Monthly Archives: February 2012

I want to learn to play the Cello

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Yes I know, rather random but those who know me, will know I often do and say random things. In this case, Sally has inspired me! Having been invited to her house for a rather lovely meal last Friday, I was so excited to see her very own Cello. I thought it was so cool that she played the Cello!  And her story of learning it as an adult beginner made me think about it myself! I have always wished I played the Cello. What a wonderful instrument, what a gorgeous tone, so elegant, so graceful. Well when played by a good cellist. I’m sure my neighbours are not going to be as into my new hobby as I am.

Now I’m not new to stringed instruments … I played both the Violin and Viola when I was at school. Sadly however much I loved playing them, it stopped soon after I left for University. I remember heading to the String orchestra there and being pretty daunted. This was very different to my youth orchestra. Everybody here practiced throughout the breaks whilst I was definitely more inclined to pop out for a drink or an actual break. Everybody here played music fluently and beautifully and could read the pieces without difficulty. This ease had never been mine. If I had practiced more, I’m sure I could have been a pretty good string player. I’m sure I would have been able to sight read with more ease and do all the tricky bits better than I ever did. I did practice lots, at one point, inspired by a music summer camp. I practiced every day for hours, determined to be better. Unfortunately this spurt was shortly lived and about a year later I was back to my teenage lack of practice. My most embarrassing moment at the University Orchestra and which totally ended any effort on my part in going there, was when my phone rang during the practice. Now it would have been okay had it been a quiet beep or even a simple tune. Nope, what was my ringtone? Only the loudest possible rendition of Lulu ‘You make me wanna shout!’. When it rang I cringed deeply as the ‘Weeeeeellllllllllllll … ‘ resonated loudly around the room. Even more so when the conductor who had been stopped us playing to go over some frilly part, looked very put out as the whole room got louder with the song. Obviously the phone considerately got louder and louder to tell me I hadn’t answered it yet.. She asked that the person should turn their phone off. The phone rang for forever and ever. I tried to pretend it wasn’t mine. The ringtone would end eventually. Everybody was looking at everybody. Whose was that phone? It stopped after what seemed like an eternity. Only to start ringing again seconds later. Oh the embarrassment of having to get up to find my bag on the other side of the room to turn it off. Total silence. Well that was the last time I went there.

Still I enjoyed playing music a lot. Even if I didn’t totally appreciate it at the time. I was so involved at school with music and outside in my youth orchestra. I met some great people and I played some beautiful music. Now, having not seriously played an instrument for a long time, I am inspired to play the instrument I always loved. I simply can’t wait to start learning lessons and playing music again. Music; playing it, making it, appreciating it is a joy. I can’t wait to begin learning again and I know I’ll be a hundred times better than when I was a child learner. Just to give you a little perspective, I was that irritating brat you’d hate to teach … who despite not listening to you would instantly answer correctly the very questions you shot at them which were designed to catch them out. My physics teacher, with whom I did not see eye-to-eye  with – wrote in one of my school reports ‘The whole class would benefit if Kielly stopped talking so much.’ I know I’m a better learner now and as an adult living in BSD, I can’t wait to be able to dedicate time to playing and learning the cello. There isn’t that much to do in BSD and for a while I’ve thought I needed a real hobby, here in BSD to fill my time. This is it! This is what I’m going to do. Sally, I hope you’re ready for some cool playing sessions together!

Bit of an issue getting a Cello either IN Indonesia or IN TO Indonesia. I’ve seen how they load baggage on a plane and I’m a little worried if I get a Cello online it would arrive unplayable. To compound the quandry, I can’t have lessons in Indonesia without a Cello. Yes that’s right. I have to HAVE (IE. BUY) a CELLO in order to have lessons. I don’t remember this at school with the Violin. (Well I wasn’t paying the bills) Surely you can try out an instrument for a while without buying? And a Cello would be like top of my list to NOT have to buy to learn it. Now choosing your first instrument wouldn’t be a problem normally if you were knew anything about the instrument you wanted to buy … as in you’ve had lessons, even just one or two. It would also be useful if you hadn’t chosen some ridiculously large and expensive instrument to play. Not a flute, no. Not even a guitar. A Cello. Yes you’re choosing to play the cello. At least my heart isn’t set on the Double Bass.It would be useful if you hadn’t chosen an instrument which is so EXPENSIVE. Google the price of Cellos. You’ll see what I’m talking about. Hmm. It would be useful even more, if you could try it out in the shop, even if you knew nothing about cellos to see how it felt, sounded and looked in real life and not in some rubbishy internet pictures. I would love to find a cello here in Indonesia so I could at least try it out, however ridiculously totally unknowledgeable I would be …  but I’m not hopeful.

