Last weekend was Claire’s hen weekend (the one, as bridesmaid, I’ve been co-organising for the last 6 months). Once we eventually got there after battling through the snow, we had a fantastic time. We had spent nearly £500 on booze and food and between the 17 of us there we managed to work our way through most of it. I did pretty well myself, especially as you may remember I’ve only had a drink twice since New Year in my ongoing efforts to lose weight. After staying up until 4am on both nights I was feeling fairly rotten when I got home on Sunday afternoon. I sensibly decided a two and a half hour nap would help, but all it really succeeded in doing was making sure I had to go to the supermarket at 8.30pm, as I realised I had no food for my lunch the next day. This was then followed by lesson planning until nearly midnight, a crap night’s sleep and feeling like death on Monday at school. Brilliant. It was worth it for the great weekend with great company though. And the house we stayed in was amazing – I knew it was going to be big but it was massive! Just look at the ‘drawing room’…
After the weekend I never really caught up on my sleep all week and school was a bit of a struggle. I did have some good lessons this week though and I was feeling quite good about the whole thing. My thoughts on teaching are still all over the place really. I think I’m enjoying it but I still can’t quite work out if I’ve done the right thing. I just keep thinking that although I know my probationary year next year will be hard and I’ll have a lot of work, at least I’ll be teaching my own classes and hopefully that will make discipline easier – at least I won’t have to deal with the ‘who are you miss?’, ‘where’s our normal teacher miss?’ ‘when are we getting Mrs/Mr Whoever back miss?’… Anyway, yesterday I had my second assessed lesson of my course. In order to pass the course we have to pass three lessons assessed by our university tutors, receive three satisfactory reports from our school placements and pass three assignments. So this was the second time I had a visit from one of the university tutors. The visit I’d had in my first placement had gone quite well and I’d looked back over the feedback I’d got on things I’d been told needed improvement. I had another first year class this time, which in theory should have made things easier. I thought I had a pretty decent plan, apart from that I’d included a game that the usual class teacher had suggested. I wasn’t really sure about doing it but it’s quite difficult to turn down advice with offending the established teacher. So I went with it. The lesson didn’t go too badly I thought. I rushed through some things in order to try and make sure I could fit everything in, but with the consequence that I had finished everything I planned to do with about 10 minutes to go until the bell. I managed to pull a few things out of my head to fill the time and I thought it had gone OK.
After the bell went my tutor came up to me to say I’d passed and so I could breath a sigh of relief but then we had to sit down to go over the feedback. There was quite a bit of positive stuff and I got a merit for my planning and preparation of resources…but when it came to discussing my ‘areas for development’ I was criticised for the balance of my lesson and, here’s the best bit, that there were too many ‘games’. I knew I shouldn’t have followed advice that didn’t feel like the right thing to do. But I couldn’t say ‘it wasn’t my idea!’ That would just have sounded like an excuse, and if I wasn’t my idea and I didn’t agree with it then why did I go ahead and do it? Then he started going on about my classroom management which is an area I know I have to work on anyway. By this point I could feel that quivering bottom lip and shaking in your chest that you get when you know you’re about to cry. I really struggled to hold back the tears but when my tutor repeated my failing for the the third time I crumbled. I felt ridiculous for crying and although I was a bit upset at what I was being told it was much just a release of stress and adrenaline, and being annoyed at myself for not following my own instincts in the first place. I’m sure I’m not the first person to cry, imagine what the people who fail are like?! Anyway, I passed, I have things to work on and I should be pleased with that. But then I had the horrible third years for the last period of the day. They are a quite low ability set and really have no interest in learning French at the best of times, let alone last thing on a Friday afternoon. And they just won’t stop talking! I wasn’t doing too badly with them but then the class teacher came in and just started judging me – it really wasn’t the day for it and fighting back the tears again I virtually ran out of school when the bell went without speaking to anyone.
I’m much calmer now and grateful for the support and sensible words from all my friends on Twitter. (After my tutor left I went for a walk in the park next to school to try and calm down and try and make my face look normal again – and vented my woes on Twitter, with immediate response. Seriously, I don’t know what we did before the instant responses from Twitter – whether they be congratulations, commiserations or advice). I also had a good chat with one of the other students on my course who lives near by. She had her assessed lesson yesterday too and despite getting the same grades as me, she was disappointed with how she’d done too. It’s good to know someone else is in the same boat as you.
Anyway, it’s over and done with now. I only have another nine teaching days to go (although that means I’ve only got just over two weeks until my next 3500 word assignment is due in and I haven’t started yet.) I’m seeing the lovely Tiernan Douieb at the Glasgow Comedy Festival next weekend, then Chris Addison and Dave Gorman in the two weeks after that. Then it’s the Easter holidays. I’m seeing Derren Brown, then going to An Event Of Some Kind (where one of my favourite bands, 6 Day Riot, are playing, and Tim Minchin is on the bill playing to a room of 40 people which will be pretty awesome). Then I’ve got Easter weekend in the caravan with my Mum and Dad, and the weekend after it’s actually Claire’s wedding and I get to do my bridesmaid bit! (Oh, and the weekend after that I’m back in London to see Michael Legge and Andrew Collins do their Edinburgh work in progress shows). Phew…that’s quite a lot to look forward to in the next month. And it’s definitely going to get me through the next two weeks of teaching.
In other news, I’ve pledged (is that the right word?) to join in Mark Watson’s Ten Year Self-Improvement Challenge, but I think that deserves an entry of its own; so more on that later.
And finally – here’s a couple of photos from the hen weekend. One of Claire, in all her finery with me and Tara; the other bridesmaid, and one of me partaking in the ‘Cheesy Ball Challenge’ which involved seeing how many cheesy balls (the Asda version of Wotsits) you could fit in your mouth! I think I managed 18 in the end but I wasn’t the eventual winner!