Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Reflection

Just a bit of a reflection on life and prac in the last few days...

God may send adversities, but if we are patient and wait for a few days to a fortnight, He'll also send what we need to weather that. If we are patient, and realise that God will do things in His time - not because He can't organise things, but because we need to learn that we're not the centre of God's existence - rather, He should be the centre of ours. It's a lesson that I'll probably spend the remainder of my life on this plane learning, but it's something that's been brought home recently.

Prac, I've gotta say, has been really boring and a little frustrating. Today has been one of those days when I just want to throw my hands up and go back to an office job. I shan't - not before I graduate, anyway - but it's very tempting. I'm spending a bit of time with the debating team - really hope they win, hey - I've spent a lot of time with them, working through their case and drilling the underlying concept into them. Hope it works.

I've been really appreciative of Facebook. Not the program, of course, but the fact that I can express an emotion and get people read it and say 'hey, how you doin'?' is really awesome.

Preached a sermon on Sunday, which was totally rockin' (both the fact that I was and, from comments, the sermon itself). It's certainly something that I greatly enjoy.

I haven't even looked at my theology stuff. I'm kinda getting nervous about it - it's getting to be that time of the year that the exams are going to be coming out soon...a little nervous!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

More Fridge Quotes!

My fridge, when I was living on the Gold Coast, had some awesome quotes that I really liked, and now, I've finally gotten around to posting them online. That only took, what, six months?

On the left hand side:
A shopping list. Having one on the fridge actually makes a lot of sense.

"A smile is a sign of joy, a hug is a sign of love, a laugh is a sign of happiness, and a friend like me...well, that's a sign of...good taste!" - Mel.

"Some have to make the fumes, some have to breathe them in..." - Streaky.


And on the front:

"I've seen the books you read, I'll stick to Tolstoy." - Teddy.

"Cheese is your friend!" - Stixie.

"This isn't about...booze and crackers on a lazy Sunday morning!" - Smitty.

"I was kinda hoping that there wasn't a bullet there...but obviously there was." - Mr T.

"You art corrected"
"How butchered did Old English just get?!" - Emster and Smitty.

"I need to wash u-...you need to wash up, honey."
"You guys are pigs!" - Teddy and Ange.

"I care more about what my Converse shoelace has to say, because at least I know my shoelace won't say anything stupid!" - Teddy.

"Not many people visit me..."
"Yeah. It'd help if you were more popular." - Smitty and Mel.

"I just had this great idea"
"Do whatever you want, just don't wake me up" - Ted and Robin, from How I Met Your Mother.

"My head hurts."
"That's your brain, trying to comprehend it's own stupidity." - Eric and Red, from That '70s Show.

And on the other side...
"No wonder [he] likes you, he's probably never seen anything so entertaining!" - Lizzy.

"You could submit a cereal box if you wanted; you'll just fail, that's all!" - Dp.

"Can I have the least orange cheese?" - Stixie.

"My car has been there so long, you can see it on Google Earth!" - Stixie.

On cooking with the windows open: "Great. My house smells like a rissole." - Smitty.

On giving pearls to swine: "They'd sniff it and inhale it through their eyeball!" - Macca.

(this side was kinda long, and wouldn't fit in one photo - my photoshopping - sans photoshop - is why it looks a bit odd half-way down)

"There's nothing about being a verger that says you have to be a virgin. It's New and Improved!" - Emster.

"I don't objectify women!"
"Oh, really!"
"Well...not verbally..." - Smitty.

"Do U Believe in love at first sight? Cause I can go past again......" [sic] - Mel.

"Of course it's a fake smile, I'm talking to my fake friend!" - Mel.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Review of Prac Wk2, with a bit of introspection that needed notarising

I'm slowly learning (and by learning, I mean 'incorporating into my life') the fact that I don't actually have to rely on any given person. Unfortunately, today's lesson of the day is coming by problematic means - this exact same thing happened a few years ago, and by a remarkably similar method.

I'm definitely afraid that this will be a recurrant feature in my life. I'm hoping that it won't, but I've got the suspicion that by the time the next opportunity to break the pattern comes along, I'll have forgotten what I need to do. But, in some ways, I'm not sure what can prevent this particular occurance that's giving me the lesson: it may feel like I'm repeating the pattern when, in fact, I'm just doing something and then creating a pattern (much like people who read astrology and say 'well, I'm going to work, I suppose that qualifies as a journey...')

So: my second week of prac.

I got my interim report today, which basically is my supervising teachers' way of saying 'we like you enough to stay for another two weeks' or 'we think you're so bad that you shouldn't stay at this school'. In my case, it was the former. I got the middle-passing grade (like a B is) on everything, except 'ethical standards', for which I got the top grade (and that was the only criteria that I would have fought them on). They complimented me on my involvement in extra-curricular activities (a year-level of debating - three teams), which was nice.

In reality, the criticisms are pretty fair - I've been given classes where my content knowledge is quite deficient, so naturally I spend most of my time developing my knowledge rather than my teaching skills. However, I was surprised where the criticism was - I felt that my weak area was the seniors, who needed information; however, it seems that they're my strong area, and my weak area is the juniors - not because of content knowledge (which would just be the cherry on the irony sandwich that is my prac), but because I wasn't doing any varied activities. Fair enough.

