Love and Other things . . .

“Sometimes you make choices, and sometimes choices make you.”
                                   – Gayle Forman, If I Stay

Lately I have been wondering what is it that attracts you to someone? What is it that draws you to someone over someone else? So, I pose the likely already discussed question, ‘What is attraction?’

Is attraction conscious or subconscious? (I am a very deep person). These sensations that we label feelings of attraction are we able to control them or do they control us? Are we attractions puppet? Are we even in control? When we are attracted to another being, be that male, female or transgender is it because our body is responding to that person subconsciously? Do we play no part in the first step where we decide someone is attractive or is that already decided for us by our own body? Are we not the masters of our thoughts like we so often like to think? When we first meet someone do we consciously make the choice to fancy them, or is our sneaky subconscious already making moves and we are just slow on the up take? My opinion whether you regard it or not is we never make the decision of who we are sexually attracted to, that decision is determined for us. We just consciously decide whether to act on those decisions. It is unconscious attraction until you realise it, which statistically is within 3 seconds of meeting someone (facts however loose found on google aka the bible) and once realisation dawns on you then you have a choice to consciously act upon this sexual attraction. This act of consciously showing our attraction is the part that is the hardest for people to act on. Especially us reserved English because off the fear of having to eat that shame sandwich of rejection which no one welcomes, as no one likes to chow down on humiliation and rejection all in one go.

Our body is an indicator for our dislikes and our likes. When we meet someone our body tells us whether we like them. When we are too cold our body informs us. When we are too hot we sweat. When we our hungry our belly growls. Our body is constantly telling us what we need to do to keep it chugging along. Attraction isn’t a choice we make it is something our body reacts to like the taste of pralines and ice cream (I love it). Loving that ice cream is a reaction from my body telling me, ‘Eat more it’s good,’ which I consciously then eat the whole tub; no ones making me do that. We are like mere puppets being strung by something we cannot see. Feelings are reactions to a pleasing stimuli, which we can control only after they have been thought. It seems silly to me to say we are able to control our thoughts that pop into our minds. The control we do have is choice, we can choose to suppress them or act upon them.

All this deeper stuff that I am waffling on about intrigues me. Could ending up with someone just be your destiny. Though I beg the question, ‘What is destiny?.’ Apart from Destiny being a popular American girl group I tend to lean-to the side that people made up the word destiny. People label things they don’t understand or cannot fully grasp, instead of just accepting the fact that in reality we are not in control of our lives. Choosing to be with someone, that’s your choice. Choosing what job you accept is in your control. These are decisions you made. Or are they? In reality how do you know you haven’t made an unconscious decision, as you may have acted on instinct when you accepted the job because it felt right, or dated that guy because for some reason you just clicked. Were they subconscious/conscious decisions you made (mind twister). If we went with gut feelings would we be being living unconsciously and those who did not are living more consciously? These are just my interpretations of what I feel, what I see and what I have been mulling over in my mind. I could be sprouting allot of dribbling, but really how much control do we really have over who we are and what we become?

This blog was essentially a tirade of questions, do you feel attacked? Do you feel I have left you with little answers? Do you feel cheated? The answers you can gather for yourself, take a question and start a dinner table discussion. Are we ever really in control?



Kill them with Kindness . . . From PGCE to NQT

“You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

I have spent the last year, reaching a pivotal goal and that goal was to become a teacher. How very novel for me. Being a teacher was something I have always wanted to do. In honesty, I wanted to teach because I wanted to make learning fun. Fun. How dare I mention such a thing. Fun and a smile it seems is lacking in many schools, as many teachers echo this motto, ‘Don’t smile before Christmas.’ Now, the first time a teacher muttered this to me, I looked at him confused, why shouldn’t I smile at the kids, should I snarl at them or spit at them instead? Apparently smiling at them, the kids that is, makes them think they can get one over on you. This type of nonsense that filters through education is why some schools fail to engage their pupils in learning. Being a grumpy teacher, who believes smiling is detrimental to their behaviour management technique means they have no technique. Harsh as that may sound, I believe good teachers smile and they smile at Christmas, before Christmas and in the other months of the year. Their classroom doesn’t turn into a chaotic mess because they cracked a smile.

