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I can't believe it's May. It caught me completely by surprise this year - as did the Wednesday-ness of today. I keep thinking it's Sunday, then getting all disappointed because there's no Sunday Sweets on Cakewrecks :).  I have also been in a grump of monumental proportions today, which doesn't help.  I'm hoping the grump dissipates soon.

My mom was supposed to go for her final chemo on Friday, but she's got a horrible sore throat / flu at the moment, and so she probably won't be able to have it. We may have to delay it until next week.  After that we get a treatment break for about a month, and then she needs to start with radiation treatment for six weeks.

Work is still hectic - I'm struggling with the context switching of running two jobs simultaneously, but I'm hoping this eases up soon. My kids are, as usual, extremely challenging, extremely gorgeous, extremely intense.
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Today we got out of our first lecture of the year 4.5 hours early. Yay!! I cannot tell you how much I am over this PGCE. Over, over, over it. But I can't bring myself to waste a year of work and the R7500 already spent, so I'm doing it to the end this year.

Next term I'll only be going in to my job 2 days a week - mostly to do science, Afrikaans and maybe a bit of reading with them. Curriculum planning, classroom organisation and ongoing assessment will be my boss's job. Hopefully this will mean that I don't have to do daily hours of preparation, and can be a bit more present for my family. I'll also be working 8 hours a week at a tutoring centre down the road helping with high school maths and physical science, a piece of cake compared to junior primary :D. I feel really really bad for the class kids though, a couple of them are autistic, most of them have learning difficulties and all of them will find the change tough. I don't really feel I have any option though, my current pace is completely unsustainable unless my mom handles ALL the home management / homeschooling, and that's just not going to happen (nor would I expect it to) with chemo and radiation. 

Chemo should start in two weeks time, and that's when we'll have our first indications of how bad (or not) it might be. We haven't said the C-word to the children, and we are hoping not to have to, because to them it's why we had to put Castor down. Even though he was only 2 at the time, S still refers to Castor and asks why she died, etc.

My shiny new antidepressants seem to be doing their job, and the world is a little less monochrome. I like that they don't take away the sad,  but they add back in the happy. I hadn't realised how non-happy I have been for a long time. I'm exhausted all the time though, and hoping this isn't a side effect of the pills, but just of the emotional stress. When I was last on antidepressants the exhaustion got worse and worse until it was more debilitating than the depression / anxiety, and I had to come off them. Hopefully not this time.

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Last year was incredibly full - so full that I barely had time to breathe, let alone to spend with my family. I worked until about 11pm every night, and usually put in between 6 to 14 extra hours on weekends. That was just as per normal. When I had university asignments / exams due to, that got a bit worse.

I have been pretty much dreading this year as more of the same, but some things were going to get easier, for example, the classroom that I have been teaching in, which had to move away from the school premises for a while, was going to be back ON school premises, in my boss's patio area. This wasn't ideal, but at least meant that I would be working in the same place as (a) my son, and (b) the photocopier, printer etc. Also, it meant that at no time was I the sole adult in charge of a bunch of children all under 10 yrs old.   I found it quite stressful to be in that position for 6 months last year, not least because if anything had happened to ME, there was often no other adult around and I'm not at all sure that the kids would have known how to contact one. Or, in fact, if they did try to phone my boss, whether or not she would answer her phone, as sometimes her classroom is noisy, too.

I know my boss has been absolutely dreading the necessity of having the older kids in her house. She has really really hated the idea. Yesterday, my boss sms'd me to say "We're saved!". One of the moms, who lives a couple of kilometres away from the school, has converted her garage into a flat with a room and bathroom, and offered to my boss for the class for a nominal rental.  Basically, it's a done deal.

