Sunday 30 April 2017

Z is for Zola Zenith

Zestful Zindel, Zeitgeist Zusak
Zany Zephaniah, Zola Zenith

These are a few of my favourite Zings!

Well this is it - my last post for the A-Z Challenge.  All too soon it seems to come around but once again I've thoroughly enjoyed taking part and making new friends as well as visiting the old ones :)

It seems appropriate to end with some of my favourite authors whose names begin with Z.  

Paul Zindel whose book My Darling, My Hamburger was the first and only book to be read by my mother first before being allowed to read - with quite a lot of provisos before I did!

Zusak's The Book Thief read by me to my children, on holiday in France, beginning that painful passage from childhood to knowledge of people do really bad things sometimes.

Benjamin Zephaniah, whose zany poetry made my classrooms move to the rhythm of poetry and connected immediately to those that struggled and helped them want to write.

And finally to Emile Zola - whose books will be in my heart forever - reminding me of my later teenage years of summer holidays - nose in a book.

My many thanks to all those who travelled here during the Challenge and left a note. If I haven't travelled back yet I will and I will endeavour to reply to all comments left too.  I hope to see/read many of you throughout the coming year :)  Take care ... and live out loud!

Saturday 29 April 2017

Y is for Youthful Yelps

Yawning Yowls & Youthful Yelps
Yodelling Yippees & Yearning Yells

Teenagers’ vocal chords expanding!

I know sometimes we think all teenagers do is grunt but actually if you have to wake one up in the morning you get a real range of sounds! Listening to a group of them around a park bench you could be forgiven in thinking it was a group of howler monkeys at times!!  But we were all there at some stage of our lives - wanting to be the centre of attention, showing off, being part of the gang and certainly sounding loud and high spirited - because that is all part of being Youthful :)

Have you got any memories of those times?  What words do you associate with being a teenager? Where did you go to be with your friends?  Leave a comment below and let me know :)

Friday 28 April 2017

X is for Xerxes & Xenophobe

X is always the most difficult letter for me in the A-Z Challenge so instead of my normal alliterative poem here is this offering instead!

When I started school at five X was for X-ray and Xylophone (which didn’t make sense!)
When I was a little older X was for Xanadu and Xanthe 
faraway & fantasy
When I started Secondary school X was for Xenon and Xylems  scientific & special
When I left secondary school X was for Xeroxes and Xanthan gum process & production
When I did “A” Levels X was for Xerxes and Xenophobe 
history & hatred
Now I am this old X is for Xhosa and Xerus 
reading & relaxation

Looking forward to reading everyone else's X.  When do you remember learning certain words beginning with X?  Did you ever get the pronunciation wrong? Are you a crossword or Scrabble enthusiast who loves X?  Leave a comment below to let us all know :)

Thursday 27 April 2017

W is for Winter Wonderland

Warm woolies, wet wellies,
whooshing whiteness, welcome whistle,
Walking (and running and sliding) in a Winter Wonderland

We used to be allowed out in the snow to build snowmen, throw snowballs, slip and slide and delight in the white blanketed school field and playground.  Because I could walk to my schools, school never seemed to close although I do remember some of the school buses from the tiny villages (at senior school) not turning up very occasionally.  

Now days when it snows, schools are much more likelier to close due to lack of teachers and pupils making it in - probably because so many more live further away.  Certainly on snowy days, my children and I would listen to the morning radio to hear the list of school closures and most of the time they'd be wishing their ones would be closed!!

Do you remember your winter school days?  Did you clip your welly boots together with a peg?  Did your teachers join in the fun? Or if you live in a hot country that doesn't have snow, do schools close if it gets too hot and at what temperature does that happen?  Leave a message below because I sure would like to know :)

Wednesday 26 April 2017

V is for Voiceless Victim

Vacant, Void, Vexed, Visibly Vanished,
Viscous Verdicts, Values Vanquished
Is this what it's like to be the
Voiceless Victim?

I'm watching 13 Reasons Why.  I know I'm not the demographic it was aimed at but I am "enjoying" it - if that's the right way to describe something about teen suicide?  I think it gives the appropriate attention to the fall-out on the adults and the teens it depicts but I don't know because luckily for me I've never had anyone close to me who took their own life.  But I do know what it feels like to be a child who feels suicidal because I once was that child.  Age 11.  There...that is something I have never told anyone. 

