Saturday, July 25, 2009

Teaching drums on a table and other bedtime stories

So I’m on this Practicum that is so close to reality that I feel I just have to document it to remember it.

Normal Prac’s are a warm ball of idealistic word counts and theorist haziness. Everything can be improved and analysed for the greater good of the students.

Here’s the background to my current existence:

Once a yr for the last 3 yrs I’ve been dumped unceremoniously into an unsuspecting school on Prac–for as little as 2 weeks up to (this year) 2 months. On this Prac I write over the legal word limit, I nod off in class while ‘watching’ my supervisor wow me with their brilliance and nod my head when ever they blather to me about why they feel they are the best teacher. I then hide in the photocopy room for lunch or if I really daring- I walk around the playground (why do they call it that- high schoolers don’t “play”) and pretend I’m on duty- all in a daft effort to avoid other staff preying on a victim ear to vent their cynicism. I also invent elaborate tales as to where I’ve come from and what experience I have to justify my presence in a class full of well- lets be obvious here- students.

This is the Foreground:

I’m at this 2000+ (I’m sure I’ll have to know the statics accurately shortly) public school. Its uniform is stock standard moss green, with tartan lower half. Its co-ed and there are over 200 teacher/support staff. The staff room is themed bright red and blue with modern furnishing. The art dept still use blackboard while the music dept is a sharp contrast with mood lighting and a recording studio. I strongly suspect the principal bats for the other team (typical of woman in power in Nz sadly). Staff: hmm, it was just today that I found out a teacher was arrested for marijuana possession, other members of the staff range from leaky taps to stock standard army cadets. The students smell of cigarettes and hormones. There are more boys and the girls have cold knees because of the tartan belts they wear.
And now let’s fill in this canvas with detail.

I started 2 weeks before the end of term. During that first week there was a boiler explosion where 3 men were seriously injured and sadly one died. The school was hyper due to the media and days off school for the investigation. One thing I equally admired and hated about this school. The staff banded together as an absolute unit- I’ve never seen this in a public school before. There were morning teas shared lunches and morning teas and lunches and morning teas- I have now learnt that in order to support someone- you eat first. They were beautiful. But they completely neglected the students. Due to their worry that the media were going to twist the story- they never discussed any of it with the students. There was no de-brief assemblies of consequence, we (staff) were NOT allowed to mention his name to the students and if they at all showed signs of wear and tear- we had to shove victim support brochures in their face and send them on their way.

That weekend- after the After Ball of the School Ball, a 17yr old hung himself. A classmate did himself in. Again I was not allowed to mention his name to the students and to the teachers eye- School returned to normal by morning tea on Monday. Ugh those students are hurting and we can’t do a damn thing about it. It tears at my Christian heart.

Now- about my crazy supervisor. She is brilliant. British if that’s any key to your imagination. I watch her teach and I actually am furiously writing in my journal everything that comes out of her mouth. She has a sharp wit and an intimidating look that had me putting my hand up in response for hers when she demanded silence. I was scared to teach in front of her because anything I knew I would do- she would know how to do it better, faster and quicker. I have never felt nervous before standing in front of a class before this woman. She soon got bored of the fact that she had nothing left for me to teach because I absorbed her teaching style and completely plagiarised it. So she invented challenges. I had the task of going into a completely random poor yr 8 class who was on a practical lesson and absolutely yell at them (because believe it or not she thought I was shy and had to prove I could yell). So I did- I wrenched open the door with murder in my eye and I bullocked the socks off them about something I barely can remember and spun on my heel and would have slammed the door if it wasn’t on that stupid controlled hinge thing. Another challenge was to have them lined up in 2 lines outside, marching in, and sitting down and on task in record time all without saying a word.

So that was before the holidays. And now it is the beginning of term 3 and now she is gone- left to go to a school where they all have laptops and lapdog students. Pros and Con’s about her departure: Pro- I can now breathe easy with my new supervisor/HOD of music because she’s a gentle older lady called back from retirement. I also know the roped of the department and she is the one asking questions. Con- I have never been pushed so hard by a supervisor and totally on my toes. She was passionate and couldn’t care less about being politically correct or cynical. She had a job to do and she wanted to do it well. Sound sappy to say- but if I am a little bit like her I’ll be a very good teacher.

So right now because the supervisor is rubbing her weary eyes clean of retirement I have been given the opportunity to be welcomed to the real world of teaching. Its day 2 today and the reliever ran away so I taught a full day (first ever thank you very much) and because my supervisor was trying to interpret the new manual for her new computer I had the freedom of teaching my style to students I have built a rapport with and somehow that ended up with me on a desk demonstrating how to play the drums. And I loved it. I absolutely loved it. And that’s a bit of a relief because my poor parents have invested a bit in this degree.

So now I’ve proved my point- I spent 1159 words to tell you about my Prac- that’s not including the words I need to actually prove I was on it to my lecturers.


I used to run a few holiday programs. And where the programs were based there was this amazing wall. And the only way to legally take the kids pics against it- was if I incorperated a photoshoot into the progam. sneaky. It seems also semester I come back from college there is an additional family member- so included in this blog are some 2nd cousin shots too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I am both Sepia and in Color. This is a Gen Y Lament.

Its 7am and I’m in a cafe watching the sun rise already supping on my 3rd coffee waiting for the moment where I have to walk to where the bell tolls for me and time waits for no man.

You can tell I’m very much made of the Gen Y mould, as I’m over it. Only 5 weeks in and I’m ready for a change.

Perhaps this lament is inspired by reading the Viva section of our herald featuring an article about 20 something females doing ‘it’ all and doing ‘it’ now.

“It” being Art. Whether its photography, writing, acting, painting, designing or all everything, ‘It’s” Art. And I want in.

Right now all I teach is music. All day. Everyday.
Truly it’s great when I’m not in the mood I’m in now. But while I’m feeling it, I will write, and then I will never forget I was once inspired and idealistic.

Here’s the magnet: Music is my reality, but art is the force that is attracting me to my true self.

All this reading about the photographer for the Frankie mag makes me want it. The fight, the competition, the industry battle. The lights, the action and me being the one to say it.

I want to live in Barcelona in a crumbly old shack (totally idealised I’m aware- the crumbly and Barcelona combination is probably not that attractive in reality- but for now when everything is more textured and coloured with lazy hues in my dreams, I want it) and paint. I want to be the photographer for the covers of the Frankie mag (I have already done a few I could choose from to last at least 4 months). I want to teach art to tired old men and bring passion and reason (the purpose kind- not reality based). I want to battle it out for exhibitions and show my work in the Biennale di Venezia.

Or at the very bare minimum least- I want to have paint splatters as my manicure again. The closest I get to whiteboard markers.

I think this entire lament really truly boils down to teaching from some shockingly designed year level workbooks. They range from all colours of the rainbow for easy visibility and have centred size 12 Times New Roman font with pixilated images and clip art borders. It’s clearly depressing. Surely it’s not regarded as quality Duty of Care and correct transmission of curriculum to teach content from such ugly manuals? (Yikes, I’m aware I sound like a gay man on a labour site).

Perhaps this is also me flexing my newly built graduate teacher wings and planning my school domination.
Next yr I will teach (wait.... ((word change)) inspire....!) from books with all the correct aesthetic principals and I will be paid (albeit minuscule- which is a fortune when you have nada) to do it. Wow.

But for now I shall go against my very Gen Y nature and stop idealizing and settle back to my current reality and wait till I have the guts to pay a dog to eat everyone’s homework.