Monday, 26 September 2011

Miss Lame- In Action!

My lovely home:
Home is becoming so full of bodies, voices, personalities. So bright and complimentary. Energetic, yet homey… and most important and fortunate of all, genuine.
Allow me to try to paint a picture of this lovely household…
*We enjoy a cup of tea together and share the ins and outs of our day

*While I struggled with the news of my Grandfather’s passing the past 2 weeks, I received many offerings of hugs and ears for listening from my new, deeply genuine and kind flatmates. I accepted these offerings and although I am still adjusting to my new home with these lovely new people in my life, extensions of kindness such as these truly set a tone of openness that will only grow and flourish with time!
*This past Thursday evening, all 6 of us sat together in our lounge and constructed an email outlining the issues that need tending to. We put our heads together and craft a message with language that is simple and clear yet expresses our dissatisfaction and the urgency of the situation.
-We used basic, concise word choices such as “NEED”, “NOW”, “BAD” etc

-To indicate urgency we used: CAPS-LOCK and "!!!!!"
…We hammer out our message, laughing and bonding over our frustration and the utter absurdity of the state of our flat. We laughed and "winge-ed" (British slang for whining) about our landlord's approach to home repairs and follow through, or LACK thereof!
For example, there is something quite entertaining, yet tear prevoking, about the fact that the landlords promised to have the front and back yard cleared of all garbage and reno materials before our tendency, which still, to this day, has NOT been cleared. Meanwhile, our young repair fellow (Turkish couples younger brother) drops in, unannounced and at random, for approximately 5 minutes, to lay out some tools, a mop and some wooden edging/skirting in my tiny bathroom, only to leave it there for 3 days in a row, with no progression, until he recieves my complaint.  
They seem to be creating the ILLUSION of carrying out jobs/house repairs.
After the emotionally draining experience writing our email, we decided to go drink our sorrows away/test out one of our local pubs on Broadway street.  Bonding on Broadway.
*We all contribute to making Chaudrey a little more charming… Chaudrey is starting clean up nice and the manic-depressive episodes are getting less regular- we have begun a collage in our living room, where art, posters, fliers, maps, photos are all welcome. We are developing an artsy, warm space. 
Also, come spring, Stavros and I will create a beautiful garden in the backyard together- floral as well as herb and some veg!    
Note: There has been some debate amongst the flatmates on the name of our flat. Some feel that Charles is an appropriate fit, while others feel that Audrey works well (inspired by a poster of Audrey Hepburn- “breakfast at Tiffany’s” in our lounge).  We were able to compromise and go with “Chaudrey”, which has enabled the story and personification of our flat to exacerbate further into a beautiful tale of Chaurdry’s sexual confusion, finding clarity and the current state of transition she is going through. Chaudrey is truly beginning to embrace her feminine side and is getting prettier every day. 
*We are comfortable ”taking the piss” out of each other!  A very good sign of friendship and acceptance in British culture.
Example: After leaving my meaty snack of blue cheese stuff chicken breasts wrapped in wild beef pancetta smack-dab in the middle of the kitchen counter, corrupting the communal space with my carnivorous ways, my vegetarian flatmates, Thom and Kat, threatened to place peas under my pillow and carrots in my bed… Ultimate veggie revenge! 
*We have a great deal of ingenuity and have managed to come up with the ultimate solution to not having shot glasses. A dire issue, I know. 
We take vodka shots out of cored apples for birthdays.
Note: Apple-y vodka is DEFINATELY better than non-apple-y vodka, and if you’re hungry you have a snack to follow. As the british say… “BRILLANT!”
*I manage to experience STUPENDOUSLY SUPPPPERRRRRR-dork Miss Lame moments at home…
The moment: In the midst of attempting to explain my love of teaching to a few of my flatmates, in particular, my enjoyment of working with youth designated at risk/behavioural, Rachel suddenly exclaimed, laughing intensely, “WHHHHAAAAATTTTT DID YOU JUST SAAYYYYYYY!!!!!!?????!!!!!”… I hesitated and thought hard about what I had been saying to cause such a reaction…I let out a small, confused “whaa…” as I reviewed my story…  “SAY THAT AGAIN?!!??” Rachel exclaimed, checking to make sure she heard right, her eyes wide and her mouth open and grinning from ear to ear, waiting in suspense for me retort…  Remembering the last thing I said, “I like kids with a little spunk?” I looked up questioningly…Innocently… As Rachel and the other absolutely BURST into laughter. It started to click… Starting to blush because I could tell I was about to be informed that “spunk” didn’t mean ‘edgy’ or ‘attitude’, rather something terribly inappropriate.  I could just feel it. Turns out “spunk” definitely refers to ejaculate here and maybe everywhere… I am just very unfortunately misinformed on this word.
It is necessary that I understand NEVER to say “I like kids with spunk” EVER AGAIN.
It’s best that I found out this way.
Thank you Mr. Principal for the interview. Might I add that I really enjoy working with kids with a little spunk? 
DAY ONE of my supply teaching experiences, Miss Lame had a super dork moment of course.
Hi Class, I would like to introduce myself… My name is Miss Lame, HAHA, err, uumm”… I correct myself and indicate my actual name, but at this point myself and the entire class is having a little laugh. What a great start.
PROS and CONS of the splendidly spastic world of supply teaching
The incredibly hectic, last minute nature of supply can be quite unsettling first thing in the morning, in a new metropolis, in a new life. Miss Lame takes MUCH comfort in organization and prior preparation… This being said, receiving a call at 7:15 am telling me I need to find ____ bus stop, to take bus number _____ to _____ underground station and catch the tube going some direction, switch to another tube line going some other direction and finally and sometimes the most perplexing part, decipher the streets of London all to find a school within 45minute time frame. Upon arrival, I am directed to a “contact person” who then throws a school guidelines and policy pamphlet at me, and stuffs a very dry, “read-from-text-answer-questions” lesson plan, which is destine to fail in engaging the students into my high-anxious hands.  Sometimes I am lucky enough to be thrown in the deep end, teaching year 11 “maths” or something wonderful like that.  Limited to no time to process the information I am to deliver.
This is a CON by the way.
On the other hand, there are many splendid things about supply work:
*I have to opportunity to ease back into the high school, teaching setting with less pressure- No lesson planning, marking, admin, no worries! Home time = MY TIME!
*MISS LAME LEARNINGS… I am forced to adaptable and quickly developing my behaviour management strategies as supply teaching introduces a whole new demand on this facet of teaching for the following reasons:
a) Names- To gain a misbehaving/not listening students attention I have the following HIGHLY INEFFICIENT options:
1.  Walk across the classroom/gym space, right up to the student, make eye contact and provide a message.
2. Try to get their attention using my booming “Miss-Lame-is-for-real-voice” and provide a complete description of the student in order to gain their attention (the fact that all schools in England use uniforms does not help this approach)… least effective.
SO far my best option, a recent adaptation: 
Students leaning over desks, standing, wandering, backs turned, socializing.  