I know it seems kinda weird that I would only debate the ethical point - I'm being graded as a prac teacher, after all, not on whether I'm perfect. But, when you're a male teacher, you have to watch yourself and how you associate with all those around you; and when you're at a private all-girls school, the opportunities for suspicion are, literally, all around you. I've been very, very careful in how I act, and the combination of that with how I conduct myself normally (and making sure that my topics of conversation are basically study-related) has, well, probably produced my rating and given me, not just a paper-trail, but reassurance that the standard of how I'm relating to the students is at the appropriate level.

I'm happy, my supervising teachers are happy, which makes me happier and confident for the remaining two weeks.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Opportunities

I've been revisiting some thoughts in the last few minutes, particularly based on something that the Missions and Evangelism Office of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America have going. One of their aims is to establish missions in cities of over 100,000 people that do not have any Orthodox church of any jurisdiction.

If we were to change that slightly, to 'any Orthodox church that is liturgically Anglophonic', we'd find a lot of cities that were completely without:
3. Brisbane. With 1.8 million people, there is no Orthodox church that uses English as a standard liturgic language. The closest anglophonic parish is on the Gold Coast.
5. Adelaide. 1.1 million people, and I'm just as amazed as I am with Brisbane's lack. The closest is a monastery at Monarto North.
9. Wollongong. 280 thousand, with about three churches, all using a non-English language as the primary liturgic language.
10. Sunshine Coast. 230 thousand, and a monthly service.
12. Geelong. 169 thousand, and a monthly service.
13. Townsville. 157 thousand, one church.
14. Cairns. 135 thousand, one church.
15. Toowoomba. 123 thousand, bimonthly services.
16. Darwin. 117 thousand, two churches.
18. Albury-Wodonga. 101 thousand, one church.

That's 10 cities, all over 100,000 people, with the vast majority of their respective populations being essentially excluded from the Church. Probably done entirely by accident and possibly unavoidable, but the effect is the same regardless of the motivation.

There's a lot of work to be done.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ninevic clarity; Reflections on first week of prac

It occured to me last night, in a moment of clarity, while I was going to church (through a storm - maybe relevant, maybe not), that I'd been letting fear run some very important decisions for my life.

I've shied away from taking a direction that I feel to be right because I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to do it - wouldn't be able to carry it through to it's final conclusion. I'd been carrying that fear, and this isn't the first time it's stopped me - but perhaps the pattern has highlighted that fear isn't a good enough reason to not act in a certain way.

I'm convinced that Nineveh is calling.

Onto other things...
Turns out that my Grad Dip taking over a week is just good practise for prac. Of course, I did expect prac to take over my time - like a job would, coincidentally enough - but I didn't really get it until I'd gone through it.

Some reflections:
- I'd be a lot more confident if I was teaching in areas that I'm actually specialising in. I think it would be easier for me to learn how to teach if that was all that I had to learn, rather than also having to learn subject matter. I'm not saying that the school should be beholden to the student teacher's specific areas of expertise; but as one who did one of his units in junior legal studies and the other in senior modern history, I'd be a lot happier if I wasn't teaching ancient history and junior geography. I'm literally teaching a subject that I deliberately chose not to do in high school. A student asked me how I could like geography, and I almost burst out laughing.
Yesterday I couldn't spell English teacher and now I is one. - Anon.
Me fail English? That's unpossible! - The Simpsons
- I think that I've been doing well so far. My ability to teach and my class control haven't been criticised at all, and I'm going some way towards developing some rapport with students. As far as teaching ability is concerned, I think that I'm somewhat ahead of expectations - one of the reports was that the students were attentive, when I could clearly see some tuning out, so I'm taking that as me starting off very well (with improvement needed, of course!).
- Teaching at an all-girls school has it's own benefits and challenges. Class control is very easy, and leading the list of behaviour management problems is, like, litter.
- Teaching at an all-girls school as a young, male teacher (probably the only one this side of 45) has particular challenges. I'm definitely feeling somewhat objectified, and I've felt that enough that I've taken to wearing a ring on my left ring finger when I'm at the school (a prayer ring, but still).
- I'm looking forward to next semester. Hopefully, I'll be considered a SOSE/English teacher then, and be able to do some senior English classes, where interpretation comes into play and I can look at some of the classics.
- Even though some things have had to fall by the wayside, I've rediscovered an important part of having a daily schedule of things to do (in my case, walking 30min to school at a particular time each morning) - I can factor in an amount of prayer (or, at least, prayer-related activity) each morning. I'm listening to a different tone of the Sunday matins each day, which has been a blessing - I would almost go so far as to say 'saving grace'.
- In some respects, class preparation is difficult. In others, it's actually fairly easy. My knowledge of how long I expect a class activity is well off, but it seems that I have a good sense of how long a series of activities should take - as long as I follow the sequence, rather than the timing, I'm doing okay.

On the whole, a good start.

