the morning. It was a really nice drive, and great to get some fresh air.
The Three Sisters and the Blue Mountains

We had some ideas about what we wanted to see over the 2 days we were there, but hadn't really hashed out any concrete plans. So we drove back to Sydney and parked near Darling Harbour. We walked the pier a bit as we made our way over to the Wildlife Centre. It's weird, because it's right in the middle of downtown Sydney, right off the pier. But it's a little zoo. We had some passes so spent a couple hours just walking around. Among other things, we saw:
A baby wallaby feeding
Rex the Crocodile

But my favourite by far was this guy:
It's a wombat sleeping on its back!
Ha ha ha it looked so funny! Just like a little puppy...

In the evening we walked down to the well-known Circular Quay which is the place where the Sydney Opera House sits. We grabbed dinner, watched the sunlight fade and the spot lights come on, had ice cream (in our shorts and t-shirts on December 15th), and then stumbled upon a night market where we wandered for a bit.

Saturday was busy as well. We started the day by hopping on a tour bus around town. It was one of those hop-on/hop-off all day things so we stopped at the Sydney Opera House again to see about a Harbour boat tour. The one we wanted wasn't until later so we watched some street performers before getting back on the bus and making our way to the Sydney Tower. I think that's one of the coolest ways to see a city: from above. We walked back to the Harbourfront for our boat tour. We couldn't hear any of the information, but it was still fun to just see the harbour. Then we were back on the bus and went to Darling Harbour again, this time to have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. We actually got lucky because, since it was the holiday season, they were having fireworks there every Friday and Saturday night. And since it was Saturday, we got to see them. Also, leading up to the fireworks they had karaoke for the kids just outside the restaurant in front of a big Christmas tree. It was cute, and I think it was a nice way to end the year in Australia.

On Sunday we were off to the airport and on the way home. Even though it was still a long flight (14 hours), it didn't seem as bad as the first time. I've worked out that it probably has something to do with getting the long flight over and done with first, then having the smaller flights. It was, again, a long journey, but I made it home safe and sound.

Here's a couple last pictures of our time in Sydney to send you off with:
Of course, the Sydney Opera House
Merry Christmas, I'm in shorts and a t-shirt!
View from the Sydney Tower of the Harbour looking towards the ocean

Sunday, December 9, 2012

From Casual Relief Teacher to...?

It's weird how I'll go these long stretches where I think about my blog and how I should post something, but can't think of anything to post because all I've been doing is working and doing laundry and buying groceries. And then something BIG happens in my life and I don't think about my blog at all because my life is in a whirlwind.

That's basically my entire history with this blog summed up. And boy, do I have things to tell you now.

Where did I leave you last...? Oh right, that offer from Warringa Park. Well things kind of got crazy with that in the following weeks. I took a couple weeks to get a better feel for the school. I did more CRT (casual relief teacher) work there, I talked with some teachers about the work and the students, and I really started to feel like I could be a part of the school. I started to feel like I could belong there. And then road block #1 came.

Two weeks after our initial talk, I spoke to the principal again to tell him I was interested in the position we spoke about. Unfortunately, for some reason he thought that I'd told him I wasn't interested. And just before we'd spoken, he'd been in a meeting with a bunch of other CRTs and offered them all jobs. But he said he might still have something for me and to just hang tight and keep coming back to the school.

I went home that night confused and upset and a bit embarrassed. I felt like I'd done something or said something wrong. I wasn't expecting to have the job handed to me if I wanted it, but I also didn't expect it to disappear. I spent the weekend confused and trying to sort out my thoughts through talks with my friends and parents. I decided to speak with the principal again the next week, if I was back at the school, and ask him to clear a few things up for me.

It took a few days for us to connect, but I finally had a quick moment to talk to the principal on the following Friday. (There's something about Fridays it seems.) What he told me was this: He couldn't promise me anything. He told me he was trying to see if they could get me on contract as a full time CRT for the new year, but that he still had to talk to these people and those people and stuff about the budget, etc. It wasn't how I'd pictured the conversation going (in part because we spoke at the door of the sick bay as he mopped up a mess). I was hoping for clarification, not what seemed at this point like empty offers.

Afterwards, I wasn't holding out any kind of hope. I saw my chances of getting contract work for the new year as slim to none. And I was okay with that. That's how I'd started this whole mess, it made sense that I was reverting back. I'd accepted that I'd be coming back to Australia in January to find a part-time job and sit tight until teaching work picked up around April. I'd accepted that I wasn't getting a contract.