Some kids come to school from backgrounds where the only smile they could see that day is yours. By being a grumpy teacher, you could be stealing that child of the one smile that could have brightened up their day. Smiling costs nothing, but can achieve allot. I smile at my kids. I smile at them allot and sometimes I even high-five them to show them how darn fabulous they are. I shower pupils in praise when it is deserved and I treat them kindly, fairly and as an equal. I smile at my pupils and say thank you when I ask for their attention and they listen. Thanks-you can help pupils see that you are not a domineering dictator, but a fair teacher asking for fair treatment back. So, with the above in mind and my smiling demeanor, my motto is, ‘Kill them with kindness.’

My top tips from my teacher training on the kind, kind of teaching are:

1: Have a signal for quiet. Don’t expect pupils to just listen to you on demand. You have 18 – 30 pupils in your class and expecting them to all fall silent as soon as you say ‘I need your attention,’ is unrealistic. I learnt this very early on in my teaching, as every teacher does when they are faced with asking a crowd of pupils to be quiet. So, to refrain from shouting at my pupils I used the Q method. A stolen method from a John Holt book, which I adapted. Thank you, Mister Holt for that little gem. The idea is you put a Q on the board at the beginning of a lesson with a new class. You explain to your new class that when you say,’ Yr x I need your attention,’ and you point towards the Q, they need to fall silent in 5-4-3-2-1. Others you can use are: a bell, a whistle and your very own hands, i.e.; clapping (predominantly a Yr 7 method). Whatever method you choose you need to persevere with it to make it work.

2: Set Objectives. Ensure pupils know what they are achieving that lesson. Objectives are boring some may say, but what I have found in my teaching is that without objectives the lesson becomes pointless. Pupils become rowdy because they don’t actually know the point of what they are doing. If you have no objectives, your lesson is pointless and no one learns as they have no idea what they are meant to be learning.

3: Be open to interpretation. Let pupils have some freedom in the projects you set. In one of my last Yr7 classes I decided sometimes making pupils do work they just weren’t interested in was something I wasn’t interested in either. The struggle and the battle to get pupils to do work they are not hot on is very wearing, so if  a pupil asks me if they can change the project slightly, I agree. I’d rather they interpret the brief to engage them rather than lose their interest. So, if  you’re making a product and the pupil has an idea for something similar but different, why not let them have a punt. If the pupil is still learning and in turn more engaged than before, whose losing out; no one that is. Same same but different.

4: Say Thank-you. Thank-you could get you further than you think. When I started teaching I was told not to sound like I am begging the kids to be quiet by saying please or thank-you. I took this advice on board and dropped the please and changed it to a ‘You need to’ and kept the thank-you. The reason I say thank-you is because it’s polite and pupils respond well to being treated respectfully and fairly. If you say to a pupil, ‘Can you put your bag on the floor?’ and they do, I say, ‘Thank-you.’ What harm can it do, but try to build a relationship between you and a student that’s built on respect. I often say to a class, ‘Thank-you to those who have been quiet first,’ to model good behaviour. Modelling good behaviour is about highlighting it and praising it when it is being modelled by a pupil. Highlighting good behaviour is positive reinforcement through verbal feedback that isn’t shouting.

5: Let them ask questions. Questions are the pinnacle of understanding. Questions help pupils break through confusion to the light of understanding something that was once a minefield of confusion. Without questions pupils will never truly grasp the learning you are offering. Allow for it and question them back. Use techniques to encourage pupils to question openly without fear. Questioning is all about getting pupils to be critical thinkers and to understand things at a more informed level. We want pupils to be masters of a handful of things not just one, so opportunities open up to them. This can only happen through questioning when they are confused or intrigued. Questioning can be easily implemented into lessons at the beginning, middle, end or throughout a lesson. Ideas for questioning could be something like muddled cards. Muddled cards are implemented at the end of a lesson. Pupils write things down on a piece of paper that they are confused about. These slips are handed in and popped in an envelope. You can then look at the slip’s and in the next lesson clear up pupils muddled questions by exploring it in a starter or in a Utube clip etc. This can be done anonymously, which in my experience encourages more honesty from pupils, as they know they won’t be made to look stupid for not knowing it in the first place. Other methods are lolly sticks and raffle tickets.

