October 28, 2011

Tweaking my mind set

I'm not thinking or dwelling about school or anything...but I have said that these holidays I would 'sit down' and think about how I can deal with the stress which manifests itself in me because of my job. So here goes....

I love my job. And I love my school. I love the children I teach and I love the environment I have been so lucky to get a job in. Teaching in London is not easy. But my school, it really is like a haven of peace. People care. I think its the caring that makes the difference. I truly love it. (Don't get me started on all the things I love about it!) However no matter how much love I have for my job, it doesnt alter the fact that it can be a highly stressful one. It causes me worries, and it causes me the kind of stress that I carry home. I don't make a habit of taking home marking, but the never ending list of things to be done is carried home with me. The stress from this list sits on my shoulders, its not such heavy weight but its just an ever present, constant burden...

And what I've realised over the years, is that I don't actually deal with stress so well. I'm the kind of person who crumbles and cries. I do! And lets face it, we usually feel better after shedding a few tears, however the lead up to the tears is long and drawn out and not pleasent at all.

I remember the days where I would feel 'stress' at school, but as soon as I walked out the gate it would literally disapear. These days...not so much.

So what am I going to do differently over the next few months??? (Because this is the important part)

I am going to NOT sweat the small stuff, or even the big stuff. I am going to remember that one person can only do so much. I am going to prioritise. I am going to make lists and feel pleasure at ticking things off (and I may even start my lists with things I have already done). I am going to take my break and lunch times. And I am going to remember that its the PEOPLE who are most important. The children matter, my relationships with my co-workers matter and it is important to be able to stop in the corridor and just have idle chat.

This is my PLAN anyway. And even if I don't completely and continuously stick to the plan, as long as I enjoy my days from start to finish regardless of whether I am at work or not, I will feel happy.

I am determined to succeed with my battle now against the way I deal with work related stress. Because at the end of the day, I love my job, and I love my life. So work having any sort of negative affect on my life....it just doesn't make any sense does it?

October 26, 2011

A snippet of London in pictures

Yesterday was a hugely successful day! Not only was it one of Londons most delicious sunny but cool and crisp days, but it was a perfect afternoon for the photo session along the South Bank that Tracey and I had planned. We were on somewhat of a mission to capture some of Londons beauty which has become so familiar to us living here in London.

I have been reminded once again about how much there really is for me to learn about not only how to USE my camera, but how to CAPTURE the shot I have in my mind. I do prefer to capture people and moments, so capturing objects and places always seems a little more difficult to me from the outset....but whatever I am capturing, I am going to make becoming more familiar with my camera and how I can use it a priority for the remainder of 2011.

Anyway I have had fun playing around with the shots and having a wee edit this morning. Heres a sneak peek into some of my favs....

Our day was concluded so nicely with a visit to the Tate Modern. It is one of Londons most well known Art Galleries, and is the most visited Art Gallery in the world. It is set in an old power station so has a really cold and stale front, however upon entering it has a creative buzz to it, a serene sense of calm fell upon me yesterday whilst in there and you immediately kind of get engulfed in the exhibitions.

Our purpose for visiting yesterday was to view Taryn Simons collection -
A Living Man Declared Dead And Other Chapters. Simons travelled around the world, researching and photographing bloodlines and recording their stories. Her travels took her to Kenya, Bosnia, Australia and Brazil to name a few. The bloodline stories were incredible. Her stories included genocide, ophanages, mutalation from drugs deemed safe (in the UK), the rapid growth and subsequent attempted reduction of rabbits, body doubles for Sudan Hussain, and pologamy to name just a few. It was a lot to take in, and Tracey and I found ourselves shuddering and gasping as we wandered through.

Amazingly, as we entered the final viewing room, we were lucky enough to stumble upon Simons describing some of her work and answering questions from a small group of people who had gathered around her. Listening to her really helped embed exactly what she had achieved over the 4 years in both of our minds. It really was a great exhibition and provided a very humbling experience.

