Saturday, 31 May 2014

Looking Up and Two Dog Tales

This last week has been quite something. Last Thursday I had a meeting with the new head. This was the first time he had spoken to me in person, apart from a quick visit to Nursery on the morning of Ofsted where he said a few words as he passed through. I was not sure what to expect in the meeting, and didn't realise it was feedback related to the observations he did a few weeks ago. My feedback was not good. In fact it is the worst feedback I have ever had, and contained nothing positive. I am not going to go into detail but I was pretty devastated. When I had time to think about it I don't actually agree with most of what he said, and am also amazed that he can form an opinion of my teaching on so little evidence. I was told that I would be put on an informal support plan next half term to make improvements. After a very miserable weekend from the shock of being in this position when nothing like this has ever happened to me before, and in which Andy was super supportive, I came to some conclusions. Namely that I could not face the thought of working for this man any longer. That if I went through this support plan and didn't come up to his expectations, then I could actually lose my job next term. That I am not going to let twenty years of teaching and my self-esteem be damaged by this. And that I was going to resign. And yesterday, I did! And I am so happy. The old cliche of a weight being lifted from your shoulders is so true. The way the school has changed in the last few years, and the difficulties in the new setting have really taken their toll and carrying on there is just not possible for me. I am going to apply to supply agencies for September, and also the art group I mentioned. I have been researching my own history all week and today made a start on my CV and my supporting statement for the art group. Friends and colleagues have been great in helping me and I feel very optimistic. Things are looking up! 
 I looked up in Rochester on Thursday and saw this pretty gable,
this mossy rooftop, and this bunting.

Dog Tale Number One
Just after my friend and I arrived there, we heard lots of barking. We looked over, and were shocked to see what was happening. A dog-some kind of Staff type dog, had got its jaws clamped around the leg of a guide dog-a labrador. The guide dog was yelping and trying to escape. The other dog's owner was trying to prise the jaws of his dog apart without success. A man strode across and managed to do this for him. The whole thing went on for a number of minutes and was really horrible. The poor guide dog owner at one point cried out 'What's happening?' Lots of people were trying to help. I went over but there were so many people that I didn't stay. Amazingly the guide dog was not seriously hurt. The poor thing had not tried to defend itself by attacking the other dog, just cried. Apparently guide dogs get attacked by other dogs fairly frequently, and it is an offense to let your dog do this and can result in a jail sentence.

Dog Tale Number Two
This is a much happier tale, and happened today. I was unloading my shopping from the car-and had the front door open while I did so. A little dog appeared from across the road. He was the cutest dog-some kind of medium terrier, not sure what breed. He went up to the front door wagging his tail, and put his front paws on the step. I said hello but stopped him from going in as I didn't think the cats would appreciate it. I expected his owner to appear but nobody did. He walked up the road to my neighbour's house and had a sniff around. I called him back and he came. He had a collar and name disc so I had to go in the house for my phone-he tried to follow me again. I then held onto him while I called his number and luckily the lady was in. She had been putting the bins out and didn't know he had escaped! He started barking but not at me. When she arrived she said he was barking at an aeroplane as he doesn't like them. As well as being such a cutie he had the cutest name-Jasper Baggins. Once I started calling him by name he became even more sweet and friendly. He can come round again! 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Poor Devil

Seen on bin day when I was coming home. I stopped the car and went back to take photos as it was quite striking really. 
 I was tempted to have a look at its face but didn't want to appear any weirder than I already may have done by taking photos.
 I wonder if the binmen will attach him to their lorry? I shall look out for it. If you don't come from the UK do bin people do that where you live? They tie an abandoned cuddly toy to the front of their trucks like a kind of mascot. Quite sweet really.
I just googled it as I was thinking that I have not seen this practice for a while. And look at this. Banned!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A Bootless Giant

As the giant chased Jack down the beanstalk, he lost one of his boots. He rang me up to complain about this. I passed his message on to the children and we decided to make him a new one. We looked at the giant's baby's boot (the size 12 hiking boot on top of the model) as the giant wanted his new boot to be just like it. We had a lovely week making it, finally finishing yesterday by painting the sole of the boot around the bottom. 
There were opportunities for all of the children in the nursery to work on the boot if they chose, but there ended up being a kind of core boot making committee, who were there at any time the boot was in production. Each part of the process involved them fully, the only really adult done part being to cut the chicken wire. We are proud of our boot, and received a lovely letter from the giant telling us how pleased he was. The boot will go to him over half term, but then come back (for a display) at the end as he will be wearing his sandals in the warmer months.

