Return of the blog

I’ve just had a look back and it turns out I haven’t written a blog since the 19th July – that’s bloody ages ago! And it’s not that nothing has happened, or that I’ve been overly busy (I spent a LOT of time this summer watching reruns of ER and playing Bejeweled on my phone) more that I’ve just been a bit of a lazy arse. But I’ve also been quieter online in general in the last few months, I guess it’s partly to do with the fact I now have a real person at home to talk to about my woes (and happinesses) so I don’t feel quite the same pressing need to share them with the internet.

However, I feel an update is somewhat overdue. I had a busy summer which included a camping trip to the Lake District, moving house (and several trips to IKEA), selling my old flat, a few outings to the Edinburgh Festival (including a visit by my brother and his wife), and plenty of wedding planning.

Despite my best efforts I hadn’t managed to get a teaching job by the start of the Scottish school year in mid-August, and after a bit of procrastinating I finally bit the bullet and took a temporary job with Lloyds (back in the same building I used to work when it was HBoS) and started on the 30th August. To be honest, as much as I wanted a teaching job I was pretty glad of the extra two weeks holiday! Anyway, on the same day I started work with the bank I got a text from a teacher I worked with last year saying she had heard a school five minutes from our new house was looking for a French teacher. So the next day I called the head of department and it turned out one of the deputy heads at the school had been on the interview panel for my council interview back in April. He was happy to take me on. This was confirmed at 4pm on the Friday of my first week at the bank and I never went back. I did feel a bit guilty because I never would have taken the job if I’d have know it would only be for 4 days – and those 4 days would be spent training for a job I’d never do but you just can’t predict these things. So the following Monday I started at my new school. I’ve settled in well and I feel much less stressed about teaching than I did last year (I know everyone told me it’d get easier but that wasn’t always so easy to believe!).

But, and here’s the rub, I might have won the battle for a job but I’ve not yet won the war… I have been initially employed on a temporary contract until 25th November, even though the school need someone until at least the summer holidays. In previous years I could have been employed on a long term supply basis and no more would need to be done. However, apparently the rules have changed and if a teacher is employed at the same school for more than 5 days they must be given a temporary contract (which is essentially a good thing), but because I haven’t filled a pre-existing position but one which was created this year, the position has to be advertised. I can then apply for the job I’m already doing (and which I’ve been told I’m doing well) and hope that I’m better than anyone else who might apply.

Anyway, there’s very little I can do about it other than keep doing the best job I can, continue to make a good impression and then apply for the job when it’s advertised and hope that I’ve impressed enough to keep the job.

All in all though I’m glad to be back in school and I was particularly glad of the two week half-term holiday I’ve just had (a very enjoyable week of which was spent on a SAGA holiday in Majorca…but that’s another story!).

On top of all that it’s only 5 and a half months until the wedding (eeep!). We’ve now also booked a band, who shall remain a surprise but who are super ace. I’ve just ordered the bridesmaid dress, and fittings for my own dress should be starting soon. AND I’ve found an amazing online shoemaker who can custom make shoes to exactly match the colour of the bridesmaid dress…they are quite expensive but I reckon I’m going to treat myself.

And lastly, the new house is awesome. I often just sit and look around and I can’t believe it’s my house, that I bought with my husband-to-be and that it’s all ours. How life has changed in the last 18 months…and in the words of McDonalds(?!) ‘I’m lovin’ it!’

I found it!

This whole getting married business is very exciting, and despite my best efforts not to, quite frankly I’m a bit obsessed. I browse marriage blogs daily (Love My Dress is a big favourite) and buying wedding magazines is becoming a bit of an expensive, and entirely unnecessary, habit. If I included every cool or quirky idea I’ve seen my own wedding will end up being a cluttered mish-mash and everything will be lost in the chaos. Not to mention costing a small fortune. So I’m trying to reign in my imagination, I’m collecting ideas and hopefully as the months pass (only 9 and a half months to go!) I’ll be able to pick out the best, and most achievable ones. 