Luckily, I kept thinking what would happen to the people I left behind and I decided that I couldn't do that to them.  I had changed primary schools at Easter for the last term before secondary school and I hated my new school mainly I think because I had loved my previous school.  I didn't fit in, I had no friends. I was becoming pre-pubescent. I felt I couldn't tell my parents because I knew how much the move had meant to them.  I was alone and therefore I just didn't want to go on anymore.  If I say, I opened high-up windows and found razor-blades and leave it at that. 

It was an awful period but I got through it and when I went to secondary school I left behind those children and that school ethos and made good friends and had a wonderful time.  And no-one ever knew because I didn't want anyone to.  And that's why, when I watch 13 Reasons Why, I think they have it right about the victim being voiceless and unable to tell anyone what she is going through - to make the true connection person to person and get help - because it is so hard.  
I don't have any answers and these are only my own thoughts - I am quite happy to have comments but I also know this is a very sensitive subject so please write considerately.  Thank you.

Tuesday 25 April 2017

U is for Uniformity

Unyielding Uniformity - Unbending, Unquestioning, Unambitious
Unnerving Uniformity - Unforgiving, Uncaring, Unbelievable
Unleash Uniqueness - Understanding, Unafraid, Unbowed

I am not a fan of uniformity - maybe because I've always been a bit of an Undercover rebel? Recently, for my Nordic walking, I went on a course and one of my fears was that the instruction would be about how each lesson would be uniform across the board with no ability to teach to the individual - which is sometimes what it takes.  Luckily, this was not the case and I could breathe a sigh of relief and return to my Nordic walkers knowing what I'd been doing had been given the thumbs up as a way of teaching :)
It seems to be that Unfortunately more and more teachers have to fit into a pattern of uniformity across the school. Of course I can see some strengths in this - a uniform reading scheme - a uniform maths scheme etc but the growing encroachment on how teachers teach is more of a worry to me.  To be shoe-horned into a way of doing things does not seem right.  We all have our own ways of getting through to children and we tweak these ways to respond to individuals if we are a good teacher. Each class is different and respond to different things - knowing how to do this is surely one of the signs of being a good teacher? Having our hands tied on the ways we do things stops this from happening - so for that I am NOT a fan of Uniformity in teaching.

Now it's your turn: What is a pet hate of yours?  How can we make the world a better place?  Are you a fan of uniformity?  Leave a comment below because you know I'd love to know :)

Monday 24 April 2017

T is for Terrible Teacher

Thoughtlessly Trenchant, Terrifyingly Tempestuous,
Taunting Tirades, Tediously Trite,
These Things Tailor a Terrible Teacher

Perhaps not a post a teacher should be writing but we have all come across those teachers who really shouldn't have been in teaching.  I was a good student and luckily didn't have any of the wrath of teachers fall on me personally but I was still in classrooms where a teacher could terrify you with their shouting or throwing of board rubbers!  Or those who thought it was a good idea to really bring a student down a peg by rubbishing their work - how many children were put off a subject because they were told they couldn't do it?  I think things have got better but I don't think any teacher should be complacent about how and what they teach - children need a lot more than simply an adult standing at the front of the class telling them things!
Did you ever experience a Terrible Teacher?  Did you ever get put off a subject at school because of your teacher?  Did you ever overcome a difficulty despite your teacher?  Leave a comment below because I sure would like to know :)

Saturday 22 April 2017

S is for Solitary Sapien Solar System?

Solitary Sapien-Specied Solar System?
Slight & Shatterable, Solicits Salvation
So Salute
Earth Day and do what you can!

As Eco Co-ordinator for my school, I used to love the initiatives for Earth Day and the challenges I would set the children to celebrate the 22nd April.  
What will you be doing for Planet Earth?  Click on the link above for ideas :)

Friday 21 April 2017

R is for Racing Rodents


Racing Rodents, Rock-like Reptiles
Required Responsibility, Respect, Regard
so helping to nurture and train kinder, thoughtful children.

I was lucky that I grew up in school classrooms that had animals there to be cared for by us as pupils. Now days many classrooms are devoid of "pets" for health and safety reasons and I think this lessens the ability for children to understand how as "superior" beings we should look after the other animals on the planet.  There is also the well documented phenomena of may of our most challenging pupils being very caring and quiet around animals especially when given the responsibility of taking care of them.
Did you have classroom "pets"?  Do you think animals should be in a classroom environment? Were you the animal monitor?  Did you ever get to look after the class pet during the holidays?  Leave a comment below because I sure would like to know :)

Thursday 20 April 2017

Q is for Quixotic Quidditch

 Quivering Quintains, Quixotic Quidditch,
Quiz Questions, Quality Quiche
All occur in the school hall.

