Sunday, May 28, 2006

Student voices

I spent a couple of days last week getting paid for listening to kids talk- a pretty nice way to earn some extra money, if you ask me. At my school, the year 12 students present their English orals to an external assessor (ie, me, since I'm on study leave) and a small group of their classmates, rather than during class time. It takes about a week to get through them all because they are allocated a time during one of their free periods so they don't miss any classes. I'm sharing the marking load with S, who is a brilliant retired English and lit teacher. We marked together on the first day (I was only supposed to stay an hour or so in the morning for crossmarking purposes, but we were enjoying working together so I ended up staying for most of the day) and now we are alternating days until we get through them all by the end of this week. The 'system' works pretty well, although it pales in comparison to the organisation that would be needed to get through them all in one Saturday, like Jo did. But I don't think that would work for us- we would probably need to run some bus services to get all the students into school, because they come from miles around.
Anyway, I love doing the orals. I miss out on teaching this group in their final year since I am on leave this semester, so it's nice to be involved in their last year of English, albeit in a small way. They blow me away- they do an amazing job in their presentations and I can't help smiling and nodding at them the whole time, but most impressive is the way that they (without exception) support each other as audience members. So, yes, I'm enjoying myself, although I will admit to feeling a little over hearing about the dangers/potentials of nuclear energy and the growing obesity epidemic in young Australians. But that's ok- there's enough variety because they can talk about a current issue of their choice or develop a topic relating to one of the set texts (I got to see an impressive dramatic monologue based on a character in Rayson's Inheritance the other day).
I haven't yet spent much time thinking about the return to school next semester- busy stressing over my masters- but I am starting to allow small seeds of excitement to germinate. I'm feeling very happy about my load- as long as I got my wonderful year 11 lit kids back I was going to be thrilled- but year 10 lit has been a somewhat unexpected bonus, and the teasing possibility of some hours in the library delivering the wider reading program to year 7s and 8s (depending on the final shape that the timetable settles in) is like the rainbow sprinkles on a decadent chocolate cake.

... I was wondering this morning what a reader who doesn't know me would make of this hodgepodge of a blog- this somewhat bizarre concoction of discordant notes that even I don't know what to make of. I lurch from one entry and/or pseudo genre to the next with no explanations, noticeable development or direction. I think I've shifted at some point or other from being preoccupied with the thought of an audience and who/what it consisted of to just letting this blog extend into whatever direction it wants to. Oh well. That's probably a good thing (or at least an interesting thing). I think that I do need to work on making these entries more 'bloggish' though, in terms of being hyperlinked and thus connected and multi-dimensional. Hypertext was one of the elements that most appealed to me about blogging to begin with, but it has slipped off my radar screen of late. Hmmm...

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