I actually found a music centre which SELLS Cellos in BSD. Yes, stop the press, you did just hear me right, IN BSD, Jakarta. Yes that’s right, the city to the far west of Jakarta which if, this is where you live … when you want to find something, you’re probably going to have to travel for hours in traffic to get into Jakarta. When I started googling Cello Lessons in Jakarta, I emailed about 5/6 companies who said they had cello teachers and could offer lessons. I finally started receiving replies the other day. One of the first was a music centre which not only offered me a teacher/ lessons but also the chance to be able to buy a Cello with them which seemed promising given my situation that I need a Cello to BEGIN lessons here in Indonesia. Not only that … but they were in BSD. If I’d been eating or holding something, I’m sure I would have dropped it in some comedic shock effect. I genuinely could not believe there was a music centre here in BSD that stocked and sold Cellos.

I went there this afternoon and it was okay. I’m not convinced. A lovely music centre. A lovely man ‘Jap’ who talked to me about the 3 types of Cellos he had at his centre, all handmade from a guy in Shanghai. He insisted that although the cellos were not branded, they were worth the $3000 upwards price tag. And not available for hire. The cellos were all the same make … ‘just with better wood’ he said. Hmmm, this sounds like a sales pitch. ‘So have you got any other cellos for sale? Any made by a different maker?’  ‘No, these are our own that this guy makes for us.’. I genuinely cannot justify spending three thousand on an instrument I don’t even know how to play or know yet that I really really want to invest in. I’d rather get a cheaper model. Not so cheap almost nobody could make sound playable, but a nice student outfit. Which I’ve found online at a music shop in Manchester. They can ship it to my sister in Newcastle who is visiting me in March. Very exciting. I could ask her to bring the cello. I did actually, and she exclaimed loudly ‘What? Bring a Cello to Indonesia with me!?’  She will I know because she’s awesome and I’m hoping she’ll read this : ) Anyway its’ probably going to be thrown about a bit on the plane. Sods law, it will be; because I’ve bought an instrument I love and have spent quite a lot of money on. It’s fact that that beautiful thing you’ve just paid lots of money for … will be much more likely than any other piece of baggage on that flight to fall off as they’re loading it, or bounce off the irritatingly slow luggage conveyor belts and bang loudly off the floor. Sigh.

What a quandry. I’ll update when I know what I’m doing. Either way, I’m learning Cello soon … and I’m excited 😀

Childhood dreamers …

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My first and enduring ambition was to be a doctor. To help others. To this day, I maintain I’d make an excellent psychiatrist.

I also thought seriously about joining the army. I remember I saw a programme all about woman in the army on TV. I really considered it. For a short while.

I thought I might be a lawyer. Then I thought about being a crime scene investigator. Can you tell I am of a generation who grew up with CSI? However on realisation that a job in Newcastle as a CSI investigator probably wouldn’t be as glossy as LA or NY, the dream faded somewhat.

I thought about speech therapy or physiotherapy.

I thought I could be an author. I still think I could publish a book. I am working on one. Sci – fi.

There were jobs I didn’t even know existed when I was 18.

I didn’t fall into teaching. But it wasn’t something I considered till my final year at University studying English Lit. Thinking about what I was going to do now, I didn’t know. I could try to make it as a writer. Or …  em, well I wasn’t really sure there was much else I could do with an English Literature degree. I finally thought about teaching, a career my mother had always encouraged me to enter. Since then I’ve never looked back. Teaching is a wonderful, wonderful job. A job which challenges and inspires me. A job I learn from every day.

