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I’m making plans for the summer and I just can’t wait to go home. I can’t describe how lovely it is to spend time with your family when you’ve been away for a year or so from them, and experienced, worked and lived a life they only heard snippets about.

My family are wonderful. My sister and I are adopted and were offered a loving and safe home by our amazing mum and dad when we were almost 5. I can’t describe how much they have supported me in everything I have done, even when I wasn’t particularly loveable. My twin sister is amazing, a kind and generous individual who makes me giggle often with her stories.

I’m making plans to visit a friend and go to a Pearl Jam gig when I’m home. I’m excited about getting back to BSBB, my kickboxing club run by and full of an amazing group of friends and similarly enthusiastic martial art fans and students like myself. I find kickboxing highly therapetic. Not only do I have a second family with that group of people but I get to punch and kick stuff and fight people in a legal and competitive sport! I love exercising the competitive demon inside me and pushing myself to achieve.

I can’t wait to visit friends and see them back at home. I am lucky enough to have a number of friends who despite, me living overseas welcome me in to their lives when I return, oh so briefly. Those kind of friends you can just pick up with without having been in touch for months or years. The ones who are always there when you need someone to talk to or celebrate with.

Home holds a special place for me. I know it’s always there, warm and comforting. I choose to live overseas myself and work in an International Schools circuit but one of my favourite times of the year is going home and seeing everybody and remembering the life England holds for me. I also love seeing new places and having new, and often cultural and personal journeys and experiences every day whilst I live and work in another far flung country from home. I teach overseas partly simply because I desire to learn more about people and humanity. I love to see the commonality of humans, across the earth, our planet we are fortunate enough to exist upon. The only planet which supports life as we know it in the galaxies we have managed to explore so far. The only planet to have just the right conditions and coincidental (or fate ridden) changes to evolve into what we see and live today.

I like to interact with other people, share with them a different life. I like to experience and learn about people. As far as I see it, we are simply one people on many journeys. No matter where we live, we are born, we play, we work, we live within societal and cultural restraints, we celebrate, we love and eventually we all die. I have this great coffee table book called just that ‘One people, many journeys’ and it is simply gorgeous. Stunning pictures of people all over our globe, doing similar things but in different ways. Absolutely beautiful.

I love to work with small children. The innocence of a child is magical. Working in a school with different language and culture is wonderful. To be a teacher of my classes, and an early years practitioner and learner myself, is inspiring. I am and feel so lucky to be living the life I am now.

… And I can’t wait to share all my experiences and listen and celebrate experiences and happenings with those I love at home.

See you soon Newcastle and England! 😀 1 month exactly, to the date, till I am back!

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Teaching is about caring …

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There are many caring and absolutely respected jobs in this world. One profession I utterly respect is that of Nurses and Support workers who in my opinion, are wonderful, wonderful people. I also genuinely think up there with those caring, great jobs, has to be teaching.

I honestly believe the vital quality, the very essence of a good or great teacher is that they genuinely care. About lots of things.

You have to care about your children as people and individuals, and not just how they’ll get the grades you want or need them to achieve by certain days or the end of the year. You have to care about them as young people, young learners who are learning so much about the world every minute. Let’s face it, we live in a busy, rapidly changing world which moves frantically forward in society, technologies, science as each single day passes. And god bless them, by the time of those teen years there’s a ton else going on in their lives which can mean school is their only safe or happy refuge. Or a very unhappy place. Or a disinterest. What a loss. To lose interest in learning.

You have to care about helping them to learn, to help them learn to learn and to learn about themselves too. You have to care about understanding where they  are coming from sometimes and what’s happening in their lives, perhaps difficult circumstances at home which might be influencing them. Even down to kindergarteners, never mind teenagers or pre teens. If one of my student’s parents is away for work often or just on certain days/ periods of time, I need to support that child. If they have a new brother or sister, there’s careful consideration there necessary from the eyes of the teacher to help them with that. Children and young learners need nuturing  and we, the teachers, who students spend half of their day with and are constant figures in their path to adulthood should nurture them. Help them in the professional and caring way we need to be to help them strive to be the best they can be.

Loving Learning! Grade 6 - Issan, Thailand, 2009

Loving Learning! Grade 6 – Issan, Thailand, 2009

You should care that you inspire your students. That they’re preparing for the tough world of work and adulthood which ultimately comes at the end of the whole timely process. whichever age you teach. Kindergarteners are just starting to learn how to make sense of a seemingly and often complex busy world in a beautifully innocent naivety that very young children have. First, second, third graders, all of them upwards are learning really complex stuff as well as facing and feeling an increasingly heavy pressure to progress, achieve and succeed – honest I’ve seen some of their work in class and it’s amazing what they’re learning and doing. They’re only like 7 or 8. Achieving wonderful things. All in a complex community of learners, involving a huge myriad of people and learning situations with;  peers, elders, youngers, teachers, family, people they meet from other schools, learners they learn from and engage with on the internet, television, the media -in fact everywhere. The work produced by middle/ high school students should be applauded.

