Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Thank You again, VIT. I Think.

So, yet again I am trying to communicate with my professional association without which I am not allowed to teach in this state - believe me, if there was a choice of associations, I'd be out of this one! They have no competition. At least if I contact my union, who are there for MY benefit, though I don't like what they did with the last agreement, someone would answer the phone and try to find out for me what was going on. Oh, there are a couple of human beings there. I sometimes wonder if the gentleman who has kindly and calmly answered my inquiries, some of them panicked, is currently the only staff member working there. I think I once even got through on the phone, a few years ago. No more. Either you get a busy signal or a message to tell you that all their lines are busy and thank you for your patience, even though patient is NOT how I feel. My principal told me he once waited two hours before giving up. Yet according to the blurb, they av increased their telephone staff and the "hotline" hours are 7.30 am to 5.30 pm. Of course.

I'm trying to do my registration and pay my fees.  BPay isn't available, you have to pay online, but the system isn't letting me in and I can't pay till I have registered and jumped through some hoops and I can't register or pay till I have logged in. I can't even go into the office as I did last year because you have to do it all online! Even if I did go in and ask for help logging in, chances are there would just be the lonely receptionist who wouldn't know how to help me.


This is how I am spending the first quiet day of my well-earned break.

Think I'll shout myself some ice cream or something equally bad for me! Coffee crime brûlée or white chocolate mousse? Hmm...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Suddenly Teaching History...

At the end of last term, my timetable suddenly changed. It was always going to happen, because my students had to change from three periods of Woodwork to three period of Foods and their Foods teacher doesn't work Mondays and neither does their maths or Music teacher (well, she does, but not at our campus), or their science teacher, who is also their Foods teacher, or their history or art teacher. The original plan was that I would do ALL my English classes in one day, plus Pathways (the homeroom subject) and by the way, I would get back my ESL students, who would get no ESL support even though the ESL teacher was willing, because it would mean jiggling her timetable too. I was team teaching on Friday with another English teacher(see my post about Lit Circles) and with my Pathways colleague Jasna, and in the middle of our joint Year 8 project.

So some fiddling around was done and I got back one Friday English and the Pathways class on Wednesday. The ESL students get at least one period of ESL, even if they do have to share with Year 7.

But there was a price to pay. I had to take over one period of history, while the history teacher got landed with a period of Health. Neither of us was happy, but we have had to make the best of it and, in my case, be thankful - it could have been worse, my entire Lit Circles and Pathways projects could have been destroyed.

I am not a history teacher, though I know history in general. While the theme was the Renaissance and the Reformation, I was okay. I supported my colleague with some research periods and some Horrible Histories. Now they're doing Japan. When I ask what I can do, she tells me she doesn't know - she is still working it out herself, never having done this before. Now, it's not that I know nothing about Japan. My friend Nikki White, the Japan Librarian at the National Library, would be very annoyed with me if I didn't know anything after all these years. I just don't know what to do with the kids or what they have done in the last couple of weeks. I showed a video introducing Japan and prepared a research sheet that was also an introduction. But what now? They've had their introduction. I am tempted just to find something bizarre and over the top and make them research it. At least they'd enjoy it. I just don't know what - and their regular teacher is not currently any help. I don't blame her. But I need help and have very little time to get something put together.


Stand by - I will report further next week.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Western Chances And Me

When my last Western Chances scholar, Pepa, was looked after for the last time - next year she will be with the Senior Campus teacher in charge -  I felt tempted to start the process all over again - two students this time, one girl who's in my class now, one who was with me last year. I'm still waiting patiently to hear how they went. Meanwhile, I heard, yesterday, from my first Western Chances Scholar.

In case you don't know what this is, it was founded by Terry Bracks, wife of Premier Steve Bracks, without fanfare, without massive newspaper reporting. And because it's not a government initiative, but depends on sponsors, no one can take it away from our kids except the sponsors and if they lose one, someone else will take over,

The idea is that in the poorer suburbs of Melbourne there are kids who could potentially become professionals in one area or another - engineers, doctors, singers, wherever their talent and passion lead them - but lack of money makes this difficult, sometimes impossible. So for kids like this, you can apply for a bit of money every year, to pay for textbooks, equipment, computer, calculator, singing lessons, whatever.

My first success story emailed me yesterday. She's currently doing Law/Economics at Latrobe university, and doing well. Without a hand from WC, she might still have made it, but this made it easier. A lot easier. When I knew her she was considering Engineering, but hey, she was in Year 8, kids change their minds. ;-)

But hey, one of my babies has made it to uni and will become a lawyer, an economist or both. And her poverty didn't prevent her. It wasn't a huge amount of  money and goodies, just enough to help her help herself.

Terry Bracks, ma'am, you rock!