Working with young learners, I see people who genuinely can be anything they want to be. At 4 years old, anything is possible. You can fly your rockets to the moon. You can buy a car or indeed anything, money is no object. You can be an astronaut or work with dinosaurs which clearly are still alive. You can be a princess in a fluffy pink tower. You can be a monster truck driver. You can fly planes, you can be a hero. You can be anything!

Working with 4 year olds reminds me of this magical time when the world is anything you want it to be. It also helps remind me to help our students believe. To know they can do anything. Their future is not yet made. Inspire them.

26

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Okay, I don’t write much poetry. I haven’t written much poetry in years. Poetry feels a lot harder for me to write. I feel the pressure of being less rambling than in my speech. And I talk a lot. I find it harder to condense my thoughts. Still it’s a challenge and I am learning. and I tried! So here goes:

 

26

26 years of age am I.

836253504 pacy seconds

and 232292 longer days.

26 years of life,

and 26 years of learning.

Yet,

the dawn is only just rising.

Triumphing in impatient glorious sunshine.

Life is clearer now.

My journey is clearer.

The reasons for my existance

Do not trouble and perplex me so much.

I accept what this life is.

And that I can never know

any bigger purpose.

Other,

than the knowing of myself.

I see now,

That all we can do

Is live this life

Being the best that you can be.

Becoming the best that you can be.

To be this, mistakes must be made.

For how could else would we learn.

These lessons are our teachers.

Learn,

Or repeat mistakes enough times until you do.

Mistakes are not made by the young only.

The older make just as many.

The young make their mistakes often for the first time.

The older make many of these too,

Yet many first mistakes are taught time and time again

to a reluctant student.

Recognise others mistakes as just that.

 Learning by another.

Hold less resentment.

Offer more love and understanding.

Be kind and patient.

Slow down.

Be a better you.

For who else will.

What I’ve learnt about myself … so far.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, often incidentally when conversations have led me to ponder an action in the past I took, or something which has happened which has helped me see a fresh perspective or understanding of myself.  I’ve begun thinking about and understanding something about life or me in a new light, often many years later. I’ve grown a lot in the last several years.

I’m sure if I wrote this post in a numerical order, placing first the most elucidating or most impacting observations of my life and me, it would be useful to you, the reader. It’s probably going to be a bit jumbled otherwise. However, I won’t do that. My thoughts of late have been sporadic and random and so I shall write my post as such. Besides, it’s not like at any point in my life, I’ve ever had a Eureka moment or tremendous insight, more valuable than any other which has given me a new instant understanding of myself. But lots of  thoughtful reflections and growth recently has sparked bright fireworks of linked threads in my thought processes … many threads. Combined, I feel a lot of change within myself. Yet I have to remember that is simply a reflection on how I feel right now, at this stage of my life. 26 years old, no more, no less. It will change. Hopefully in more good ways.

 Yet how I feel next year, what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be here is still unknown. Where or how I’ll get there in life’s path two, five or ten years down the line  is undecided and clearly not chosen yet. However I have finally realised that it is only me who can create that path, the route of my everchanging destination. The past is learned and over. I see more clearly now that history only exists because of previous history.  It makes change. History creates the present and only I can effect the present to create change for the future, for me in my life. There is no history, no past which has not created change. There is not one person in the history of the earth who has not created the past. I have realised it is only me who chooses where I’ll go in my journey, what I’ll do, how I’ll be me and how happy and successful I can be. That’s probably one of the biggest things I’ve realised over the past few years, months and days. Only I can make my life.

Nobody else in the world is responsible for how I lead my life here and now, or how I make those successes and happy times happen for me. The world is not to blame, individuals are not to blame. Circumstances may be unfortunate, or tragic, or difficult, but it is how you cope with these and learn from them which truly moulds us as a person. It is what teaches us. It is what creates our intricately woven journey through life, threading colourful paths and events in each life, connections made and crossed lines over years of history. Overlapping patterns of a long time – meeting, growing, fading and revitalized at times by its weaver, you or me. Jobs which over time, career and life come and go. The tale of your life changed and pulled without mercy through days, years and generations of your inevitable time here.