7: Make them set the rules. Get each pupil to write a behavioral rule, which you will use as their class rules. So, when they break them you can use the classic line of, ‘I have to warn you because you broke the class rules, don’t make me do that again.’ I once had a pupil hand me his planner, as he broke a rule too many times (to sanction him) I didn’t even have to say my little line. Make them have ownership over the rules; try to give pupils a say in the classroom. Encourage a democratic environment where pupils don’t just follow rules. Encourage pupils to question and not learn to be docile members of society and jump on your say so without thought. Create an environment where pupils learn to be dynamic members who follow rules because they know the value of them. Pupils therefore become socially aware pupils who can make informed decisions. If we encourage pupils to comply without thought we are enforcing a dangerous mentality.

9: Give them chances. Everyone deserves a chance. It’s about being fair. Fairness means giving chances. I hate teachers who say, ‘They need to learn.’ Well thank you Einstein. Yes, pupils need to learn, but by acting like some SS officer you are likely to get pupils rebelling against you, which then means it’s unlikely in your next lesson the pupil will learn much. They will be too busy disliking you to listen to you. They will cut themselves off and retreat or they will rebel in your lessons and be disruptive. The other thing they may do is comply with everything you say just to make you happy. All of which makes for a learning environment where pupils don’t ever learn.

10: Praise behaviour. Praise a child. Do not give false condescending praise, but one that is honest and you will affect that child positively. I found over praising pupils who usually behave badly in a lesson where they do behave doesn’t change their attitude, especially if you reward them for it. They are playing the system. Pupils understand rewards will be earned if they comply. Pupils have to want to change and over praising, over rewarding doesn’t in the long-term achieve behavioral change, but instead behavioral compliance. You need a behavioural attitude change, which will work only after time from being honest with praise and not rewarding without reason. By rewarding pupils for complying you are essentially teaching them how to conform without much thought to why they need to change.

That’s just a small run down of what PCGE year taught me. I learnt so much yet have so far to go. But, I feel Goldsmiths University and a variety of theory led books helped me in my training to really try out methods to understand how to teach effectively. Not everything you read here you will agree with, take from it what you may.

Some light reading. Reading makes us all more informed, which results in us being better teachers. Here are some books/articles that changed my whole teaching philosophy. GOWAN, have a read . . .

Chris Watkins: Active Learning  and

Daniel H Pink: Motivation

Alfie Kohn Articles: Educationalist

Kay Stables Research: Research, Design Technology in school, handling collections.

John Dewey:

John Holt:

Alfred Whitehead:

Geof Petty: Theory into practice

Paulo Freire:

Enjoy the reading. It can change your whole approach. It can change your whole philosophy. It did mine.

Is It Ok Not Too Be Okay…….

Everyday that goes by we are told to smile, keep plodding on and take things on the chin. In life many things happen to people daily, people you work with, friends and family which they keep hidden as in the UK we have a stiff upper lip and to show any sign of weakness or emotional turmoil is not favourable, as people suddenly see you as weak. English people brought up in the english culture learn the art of repression, turning that frown upside down, but when does this become detrimental to you? When does years of repression of anger, annoyance, sadness and whatever ill feelings you have suddenly become more harm to you than good.

In life I have been brought up not to cry over split milk, not to get in a flap when there’s nothing in essence to flap about. I also am the person that will cry in the toilets at work than in front of my boss as on some level I equate emotional outbursts with weakness. I think when you have an emotional outburst people start treating you like your not capable of your job and your forever remembered as the girl who cried on the boss, but why should this be? Have the americans got it right, should we be more free-flowing with our feelings, be more open about grievances we have?

One-day take a look around you at work and wonder, who is going through marital issues? Who has broken up with their boyfriend? Who has had someone close to them die? Who is having money troubles? Who is lonely? Who is depressed? Who is ill? What are the people in your office going through that you know next to nothing about because of th stigma of appearing unhinged.

I think people should be able to be more open but the problem in the workforce is that many people don’t really care about the person sitting next to them and the problems they may have or the fact they may need a little help with their work because life at home is distracting them. But people forget others may be in trouble because the demands of the grind, because the need to get that promotion, get even more money makes people forget that people have feelings.