Other things that have happened:
Adjudicating on Wednesday and Friday. I'm starting to get sick of it, to be honest, but this is the last week that I'll have to do both. Was very excited that a term that I introduced, 'debaters stance', is finally getting some traction at my alma mater.
My housemate's parents have stayed here for a couple of days, which has taken some getting used to, but it's been okay thus far.
Mahjong was last week. Broke in a new player, and it worked out well - friend from high school, who was a gamer...once you've learnt the rules of a few games, more become easier to learn - much like languages, I'd think.
Emotionally, I've had a rough couple of weeks, but a combination of a Nineveh sensation and the realisation that I had (see top of post) bodes well, I think. Maybe I needed that 'dark night' (if you'll pardon the reference).
Finally got back to my usual Sunday morning church this week. Didn't stay for long, but people seemed to notice that I'd been gone and seemed happy that I was back.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

It's taken over more than just three days!

My Education grad-diploma just took over my last week!
Oh, not all of it. My planner said that it would take over an entire week - 1000 each day, to be precise. And yet, I had two entire days where I did, well, far less than that on my assignments.

My first unit outline was handed in yesterday, which is lovely, and my second unit outline was completed yesterday - to be handed in today (I know it's odd, but I'm waiting for my iPod to charge to a decent-enough level). So I'm pretty much set, assessment-wise - I have a couple of prac-related assignments to go (about 1350 words for one and about 2500 words for the other), but there's no rush for either, and, of course, I still have prac to go.

But there were two days where it all went to *cough*. I can categorically say that the Sunday just past was the worst day of the year (to date), and I hope to God (without any blasphemy at all) that it stays that way for a very long time.
I'm not at liberty to disclose what happened, and I'm fairly sure that even if I was, I wouldn't want to broadcast it (I have a few moments in my life that a handful of people know, and half of them are confessors - I'm not proud of those moments, but they do exist, and I'm sure I'm not unique).
Suffice to say that after resisting something for a long time (which, in this case, finally culminated in a psychosomatic reaction), I tend to take quite some time to recover - which, in my case, meant that I hid in my room for two full days in a state of what could understatedly be termed as 'down in the dumps', which rendered me unable to do much more than microwave frozen pies - which, of course, probably didn't help from a nutritional standpoint, but that was hardly at the forefront of my mind.
It's not easy to admit that. What I went through sucked, emotionally - I was really happy, basking in a Paschal afterglow - I wasn't just laughing at jokes easily, I was joyful. So going from that to depressed-for-two-full-days was, well, like falling off a very high cliff into a briskly-moving lagoon.
I'm feeling better now - time helps - and I did recover enough to finish my assignment (albeit, probably not very well). I'll probably be entirely back to normal by Friday.

My housemate flew out of Brisbane today, up to far-north Queensland for a week - it's going to be a little odd, because my other housemate is also going through prac to be a high school teacher, and it'll probably be the first time that we've simulated having a Monday-to-Friday routine (school hours being what they are - I think I'll end up leaving far earlier in the morning and getting back a little earlier in the afternoon...not sure about that, though).

I've got adjudicating tonight, then church tomorrow morning (which is good - the last midweek service in a while, and I missed communing on the weekend); Friday is my second observation day, then straight into prac on Monday. I'm hoping that all will go well...

Friday, May 2, 2008

My GradDip has taken over my last three days.

Major things that have occured:

I almost finished one of my assignments. Just have to finish the lesson plan and get the resources for that lesson, and that'll be the assignment finished and complete. Still have the other assignment to go, of course (and that one's 4000 words - an extra 1000), and have until Wednesday to do it, so...that's 1000 words a day, which hypothetically shouldn't be terribly hard, but I'm really not looking forward to it.

Had my first day of prac today, which I'm just home from. I'm glad I've gone, because it's convinced me that schools (and particularly large businesses) are largely the same everywhere - not run like a precision machine, but gets the job done with a brave face and a kind of group identity based on knowing that a precision machine it ain't.
See, I'm technically a SOSE teacher, but really, all of my specialising has been in either civics (junior legal studies) or modern history, and next semester it will be in English as well. All well and good. My school gave me ancient history and, just to cap it off, junior geography. Obviously.
I'm lucky, though - one ancient history class and the geography class are in areas where I happen to have a pet interest, and the other ancient history class...well, it's not going into too much depth, so I'll be able to keep up fairly easily.

Had an odd dream last night. Was walking along somewhere with my best friend, then stopped somewhere and, for some reason, she was gone and I knew she'd been kidnapped. Then, as I was looking for her, I saw another friend of mine and told her to run and get out; later, I found out that they had both been kidnapped. Really strange - firstly because I rarely get dreams. I'm inclined to think of it as the outpouring of a general fear that I don't think is terribly uncommon - I'm not a big fan of losing people from my life (which is something that I fear is going to be inevitable at the end of the year - and not because I'm planning to move somewhere)

Tonight, I have adjudicating at the alma mater, which should be fun - at least it's not my uni course. I'm so sick of it. Even though I know that I'll need to at least throw the long weekend at the assignment, my brain is mush and needs other stimulation before it wilts...not unlike the flowers we have in the vase downstairs.