I went to the Grade 5 exhibition a while back and was stunned at this whole array of personal projects these students had worked so hard at and done such a great job with. And each passionately following their own questions and interests to create a personal project and such amazing art, drama and musical representations to support their work. Amazing. I wondered what I had been doing in Grade 5 back in my past life  when I saw their work, and I don’t recall anything of such complexity and maturity. How much education changes, all the time, (even in my short life so far) and how a good curriculum ( I love the IB inquiry method) and good teachers can make those sometimes relentless changes to be positive ones. To be part of that evolution of teaching and learning, how amazing. From students being an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge as was such in the not so distant past, to be inspiring them to create their own path of learning and follow their own rigour and hard work in doing so, following a path that interests them. To be a learner helping a learner. Not a teacher helping a learner. Isn’t that how we should be helping our students learn in both their school work and also their understanding of learning itself, how they best learn, what they want to learn about, so they can be inspired and engaged in meaningful learning,  relevant to them, their studies and life in an intrinsically curious way?

Happy classes

Happy classes

We all experience and learn every day. In addition to caring, every good teacher should be humble. Accept that they are in fact still themselves a learner and can and will make mistakes. It’s definitely okay to make mistakes but a hundred percent better if we accept and learn from them, especially when that knowledge and growth stops us making it a second or third time in the future? In fact if we admitted to our students more often that we’ve made or do make mistakes, they’d feel much more comfortable with making mistakes themselves. Being open to the process of learning.

Who ever got long division the first time?! Seriously? Some of us still struggle with it or other concepts like percentages now as an adult. Who can remember Pythagoras Therorum clearly now all these years later? (unless you’re a maths teacher!) How many things have we had to learn in our own lives, and more importantly, just how much more do we have to learn, and will learn in our future. Embrace it, I think, for a much more open and less complex life. A healthier life.

 

I make mistakes all the time with my kids, and I feel lucky that in Kindergarten, it’s easy to accept it and let my students know a) I’ve done so and b)  know it’s okay to be wrong because ‘Miss Kielly’s just made a very silly mistake!!’ … cue a gaggle of loud giggling children, potentially actually rolling on the floor with silly laughter! But it’s important to do it wherever you work in a school and with every student. To feel safe in fact is in the knowing of safely of being able to make a mistake/s and know it’s okay, nothing bad is going to happen. School should be a safe place. Let’s encourage it more. Who wants students to be so scared of being wrong that they necessarily limit themselves. How sad.

Helping each other - Grade 5 students Issan, Thailand, 2009

Helping each other – Grade 5 students Issan, Thailand, 2009

Collaboration - Grade 5 Students, Issan - Thailand. 2009

Collaboration – Grade 5 Students, Issan – Thailand. 2009

Don’t limit yourself just because you’re an adult and supposedly know everything! Accept mistakes when you make them,  acknowledge them,  grow from them, and show your students your own personal learning curve.

Teaching is a great profession. Enjoy it! Help your students enjoy it! Listen, think, reflect, act, reflect and learn. Remember to care.

Cello love!

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Wow it’s been way too long since I updated this blog and consequently I have tons of posts I want to make. Having considered how much I want to write about, I thought I’d start first with an update about my cello.

So I ended up buying a cello in Singapore which I was so super excited to get home and play. Unfortunately the cello got broken by Air Asia on its journey back to Jakarta. How gutting. It was broken at the neck and what seemed initially not to be not such a bad break, turned out to be worse than my initial thoughts. I was so angry with Air Asia but at the end of the day, I really should have had insurance. I was angry mostly because I didn’t know how I was going to get it fixed and how long it would take and how desperately excited I had been to get home and start playing! I lost most of that anger once Asep, my new cello teacher had taken it to a luthier he knew and had it fixed at a very reasonable price in just one week! Amazing. I was so worried it was going to be super expensive to fix but he got it repaired for a very reasonable 1.75 Million Rupiah, just shy of $200. Not bad at all.

I include here a picture of the damage done during flight just to show you what happened. It was a  deep crack around the whole width of the neck of the cello.

Nevermind it is fixed now and although I can still see where it was repaired, it is not so noticeable and I have fallen totally in love. What a beautiful instrument. I feel so blessed to have been so inspired to start learning this instrument. I practice every day and love to pick it up. I’ve mastered tuning it myself which was a little scary at first, especially with the thought of a string snapping right in my face. Unfortunately the A string peg is rather loose so this is most likely to be out of tune every day. It does give me good practice in tuning my cello as well as my ear though. I’m able to play a classical piece (well play the notes, not sure its so musical yet) that my teacher helped me learn on my first lesson and also ‘Yellow Submarine’. I’ve got a few naughty habits from having played the violin for so long that I need to retrain myself with such as my blatent Violin bow hold. Still these are things I am looking forward to working on.

I thoroughly recommend taking up a new instrument to any adult out there who has ever wanted to play something. It’s great for the mind and the feeling of success is beyond belief. It challenges me every day and I truly look forward to getting home so I can practice. I feel like I’ve joined a whole new community, especially online having found some great websites and forums about Cello. I really recommend http://cellofun.yuku.com/forums/2/Cellists-by-Night-Forum#.T4LDuSNxBkY as a great forum for a new student to the cello.

I also include a video here of the piece I have been practicing since my first lesson. Second lesson this Saturday coming. How exciting. Enjoy!

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Just realised I baven’t written a new post on here for almost a month.

I’ve been super busy with all kinds of things but I will write here very soon.

Great news, I get my cello back tomorrow. It got broken. Can’t wait to get it back so I can start playing music 😀

 

 

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.