What also happened last week was Ofsted. Wednesday afternoon we found out. They were in Thursday and Friday. We had staff from the other school we are partnered with in to help us which was great. Most staff were there until 10 or later on Wednesday night. (I was there till ten then went home and worked till half one) One teacher didn't go to bed at all. I felt alright on Thursday, in fact remarkably positive. After another late night on Thursday I was then exhausted and emotional on Friday when we were properly observed. I had a terrible carpet session, one of the worst I have ever done, then nearly cried on the inspector. She was very nice and told me 'shoulders down, deep breath'. She asked quite a lot of questions which I think I answered ok but it was so stressful. I was really upset afterwards and if it hadn't been for lovely colleagues might just have given up there and then. As it says at the end of my last journal below-FIN! There was no result given on Friday. Then Monday, Tuesday and today. We still don't know what the judgement is. It will be either Special Measures or Requires Improvement, (the old Satisfactory) Neither is good but the second is preferable. On top of that the pressure of the rapid changes in how we do everything, plus looming report writing, and yet more assessment tracking updating, means I am feeling very trapped and a bit desperate at the moment.
 The day before Ofsted, I had started making some fabric flowers like this one-you cut circles, then petals then fold, glue and attach around a circle. Some pretty beads in the middle and voila a lovely flower. That has been on hold.
 I am seriously considering applying to work for the company 'Arty Party' who were in Foundation Stage last week making large and decorative insects and flowers for our playground. They employ artists, art students, teachers and TAs so I might be in with a chance. I need to write a CV as I have not done that for a long time.

 The only creative things I have been doing are journal pages. It takes my mind off my worries for a while.
 Lots of birds around at the moment. 
A red house.Cassein paints have come out. I bought them ages ago but didn't use them. They have the weirdest smell, like disinfectant. They have a very matt finish, even more so than gouache.
Well, I expect that's it for another couple of weeks. Will attempt once again to be positive next time. Maybe I will have written a CV by then.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Five Little Peas in a Pea Pod Pressed

We have been growing beans, writing and drawing a bean diary, making a large bean stalk, drawing character portraits, and have started to make a boot for the giant who lost one when he was chasing Jack down the beanstalk. I remembered this little rhyme, and found a good version on you tube. I also made a quick pea pod. I need to crochet the peas really but there wasn't time for that so I had to make pom poms. I need to take the kids some peas next week so they can see and eat the real things as they may not have a clue what I am talking about!

 PVA glue for the eyes and mouth. Seems to work pretty well. 
 Pressed, squashed, squeezed and squished!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Good Things

