Sunday, February 28, 2010

Science Fair

The last few weeks have sped past in a blur, mainly because I've been working incredibly hard on the Science Fair. This is our in-house "first round" of the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists. Every single break has been taken up with kids asking questions. Most free lessons have been spent trying to sort out the admin. Most afternoons have been spent marking. Thus, all my normal school work has been shifted to the evenings, with the result that during this patch, I have had several (far too many, actually) nights where I've hit the sack after midnight.

My hubbie has been amazing at dealing with the kids - he's basically been a single parent for the 2 weeks! How I'd cope without him, I have no idea. Actually, no, I do: I wouldn't. He is a precious jewel of a man and I am incredibly blessed to be married to him. There aren't many men who would put up with wives who are teachers, but he has to be the best amongst that select group.

I have really missed my kids too, and they have missed me. Nellie frequently asks me now whether I'm going back to school in the evening and over the weekend. It's an incredibly sad indictment on my life - one I am determined to put right now. And this weekend, I've certainly gone a long way to fixing things.

We took the dogs for a LOOOOOOONG walk - long overdue - along the Cable Car road. It would have been a perfect morning, except that Baggins decided to jump over a wall - and down a cliff of about 4m. He seemed okay (just a bit bruised) until this afternoon... but now he's not looking so good. We're going to take him to the vet tomorrow. I'm just hoping and praying there's nothing serious wrong with him.

Today we went on an outing with Nellie's nursery, which was lots of fun. It was good to spend time with Nellie, jumping in the waves, watching the fish (see her blog), and digging in the sand. I've missed time to just play with her.

Hopefully things will calm down a bit now, but with one member of my department off sick, it won't be as calm as I'd hoped. Still, it could be worse...

What I've really learnt through this process is to take things one day at a time. I've been amazed at my own serenity throughout - apart from one day when everything seemed to be coming apart at the seams. It seems that God is at work in me, and that I'm getting more experienced at dealing with stress in a positive way.

Saying that, the other thing I've really missed is going to church and cell group. This week I'm going to a woman's event on Tues (at church), so won't be at cell, but from next weekend things should be back to normal there too. I can't wait!

While I think Science Fair is essential for the kids, and a really valuable exercise, it does take its toll on me and on my family. I hope the price is worth it in the long run!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Yes, I'm still here... barely. When Science Fair ends, and life returns to some semblance of normality, I will return and start blogging again properly.

Till then, here's hoping I get some sleep tonight.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

What would you look for?

Some of you are aware that our principal has resigned. I've never been in this situation before - working at a school during the changeover of principals take place. I think we're in a rather unique situation though because our governing body wants input from all parties - staff, pupils and parents.

I'm still not sure I have my list finalised. The problem with my list is that the person I want will need to be perfect. Since such a person doesn't exist, that leaves me with a bit of a problem.

If you were responsible for appointing a new principal or headmaster/ -mistress, what would you look for? What would be your top qualities or skill competencies? What would be your non-negotiables?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

No teeth, no sleep

Not only have Nathan's teeth STILL not arrived; not only is HE not sleeping well during the day; not only are WE still not getting any decent sleep either; but now he's got a horrible chesty cough too. Sigh.

Did I say this parenting thing was a doddle? I think I might have. Once. When I was temporarily insane.

BUT on the up side, he's crawling now. The boy can motor. You have to watch him like a hawk. I put him on the bed yesterday, turned my back for a second to pick something up, turned back, and had to lunge & run to catch him halfway between the bed and the floor. Ja. He thought it was very funny. The kind of funny that says 'Let's do that again, Mom!'. Me? Not so much. My heart didn't stop racing for several minutes afterwards. So - lesson learnt? At no time in the future should Nathan be on the bed. New rule in our house: dogs and Nathan on the floor!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Do I smell funny, or am I just giving off funny vibes?

(You can tell I have more time... two posts in two days!)

So it seems this is my week for making people cry and throw their arms around me. It happened again today. Not just once, but twice. Count them - one, two!

The first time was, again, with one of my kids at school. She had been caught writing letters in class, and the letter was passed to me. I was disappointed at her behaviour, but I was concerned by the content. I GENTLY confronted her on it, and she burst into tears - not the good kind - and fell sobbing onto me. Really, I didn't do anything! I didn't wallop her, or threaten her, or even come across as stern with her... She just burst into tears.... It really wasn't my fault. A little while later she dropped by my class to give me another letter. She clearly hadn't got the message about writing letters during class!! (I can be such a failure at this educating thing sometimes.) Still, I guess I can forgive her for that as her letter was very sweet and she was suitably grateful for my concern.

The second time was later this afternoon, when I had to go and apologise to a neighbour for losing my temper with her earlier in the day. (That's a subject for another post another time.) Fair is fair. Although I had justification for being annoyed with her, it wasn't sufficient reason to lose my temper. So, rather bravely (I thought), I wandered over to apologise... by the end of which she was in tears and spontaneously gave me a hug. Actually, I was close to tears myself - I'm having this effect not just on others now but on myself as well!

I'm clearly giving off the 'cry & hug" vibes. Since I don't know what it is I'm doing to give off these vibes, I'm getting a bit nervous. When we go out for supper a bit later this evening, is the waitress suddenly going to cry and hug me? What about the parking attendant? What about our dinner companions??? We've promised Nellie to take her to the Aquarium tomorrow... as we walk along, will I leave a string of sobbing and hugging behind me?

What should I do? Should I hide away at home while the family goes out (and read some books), or should I brave the world and risk leaving a trail of emotionally affected women behind me? Should I stay or should I go? I guess THAT is the question since I can't answer the 'what is it about me right now that is making women cry and hug me?' question.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Days like today

Working for a large corporate: R30,000 per month. Moments like I had today: priceless. Days like today make teaching worthwhile

I don't want to go into too many details, but I have to share a fabulous moment with you. One of the girls I teach is having serious problems at home. Her friend's mother came to me (!!!) because she was concerned about her. So I took some decisions and put a few plans into place. Today when I informed this pupil about them, and explained why I had taken those actions, she just about burst into tears, threw her arms around me and thanked me!

I was blown away by her response.

You know, I do this job because I love it. I do it because I love being with teenagers and trying to teach them to think, to broaden their horizons, to help them have those 'A-HA!' moments. There is nothing better than seeing the lightbulb go on for them. I just LIVE for those moments.

The pastoral stuff that goes with teaching is NOT why I do my job. I usually hate the pastoral stuff. It's messy, it's complicated, and it usually requires TONS of admin. When I have to make pastoral decisions, I usually make them as objectively as I can and try to keep myself as much as arms' length as I can. I never really know whether what I do makes any difference, or whether the decisions I make are the right ones, but I try to do the pastoral stuff as right as I can because I really don't like it. (Does that make sense? I don't like it, so I know that unless I make a concerted effort, I'm likely to mess it up.)

I was expecting her reaction to be one of grudging acceptance - the normal teenage response when one is faced by a disciplinarian and told how things will be from now on. Instead, I got this sudden rush of emotion and gratitude.

For whatever reason, she understood that I really do have her best interests at heart, that I really do care, and that I am taking steps to help her - and she was grateful for it.

And I realised that she probably doesn't have anyone else who really cares enough about her to do that for her at home. And so while my heart was bursting with joy that I got this one RIGHT,
my heart was breaking BECAUSE I got it right - and the implications of what that means for this poor child.

It's days like today that inspire me and keep me coming back, even though my salary isn't enough to live off. I don't do this for the money. I teach because of days like today.