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Posts Tagged ‘personal’

I choose joy

Friday, December 9th, 2016

On Sunday I posted the following image on Twitter with the comment I choose joy.

I’ve  pondered this post all week and finally found time to write it. It’s provoked by an increasing trend to point out all that is bad in life, and more specifically, education.

Whilst I am quite aware that there are a myriad ways in which our world is broken, a multitude of things that drive me bananas about education and multiple aspects of my working life that I’d like to be different, I make a choice to not wallow like a hippo. I’m not ignoring the problems; they’re sometimes fairly important and need addressing. However, if I focus solely on them, my life is frankly miserable and unpleasant.

I make another choice, the choice to (try to) find solutions, and if not solutions, work arounds, compromises and ways to make difficulties less burdensome. I don’t have an answer to everything, in fact, I have answers to very few things but I do my best.

We follow a PSHE programme called SUMO at one of my schools, and one of the principles is not to be Doris Day (which is counterintuitive as I grew up wanting to be her so badly!) and claim “Que será, será.  Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours you see.” As a teacher I know that the near future is mine but the longer future belongs to my pupils (and to my children), and my role is to prepare and equip them for it. We teach our pupils to question and find solutions to their problems, to talk to one another, to celebrate successes and share and support one another in hard times. Surely if we model misery and moaning that sets the wrong example?

Don’t get me wrong, I have a whinge with the best of them from time to time, especially when I’m tired but all the time? I’ve written before about this in a post called Transformers and Reepsiepie added to my Optimist Prime/Negatron analogy by talking about Radiators and Drains; in every staffroom, workplace and social media site, there are those who drain all positivity and life. I want to sit next to the radiator! Increasingly I am choosing not to spend long periods of time on Twitter for just this reason, and likewise I have left groups on other social media platforms as their negativity was dragging me down.

I haven’t left Languages in Primary Schools though as, just like the marvellous Talkabout Primary MFL used to be, it is a place of celebrating all that is going well, sharing ideas, and helping out people with queries, worries and emergencies. The members are realistic about the task we face – and who couldn’t do with more time to teach their subject, less last minute changes of plan, decreased paperwork, 100% attention and more energy and time to do all we’d like to do – but it’s a place full of radiators who, when the going is tough, share their experience, and to continue the analogy, warmth with others. And isn’t that far better than pointing out all the things that the person did wrong, or adding to their woes with a list of your own?  I’d like to think that this website is a radiator too.

For me, life can sometimes be uphill struggle which may surprise some who only ever see a smiling bouncy Lisibo, but it’s true. Sometimes that bounce is an act of will and only happens because I’m working hard at it, like a swan madly swimming under the water. My decision to choose joy is a lifestyle, and lifesaving, choice.

I write a Grateful blog each day in which I write things for which I am grateful; last year it was things that made me smile. Sometimes I don’t get it written and published because I’m tired but the thought is still there. I’d encourage you to do the same.

Yes, life is challenging and teaching is hard for a variety of reasons, but there are so many joys too. I could focus on the fact that yesterday I was on break duty, I didn’t get my lunch eaten and Y6 took advantage of my good nature, there was staff meeting, I didn’t get to teach the classes I was supposed to and I got an impatient email asking me to do something that I’d already said I’d do which isn’t due until next week anyway. I’d rather list my joys: I spent lunchtime yesterday dancing around the dining hall with pupils as they ate their Christmas lunch, singing at the top of my lungs and getting very hot. In the afternoon, we watched Y1 and 2 perform their play. We opened Christmas cards from partner schools in Finland, Spain and Poland, and borrowed a Polish pupil from his class to read us the latter. He glowed with pride! A whole stream of Reception children (who I have never taught) walked past me as I was photocopying and smiled, and quite a few responded to my ¡Buenos días! with a cheerful ¡Hola! A colleague helped me find my mislaid iPad case; a volunteer student stayed inside with a child at playtime so I could go to the toilet and get a cup of tea. At some point, a child stuck a sticker to my jumper – no idea who did it but it made me smile. A child saw two others about to have a fight and intervened before it escalated, sending someone to fetch me in case. I was met with groans of disappointment when I said there was no Spanish next week. I sang in the staff meeting.  We hatched a plan for the teachers to sing a song in the end of term concert.

And that’s just one day.

You may also like this post on a similar theme:

Ser optimista

¡Hola 2015! #nurture1415 #teacher5aday

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 20.35.03With 2015 just a few hours away, and having met a (running) goal I set myself in September this afternoon, I thought I’d set myself some goals for the coming year. Equally, I had in mind to contribute to/’join in’ with two initiatives designed to encourage those in education – #nurture1415 and #teacher5aday.