School halls are normally the place where daily assembly takes place, school dinners are eaten or indoor gym class goes on. But they are also the place where school gathers for exciting events; to see entertaining visitors maybe from centuries long ago, watch a class perform to see what they have been learning that half term, to cheer on their school quiz panel or have a cookery demonstration.

What can you remember taking place in your school hall that was exciting?  Did you enjoy indoor gym?  Were you on the quiz team?

Wednesday 19 April 2017

P is for Popular People

Popular People Perhaps Practice Perfectionism?
Possibly Perceiving Potential Participants' Problems
so Prohibiting Peer Panel Procurement?

I can't say I was ever a popular pupil with my peers - I was trustworthy - I was helpful - I was kind but these things normally do not lead to winning a place on the popular girls' table.  It seemed to me to be more about how you looked, what you wore and who you had your eye on and those things had to be Perfect!  
Even as a teacher surveying a class it is easy to spot the popular children - the ones others fight to sit next to, to play with, to share with and often it is not those children that a teacher would hold up as models of behaviour but still they hold court and there is little anyone else can do about it.
Were you a Queen Bee or a Superior Male?  If so, what was it like and did you use your powers for good? If you weren't, did you want to be part of the gang or couldn't care less?  Leave a comment below and let me know :)

Tuesday 18 April 2017

O is for Options

Ordinarily One Oscillates
Opening Onward Options

Until One realises you’ve become a teacher!

I was never going to become a teacher!!  Despite how many people said it at various stages of my life - I knew I wouldn't be in a classroom teaching children.  There were far too many other things I wanted to have a future in.  I had Options of being a librarian (my love of books and reading), an author (my love of books and writing), a designer (my love of books and illustrations), an accountant (my love of books of maths...I quickly found out this career is not really anything to do with maths!) But in the end it was teaching that got me. I reckon mainly because of what those books, throughout my early life, had taught me and I passionately wanted to pass on that teaching to others and share my love of books and I have had the enormous pleasure of doing just that :)

Now it's your turn - what options did you pursue when you were at those important crossroads of life?  Did your job end up being the one you thought it would be ... or not?  Have you managed to take a passion into your work life?  Leave a comment below because I sure would like to know :)

Monday 17 April 2017

N is for Nobody Notices

If nobody notices nothing is nice,
Non-observed neglect nurtures notions of
A No-hoper, a non-entity, a Nobody’s Child.

Need I say more?

Sunday 16 April 2017

M is for Maddening, Melancholic Misgivings

Mindfulness meandering
moves maddening, melancholic, misgivings
Marching them away and leaving peace.

As I am also now a "teacher" of Nordic walking, I thought I should include something in my A-Z to reflect this and half way through seems an appropriate time to do just that.  It's been lovely learning that just by walking outdoors that this is helping so many people not just physically but in their mental well-being too :)

How do you chase your demons away?  Does being outdoors give you that feel good factor too? Leave me a comment below because you know I'd love to know :)

Saturday 15 April 2017

L is for a Little Laughter

A Little Laughter Lifts and Lightens
Lessens, Loosens, Leaving
Us free from our worries and fears.

L could also have been for "Lending your Laptop" to your oldest child - which is why this post is Late because said Laptop was not returned until today!!

When was the last time you had a good laugh? Was it because of something you read? A joke someone told? A cat video you watched?  Leave me a comment below and let us all know :)

Thursday 13 April 2017

K is for Kids' Kingdom

Knocking Knuckles, Kiss-chase,
Knaves and Kings, Kneeling Kangaroo

Kids’ Kingdom on the tarmac playground 

I thought this might be one of my trickier letters in the A-Z but it turned out fine and brought back a whole load of memories of playtimes both of myself as a young child and for my times surveying the school yard as a teacher.  It's not so much an asphalt jungle as a Kids' Kingdom in my mind. What are the playground games you recall?  Any serious mishaps occur on that hard tarmac?

Wednesday 12 April 2017

J is for Jurassic Jaws

J is for Jungles, Jokes and Jurassic Jaws,
Jumping Jacks, Juggling and Jolly Jigsaws

Things to make learning Joyful with that Just a bit more!