All that said, one thing has already been decided. Yesterday I bought a wedding dress! A few weeks ago I went on my first dress shopping expedition. Along with my mum and bridesmaid Claire I went to two dress shops whilst at home in Blackpool. Although I found a couple of dresses I quite liked the selection was pretty uninspiring. There are so many similar dresses that it feels like everything is just a variation on a theme. I had no real idea what I was looking for but I knew that these dresses weren’t it. In all my wedding research I’ve been drawn to the vintage style weddings. You know the thing – floral tea cups, retro sweeties, VW campervans and candy coloured cupcakes. It will come as no surprise to those who know me that we aren’t having a church wedding and we’re just after something a bit more informal…

So, I knew I wasn’t going to settle for one of these off the peg dresses before I’d investigated some vintage possibilities. Which is how Claire and I found ourselves heading down an alley off Argyle Street in Glasgow yesterday to find Dragonfly Dress Design. We were quite early for our 11am appointment and so were delighted to discover the Hidden Lane Tearoom and had plenty of time for tea, and cakes too of course! 

We managed to find Lisa’s studio through the winding corridor of a bright yellow painted building and in her tiny studio where she not only sells and reworks vintage dresses but also makes bespoke creations I found what I was looking for. Or rather, and here’s the magic part, I found what I was almost looking for.  And after some discussion with Lisa she explained exactly how she’ll be able to turn my original 1950s wedding dress into exactly what I’m looking for. Obviously I’m not going to give too much away here but by completely removing, recutting and rebuilding the top of dress before putting it all back together again I’m going to get the dress of my dreams. And what makes it even more exciting is that it’s a dress that no-one else will ever have had. I’d love some way to find out who wore the dress originally and what their wedding day was like, but even though the dress belonged to someone else and has seen one wedding already, by the time Lisa has finished working her magic it’s most definitely going to be MY dress. 

Anyway, that’ll have to do for now. It’s a school night and it’s past my bed time. I’m counting down the days until the summer holidays (only 10 school days to go). I can’t wait for the last day of term to get here…despite the fact that it means I’ll be unemployed. On that note however, I’ve got two more applications in the pipeline at the moment so we’ll have to wait and see if I get anywhere with those – fingers crossed please, dear readers!

Swings and Roundabouts

Right. It may have come to your attention (or rather it probably hasn’t) but I haven’t written a blog for absolutely bloody ages. And it’s definitely not because nothing has been happening – life certainly is progressing full steam ahead round these parts of late…

Just over two months ago the lovely lovely boy asked me if I would marry him. It wasn’t entirely a surprise but I had no idea he was going to ask when he did. Of course I said yes and seeing as it was the school holidays at the time I spent pretty much every waking hour looking at wedding websites and had a date set and venue booked within 2 weeks! So almost a year to the day after we got engaged we’ll be getting married at a lovely hotel in the Lake District. Preparations are continuing apace – I’ve even done some dress shopping although I don’t think I’ve found ‘the one’ yet.

As if getting engaged wasn’t exciting enough, a week later we also decided to buy a house. My flat wasn’t even on the market but it was a bargain and exactly what we wanted so we just decided to go for it. Unfortunately the housing market isn’t working quite so much in our favour as far as selling the flat goes but hopefully we won’t be stuck with it for too long. If it comes to it we can always rent it out but I’m kind of hoping it’s not going to come to that. The one benefit to the fact that it’s looking very unlikely we’ll sell the flat before we get the new house is that at least we aren’t under any pressure to move everything on one day. We’re moving during the summer holidays which will make things easier. And speaking of school holidays we come to the less positive aspect of life at the moment…

I am now just three weeks away from completing my probation year as a teacher and I have achieved everything I need to to become a fully registered teacher. I am lucky that I live in Scotland where the government runs a teacher induction scheme which guarantees a teaching post for everyone who successfully completes a teacher training course. However, what the government doesn’t seem to have is any sort of plan as to what will happen to these teachers after they have completed their probation year. Quite simply there are far more jobs than teachers. In these current tough economic times teachers aren’t taking early retirement at the rate that was predicted and over the last 5 years or so the government vastly over-estimated the number of teachers the country would need and so allowed many more people on to PGDE and B.Ed courses than was needed.