I am going to focus on good things this month. I have had enough of worrying about things that may not even happen. Work was going kind of ok until Friday, when we had feedback-not personal but a kind of summary of the main points of the observations that went on on Thursday. (This took place in our briefing meeting immediately before school) The main points I remember from this feedback are that we are not in as bad a state with teaching and learning as the other school that he took over was at the start, and, that some teachers are lazy. Well after that comment and the shocked silence that greeted it, I kind of stopped listening or taking in what was being said. I think it is a terrible thing to say to a roomful of people who, as far as I know work extremely hard, care a lot about the children they teach, and also, I am guessing, would mainly take this comment to heart and think it was aimed at them. (I include myself here!) It may well be a tactic to get us all to worry and work even harder. But it is not a good tactic in my opinion. It is a demoralizing comment to make, especially to a staff who have had a very demoralizing year. It also reminds me of that poor teaching strategy, which I have seen in action on occasion, and probably did when young and inexperienced, of telling off the whole class for the bad behaviour of one or two people. Not good. So, after a lovely weekend, but one overlayed with worry, I have decided to try to be positive, do what I have to do, and ride out the storm! So, no more about school for a while (unless of course it is about something lovely the kids have done), but instead those things that cheer me up each day. 
 Me and my friend Sarah (over from Holland this weekend) enjoying curry and wine on Saturday. We went to a restaurant called Cinnamon. The food was delicious and quite unusual.
 Salmon, dill mayonnaise, crunchy lettuce, marinated cucumber all on delicious rye bread with caraway seeds in. This is what Andy made for tea last night. It was lovely!
 Cassie being adorable.
 Ellie in my class shares my liking for stones and shells. But I was surprised and touched to be brought this stone in the shape of a heart from her seaside trip this weekend. How did she know I would love it?!
The other thing is a ladybird on a leaf pom pom. I had PPA this morning so had lunch at home. I was watching the Create and Craft channel and they were promoting pom pom makers. The lady demonstrating shared very quickly how to make things-animals mainly by winding the yarn in certain ways. You do a simple picture on a circle, fold it in half then try to follow it. I have not had a go at any more yet but am about to. I am most pleased with my ladybird!
These are my latest slippers. I used the chunky yarn. It is slightly scratchy on the feet but they are so thick I can use them over thin socks. They were quick to make with this yarn. I now have three cat baskets so am starting on the other four my sister wants. ( I don't know if I mentioned I sent her one for her birthday and all her cats want to go in it-she has five!) I also have some more Amineko cats to make for my friend-she took a couple back home this weekend that I made ages ago for her kids, and now would like some more. Enough crocheting 'til Christmas probably!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Fresh Air

A quick trip out yesterday lead to us discovering somewhere new. We were going to go to a country park not too far from here but decided it would be really busy as it was such a lovely day. So we then decided on Rochester. There was something called The Sweep's Festival on there so it was impossible to park. So we drove up and out a different way to normal, as I remembered a car park round the back somewhere. We couldn't find that, but kept going along a lovely road leading out of the town with some beautiful buildings along it. We saw a sign to Borstal Marina so, after driving a bit further, turned around and came back, hoping to find somewhere to have lunch.We ended up in a little village called Wouldham. It had a pub and parking hurray! It is in a valley with the Medway river at the bottom. We didn't actually get too close to the river in the end, but will go back some other time to try to do that. As we drove out of the village a different way, we had a lovely view of the valley and the chalk cliffs behind. It felt quite removed from everywhere in a strange and slightly magical way.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Flower Observational Drawings

Here are a few of the drawings my class did. They had white and pink freesias, purple tulips, and white and pink roses. We did lots of talking about the shapes and colours they could see as they were working. Some of them found it really hard to do but kept trying. 
 The white rectangle shape at the bottom of Amy's drawing is the water bottle the flowers were in. She did this part with no suggestions or talk. She has got the horizontal lines on the bottle and also has managed to convey that it is round as her lines go off either side of her main shape.
You can see what a different stage Issa is at. He mainly concentrated on matching the colours which he could do, and has made a good try at a leaf shape.
 Kate mixed the two colours together after I explained that you could do that with pastels. I love the way she has talked about doing a flick here. (Relates to letter shape writing-I am always going on about a flick!)
 I love Caitlin's interpretation of the pointy rose leaves. 

 Aidan managed to get the shape of the tulip, its petals and leaves very well. There was a palm leaf in another bottle, and the pink angular lines on the left are his interpretation of this.
Liam's is the one that makes me most proud-he is a very sensitive boy who can be upset by the slightest thing at times. He tries to fight against it but sometimes he just can't and he just has to cry. I feel so sorry for him, all the more so because I was (and still am sometimes) like him and I know how hard it is to be like that. He has come on so far and has worked really hard to overcome his worries. Anyway, as I was talking to him about his drawing, I asked him to look again at the tulip leaf as he had done it purple and I wondered if he wanted to change the colour. This set him off I am afraid. So we had a big talk, part of which was that it is your picture and if you want to do a green leaf purple then you can! (Art can't be wrong kind of idea) The reason I am proud if him is the way he sorts himself out and can talk about what he is worried about and get over it much more quickly than at the beginning of the year. And because he has done a pretty good job at drawing his tulip!