"It is a good divine that follows his own instructions; I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching."
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene II.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Writer's Blo(g)ck

There has been a long hiatus on this blog.  I think I have been suffering from the "I have nothing valuable to say" syndrome.  While I'm sure this prevents many a boring blog from seeing the light of day, it has also had its paralysing effect on what is supposed to be a personal reflection on professional practice. So I am resolved to make a fresh start at my teaching blog, remembering that its main audience is me, first and foremost, then hoping that my personal reflections may be helpful to others.

This week has been mainly noteworthy as the farewell of the seniors off onto exam leave.  We had them at school on Monday and Tuesday, and the level of engagement was varied.  A number didn't bother to show up to classes: clearly they had given up already.  My non-exam class was split between those frantically finishing the internal assessment and those who had, again, given up hope. Of those in the exam classes who attended, most were attentive and on task, a few seemed to be oblivious of any sense of time pressure or need to focus. Like most of my colleagues, I focussed my help and advice on the former, and tried to minimise the disruption caused by the latter.  This included those who felt their last days of high school might be best spent running around out of class involved in "egging" and waterfights.  In these moments I feel a deep nostalgia for the days of 100% external examinations, where students actually took the externals seriously, rather than wandering around muttering: "I don't need to pass this, Miss, I've already got my Level 1 [or 2, 3, or UE as the case may be]."

The rigours of Monday and Tuesday were followed by senior prizegiving on Tuesday night. Just before 7pm while the staff were lining up to process in, I got a text from one of my Year 11s, one who had been doing his best for the two weeks and two days of this term to do no work, talk through everything I said, and stare out the window and giggle a lot... His text: "Hey ms wot r same key points i should foces on to study" [sic]  I laughed, because this had to be better than crying.  I also turned off my phone without answering as I thought this was one of those situations where a response in the heat of the moment could be... unwise.

Prizegiving proved to be a wonderful evening of celebrating the successes of those who had actually made the best of their time at school. (Probably those same students who were aware that I had spent the last two weeks and two days giving them advice on what they should focus on to study for exams!) There were great speakers, great entertainers, and I felt a real sense of pride in those I have seen grow from Year 7s through to confident young men and women about to leave after a successful Year 13.  The speech from the outgoing heads of school made me choke up, and the haka to tautoko the new Head Boy sent shivers down my spine. By the end of the evening I went home with a real sense of affirmation that I love my job, and that I do something worthwhile.

By midday Wednesday I had succumbed to the sinus and throat infection I'd been fighting and went home to bed for the rest of the week.  While work followed me, in the form of texts and calls from students and parents, I have mostly spent the last few days asleep or reading trashy novels.  By Saturday I had enough voice back to go to the dress rehearsal for my choir concert, and today I was able to sing in the performance.  Throat still a bit sore, but the antibiotics are kicking in and I'm feeling a lot better.

The week ahead: exams for my Year 11s and 13s, finishing off the last of marking internal NCEA assessments, organising AsTTle writing tests for the Year 9 and 10s, proof-reading the magazine, junior reports... olay!


Go wayward students, hopeful sent
to your exams, with best intent;
May commonsense serve
Where memory wavers,
And learning preserve
Whom the question favours. 

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