This past week at school the staff have been dropping like flies. The Ekka winds are blowing and everyone in South East Queensland know this heralds not only the arrival of fairy floss, carnival rides and agricultural awards but also a huge dose of winter ailments. In my staffroom six of us lost our voices. I’m starting to suspect some sort of biological warfare: If you want to plot a successful takedown at a school what better way to do it than silencing the teachers?
The symptoms of laryngitis are more of an irritant than a miserable I-can’t-function type of illness. Despite the complete absence of sound I was optimistically foolish enough on Tuesday to think I could keep calm and carry on teaching. A well-modulated voice is our most important teaching tool but it is certainly not the only one. I saw this vocal setback as an opportunity to bring the others out and sharpen them up. Tools like pausing, using facial expressions, monitoring, using the board and making gestures.
This winter break our family decided to have a short getaway to Seventeen-Seventy and Agnes Water, a manageable five and a half hour drive north of Brisbane. The trip started innocently enough as we followed the tried-and-true ritual of each packing our own bags and then leaving the husband to Tetris everything into the back of the car. It wasn’t until we made a pit-stop at Gympie that I discovered a catastrophe had occurred. Where the heck was my bright red you-can't-miss it backpack?
There has been yet another round in the media of negativity directed at teachers, thanks to politician Andrew Laming’s comments about our working hours and super long holidays. I sometimes like to read the comments beneath the articles to see where the general public falls on the issue. It’s really heartening to know so many understand that as a group, teachers are valued for the work they do put in.
I used to be a sentimental hoarder of many precious treasures. As a child everything, as far as I was concerned, had feelings and certainly invoked memories and strong emotions in me. I come from families, as I’m sure many others do, where certain objects have been bestowed at different milestones on the next generation. A passing of the baton, if you will. Whether attachment to objects was a result of early childhood loss, boarding school years, or just my love of stories, it is true to say that sometimes bearing so many ‘things’ has weighed me down. It doesn’t help that in my adult life I have lived in three countries, five cities and eleven houses to date! So, now, every school holidays I take the opportunity for a big clear out. This means at our house there’s a spring clean, an autumn clean, a summer clean and a winter clean!
It dawned on me this week that my living arrangements are feeling less like a family home and suspiciously more like a student flat lately. Teenagers are awesome and all that, but one downside is that they can’t afford to pay rent or bills. Indeed, they even expect to be paid for doing chores. Wouldn’t it be nice if at least they could bring their plates out of their rooms and put them in the dishwasher from time to time?
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