I am afraid that this past week does not lend itself very well to exciting blog posts. Because of the week-long school break I am currently enduring, the week before and after it are (or were, depending on which one we're talking about at this point) exempt from my GPS contract. So, like I explained in last week's post, I get paid for what I work without the safety of being guaranteed a certain salary regardless. Add to that the fact that teachers are required to supply doctor notes for absences later in the week and that a lot of schools were closed Friday and it was small wonder the GPS was put on exemption.
Monday morning I was called and asked to return to the Islamic school and the TA position I'd held for the last two weeks for Monday through Wednesday. I was so unbelievably happy that my Tuesday and Wednesday were already booked with teaching assignments; I agreed for Monday and took it at our previously agreed rate. On Tuesday and Wednesday I was at a school I'd been at before - Wembley Primary (you may remember it as the school where I got off the bus too soon and I think I may have mentioned it as having an open plan where all the classrooms opened into a center courtyard...). The last time I was there it was to cover a Year Two class while the teacher prepared for parent interviews that night; this time around had me covering for teachers who were away at courses.
Tuesday featured me in a Year One class where the students were a wonderfully delightful bunch - and, compared to some of the older grades I've had, these students were complete angels. And so adorable and eager to boot! At the end of the day they danced to the Monster Mash and were such cuties playing at being zombies and vampires. I wish I could have caught them on camera!
Wednesday I was in a Year Six class which, naturally, featured the return of Attitude. You know, it's kind of funny because in Canada I loved teaching the older grades - you got to have actual lessons, you could easily incorporate popular culture to spice things up, and the students tended to be a lot more engaged in their learning. Not that I didn't enjoy teaching the younger students as well but I definitely found the older grades more of a challenge. Over here in the UK not only do the students not have the same exposure to popular culture (e.g. when I talk TMNT Raphael, they think I mean the archangel...if I'm lucky) but their attitude and complete disrespect for adults - and namely me - is almost impossible to work with. Most challenging of all, even if you manage to work things out with students individually the minute they're back among the peers the attitude resurfaces faster than a cork in the bath tub. It's exhausting and frustrating but I manage, thank the gods. It helped that this was one of the better classes.
On Thursday and Friday I accepted teaching assistant positions at a Roman Catholic school just a single train stop away. With the GPS void, I took the days at a severe cut in pay but I figured, what with the uncertainty of work, it was better to have something guaranteed than to hold out for teaching positions that might not happen - considering two out of three of my roommates were off on Friday I was happy I did so in the end. I was in nursery in the mornings until the munchkins went home at noon then it was an hour and half lunch break (I kid you not). In the afternoons I was loaned out to other grades - Year One on Thursday where I listened to student read books of their choosing and level aloud and Reception on Friday where I supervised the kids playing outside. It was a really, really, really easy two days.
The weekend kicked off with two of my roommates heading off to Paris for a few days. I went to the shopping district of nearby Ealing Broadway and, for the first time ever, got a library card. I took out Stephen King's Christine as my very first loan. What can I say? Cujo made an impression. I also picked up some pillows and stamps. You know - the necessities.
Since then, I've pretty much just been browsing the internet, working on my writing, and doing some chores around the house. I have plans on Friday to see Skyfall with a friend but otherwise my week is pretty much going to be more writing, reading, watching and browsing. Needless to say, I cannot wait for work to start back next Monday.