For me the problem is compounded by the fact that in recent years many schools have taken the decision to allow pupils to stop studying a modern language after two years of secondary school, further reducing demand for language teachers. This means that some schools have teachers who are now surplus to the needs of their school but as the council has employed them on a permanent contract they are obliged to find them a job elsewhere. This leads to teachers on temporary contracts finding themselves without a job as they are replaced teachers on permanent contracts subject to a compulsory transfers. 

On top of all this Spanish is rapidly overtaking French as the language of choice in Scottish secondary schools and although I’ve been learning Spanish myself since February I’m certainly not going to be in any position to teach it for a good few years yet. What all this means, for me and for many other probationers, is that I am three weeks away from being a fully qualified, unemployed, teacher. The last time I wrote a blog I had just submitted my application for a permanent post to the council. I had an interview towards the end of April and then after a long wait I finally found out this week that although my application was successful there is a ‘lack of appropriate vacancies’. I am able to sign up for the supply teaching list but that’s certainly no guarantee of regular work or indeed any work at all. I’m going to keep looking, the councils round about are advertising new vacancies almost daily and I just have to hope that something suitable will come up – and that I can beat all the other people out there looking for jobs. 

But the simple fact remains that if it comes to the start of the school year here in August and I still haven’t managed to find a teaching job then I’m just going to have to get a job doing something else. With a up coming wedding and a new house I just can’t afford not to work. Which sucks. And above all it just seems like a big fat waste of my time, the time of my university lecturers and the time of the great teachers who have supported me through the last year. Not to mention the cost to the Scottish government of training all these teachers who are possibly never going to teach in Scottish schools. It’s a bloody crazy state of affairs. And one that I have been stupid enough to put myself in the middle of.

Holy crapballs Batman!

I’ve already written this blog once, but I made the stupid mistake of doing it on my phone late last night using the crappest blogging app out there – Blogpress. I should have known better, I’ve been stung by Blogpress before. Oh sure, it acts all nice and pally, like it’s your best friend and would never do anything to hurt you, then before you know it instead of publishing your blog like it said it has done, it’s just sent it off into the ether never to be seen again. I imagine my blog is currently shooting around inside the cables of the internet, like the time travelling bits in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. According to the Blogpress feature list it does ‘Support Draft Auto Saving: saving writing text every minute to iTunes shared document folder, easy to recover if app quit abnormally’. So even if we ignore the badly written English for a moment, it would seem the app developers have a different definition of ‘easy’. For me, having to boot up my netbook, sync my phone to iTunes only to discover that all that’s saved is a blank text file, isn’t exactly ‘easy’. Especially not at half past midnight when I should have been asleep.

But I didn’t come to tell you about that, I came to tell you about the big moving in day.

Last night was the last night I’m going to spend alone for a long time, for the foreseeable future, or at least until the boy goes for his first visit back to Manchester without me. Rest assured I made the most of it by star-fishing myself across as much of the bed as I could manage. I still can’t quite believe it’s happening to be honest. Even though in a few hours the boy will be setting off from Manchester and will turn up tonight with a van full of stuff, I can still see me turning to him on Sunday and absentmindedly asking ‘So what time is your train home?’. I know it’s going to take a while to get used to living together full time after six months of only weekends and holidays. I know it’s going to take a while to establish our own domestic routine. It’s going to be a bit of a squeeze in my wee flat until we can put the master plan in action and hopefully buy a house in the summer, but for now it’ll do just fine. To paraphrase Han Solo: I’ve got a good feeling about this.