In your small life in a globe of over 7 billion until the day you die … and the only constant is you. The only force in determining your own future is to be actively engaged in your learning, intrinsic desire to learn… and to understand. Absorb it all,  what you see, of what you experience, how it feels, how it touches and feels …  of you and your involvement … for this is life. For me, this understanding has only come with growth, maturity and wisdom in a pretty wild and at times terror ridden upside down rollercoaster of a journey so far. If I could tell myself, now what I know now at 26, when I was lost at 16 I would. Yet I know she would never listen to me. As she didn’t many others.

I’ve also come to understand that the journey here for me at 26 is not unique, or unusual. Amongst 7 billion people, there are many lives more challenging than mine, many more desperate and hopeless. I thought I was one of them. A long time ago.  When I see myself at 16 wishing I could be anybody else, I didn’t see that any other life is full of similar difficulties, ups and downs. Some people may have very easy lives, but I imagine these are few. Many are like mine, or was. Many more are worse. When I stare at my 16 year old self, I know she would never have believed how much things could change, how much they would. She wouldn’t have understood. But over the years, she’s learnt. To understand that life is continually full of nights and days. There are just as many nights as days. Some are worse than others, in temperament, in weather, in events.  To see that these are cyclical and neverchanging so far from the very beginning of the evolution of our Earth and mankind. That there are many natural and unfair disasters everywhere. That even the best people don’t necessarily make it as long as you do. That this is life and whilst seemingly unfair, it just as, true, accurate and predictable as day and night.

But please don’t forget that there are as many good days, events, happiness and success for you as there are the black nights.That you can even make sunny days by yourself. You can make beautiful days appear from nowhere if you look closely enough to see it or if you work hard to learn to see them. Even if it can seem that all the nights have continued for oh so long, dawn will appear, in victory at some point. As a person now, I try my best to focus on the goods, the positives, the overlooked amusements and beauty life shows us every day and that we often miss absorbed in our own lives. I can see the beauty in both the days and the nights whether they be brief or long. This is my woven tapestry of life. I like to take delight in the positives I missed out on such more in the past. I notice the flower blooms in the sunny heat of the day. I see love between people, families I don’t even know.  I look at the sunset with new appreciation, its earthy streaks of hot colours flaring across my sky, before streaking into another, far in the distant time zone. I like to laugh, I like to enjoy simple pleasures. I like stopping to remember the sunny times. I like to enjoy them when they are here, however cloudy they may eventually turn. Right then and there, here and now, there are many thankful days of glorious sunshine banked and many more to come. At 16,  they were often shadowed and gloomy for long periods. I can look at myself happily now, so proud of how happy and confident, successful and ambitious I am, learning and evolving as a friend, daughter, sister, colleague and person. I never expected to feel this. It’s been a long journey here. And I’m proud and glad to stand here as me, one person in a huge huge world.

It took me a long time to learn that everybody doesn’t have to like me and likewise, I don’t have to like them.  We meet roughly I’d guess at most maybe 10,000 people in our life. At 26 I’ve only met hopefully much less than 50 percent of these yet. That’s still a hell of a lot of people. If I liked everybody or they all liked me, something would be very wrong. Most of these people, all except my family and closest members have passed by the gushing ordered river of events in my life which has changed so variably through time. I’ve also lived through mistakes and people- made to learn from. I now see that to make good friends, you also have to be a good friend. I think in naive assumptions, I thought it just happened. If I’m useless at keeping in touch or being reliable in maintaining a friendship, it will burn out. There are many people I have respected and liked in the thousands I have known or met. I have enjoyed many transient and circumstantial friendships. Right now, I have a few. They are valued and strong.

In younger years, I was definitely not a good friend, or person at times. I was stubborn and proud. And right now I can admit that, having learnt from those mistakes. I can be honest with myself. Now I think I understand a little more about not only how important it is to have strong, valued good friendships but also how this happens best when you have a healthy relationship and understanding of and with yourself.

There are many many people I have known or met, who I am not in contact with. We did not meet at the right place in time. Now, if you met me, I don’t think you’d recognize me. In a positive and celebratory way! I’ve come a long way as a person and I’m glad to be here at this point in life. I’ve done a lot of great things. Things I would never have thought of, not even dared to imagine. Having taken so long to come to feeling content with me, at times, I never thought this would come, and now it has, it’s a relief and enormous enjoyment.

