Thursday, May 29, 2008

Escaping the 'Garua'

I managed a number of lucid thoughts today and feel as though I am finally leaving the fog of this term behind. I still have another 40 Year 10 essays and 16 Year 12 passage analyses to provide feedback on for Monday, but I'll get there, and then I'll be able to frantically write a review for Scott before I get the two lots of Year 12 sacs and year 10 exams that I'll need to assess over the long weekend.

I rarely get sick enough for it to affect my day-to-day life, but losing my voice for over two weeks was the most frustrating experience. It was particularly frustrating because there was absolutely nothing that I could do to fix it. I got so sick of trying to talk that by the end of each school day I simply wasn't interested in having a conversation with anyone, everything centred on trying to preserve as much of my voice as possible for the next day, and that wasn't much fun, for me or my house mates! It's so nice to have it back, and this week even my upper register returned so I am able to sing again without my voice cracking.

I am feeling really good about the way that the new 'context' part of the Year 12 English course, 'The Imaginative Landscape' is panning out. It's been tough (as it always is this part of the year) trying to keep my kids from going off the deep end due to their huge sac load and upcoming Unit 3 exams, but they are producing some wonderful writing, even if some of them aren't quite prepared to admit it yet. I think that this new part of the course is far more rich and complex than 'writing for different purposes and audiences' has become over the past few years (at least when you compare what we have been doing at our school over the last few years, to what we are positioning the students to achieve this year). They are thinking deeply about some really interesting concepts, and this isn't just improving the depth of their writing, but is also allowing them to explore texts and make connections between their 'literary landscape' and 'societal landscape' in some really lovely ways. It's bringing the notion of 'the writer in their world' to life for them. It's been so nice to be able to talk to my students about their writing, and the concepts that they are making their own, and feel my mind stretch.

My Lit class is really breaking ground at the moment, too. In a class populated by musos, the beautiful Bel Canto is really working for them. Many of them are starting to capture the musical lyricism of the novel in their own writing on the text, and that is so, so gratifying. The pressure of teaching Year 12 Lit in a school with so many kids who just love it and want to be part of the class but where the pressure to achieve 'results' is never allowed to be forgotten has weighed on me more heavily than I was expecting at certain times this year. It has kept me awake at night on a number of occasions, when I should have been revelling in the conversations, the passion, the fact that I have this group of kids who look forward to being in the same room as me to talk intensely about Sophocles, or laugh about the muffin scene in Wilde, or sigh over the language of Patchett.

A good day

You know you're going to have a good day when you can have a great conversation with your Year 12 Literature class about Nietzsche and 'The Birth of Tragedy'. Bel Canto is turning out to be so much fun.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Time to leave...

NB is submitting a leave application on Friday... wish her luck... she's gonna need it...

Monday, May 12, 2008

ABC Doco on Sir Douglas Mawson

Having observed Mawson,
Piercing icicle eyes traversing
White wilderness,
One wonders how the cold still burns
A human hand.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Teacher's Guilt

Teacher's Guilt is a strange disease.

I have been sick since a late night of parent-teacher interviews on Monday, after which I began coughing up what feels like the flesh of my lungs and haven't stopped. My voice shut up shop on Tuesday morning and hasn't returned as yet. And yet, rather than hiding under the covers for a few days like any sane person, I kept on teachin' (well, miming and gesturing).

I hauled myself in for each lesson of my two year 12 classes, coughing, spluttering and miming, all because of Teacher's Guilt. This is despite possessing a teaching philosophy and style which means that I am in no way indispensable in the classroom. I am well aware of the fact that my students are able to learn productively in a classroom without my illustrious presence. Intellectually, I am aware of this, but convincing my guilt-infected heart of this seems to be quite another matter.

One of my Year 12's thanked me for coming in to 'teach them', even though I was obviously sick. That was nice. Another berrated my head of faculty for allowing me to be at school when I clearly should be home in bed. That was thoughtful. Did I listen to the signs? Nope.
But while my head throbbed, my back ached and my chest seized all I could think of was my fear of falling behind. It's going to happen anyway- these next few weeks are insane- but it would be even worse if I dropped out of the marathon for a week.

This term has been the most difficult, in terms of workload, that I have experienced so far. It feels as though all I am doing is 'have to's'- prepare classes, correct essay after essay- and I still have no time for any of the 'want to's that should be have to's'- writing, reflecting, reading, extending my ict role, working on a whole school literacy approach, starting a writer's group, planning adventures, having a life, etc.

I don't quite know how to fix this lack of balance, but I need to figure it out soon, because I don't want to teach if this is all there is.

And I don't want to stop teaching.