Aside from the other, simple location issues, (printer, adult alone etc), this parent has a major problem with me. She doesn't dislike me, per se (I don't think), but she thinks that her children are far more competent than they actually are, and thinks that I am incompetent for daring to suggest otherwise. She adores my boss, and seriously resents the fact that my boss is no longer teaching the primary kids. She has worked, briefly, as a classroom assistant at the preschool, and basically wants to be part of the school in a way that gives her a lot more control. She has frequently offered to work there, invest etc. She is the reason that the primary section actually exists, because my boss did not want to start it yet, but this parent asked her every day for nine months until she said yes.

Over the past year, this parent has on numerous occasions gone directly to my boss to complain about things I've done with her children, not ONCE coming to me first to find out what my side of the story may be. Every single time, my boss has bowed down to her, and placated her, and asked me to change what I do in the classroom - never pointing out that I actually am competent, and that it may be worth actually talking to me first, before escalating it into a major issue.

So, essentially, added to an already almost impossible year emotionally, I'm now expected to add a bossy, interfering busybody who thinks she knows far, far better than me how the children should be taught, and who resents me for not being someone else - a situation I am powerless to address.  This women is incredibly pushy, and I know will not keep her nose out of the classroom. I have always been very willing and open to having parents come in and have frequently offered to show children's work etc. I know that her motives are concern for her children, but her personality and her problem with me personally make her a serious issue in this situation.

Basically, I'm looking a year spent in someone's house who will be there most of the time, who is always looking for a reason to criticise me, who will never address anything to my face but who will go over my head to a boss who will not support me. Add to that the fact that I will be away from the admin infrastructure, and effectively isolated from the life of the rest of the school, as well as having to leave my son in aftercare - which is a major problem for us as they show movies that freak him out, and basically, it all looks a bit shit, really.

Leaving is a problem, as my boss will consider it a personal betrayal, and I will pretty much lose all the friendships I have made there.  I am not happy.


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Earlier, our house was rendered hideous by shrieks of outrage from M, who was horrified that her brother had scrumpled up a piece of paper with only 1 line drawn on it, because he was "killing trees." Also, she has apparently explained this to him, is certain he understands, and is devastated because he's doing it on purpose.

We carefully explained how he doesn't actually understand global environmental issues yet, as well as how, when she was 3, she refused to use anything except absolutely pristine paper - even if the corner was slightly bent, it wasn't good enough, and had to be tossed.

"Well", she retorted, all 7 years of her still quivering with outraged environmental virtue, "things weren't so bad then!"

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Sooo, I have written my last two exams of the year, and the school concert is happening tomorrow night, after which there will only be 4 weeks of school, report writing and a bit of prep for next year to do.

Doc has put me on mild tranquilizers for a week or so to stop my colon from dropping me to the floor in horrible pain periodically, so I'm hoping that that will mitigate the usual effect of sudden release of stress, which is, as everyone knows, to collapse in acute illness.

Wish us luck for concert - my first as a teacher, S's first on stage. M is narrating in both concerts - just found out today she has to narrate both narrators' parts for the first concert as the other narrator has mumps.

Gotta go, wails from upstairs.

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Current Mood: sleepy sleepy

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Today I saw M's headmistress / sometime class teacher from last year. And I realised a sad thing about myself. I will never forgive that woman for treating my child the way she did. I won't let it fester, but I will never forgive her. Because her behaviour was unprofessional, unethical, unkind and unforgivable.

Current Mood: okay okay

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I have started playing "I spy" in the car with S, to improve his phonics. He's really flying at school with letter recognition so I figured we could do phonic games.  Anyway, "I spy" is ok, but he hasn't quite got the idea that you should be able to see the thing  - so he usually goes for things like "c" for cat, 'f' for fox etc. Sometimes it's easy to guess, because he accidentally says the whole word (I spy with my little eye something beginning with... POLE...."p" :D .)

Last week he did an "I spy" something beginning with "f", and I tried everything I could think of - flag, fox, fence, flower etc. Eventually, as we arrived at school, I gave up. 
"Flag Animal Farm" he shouted triumphantly.  I protested - "You can't see that from here!"
"I know", he said, smugly "That's why it was hard for you to tell!"