And finally, in a brief update of other news…

  • School is still really hard work. I had two days off this week with some sort of coldy/fluey/buggy thing which basically manifested itself as exhaustion and a really really bad headache. But I’m back now, and next week I get two days off in what passes for half term around these parts. The kids are still badly behaved and sometimes I still don’t know what to do about it, but I spoke to my mentor and some of the other teachers and I know I’ve got the support out there that I need. I’m still not enjoying myself a great deal but I haven’t cried in over two weeks and I don’t feel as overwhelmed by it all as I did a few weeks ago. So things are improving, slowly.
  • The weight loss/management is going fairly well. I managed to lose the weight I put on over Christmas and my weight has been fairly stable since then. I’ve been doing a lot more exercise since Christmas (well until the last week when I’ve been ill) and I’ve been eating sensibly too (again until the last week when I’ve had a bit of an illness and PMT fuelled chocolate meltdown). But I’m doing OK. I’m not beating myself up about what I’ve eaten. I’ve done it now so there’s no use worrying. And as long as my one pair of size 10 jeans still fit me, I’m happy. I’m just hoping that my efforts to demonstrate my domestic godessness to the boy (starting with baking oat & raisin cookies tonight) doesn’t send us both to hell in a handcart.

And really that’s it. That’s where I’m at right now. I’m looking forward to lots of weekends at home, not having to spend 9 hours of my weekend on a train, and generally just getting used to my new life of domestic bliss.

(Don’t worry I’m sure I’ll be back in a few weeks ranting about the lights being left on, wet towels on the bed and someone never remembering to buy milk.)

Life is a roller coaster

Don’t panic, this isn’t going to be a tribute to the back catalogue of Ronan Keating, more a quick life update since I’ve been quiet on the blog front again of late. All systems are go for my imminent life of living in sin; in Manchester boxes are being packed, junk is being thrown away and leaving parties are happening, and here? Well, here I’ve done a bit of measuring of rooms and looking at where I might move furniture about….and that’s about it. But I promise I’ll do my bit of carrying boxes and unpacking when the time comes in a few weeks. 

As well as the upcoming move,  the New Year has also found me back on the weight loss wagon and hopefully now only a couple more weeks away from my happy weight again. And when I get there I’ll have another attempt at maintaining that weight. I know it’s never going to be easy, and I’ve not been as successful as I would’ve hoped in the past, but every time I do it I figure it out a bit more, and get a few more tricks up my sleeve to stop the weight creeping back on. I’m hoping this time that having the boy here will help, that we’ll encourage each other to make healthy, sensible decisions about what we eat rather than encouraging each other to indulge in the things we would do better to avoid. I reckon that having to think about what someone else is eating, and perhaps being a bit more accountable for what I eat will mean I can find an equilibrium where I’m neither putting weight on, or having to lose it. I do know one thing for sure, if the weight does start coming back I’m in a place now where I’m much quicker to react. Because there is no way that I ever want to be in a position where I need to lose 3 stone again.

Along with the more sensible eating this year, I’ve also started doing some exercise again. I’ve gone back to my dance class for the first time in about 6 months, and started doing Zumba again. Last week I did an hour’s dance class followed immediately by an hour of Zumba – I did actually think I might collapse at one point, and the next day climbing the stairs was a struggle but I was so glad I did it. When you aren’t doing it regularly, it’s easy to forget how much fun exercise can be and how much better you feel for doing it. I’ve even gone as far as getting my step machine out from under the bed and I’ve been doing at least half an hour on the nights I haven’t been going out to exercise. How long it’ll last is anybody’s guess but for now I’m making the most of my renewed enthusiasm.

So as far as my personal life goes, I can’t remember a time when I was this happy before. Everything is going my way. So why is life a roller coaster? From what I’ve just said my roller coaster is only on the long climb up. But along with all the happiness, there’s a lot of stress in my life at the moment too. 