I remind myself often to stop and reflect. A bad day is not so bad. Bad days are not so bad. Even when they arrive and park in huge, long travelled miles of bad days. The dawn will arrive at some time. And it will be glorious. As long as you have learnt from that darkness, even if eventually only after many years… you grow as a person, as a learner, of somebody learning to content themselves with the world which does give us  tremendous hot sunny high suns, but thrusts us as often into the blackest, murkiest nights.

Success is achievable. Healthy relationships – friends, family and love – are possible and wonderful. Happiness is yours for the taking. These are only some of the many things I did not forsee or know at 12, 15, 18 or even 20. Some people never reach their own individual understandings. But most do. It takes some longer than others. Watching others, it sometimes seems impossibly easy. If I could speak to my 16 year self, I’d tell her to take exactly the same path, to learn from the challenges, the uncertainty, the at times violent and volatile world and people, to see it as a journey- as a discovery in truth, although it’s for sure going to be peppered liberally with ugly ones. To press into her consciousness for only just a fleeting heartbeat how good it feels now. To flood her with needed hope. And reassure her that she will get there …  and that it is absolutely all worth it …

Eureka …maybe?

What I’ve learnt as a teacher … so far.

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Okay, so I haven’t been a teacher for very long, this is my second year and it’s safe I haven’t gone the traditional route, heading straight overseas after graduating to an International school in the Philippines ( and quickly resigning after realising it didn’t count as a well maintained building, never mind a school) However I was fortunate enough to land in a great job here in Indonesia and I feel like I’ve traveled a long way as a teacher already ..

So here are some of my insights ..

1.  I can make mistakes and it’s okay! It’s not the end of the world, and providing I learn from them, they enrich the teaching experience both for the students and myself. What a realisation after the numerous stressful observations in my placements at uni. I can say to my students, ‘You know what, that didn’t work but let’s try it this way’ or ‘Oh dear, Ms. Kielly totally forgot about that, oops’ and they just giggle! It helps them in their understanding that everybody is a learner, and all I expect from them is that they try their best. No more. And they do! They think ‘If Miss Kielly can make mistakes, so can I! ‘Or at least that’s what I imagine they tell themselves. If I think about it, it’s probably more like ‘giggle … ‘Miss Kielly is soooooo silly!’

2. Encouragement is key, my 4 year olds want to please their teacher more than anything. I give the the positive praise they need to try even in things they find difficult like learning letter formation, or blending sounds, or even writing their name. I’ve learnt that creating a positive, encouraging environment where my students feel safe and happy, one in which they love coming to everyday is more important than anything because if they don’t feel this, their experiences at school are altered totally. I think I’ve been successful this year. My students are happy, confident learners who tell me how much they love school everyday. They give me hugs and blow me kisses from the playground. They shower me with flowers they’ve ripped off a bush. ( I have tried telling them I prefer to see the flowers on the bush, living, but when I see how excited they are to give me such a gift, I just shrug and think, let them have their little pleasures.) Bless them and their sweet nature. When they’ve been off sick, their parents tell me how desperate they were to come back to school. When I helped them mark on the calendar our 3 day holiday for Chinese New Year, most of them moaned with drawn out sighs at the thought of no school. LOL! Those who didn’t were so genuinely excited, I was excited for them. Especially when I know how valuable holidays are to a teacher and how much we love them and look forward to them too!

3. Early years teaching is so much fun and something I love to do. When I first began, I wasn’t sure. I thought it wasn’t totally for me. Then I was lucky enough to be able to attend a great PD in Bali all about play based inquiry learning in the Early Years. Boy did that change my perspective. I remember feeling so conflicted in myself at the course initially. Then it just seemed to change, about the end of the second day. I came back inspired, motivated, excited. And that’s continued in my practice ever since. I love the early years and genuinely appreciate the students total intrinsic enthusiasm, curiosity and love for learning.