All the weird and wonderful things I have done as a teacher to try to tap into getting children learning with joy and happiness.  Some have been games, some have been themes, some have been activities but all have often come from the children's likes themselves and what I can remember enjoying as a child myself.  What were some of the themes or classroom games/activities you really enjoyed when you were a pupil or if you are/were a teacher what do your pupils love engaging with?
Leave a comment below - you know I'd love to know :)

Tuesday 11 April 2017

I is for Idiot

Idiot, Imbecile, Ignoramus,
Incompetent ... ipso facto
The child becomes what it is told

Not surprisingly, children if told they are stupid when struggling to learn new skills or put them into practise, will soon stop trying and therefore will become more incompetent than others who are given praise ad encouragement.  It always saddens me to hear parents call their child an idiot and for a child to tell me they are an idiot when struggling with doing something. It makes my blood boil if I hear a teacher use such a word when speaking to a child.  Of course at times we all behave idiotically or may be incompetent at something but it needs to be seen for what it is rather than define who we are!
So when was the last time you did something idiotic or do you think you are incompetent at something and wish you could master it?  Let me know by leaving a comment below :)

Monday 10 April 2017

H is for Helpful Hugs

Hugs heal hurts and harm
Hugs hide hopelessness and horror
Hugs herald heroic heights
Hugs help 

It suddenly struck me as H is for Hugs came to mind for today's letter and I wrote this poem that I might have used this before in a previous A - Z Challenge and lo and behold I did - Last Year!!  A different poem but all the same sentiment that Hugs are an important part of being a teacher who children can turn to when they are in trouble, when they are hurt or when they are so full of joy they simply want to share it with you.

I have seen my own 10 year old child run into the outstretched arms of her headmaster to share her absolute joy when overcoming a sports day catastrophe - my heart still wells up when I recall this moment - what a wonderful headteacher he was :)  And in my classrooms hugs were always received kindly or given when needed as the last line says - Hugs Help!

Now it's your turn - tell me when you last received or gave a hug?  Do you think you are a "huggy" type of person?  I'd love to know so leave a comment below :) 

Sunday 9 April 2017

Celebrate #9

Hi Everyone :)  It's time to hop over to Lexa Cain's blog and ...

I think there are several of us also participating in the A-Z Challenge so hopefully no-one minds me posting on a Sunday instead of the Friday.

This week I am celebrating:

1 - Diving into the A-Z Challenge
I really didn't know what was going to happen this year and I certainly thought I'd missed the boat for signing up and let people down for not volunteering to be a minion  (when I'd been one last year) and had no idea of a theme.  But out of the blue I took a look over at their web page and ...
this year - no list and no minions needed!
So I took this as a sign and dived right in and I'm so glad  I did because despite no list I'm finding blogs I am really liking, I'm getting quite a few comments and visits to my blog and most importantly I'm reconnecting with many bloggers who I haven't visited since last year and it's been wonderful catching up :)

2 - Getting into the Garden
We've been having some really nice gardening weather recently and I've been able to use it and get some good weed puling done as well as mow the grass properly for the first time this year.  This year I feel I am likely to reap the reward fro the previous two years of trying to get the garden back from Mother Nature and I've even had some time in the deck-chair - so something worth celebrating I feel :)

3 - Receiving Feedback
Due to more funding bids being put in for me to increase my Nordic walking "taking over the world" initiative - I had to ask for some feedback from those who walk with me - and I was really overcome when reading some of the things they wrote about it. I really didn't know how much it meant and what it has helped them do - so a really lovely outcome and I'm sure their kind words will make a real difference to whether I can get some more funding to spread the walking further!!!

Here's hoping everyone is having a great weekend and if you are doing the A-Z Challenge - well done on completing the first week :)

Saturday 8 April 2017

G is for Great Great Grandma Gertrude

Great Great Grandma Gertrude gently guides, 
giving glimpses, generating guesses with gewgaws and gadgets.
History unpacked from her Gladstone bag.

One of my alter-egos, who would "visit" the classroom looking for her great, great granddaughter (the class teacher) who unfortunately always seemed to be out of the room when she appeared!!
We had "driving history" with bits of automobiles - bulbous car horn, starter handle, petroleum can, headlight etc we had "washing history" with washboards, brushes, soap and dolly, we had "toy history" with wooden spinning tops, pottery animals, lead soldiers etc and "seaside history" which even ended with a Punch and Judy show and other "history days" when the need arose.  I always loved having the children explain to Great Great Grandma Gertrude how things had changed and help her understand the differences, look and describe her historical objects closely and figure out what they were or how they would have been used.  The children used to ask so many fantastic questions and we had lots of laughs as "Great Great" tried to understand what the children were telling her about how they lived now. These sessions would often be spoken about by parents (months afterwards at parent evenings) telling me how much their child had talked about what "Great Great" had brought in and sometimes asking me if indeed my own Great Grandma had visited???  