My job has been particularly difficult for the last few weeks, I’m struggling with discipline in the classroom and spending half my day shouting at kids is taking its toll. I’d love not to have to shout but sometime it seems that it’s the only thing that works. On top of spending more time in a lesson trying to get the kids to listen, pay attention and do some work than I do actually teaching, we’re heading into a busy time of year full of assessments and reports and parents evenings…..and there are times when I’m seriously questioning if I made the right decision, whether I can cope with the rest of this year let alone a whole career in teaching. Working at the bank was boring for sure, and it wasn’t really taking me anywhere but at least at least it didn’t make me cry almost every day. I mean surely no job should make you feel so bad that on the drive into work you wonder how badly you would need to crash your car so you could get a few weeks off work but not be seriously injured. That’s just not right. And yet that’s what I find myself thinking on almost every journey.

I’m really hoping things start to improve soon. Hopefully having someone to come home to every night will make things easier. And according to one of the teachers at school the kids behaviour has been so bad lately because of the full moon – surely that’s bollocks but at this point I’m willing to believe almost anything if it’ll make things easier. I also know I should ask for help, or at least speak to someone at school about how I’m feeling. My problem is that I’ve always hated admitting that I can’t do something, or that I’m not doing as well as it as I think I should be. Asking for help feels like admitting I’ve failed, but I can’t carry on like this, my emotions are all over the place and I need to try and find a balance from somewhere before I meltdown completely. 

I’m not sure that actually publishing all this in a blog is really the best idea, I’m still wary that someone from school; a pupil, a parent or a colleague might find it. A quick Google check would seem to indicate that is quite unlikely, and so,  because writing this helps, I’m going to press the Publish Post button and try and remind myself that tomorrow is another day.

A weighty issue

My name is Sarah and I’m addicted to food.

This has been on my mind for a while and as much as I’m loathe to admit it, I’m hoping that blogging on the matter will help knock some sense in to me. You see the thing is, I lost three stone over the last 18 months, and I talked and wrote about how I had changed, how I wasn’t going to go back to the yo-yo dieting that had dominated the previous 10 or 15 years, how I had really changed my attitude to food this time…but it turns out I was wrong. Because since the end of May I’ve managed to gain back over a stone of the weight I had lost. And I’m not very happy about it. 

Of course three weeks in America didn’t help, then another three weeks away from home. This time though, it wasn’t so much that I was at home and miserable and turning to chocolate for comfort, but that I was out and about and having fun…and drinking too much, and eating out too often. It’ll be OK I thought, I’ll get back to school and I’ll get back into my healthy eating routine. And I kind of did. I was having a banana for breakfast, salads for lunch and healthy dinners. Now winter is upon us (in Scotland anyway) the salads have been replaced by homemade soups but the weight still isn’t shifting. And that’s mostly due to my old nemesis – chocolate. I just can’t seem to resist it. Especially when the nasty little voice in my head is telling me that I’m stressed, and it’s been a tough day at school, and ‘you’re tired, go on, you deserve it’. I wish that voice would just shut up. Or at least that I could get better at ignoring it.

Extra added booze isn’t helping either. I’m still not drinking during the week but I’m seeing the boy nearly every weekend (which I’m certainly not complaining about) which always seems to involve drinking. I’m happy, I like drinking, especially with good company….but something somewhere has got to give, if I’m going to avoid ending up where I was 18 months ago. 

A lot has changed since then, I know; I found someone to love for a start, someone who thinks I’m beautiful whatever I weigh. But in a way that doesn’t really help. Barry has lost a lot of weight since I first met him too – we should be the ideal partnership, united in the battle of the bulge. But instead I think there’s a very real danger we’ll encourage each other into over-eating again. In fact, that isn’t fair. I’m the one doing the encouraging, and my powers of persuasion are so good that he sometimes ends up coming along for the ride. I don’t blame him at all in this, this is my issue not his.

To be honest, I don’t really know why I’m writing this. As my fingers tap the keys and the words appear on the page it just seems ridiculous and whiny, and why don’t I just shut the fuck up and do something about it? If only it were that easy. Well it is I suppose. I could just go back to Lighter Life and lose that extra stone again in a month or so. But the regimen of Lighter Life would be much harder now I actually have a life. And I kind of feel like I got myself into this mess, I should get myself back out of it.