And then last week came along. I was booked for the week at Warringa in an early years classroom (I'd been placed in these age groups more often in the previous couple weeks). The assistant principal for early years, the one who oversees everything, is a woman named Ashwini and she had spoken to me on Monday, asking how I liked working in the early years classrooms. Then she mentioned that she might have a position for me for next year, but, to use the principal's words, "couldn't promise me anything." Part of me dared to hope, while another part laughed at the irony. Well guess what happened around midday on Tuesday....?

I got offered a contract position as a classroom teacher in the early years for 2013! And I accepted!

My world sort of blew up on Tuesday and continued to blow for the next two days. I was being shown student profiles and introduced to planning templates and assessment files. I was in new classrooms observing students that I'll be teaching next year. I was meeting with so many helpful and supportive people. And my brain was exploding with information.

And so, my friends and family, starting in January, I'll be teaching 10 special needs students. I'll be setting up my classroom. I'll have two aides. I'll be planning and doing paperwork and working harder than I've ever worked in my entire life.

Good heavens, I am terrified.

And excited.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

A couple weeks ago, on a Friday morning, I got a call for work at Warringa Park Special School. I'd been there a couple times before, so it was no big deal. What caught me off-guard was when the ANZUK woman calling me said something about the principal at Warringa wanting to talk to me about a contract position for next year.

Now before anyone gets carried away, let me get you into my mind-frame. Less than a week before that, I had been talking to my mom about how I was happy doing CRT work (Casual Relief Teacher, a.k.a. supply work) and wasn't intending to look for any contract positions for next year. I didn't feel ready. I said, maybe in the new year I'll feel more prepared and I can apply for jobs for Terms 2 or 3. But not for Term 1.

And next thing I know, it's Friday afternoon and I'm sitting in with the principal, two assistant principals, and the group leader for middle classes, talking about a contract position for next year. Colour me overwhelmed. They're talking about committing to a full year, applying online and winning the contract, assistance in doing so, and so on. If that wasn't one of the most terrifying conversations of my life, I don't know what was. It ended with the principal asking me to take a week or two to think about it, to have more work in the school to help me make my decision. He said I need to be sure I can commit to the year, because they'd been burned by Canadian teachers promising to stay for the year and bailing at the end of a 6-month contract.

Needless to say, I spent all weekend thinking about it and talking about it and trying to sort out my thoughts. I had no idea if I could do it. Yes, I was prepared to commit to being in Australia for the full year, but could I run my own classroom, all the paperwork, the Educational Aides, the students?

I spoke with a teacher in one of the high support classes to get her perspective on things, and that was really helpful. I spent a few days in her classroom and started to feel comfortable there. After 4 days of work at Warringa, I was feeling confident that I could work with these kids, teach them. I was put in a different class, too, and although I was only there for 2 days, it hardly took that long to feel a connection to the kids, to see that I could teach in that environment and we could all thrive.

The thought of all the paperwork and the responsibility and the grown-up-ness that goes along with contract work, I'm feeling more like it's something I can do. Especially since I've had the time to think about it and explore it as an idea, rather than being so caught off guard.

I'll let you know what comes of it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Boring Life

Apologies, again, for going so long without an update. I suppose it's just not something I think about when my day-to-day life seems so regular.

I feel like it's been so long since I've written, that it's not even worth it to play catch-up. Especially because I haven't been doing much.

Now, I know what everyone must be thinking: You're living in Australia, how can you be doing nothing?! Well the answer is simple enough: money. The world revolves around money and I need to make sure I have enough of it to live for the next 2.5 months. Especially because for 6 weeks of that time I won't be working. Yay for summer holidays.

So basically, we can't take a weekend and jet up to the Gold Coast to surf or down to Tasmania to hike. I wish. That would be fantastic. But we need to be smart about money and right now that means saving rather than traveling. I know for a fact that traveling will occur in the new year, though. I have too much I want to see for us not to.

What have I been doing, then, you ask? Well here's a quick list of what I've been occupying my time with over the last few weeks:
  • Work, but I suppose that's a given. I've been pretty lucky and have gotten 4 days of work almost every week for the last 4 weeks.
  • Knitting! Becca taught me to knit. I'm a fast learner, and I utilized YouTube to learn new knits. So I've kept busy by knitting some Christmas gifts.
  • Regular, day-to-day necessities. Laundry, groceries, cooking, bill paying.
  • Exploring the city. I've been trying to do this more often, just getting into the city to explore and walk around.
  • Movie watching. Looper is a fantastic film, see it!
  • Coughing. We're going into summer and I've caught a cold. Fantastic.

Welcome to my boring life.