Yesterday was just another reminder about London and how unpredictable any day here can be. You never know who, or what you will stumble upon and what kind of affect it is going to have on you.

London, I love you!

October 25, 2011

A glimpse into the life of a school teacher

Its school holidays time again and as always, I am so pleased! I know us teachers are incredibly lucky to get the amount of holidays we do, and I am constantly reminded by people around me, "School holidays AGAIN??!" but I also wholeheartedly think we deserve and need them. I've never worked professionally in any other industry but teaching (whilst I absolutely love it) is draining and full on.

Giving attention to 3o children for 6 hours a day is mentally and physically taxing. Morning breaks are a rarity (homework detention-what a meanie!) and lunch breaks are spent shovelling food in whilst getting photocopying done, tidying the piles of books and paper that has accumulated around the classroom, and monitoring any further students who have made a not so good impression during the day and are either in the classroom finishing work or reading outside the staffrooom (again-meanie!). At 3.10, the children are whisked out the door and for those of you who think the day ends there, think again! I breathe a sigh of relief, grab a coffee and wonder where the heck the day went so fast, then either take netball training, take after school tutoring, attend a meeting and then its back to the class to again tidy the piles of books and paper which have accumulated during the afternoon and prepare to do it all over again the next day. And if thats not enough, every single lesson in every single book must be marked and commented on. Its exhausting!

On top of all this, theirs discipline. Discipline is essential in maintaining an effective learning environment, dont even get me started on this topic! Its draining, but its worth it in the end.

And above all, theres the TEACHING and LEARNING. The scary thing is that the teaching part is the easy part, its the part I enjoy the most. Whats scary about that is that because we are loaded with so many other things to do, mostly paperwork, it has the possibility to detract from the all important job we do with the children-ensuring they recieve a broad and balanced curriculum, and I think most importantly, ensuring they are happy at the same time.

Its no wonder that some evenings I come home and pour a glass of wine and make sure I am in bed before 10 so that I have enough energy the next morning to deal with whatever it is that may hit me in the unpredictable environment that is the classroom. And its also no wonder that it comes to holiday time and to say I am pleased is an understatement.

These holidays, whilst making sure I recover from being unwell, and trying to keep regular sleeping patterns (!) I am also making sure I spend my holidays doing things which I would not usually get the time to enjoy or get done.

Footnote: I am most definitely not saying that teachers are the only people who deserve and need regular time off.

Next blog post:How I am utilising these holidays!

October 24, 2011

Our London family

Here in London, your friends become your family like you had never imagined. Your family are so far away that your friends take the role on, just as you do for them...for you share a mutual understanding of how it feels to be miles from home. How it feels when there are big moments, being them of elation or devastation.

I've spent the past week at home sick, and ive had daily calls from my flat mates to check up on me, soup prepared for me and hot lemon drinks on tap. And its not just what they do, its that they genuinely care. They are genuinely worried and would move heaven and earth to make sure you are okay and being looked after. Its heart warming stuff, it really is.

And when there are big goings on going on back home, our big family of Kiwis here in London really pull together. Take the memorial service for the Christchurch Earthquake. Organised by a few kiwis to give another few kiwis somewhere to grieve and be together. How shocked were they when thousands and thousands attended the service. The church seats were full, the aisles were full with people standing and outside they broadcast the ceremony on loud speakers so the thousands of people rugged up in the cold could also be a part.

The Rugby World Cup. Strangers decked in black become your best friends as embraces are exchanged. People dance, people sing, together in complete elation over the win of the cup, finally! Had we lost. Well one doesnt like to think of this, but however we dealt with it...you know we would have dealt with it together.

For people mean everything. And its realised at home but I think its realised even more so when you are in a home which has not always been your home. An unfamiliar place becomes somewhere we are happy, and enjoy because of the people who care about us around us. Be these are flatmates, our friends, or the strangers who understand....its people that mke all the difference in our home away from home.