You know, perhaps this has helped after all. By blogging, and telling the world, I’m holding myself accountable again. And maybe that will inspire me to get back on track before it’s too late. Thanks for reading, if you’ve stuck with me, and I’ll let you know how I get on.

The Lives of Others

Today I had to change my Twitter privacy settings to protect my tweets from the eyes of anyone other than my existing followers. Frankly, I’m annoyed I’ve felt the need to do this – not being visible kind of defeats the object of Twitter but something happened today which made me feel I have no choice. Let me explain…

As regular readers will know, I am in my first teaching post since completing a PGDE in June. I have written about some of my teaching experiences in this blog and on Twitter, but I have never mentioned the school I am teaching at, or any of the pupils that I teach by name or even in any detail. I’ve heard stories about kids Googling their teachers and those teachers getting into bother for things they’ve said online, or photos of drunken nights out or inappropriate behaviour. But I wasn’t too worried; my Facebook privacy settings are as strict as they can be, and as the kids didn’t know my first name they weren’t going to get very far in searching for me. Until today that is. I don’t know who was responsible, but today every single pupil in the school was given a newsletter to take home to their parents or carers. And in that newsletter was a list of all the new teachers to the school this year, including our first names.

It was bad enough that I then had to put up with cheeky 14 year olds walking into my classroom saying ‘hello Sarah’, but now it won’t be long before those 14 year olds, and probably some of the other kids, go searching for me online. Maybe I’m over-inflating my importance in their lives here but already they have been asking me if I’m on Facebook, or MSN, or Bebo (although actually Twitter seems pretty low on their radar), and I’m sure there will be a few who go looking for me.

On the one hand I think I have every right to my own life and my own opinions, and why should I feel I have to hide those from the world at large? But on the other hand I know that by taking on the role and responsibilities of a teacher I have an obligation to conduct myself in a certain way. And more than anything else I think that the more personal information my pupils have about me, the more ammunition they have to use against me. So by protecting my identity online, I’m really trying to minimise any impact on my working life.

This is a relatively new phenomenon due to the recent explosion of social networking, not too long ago, the worst a teacher had to fear was being spotted by pupils in the supermarket or even on a night out (incidentally, despite my early moans about my 20 mile drive to school every day, I’m actually quite glad I’m not teaching in the town where I live and am therefore unlikely to bump into pupils outside school), but now there are so many other ways for pupils, and even parents, to find out more about the private lives of teachers. When I was at school I knew most of my teachers’ first names, and I remember a brief moment of hilarity when we discovered our science teacher was called Kimberley; Mr Kimberley Caunt that is. But the worst we ever did was try (usually unsuccessfully) to look teachers up in the phone book.

Throughout my teacher training I was warned of the need to be wary of how much my online presence revealed about me…and now my full name is out there amongst my pupils I am certainly more cautious about what I say. I am also mentally going through what I have said online previously, and I’m seriously considering deleting some of the posts from this blog. Although it makes me sad that it might come to that – I don’t know that it’s really necessary, am I being unnecessarily worried here?

More than anything else I am angry that I had no say in my full name been given to pupils and their parents. The first I knew about it was when I found a discarded newsletter in my classroom, which was luckily just before the third years came in and abandoned their usual form of address in favour of the more familiar, and inappropriate, Sarah.

I suppose this has made me think a bit more about other Twitter users; people in the public eye, or people in other public facing professions. How worried should we be about the cross over between what we say or do in our private lives and how that may affect our careers or working life? Does being a teacher mean I’m no longer allowed to have a life of my own and participate in the online communities which I so enjoy being a part of? I know there are a few people who read this blog who are teachers or in other public facing jobs and I’d be interested to know what they, or anybody think about this issue. Is it an issue at all? 

Please Miss, am I doing it right?