Can you remember being told stories by your more aged relatives about how their lives were long ago?  Do you still have old artifacts you use today?  Did you like learning about history at school? What was your favourite historical period?  Please leave me a comment below because I'd love to know :)

Friday 7 April 2017

F is for Fighting the Fidgets

Fighting the fidgets, finding fortitude,
Frowning, forcing through frustration,  
The child with ADHD battles on.

As I have said many times on my blog, I feel truly humble in the face of some children who try so hard to overcome their difficulties despite the many problems they may have - some even stemming from their own families.

We all know how hard it is "fighting the fidgets" - either we're bored, we're not interested, we've got other things to be doing. But just stop and think how hard it is for a child in a classroom, who everyday has to sit in a chair and do what others do, when told to do it, often within quite strict parameters and who is diagnosed with ADHD - what an uphill battle it must be to come into that classroom each day! 

I have worked with several of these children who try to keep everything together and naturally don't always succeed but don't give up their struggle - each and every day. They have worked with me on their environment (sitting turned away from others, at the front or back of the class - one even asked for a box either side (a bit like blinkers on a horse) to help them stay on task), their social cues (because others don't like their outbursts), their passions (because each has a gift they can relax into if found) and acting as liaison between them and their family (because they need better understanding at home too sometimes) but they are the ones who have to work at it, holding it together each and everyday and for that I feel truly humble to have been their teacher.

When did you last have an attack of the fidgets?  Were school days some of your most golden times or did you dread going?  Leave me a comment below :)

Thursday 6 April 2017

E is for Entertainment

Everyone excited, eagerly expecting
enjoying entertainment.
The pantomime live in the school hall.

I've worked in several schools where the pantomime came to us.  Looking back, I am amazed we managed to squeeze a whole school into the hall as well as the actors and stage but that's part of the magic - we did!  
I'm hoping that my A-Z posts are acting as Entertainment but I'm experiencing exasperation at posting a comment on the A-Z webpage for others to see my daily posts - is anybody else finding difficulties?

Now back to the theme - What is your favourite pantomime memory?  Did you go to the theatre or did the theatre come to your school?  I'd love to know so leave a comment below :)

Wednesday 5 April 2017

D is for Dogged Determination

With dogged determination, despite difficulties
 disappointment disappears & deserved delight 
as egg and spoon finally crosses the finishing line

Sports Day is an annual occurrence in most schools with its wide range of peculiar races (I once won the space-hopper race!) but I think most of us can remember doing something where we needed to have dogged determination to succeed at it - so why not share yours below?  Or tell me which was your favourite event at sports day and why?

Tuesday 4 April 2017

C is for Careful Calligraphy

Clever Cat, Curly Caterpillar, Cuckoo Clock
children's careful calligraphy
Tongues poking out slightly as hands grip pencils tightly

I have taught letters and sounds through various schemes to children over the years - Letterland, Ruth Miskin, Jolly Phonics and know how hard it is to get them to form those letters correctly once they know their sounds.  I can't really remember learning how to form my early letters but I do know I used to sit at the dinner table with my plastic placemat on which there were the letters of the alphabet in both upper and lowercase along with the object depicting that letter. I can recall the red apple for a and the blue yacht for y and I can remember tracing around each letter as I waited for food - my own careful calligraphy.

Can you remember your first letters and how you came to write them?  Do you rate your handwriting now or not?  You know I'd love to know so leave a comment below :)

Monday 3 April 2017

B is for Building Bridges

Big, bold, bright blocks
begin building bridges
and slowly the child's hand unfurls from their mother's.

It's so good to be back taking part in the A to Z Challenge.  Reconnecting with those from Challenges past is just like meeting up with old friends.  I was nervous to begin with because I didn't really know how the Challenge would be with no list - and I like my lists!  But I am beginning to see now how I will build bridges and connect to new "friends" as I scroll through the comments on the main site and see those who have commented on other blogs too.  I'd love to know how you are building bridges in this challenge too?