4 The hard work is totally worth it. Seeing my students excitement in their success, their joy in grasping a new concept, a new skill. Seeing them proudly dragging their parents over to the writing table at the end of the day to show their mum that they can now write their name is priceless. Seeing their amazed faces watching an Imovie of themselves I’ve slaved over for hours at home makes it worth it. Seeing them accomplish something new and knowing how far they’ve come in their journey over the year is just the best feeling ever. I am so proud of each of them. They’ve all achieved so much.

5. Getting parents on board is vital. Having their support is amazing. It’s totally worth all the effort. I’m not a parent, but I can appreciate the worry in getting a new teacher, wanting their child to be happy and successful and as a teacher to 4 year olds, I can only imagine how hard it is to leave your child at school at that age. I feel an overwhelming responsibility to look after and nurture these tiny human beings as much as I can. I want to share with their parents, as much as possible, the successes and achievements of their child, of the whole class so they can be as involved as possible. The long road to getting them on board is also valuable say when I need their support, say for example in sending in photos of their family from home … this year I got photos from every child, without fail within a week and only one reminder email! 😀 One parent told me she and tons of the other mum’s and dad’s  want me to be their child’s teacher next year. What an awesome feeling knowing they trust and support me so much! I’ve also helped some parents in their journey in understanding of an inquiry play based curriculum and why it’s so appropriate and right for early childhood students through workshops I’ve helped plan and deliver, articles and links I’ve sent them and conversations with them. We are all learners.

6. I’ve learnt what does work and what doesn’t in my learning space. Having a table half hidden around a corner does not work and not only encourages children to get up to naughtiness but is actually a blatant symbol for doing so to a 4 year old! Replacing it with the computers which are independent and fuss free (except for the odd complaint of someone not sharing) was a much better idea. Leaving all the resources on shelves does not work if I expect students to be able to select resources themselves as well as tidy them all up. A selection is better. Having a Box House as a ‘dark room ‘ to explore night and day for our UOI was ridiculously fun for the children but descended into chaos and every possible resource being dragged into it and left in a mess which often meant 10 whole minutes of tidying up from the children.

7. Creating Essential agreements with my class was not as hard as I imagined. 4 year children are totally capable of understanding this concept, if approached in the right way and have fantastic ideas. They know what is expected of them, and thinking of them themselves gave them ownership of the classroom and was much, much more effective than ‘Teacher Rules.’ Revising them with the children after two months made them even better, asking the children to think about what we had agreed and what we might want to change now we were 2 months into class. Laboriously talking about them everyday and referring to them …. all the time in the first few months was essential and continuing to refer to them to help remind children of them has helped keep them fresh and important in their minds. My students work together in a very collaborative fashion and I can see they follow common agreements and shared understandings, evident in the way they interact with each other and their teachers. They have a social gel which is wonderful to see. Putting in the hard work and effort (including waiting … forever to print out coloured photos, and walking back to the printer numerous times to see if they had arrived virtually) to create a large display of the essential agreements, displayed prominently on our board right in front of our carpet area, with photos of the children helped enormously. These students can’t read yet, so visual cues are vital and they just LOVE to see themselves in photos, anytime, anywhere. Total excitement.

8. Offering and giving responsibility to my students works remarkably well in helping them to be responsible students and makes my job a thousand times easier as a result. Tidying up time is blissful (well that might be an exaggeration but it is a thousand times easier than last year, I don’t even need a tidy up song anymore! Success!) . I virtually do nothing other than help direct children to an area which needs cleaning .. and they run to do it! They almost fight over who gets a sponge to help clean tables or mess from the floor. They get excited when I show them new cleaning equipment such as a dustpan and brush and can’t wait for an opportunity to use it. Today, walking my class to the library was the best feeling of accomplishment! Bear in mind, our classroom is FAR from the library. At the beginning of the year, I used to dread the walk to the library. 14 small children running along the path, or off the path. Loudly screaming in excitement. Running straight into people who might also be trying to use the path, heaven forbid at the same time. Often these people stopped, unsure what to do with the sight of 14 tiny children running towards them on a race to the library, wildly swinging yellow bags with sharp cornered books in the air. Through months and months of constant reminders, praise and reinforcement, my children walk to the library as the smartest children in school (Well, I am biased!) … I have talked them through the whole practice of walking together and waiting at certain spots, such as doors, the pond, the maps which dot our route every time we walk out of our classroom to go anywhere. That we need to stick together, as a group, meaning we don’t race to be there first, before I’ve even got past Topeng building. That we need to move to one side when we see other people on the path. That we won’t swing our bags wildly all over the place. Well, yesterday, I practically strolled in leisure, chatting to excited children who wanted to share their stories with me, as I watched the children walking ahead, stopping at every ‘waiting spot’. They patiently waited, excitedly finding where they were on the map or stood searching for fish or frogs in the pond whilst we all caught up. They stood at the door, blocking it, like Policemen, waving their arms or folding them like a bouncer saying to the other children approaching  “Stop! Wait! Teachers open the door’. They did not run up the stairs, nor did they run across the all too exciting bridge to the elementary library. They were amazing! Of course, we totally had a praise overload, in the hope that our next visit and walk next week will be as peaceful and successful. What little superstars!