This week will see me complete my first full month of teaching real life children as a real life, paid, teacher. And it’s gone remarkably well all things considered. Admittedly, as a probationer, I’m only teaching 0.7 of a full time teacher’s timetable, which means I only teach 18 of the 30 periods in a week and I have it a lot easier than a full time teacher. As the year goes on I’ll be using a lot of my non-contact time in school for CPD (or Continuing Professional Development); things like observing other teachers, going into the Behaviour Support unit, shadowing learning support assistants and the like, but for the moment I can use the time to plan my lessons, find resources and mark exercise books. It certainly feels easier than when I was a student on placement. Now I have my own classroom too, I’ve got somewhere to work when I’m not teaching, and by essentially treating it as a normal full-time job (I’m usually in school from 8.30am to between 4.30 and 5pm) I’m getting all my work done in school and not having to bring stuff home with me. Of course there’s the odd thing I have to do at home, mostly when I need to get something from a website that is blocked by the council firewall, or if I need to print stuff (the school has no money and therefore I’m not really allowed to print or photocopy anything unless it’s absolutely essential). 

So, it all seems to be going well. I’ve not been punched or had a riot in my classroom yet. I’m still struggling with a couple of classes who just can’t seem to stop talking but I’m getting there. The kids are starting to get used to me, and realising that they like me more when I’m nice than when I’m annoyed with them, and to get the nice me they have to behave. They’re starting to realise that there are consequences to their bad behaviour, and that I will follow through on those consequences. I’ve also pretty much learnt the names of all the pupils I teach (and 180 names in less than a month is no mean feat), and that helps with discipline no end.

But I suppose the big question still to be answered is did I make the right decision in giving up a year’s income, and taking on a load of debt, to retrain? The simple answer is that, at the moment, I still don’t know. Someone asked me the other day if I’m enjoying it…and I don’t even know that. At the moment I’m just doing it, and trying to get better at it as fast as I can. I’m certainly not not liking it. I’m not waking up filled with dread at the prospect of going to school. I have had a few random school-based dreams, and a few nights of lying in bed thinking about how I’m going to deal with certain kids, or deliver a particular lesson, but I’m by no means stressed about it. And time is flying by, I swear a week only lasts three days, which is always a sign that things are going well. Of course, my lack of stress probably has something to do with how happy I am with my life in general at the moment, that my weekends really are something to look forward to, and that I have someone to talk to every night who is willing to listen to me ramble on about naughty kids for hours on end. The other teachers at school are great too, and for now I’m mostly being left to my own devices to just get on with it. I’m not under the same constant scrutiny that I was on placement and that makes a hell of a difference. I am even getting glimpses of the ‘job satisfaction’ that everyone talks about. Occasionally, I feel like I’ve made a breakthrough with a pupil, no matter how small that breakthrough may be, and it actually feels like I might be making a difference. And I suppose that’s what it’s all about.

Of course, I’ve still got a long way to go to get through this year, and after Christmas I face the prospect of having to find a new job for the start of the next school year, (I was guaranteed a job for a year on the probation scheme in place in Scotland but after this school year I’m on my own) possibly somewhere entirely new. And then I’ll have to deal with moving, not only jobs, but moving house too and all the complications that will bring. But do you know what? I feel like I’m ready for the challenge. I’m excited about my life and whatever the future might bring, and I certainly never said that when I was working in telephone banking!

It’s nice to be important

…but it’s more important to be nice.

So it turns out that this having a boyfriend lark is pretty darned cool. It was the boy’s birthday yesterday so he came up here on Friday for a weekend of celebrations. I had a few surprises up my sleeve as well as the plans that we’d already made, if you’re interested in what we got up to (and what he thought of it all) you can read the details in Barry’s blog over here, although I think I should add that my friend Claire decided the birthday boy should henceforth be known as Bazza, and I think it might stick!