Many times in my life I have been at work and I have been on the edge, been to the point where I cannot concentrate because I am upset, or been out with friends and would rather be at home filling my face with ice cream than be out pretending to be happy. When you break up with a bf people say get under someone to get over someone, they tell you to go out and have fun, get back out there, there’s plenty more fish in the sea. But what if all you do is want to cry, to sit at home and cry until there’s no tears left. I think crying is healthy, some people say cry for a moment then shape up and move on. But I say cry for as long as you want, be sad for as long as you want. When you lose someone who you thought you were gonna spend the rest of your life with I reckon you get the right to act emotionally unhinged. I reckon when someone dies, when someone you love dumps you, when you feel like your life is going nowhere, when you feel you’re a failure, I reckon you can cry and stamp your feet as much as you want. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s okay not to be okay as Jessie J would say, It’s okay not to be sunshine and flowers all the time because life isn’t all sunshine and flowers as sometimes it can hand you a great big lump of manure.

“Tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising” (Jessie J lyrics)

Is Materialism Okay?

I have been wondering lately about materialism and what it means, whether materialism is even bad at all. Are we all to some degree materialistic and those who say that they are not, are they lying to themselves?

Materialism is something that seeps into all aspects of our life whether we like it or not, unless your living the Amish life-style somewhere remote and far from civilisation.

I can honesty say that in life I want for the good things, I want for a nice big house with two toilets and a laundry room. I want a nice kitchen with a big back garden and enough room to fit the whole family on special occasions. I want in life not to count the coupons, to have to just get by in life, not living from pay check to pay check. I want in life to take nice sunny holidays and eat well enough that I don’t have to skip meals because I cannot afford to eat; or live off pot noodles like a student. In life I want and aspire to certain things, but does all the above mean I am materialistic? Just because I want to live a comfortable life, does this mean I am not appreciating what I have already got? Am I wanting for wanting sake?

I have a lovely boyfriend and I wouldn’t change being with him for the world, but like everyone I aspire for better things, but I agree to disagree that materialism is a bad thing.

I agree that just because someone sticks a Dior label on something doesn’t make it worth the price, I agree that kids shouldn’t be taking Paul Boutique bags to school, I agree that the constant need for people to keep up with fashion is vain and superficial, I agree that marketing and advertising put pressure on people to aspire to have the latest trends.

But I disagree that wanting a nice life for your family, for wanting them to grow up in surroundings that are comfortable makes you materialistic. I believe you work to live instead of live to work. I disagree that giving your child horse riding lesson’s, music lesson’s, acting lesson’s or anything that they show potential in is putting a silver spoon in their mouth. These hobbies could turn into something they could make a career out of, keeps them occupied so they don’t hang out on the streets. I disagree that just because you want a nice house in a nice area makes you materialistic.

Money helps put food on the table, roof over their heads, clothes on their back, nice toilet roll on your loo holder (soft cushion for the tush). Money helps us pay for those dentist appointments we conveniently forget and pay for those glasses we need to see so we can read, write and drive. Money makes the world go round…..Fact!

All I am asking for in life is to live comfortable, I am not asking for a ten bed mansion, to drive a Mercedes or have the latest gadgets out. I am asking to get by in life without the struggle that makes us cry, makes us cry and makes us wonder why we work so bloody hard for so little to show for it.

Does wanting the above make me materialistic or does it just make me like the rest of you, is it too much to really ask?

Is patience a virtue ….. agree to disagree

Hi Peeps,

I came to thinking last night of my patience levels as I have come to notice I have become snappier, sadly true but one must face the reality!! I am impatient.

Now some people say that patience is a virtue and that impatience is ugly, but who said impatient was a bad quality!!

To me impatient means that I hate waiting in line at a club, it means I want to get a job done, faster, quicker, find more efficient ways to utilise my time. It means I don’t have time for time wasters, or time for games, time for men to mess me around or time to lose in love!

Why is it deemed so! I demand for someone to tell me why impatient is a bad thing!

Time comes and it goes, like sand through your fingers, it slides through the cracks and before you know it it’s gone before you’ve even looked back.

To me impatience can be your virtue!! As in the end to me it means just getting things done faster, quicker and getting to your goal sooner, now is that really a bad thing. I see impatient people as do’ers, as moving cars on the highroad of life!!!

I am a do’er!