9. Working with colleagues is harder than the students. No need to elaborate. Students are easy. Adults are much, much harder.

10. Becoming more organised in approaching mega tasks or deadlines such as reports. Start as early as possible. Think ahead. Work smart. Recognizing my weaknesses such as keeping a classroom tidy. I swear, it’s part of working in the early years. Well, I would say that but … having 28 tiny hands moving things, having to multi task managing the classroom as I am being given letters/ forms/ things  means I invariably put them down on any surface. Covering my desk with all manner of things, most of which I don’t need there. ( I can actually think of a bottle of Balsamic Vinegar sitting my my desk, right at this minute that I brought in once for a salad I made for lunch in like October, yes… really… ) I make an attempt to tidy when I walk into my classroom and look at it in disgust, when I can’t find something I need because it could literally be anywhere. At the end of last year, we had to empty our classrooms. This was my first emptying of a classroom I had inhabited ever. That’s when I realised what a total pig I was. Keisha and Mel will tell you exactly how messy it was because I bet ( actually, I KNOW) they remember it vividly. Behind every corner, every piece of furniture, on every shelf was something … it could have been anything …  something I was sure I would use again, would need, but obviously could never ever find when I remembered I had it. Finding pieces of jigsaws or games in dusty, never seen before spaces. Being ridiculously frustrated at the whole task. That’s when I realised I could never again let my classroom be that disorganised. And I have made a conscientious effort this year to try harder. I’ve come to accept nobody else will ever clean my cupboard .. or my desk, or the empty (initially) tantalizing flat tops of shelves which invite me to place things on them …  no matter how much I wish somebody would! If I want to be able to find something, I need to actually be able to walk in my cupboard. I need to take resources back to the library regularly instead of the library being empty because I have them all! I say this, and I know I am better this year. To be fair. anything would be an improvement. I have a box in my cupboard for random things I find, which I know are part of something, so at the end of the year, I can put them all back in the right boxes/ games. (Hmm, reading that sentence, I’m not sure how tidy that sounds really!) But I do know how busy I am and how little time I have to do these things. I tidied my cupboard yesterday after feeling sick of not being able to walk in it without tripping over something (often a random bag of junk collected for junk modelling or large resources such as a basketball hoop (which thinking of, I should just return to wherever it came from, I’ll remember where if I think hard enough about it) ) .. I emptied my desk a little. I can only try. And at least, by about May, I’ll know about the end of year clean out and make a huge effort to clean and organise in preparation. Never again will I repeat last year. Ever.

11. Realizing that my ideas are as valid as other peoples and I have a lot to contribute to discussions and planning/ ideas. Realizing we are all learning, no matter where we are on our journey as a teacher and learner.

12. Choosing which battles to fight, when to bite my tongue, which if you know me, you will know this has taken a long time to learn and which I am still learning to do. Accepting to let things go, knowing which ones I should fight for. Not going into meetings like a raging bull in a China shop. Learning patience. Learning how to work with people and how to come across as reasonable, even if I feel furious. Knowing when not to reply to emails, if I know it will be laced with sarcasm or bitterness. Giving myself time to calm down and come back to something. Know if I can’t be loving, to be kind. If I can’t be kind, be polite. Never less.