As you’ll see from his blog, the boy really enjoyed his weekend (as did I!) and all the birthday treats I provided (among other things; fancy gin, real coffee for breakfast, a few choice birthday presents, and a fun night of food, booze and SingStar, including a home made birthday cake), and it made me realise just how much I like doing nice things for other people. I remember thinking the same thing a few years ago when I realised I was more excited about my family opening the Christmas presents I’d bought for them than opening my own presents. And it’s not about spending a lot of money and buying expensive gifts, but more about finding things that the other person would really like, without them having to tell you. I love listening out for little hints or comments and then storing them away in the recesses of my brain for an opportune moment to use them. Or just letting someone know you’re thinking about them – I’ve become a fan of late of finding cool and appropriate cards to send to people out of the blue…who doesn’t love getting post after all?

And of course I like it when people do nice things for me too. It doesn’t have to be anything massive – a timely text message when I’m feeling low will do the trick, or the kid who despite having been disruptive and annoying during the lesson, stayed behind to help me clear up, or of course just being there to give me a hug and tell me that I’m great (and that’s something that wasn’t so easy to come by until recently).

Maybe taking pleasure in pleasing other people is a grown up thing, rather than the selfishness of childhood that unfortunately I see more than I’d like to in school, but I think the world would be a better place if we all just followed the advice of Bill & Ted; 

Be Excellent to Each Other….and party on, dudes!

Everything Changes

I know some of you have been reading this blog since I started writing it, and even for those of you who haven’t… do you remember this? That’s right – back in April last year I sent off my application to get on a teacher training course, and now, just 17 short months later I’m teaching every day and I’m even getting paid to do it! It’s bloody hard work of course, and I’m already counting down the weeks until I get to have a holiday again, but generally…I’m loving it. 

I have been sent back, for my probationary year, to the school where I did my first teaching placement at uni. I was a little bit disappointed when I first found out if I’m honest but now I’m back I’m glad I got to go back somewhere where I already knew all the teachers in my department and where everything is. There are two other probationer teachers in the school as well which is brilliant because we all have a sympathetic ear to bend whenever we need it!

I’m suffering a bit today though – with the cold that I was bound to get sooner rather than later. And the cold that everyone warned me new teachers always get at the beginning of term. There are a lot of kids in school, and that means a lot of germs. When 4 kids in 4 different classes kindly informed me they had ‘the cold’ (for a cold requires a definite article in Scotland) I was pretty certain it wouldn’t be long before I succumbed, which I duly did. And of course as I now have a boyfriend with whom I can share the best parts of my life….I shared the cold with him this weekend too. However, after going to bed at 8pm last night and getting a pretty much solid 11 hours sleep, I’m fighting the good fight and appear to have shaken off the worst of it.

Speaking of my lovely boyfriend – I don’t think getting drunk on a mixture of cider, wine, champagne and Southern Comfort, and staying up until 4am on Friday night, was the best support for my immune system. It was, however, a helluva lot of fun! After the boy making a couple of trips north to Edinburgh and a weekend apart, I was back in Manchester this weekend. How is it that a 4 hour train ride to get there felt like no time at all, but the 4 hour journey home felt like the longest trip known to man? I reckon there’s something dodgy going on with the space/time continuum somewhere round about Carlisle. Or something.

Anyway, I had a lovely time down there, even if we spent most of Saturday bemoaning our hangovers before starting to drink again at wedding reception where Barry knew very few people and I knew precisely him! It was good fun though and I enjoyed rocking the little black dress look, and having a sexy boy on my arm (he really does scrub up well you know!). And that’s my travelling done for a few weeks anyway. The birthday boy is coming up here this weekend, we’re going to go out with my friends Claire and Dave, and then I’m going to kick everyone’s asses at SingStar. It’s going to be awesome.

I’m still getting used to the idea that I’ve got a boyfriend at all though. It is, of course, very lovely but 8 years is a long time to be single and I got used to being on my own, doing my own thing, and not having to plan for anyone or anything else. I’m sure I’ll get used to it though, as will he, and we’ll make our merry way in the world together. And what a busy way it’s going to be!