Miss Lame: "Hi class! I would appreciate it if you could listen up here, please and thank you. It's time to get started.

I am able to grab the attention of majority of the class using my booming Miss Lame voice. Some students soften but continue their banter, but their whispers culminate and generate a dull roar. This is when I turn to students who are listening for help.

Miss Lame: “I’m bored of waiting and getting nowhere…aren’t you?

I then place my hands behind my back and wait.

Moments later I have a number of students doing the job for me.

Students: "GUYYYSSSSS!!! Listen to Miss!!! Shut up guys!! Listen to Miss!!"

A real voice and energy saver.

b) Class/school Rules- hard to know them all after a 5 minute debriefing with an administrator…
c) Supply is often assigned utterly simple/boring textbook work- the least bit engaging… I’m bored… The kids are bored  = our hyperactive brains cannot stay on task for the entire period.
If I have an ounce of time between obtaining the lesson plan and delivering it, I enjoy the opportunity to be creative and try to layout the lesson in a more entertaining/engaging way. This has proven to be effective and highly rewarding.
Student: “Miss, you should get an actual teaching job… Like here, at this school, teaching this class…
Ultimately, supply work challenges my behaviour management, creativity and ability to think on the spot. This is becoming less and less stressful and more empowering each day.  I am starting to feel like true-blue Miss Lame in the classroom and it feels wonderful!

A mass of students, awaiting their first instructions of the period. I open my mouth and start to speak. Few words escape me before I am cut off and a crowd of eager, intrigued, entertained expressions surround me and the same question is thrown at me from every direction:
… Slightly disappointed that my Canadian-ness isn’t very apparent… “Try further North…” I grin and wait for them to solve the mystery.  Once the students have concluded I am Canadian, the interrogation and comments ensue… ALL at once.
-“Miss! Do you know Dre?
-“Miss! Say ‘about’!”… I say “about”… *laughter
-“Miss! Where in Canada are you from?”…
-“Miss! Do you know Justin Bieber?”… “Actually his hometown is very close to mine…”… “MISS CAN YOU GET ME HIS AUTOGRAPH?!?!!?!?!??!?!?”… “yes.”… “REALLY MISS?”… “no.”
-“Do you play football miss?... Are you any good miss?”
-“What do you call football miss?”… They wait for my response and it is obvious they already know the answer… I respond “soccer, but I’m learning to say football”… A few of the students break into abrasive, poor attempts at Canadian accents- “soccer”/“I like soccer”/“let’s go play soccer”… Having the piss taken out of my Canadian accent is something I have become very used to J

“When was the last time you heard something incredible?”
Waiting in the underground, a giant sign across the rails, broad and towering, its dark, close, bold features grab me.  A portion of a hand holding a guitar neck, so magnified you can see the creases and texture of the skin, tones of dark grey. This image is prominent.  My eyes are then drawn to the words beside this image. “When was the last time you heard something incredible? These words took power over my brain, connecting my thoughts to over a week ago, when I stood mezmorized, watching a group of five, bombard my auditory system with their incredible sound.
The lead guitar climbs, the musician's fingers hammer and bend the strings so quickly they appear to float over the fret. It's his face, the tension, the passion, the sweat that indicate his workrate. The drummer flails with coordinated spasms. So much technical intent, yet so much freedom and spirit. Two violins rage and fill every crevas surrounding my body, engulfing my ears, buzzing my body. I feel the instruments building and building and can feel a head on collision coming. Together they peak, their individual sounds colliding and they explode into a utterly powerful, cooperative sound brawl. I am blown away.

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