The Year 12s at my school finish up today with a big celebration in the drama centre. There are all kinds of fun and celebratory activities, and this is something that my school does brilliantly. This particular group has many students that I am particularly attached to, and I suspect they are attached to me. As Year 11 English classes, we did amazing things. I can’t be there today but, happily, there are still the interwebs, so I sent this message out on the Mr O’Meara facebook page.
Class of 2013, as you might have heard I’ve been on sick leave, being, in the words of my doctor, emotionally and physically exhausted. I had my first day back today but, unfortunately, tomorrow is a rest day for me I just can’t make it to your celebration day tomorrow. But I hope you have a brilliant day. It’s been a genuine pleasure to work with you so many of you, and I just know that you’re going on to amazing things. I am incredibly proud of so many of you. I just know you’re going to have a great time, and I hope the teachers win the debate, just because I have been on the team before and can’t let go of old allegiances.
Last time I checked it a few hundred people had seen this and twenty-something have liked it. This cheered me up, knowing that many of my students know that I am thinking of them, and that I am celebrating their success, albeit as a small geographical distance.
It’s been five weeks now since I’ve been at school for the whole day, and I have my first day back on Monday. The plan, which I think is a good one, is this: I will teach all day on Monday, and then I’ll take the rest of the week to rest and assess how things went, including a meeting on Thursday with the principals to discuss what is best for the week after.
I am already feeling a bit anxious about getting back into it, so I went in today just to see the place and be seen for twenty minutes. It was certainly lovely to see the students and fellow teachers again, and it might cut down the novelty factor and associated disruption to things on Monday.
I feel a bit unsettled after the visit, since I react to it as a stressful environment even at those times when it isn’t. But it feels good to know that I am one step closer to being ready to get back into my life as a teacher which, despite recent stresses, I do love and it is certainly what I choose dedicate myself to.
I’m a former Teach for America corps member myself. But unless they are education majors—and most of them aren’t—I no longer write Teach for America letters of recommendation for my students. I urge my higher-ed colleagues to do the same.
via Teach for America recommendations: I stopped writing them, and my colleague should, too..
I am in two minds about teaching training as it currently exists in places like Australia and the United States. And so I am in two minds about programs like Teach for Australia and Teach for America.
As I already had an undergraduate degree, I did a two-year course to become a teacher and, seven years on, I feel confident in saying that 80% of that teaching course has not helped me in any way. But the remaining twenty percent did, and I am loath to suggest that teachers can be trained in a matter of weeks.
English: Michael Hall – Rudolph Steiner School at Forest Row. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”
via At Waldorf School in Silicon Valley, Technology Can Wait – NYTimes.com.
From my experience with our own kids – both of them are part of a Steiner school – their school does take an abstemious approach to technology. We joke about them being Amish, and the truth in this joke is that the school does use technologies, but they do so carefully and thoughtfully. The starting position is to work in more traditional modes, and only use technology where to support the values that they hold, not just because the technology exists.
But, much as I like this thoughtful and considered approach, this isn’t the main reason that we moved house so that the kids could go to this Steiner school. What really matters to us is that this school lets children develop in their own time, and that our kids will spend years with the same teacher and with the same class.
When I say that the school lets the kids develop at their own pace, I mean that each student learns things and develops skills when they are developmentally and personally ready. If my son Finn isn’t getting there with his spelling right now, then his teacher can come get to it with him later in the year, or perhaps next year, because it’s the same person, a person who actually knows my son.
This is, more or less, what I said at the Melbourne Teachmeet on October 2, 2013.
It’s school holidays and, instead of doing school work, I’ve been watching movies with my kids. Rather than watch The Incredibles again, which my daughter has watched about eleven times, I have put them on to Beatles films, and they love Hard Day’s Night and Help. I mention this detail because it’s strangely prescient and, like so many things, I can look back and see the through-line of meaning. If someone made a reference this obvious in a TV show, I’d be the first to complain about it, but there you have it.
My daughter also asked the other night, “How does a mummy get the thing from the daddy to make a baby?”. So, I used this book: Where Did I Come From? And it’s really handy because I am extremely Presbyterian and I just cannot work the words penis and vagina into my normal speech without some kind of script, and this book is great for that.