13. Realizing I am actually good at this. Seeing the progress my students make and knowing how I have helped in that respect. Seeing how far I have come in my journey. Accepting there are lots of things to learn, being excited about this and appreciating the successes so far. Allowing myself to give myself credit for what I have done instead of being too hard on myself in moments of worry or stress. Enjoying the moment, the experience. Excited for the future 😀

Creative Commons, PLC and our Moral Imperative to Share …

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When we explored Creative Commons last week in our DC101 class, I started to really think more about what’s happening out there, on this big social forum we call the internet. I had genuinely never even thought about just grabbing an image from google, and suddenly we were questioning the ethical implications of doing so! It hadn’t even crossed my mind that I was just using somebody’s photo without asking permission, never mind crediting them. Yet when I thought about it, I realised if people took my photos and used them, that’s exactly what I’d want them to do, at least acknowledge me as the creator. So starts the learning process. I guess most people don’t even think of Google Images as being composed of pictures from millions of people. Well I certainly never did. When I typed in google, I just saw it as a public service which could find information and pictures for me. I think that’s maybe just an assumption we all make if a service is made freely available to us. If I did credit the image, I wrote ‘Image from google’ … (see earlier blog posts!) as if that was a credit, as if that’s gonna help anybody find the photographer. I might as well have just written ‘Image from somebody, somewhere in the world’. Jabiz showed us Flickr last week and how to use it, suggesting we use it in the future if we want photos because people share them with a creative commons license (well most of them do). Beginning to use Flickr has helped me understand more about this idea of a shared, collaborative online community. It has made me think about the way I access information on the internet so freely and greedily. I browse Teaching forums regularly, asking for and giving advice to teachers who post both from the UK and abroad. If I need something for my class, I’ll quickly search on google or using a couple of resource websites and download them. If I need a picture for something, I’ll use google images. I search youtube almost daily to find cool songs and videos relating to our current UOI for my students, I research articles depending on my work, I use the internet everyday and I use people’s resources and thoughts/ opinions/ ideas everyday. Yet I had never even thought about how much I use other peoples information, thoughts and resources so readily and anonymously until last week.

Having been educated (a little) these past few weeks into the ethical issues regarding the internet, and the amazing privileges we now have as people, as teachers to access and use this kind of information so freely, I realise how lucky we are in this new digital age and how much we can also contribute. I doubt I’ll make resources (maybe, possibly one day!) but I can contribute my thoughts about teaching, offer my advice on forums, blog about my classroom practice and generally put myself more into this online community. When I think how cagey I was about sharing things initially, this idea of ‘sharing everything’ I am a little embarrassed. Now I think about the ton of stuff I use, which informs my own ideas and teaching/ planning/ thoughts, then it seems a little selfish to say, ‘Why should I share this stuff?’ And I’m starting to realise it’s not about sharing everything. If I offer advice on a forum which helps others, I’m contributing, if I write something on this blog which helps inform another person, then that’s wonderful. If I write about a lesson or activity which worked really well in class and this sparks a thought in somebody else, fantastic! If I write about a book I love or share a story from my life that makes somebody think, I am contributing. I know somebody in class today was truly touched by one of my posts on my blog, and knowing I shared that story, that they listened and thought about it feels amazing.

We watched a video today about this online digital community, and it did inspire me. I see how this can affect people, how it can create change, how it can enable bigger things. I am beginning to think about our new age of digital technology in a new light. I am inspired to learn more about this and creating shared content and a collaborative digital community. I also understand much more, having seen how I, myself,  flouted internet etiquette so flagrantly by grabbing google images without even crediting people, that our students are entering a digital world in which rules are not clear. A world which is so new, issues such as privacy laws are only just being worked out as we go along. As teachers, I understand much more, already about these issues and feel much happier committing to our ‘obligation’ to helping our students understand how to explore and utilise this new age technology safely. This article on a news website the other day only highlights the only too real dangers of a digital age in which information is so freely uploaded and accessibly by the world! We must help our students navigate their way through this ever changing world as much as we can and we can only do that by being committed to understanding it ourselves. People like Jabiz and Jane, and the many other educational bloggers out there that I have begun to read and learn from understand this and have sparked an interest in me to do so too. Thanks guys 😀