2014 has been a year of readjusting to life in England. There have been frustrations such as breaking my ankle in April just as I was fully recovered from having broken my foot six months previously, and a turbulent time at school for a variety of reasons. However, those frustrations have had positive outcomes too: for example, I did take it easy as instructed and learned that it really is possible for me to sit for longer than 10 minutes.

Workwise, I’ve established Spanish at a new school, taken back the reins of Spanish at another and continued to work as Lisibo Ltd, speaking in Southampton, London, York, Solihull, Nottingham and Stafford, writing articles for TES Connect, ALL, Primary Teacher Update and Rising Stars, and consulting on projects with Osiris, Rising Stars, the BBC and a new app that came out this week called Pacca Alpaca.

Personally, I’ve got back to running. Twice! I’ve enjoyed singing with worship group at church and loved being part of the Cabaret once more, even managing to sing a solo early this month. And I’ve enjoyed concerts with Jude and his trumpet.

So here are my thoughts on the coming year, using the 5 John Muir Framework hashtags.

#connect – I’m aiming to be more confident to share my ideas with other staff at school. I think some wonder what happens in my lessons, and others don’t really mind as long as they don’t have to teach their Spanish lessons! However, I find it easy to share what I do with people outside school, so why not with colleagues? I’m looking forward to (re)connecting with people at BETT, ILILC and Teachmeets with whom I tweet and connect virtually, and I’m also going to get a Birmingham Primary Languages Hub off the ground but not going to try and sort out the whole of the city as that’s not going to do my well being much good!

#exercise – I’m going to start enjoying running again. I haven’t stopped running and I do enjoy the adrenaline rush but the joy I felt running in Switzerland seems far away sometimes. Work gets in the way, I know, as I can’t just go for a run when I fancy, and I am more limited with less public rights of way through fields etc here. However, I’m going to make a conscious effort to go for quality not quantity: no attempt on 1000 miles this year (but if it happens, so that’d be nice!) And then to …

#notice – I’m also going to worry less about speed and enjoy the sights and sounds as I run. Well, not all the time as that would drive me mad, but I intend to ‘seize the moment’ and pause to appreciate the view, and also to run without my headphones and music more often.

#learn – In Switzerland I learned German and even got to speak it sometimes! Since returning, I haven’t had much opportunity to practice but this year I want to keep it up, especially as my eldest is doing his GCSE. Just hope I don’t put him off with my tactic of ‘say things with confidence even if you’re not quite sure.’ I’m definitely going to keep developing my resource collection for German in primary language learning.

#volunteer – In September, I said I’d do a cross country club at one of my schools; we’re blessed with the sufficient grass around us (belonging to school and ‘shared’ with the local grammar school) to do it safely. I really enjoyed it and so did the kids that signed up. I hope to revive it once the nights get lighter and certainly in the new school year, not least because I had a waiting list of children who wanted to join in. And perhaps I’ll add an element of HIT to it too.

Most of all, I’m going to make sure that I remember that I am a mother, and that my children won’t be children forever – indeed, they are now 16 and 13. My job is important but they’re far too precious to neglect. That may mean that I’m not the perfectly prepared teacher every lesson but who is?

And I’m going to keep looking on the bright side of life and blogging my Smiles – it’s good for my mental wellbeing!

Adiós 2012, Hola 2013

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

It’s that time of year when people look back on the last 365/6 days and look forward to the next year. And at the end of 2012 I wanted to acknowledge the achievements of the last year as much to say ‘you were right’ to those who encouraged me when I was despairing as a celebration of some of the great things in which I was involved.

Moving to Switzerland was a big thing for my family, and it left a huge gap in my life where ‘work’ used to be. I miss teaching at WCPS (and judging by the reception I received when I visited in July, the feeling is mutual) and sometimes feel that I’ve thrown away all my hard work as here I am ‘just another foreigner’ rather than Lisibo. I am a very optimistic person but at times it’s not been easy to keep smiling so thanks to those who kept me hopeful because, you know what? I’ve done all sorts of things this year!

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I teach English to two lovely Spanish kids each week. They went to British School in Madrid and now attend Swiss school so their parents want them to keep up their English skills. They are amazing and I always leave the lesson smiling having had a great time. We especially enjoyed talking about the Olympics and the Jubilee celebrations. And since October I’ve also been teaching English to a Mexican mum from the boys’ school. There are so many people that she’s managed thus far without speaking English but now feels she needs to make an effort for the sake of her children, and so that she can talk to more people. Her confidence is very fragile but she’s doing really well!