Current Mood: amused amused

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I felt my class worked really well today, so I was horrified when my classroom assistant said that she thought they were stuffing around.  She feels that I am not hard enough on them, and that there are no consequences for misbehaviour / laziness in the class. But I know that every one of my 9 kids is coming in with issues, some of them with issues adults would be struggling to deal with. I also know that "kids do well if they can", and that it is more productive to view non-compliance / difficult behaviour as a lack of skill rather than deliberate provocation. Some of the kids have sensory issues, some are probably on the autistic spectrum, more than one of them has family violence in their backgrounds and a couple probably border on, at least, emotionally neglected.  Most of them have come from schools where they were seriously unhappy, often to the point of physical illness and I will not make this classroom a place of shame or trauma for them. 

We have consequences - if they play with a toy instead of working it has to go on the bookshelf until break. If they choose to colour or draw all morning then they have to stay in at break to do their work. If they don't finish their work during the week they have to do it for homework the next week. But there's no point in getting cross about it.

I am trying really hard to balance high (but reasonable) expectations with an understanding that sometimes they really are too tired, or too sick or too upset to work effectively. Sometimes they were up watching tv with mom so she wouldn't be alone, and then got up at 5am to look after their baby brother. Maybe yesterday was a day when the chronically ill mom of another child couldn't get out of bed and so the 8 year old had to look after her all afternoon. Maybe mom forgot to pick up one of the little one's again, and anyway no-one's done anything about her ear infection so she really does feel too awful to be motivated about spelling.

So no, I'm not going to crap on them unless I absolutely have to. Because there's enough crap in their lives already. 

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My mom is doing an amazing job homeschooling M.  She is happy and doing maths and literacy way beyond what they were managing with her in school. If she comes in with me more than one day a week then we have some difficulties as it takes her a while to wind down from a classroom situation, but once a week for art seems to be fine.  For Geography, we have signed up with Postcrossing, a really really really cool site that lets you send and recieve postcards from random people in other countries. We are using it as a sort of lucky dip - when we get a postcard from a country, then M and my mom study that country for a bit. Our first postcard was from the Netherlands, so they have been researching that - we are keeping it very practical and fun - essentially just to increase her general knowledge.  So far they have dressed a paper doll in traditional dutch clothes, grown tulips and cooked us all a traditional dutch meal last night.  It was really good, and M was sooo proud that she had actually had a significant part of the cooking. It was great! 

I uploaded photos today, and realised, to my horror, that I hadn't done that for nearly 4 months. So I thought I'd post the pics of the birthday cakes I made for the children this year. 

Cakes here...Collapse )

Now for the kitten I promised...because I know that's what you're all really interested in :).  She purrs like a cheetah, and it makes me happy.


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Current Mood: okay okay

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1/8 of the way through the two stupidly overloaded years I've signed up for. PGCE, plus first time teaching, plus trying to help with homeschooling plus coping with S the human tornado.

If S would sleep through the night, that would be an improvement. I'm averaging less than 6 hours sleep a night at the moment, and basically, I'm just too old for it. Of course, sucky time management also plays a role.  Still, I'm doing better this term than last - I have only the Afrikaans, Science and one non-standard gr 4 schedule (mostly maths) left to plan for the whole term thing, then just have to do the usual week-by-week stuff that can't be done in advance. (Last term it took me the first 3 to 4 weeks to get the term scheduling done). PGCE-wise, I have an assignment and a dp hand-in, then exams on the 11th June. There are no full-weekend stints this term though, it's only Saturdays. Yay! It`s the teaching prac that's scaring me shitless, though. 

Feeling disspirited today - only 2 of the 9 kids I teach has bothered to do their holiday reading. We (the school) spent a fortune on this brilliant reading programme, and they just don't do it because they think they know how to read. And they don't.

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