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Since May I’ve also been ‘subbing’  at ISZL in Baar thanks to someone introducing me to someone else at just the right moment. It is SOOO wonderful to be back in the classroom and to know that ‘I’ve still got it’. I’ve taught right across the age range from 3 to 11 year olds, and I keep getting asked back so that’s good! A week of Kindergarten awaits me next week (that’s Year1 in English speak) and I’m really looking forward to it.

And now I work a morning a week in the school library at my boys’ school having helped out on a voluntary basis since I got here. In fact, that library and especially the lovely Librarian/Media specialist Gretha have kept me going at times. It’s wonderful to be involved in the school and is a big step as I was told in no uncertain terms that they didn’t employ parents! Another big step was being given admin control of the school’s Facebook page.

The Lingo Show

Perhaps one of the highlights of my year was seeing my name ‘in lights’ on the television! I’ve been involved in The Lingo Show from the very beginning when the BBC was exploring the idea of doing something for very young children with a language element, through the tender process, meeting Lingo (who is also Postman Pat!) and auditioning prospective Quesos, seeing The Lingo Show launched on the Cbeebies website and finally being involved in the proposal for and production of the Spanish episodes of The Lingo Show shown on Cbeebies. I have to admit that I was very excited as I sat down to watch on 26th March, hoping that it was all OK (especially as I’d had to let someone else do the very final part of the Spanish as I was literally moving as they did it) and was overjoyed when I was contacted by people who had watched it with their children and liked it!

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I’ve also done some chunks of work for the BBC Primary Languages website over the last year, writing lesson ideas, information for parents and teachers, and writing content for the various sections. Still waiting for much of it to be uploaded and appear on the site but it’s there and waiting…

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And I’ve been on the TES Primary Languages panel led by the lovely Rachel Hawkes too – reviewing resources is fun but can be hard when there are huge glaring mistakes in them as you know that people have uploaded them out of the goodness of their hearts…

Whilst I’ve missed out on physically attending TeachMeets, I’ve been an avid online participant and have contributed presentations to various, both in the UK and international online ones too – see LisiboTV

bsel And the ‘techie’ bit of me has been occupied too as I’ve worked with Apple Switzerland as an ADE and AEM, supporting at an ELS in Geneva and presenting at a conference in Basel in October as well as sharing with them some of the things that I did in the UK. I’ve also become an Apple Professional Development consultant and done training in Ticino, Zürich and Harrogate.Yes, I’ve been allowed back into the UK. In fact, twice!

Another high point of the year was in February when I spoke 1  2 at ILILC2 in Southampton. It was so great to be with ‘old friends’ and make new ones, and reaffirmed what a great bunch of people us language teachers are. I swapped Toblerone for paracetamol (you are all lovely xxxx), made everyone sing German drinking songs (and harangued those who weren’t getting into it!), reflected on being in an uncomfortable position and enjoyed the ideas, inspiration and company of others who share my passions. The Show and Tell was … unforgettable, the sessions inspiring and the conversations uplifting.

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And that brings me to this year…

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Well, I’m not exactly sure what 2013 will bring, but I’m excited to find out!

I do know that I’m teaching Kindergarten next week at ISZL, and I’m sure I’ll be back there regularly.

I’ll continue to teach English to M and M and Sonia, and also work in the school library – next project is working out how to fit the increasing stock into the library and media centre so that a)people can still in get in and b) find the books!

I’ll carry on delivering APD, wherever and for whoever asks, working with Apple Switzerland to promote the effective and well considered use of technology in the classroom, and helping anyone who asks with advice, training and support.

And you’ll see me at various TeachMeets – virtually in all likelihood but you never know…

February brings a definite though – I’m coming to the UK, to Southampton because…

#ILILC2013_I-am-speaking-at-with-QR-code

To quote @MsMFL, I’m so excited… But more of that in the next post!

Other than that, I’ll continue

1. running (I did 950 miles last year, thwarted in my assault on 1000 by hospitalisation, and am determined to run a half marathon in 2 hours) including leading a running group for mums at ISW

2. ‘blogging’ – here, on Smiles365, and on SwissMiss-Adventures

3. tweeting – what would I/we do without Twitter?

4. writing – articles, resources and opinions

5. practising German

and most importantly

6. smiling :o)

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Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to a 2013 that’s even more exciting than 2012!