graculus: (oh please)
There's a bit of an ongoing debate in my line of work about what you need to be able to do to teach English to people where it's not their first language - some people seem to think that it's enough that you're a native speaker as if that magically gives you the ability to help other people learn it as well. Short version: it's not. Alongside this, there's the whole 'can't it all just be done by well-meaning volunteers?' argument which makes me break out in hives. As if our learners don't deserve properly-qualified teachers who know what they're doing and are paid to do the job, just because the qualification they're doing is tailored for them and not folks who were born here.

We just got some funding to run courses for people who're not otherwise eligible to access our classes (for example, we only have a very small pot of money for asylum seekers to get access to classes each year, so when it's gone that's it) and it's to support volunteers teaching them. See previous argument and why I won't be applying for the temporary secondment to run that project, because I probably couldn't keep my mouth shut about how I feel. The question is, I guess, whether it's better for folks to have something rather than nothing?

I was asked a couple of weeks back if I wouldn't mind one of the volunteers coming to spend the morning with a class I'm teaching, which I happily agreed to. It's useful for us as teachers to see other people doing stuff differently and I have no problem with someone coming in, but then the guy in question turned out to be the absolute epitome of white hipster nonsense. I had my learners asking him questions so they could practice on him and he wants to teach 'poor children in India' but hasn't really got his head around all this grammar stuff. Ugh. Get away with your white saviour BS, 'poor children in India' deserve better than you too. Thanks too for reinforcing my previous decision.
graculus: (Default)
We're almost at the stage of finalising my classes for September - it always seems a little odd to be thinking that I'll know my routine through to well past this time next year that far in advance, but it's the only way to do it, so there we are. From preliminary discussions, it's looking very much like a re-run of this year, two weekday mornings, two weekday afternoons and a Saturday morning class but less of them so I can enter some fencing competitions and have room to manoeuvre dates as required.

I'm starting to get disorganised in my head, because we're really on the home stretch now and I can almost taste the end of term. One more week and then it's half term and, at the moment, I don't have as many commitments in terms of invigilation as usual - I'm not quite so stretched for money and am teaching more hour, so I didn't offer as much availability as usual. At the moment I only have 3 exams for the actual half term week where previously I've worked all day pretty much every day, but I also have a bunch of stuff I need to get finished for my college course so there's plenty of reasons why I'm not so worried about that.

I also just picked up another, short-term, class through to mid-July but that's relatively stress-free as I've been given the okay to do without exams and it's easy for me to just re-use material I already have for a new audience. It's also extra money on top of my existing hours, so that's nice and will go a good way to paying for my expensive Finland trip. Of course, I made that trip (hello, WorldCon!) more expensive than it needed to be by adding on a hiking expedition beforehand and some time in Turku too, but I figure I may well never visit again so why not?

The only problem is that I also made the mistake of watching a documentary series about the Hebrides so now I want to go back and am wondering if I can squeeze a week in Scotland in there too before I start work again in September, though I may have to skip a potential competition to do it. I need to have a look at the dates and figure it out.
graculus: (Default)
I have an assignment due in tomorrow, so of course I'm dicking around online instead. ;)

It's not too bad, I've done most of the work but just need to pull it together and then find some references to back up why I've done what I've done. It's all about using technology for learning, so I've been running an Instagram group with one of my classes and that's provided a lot of source material to talk about - they also gave me some written feedback about their experiences, since I'd deliberately chosen one of my smaller but more adept classes to do this with!

From conversations with other folks on my course, the general feeling seems to be that pretty much everyone is bored, not just me, so that's kind of a relief I guess? A number of the sessions seem to be 'research this while you're here and tell everyone else about it' which seems kind of lazy when used as a method repeatedly. Do some bloody teaching, earn your money! We're almost at the end of the first year, thank the elder gods, though I still have two observed teaching sessions to get through. Those are a pain, not because of doing the teaching but because of all the paperwork I have to provide justifying why I'm doing X rather than Y or Z, with references of course!

In terms of work, I'm rapidly heading towards the Easter break with just 2 weeks left - one of my classes finishes next week but the other two don't and I've also got exams to do for my own class and a few for other people. And then a couple of weeks off, coincidentally when my fencing club is also closed! *runs around waving her arms in the air*

I think I'm also about to make myself a little unpopular with my boss as we're heading towards the time of year when she timetables the classes for September onwards. As I'm sure you can imagine, there's not a massive queue of people wanting to teach on a Saturday morning and I'd kind of felt last year that it was my turn to do it. It didn't make much difference for me in terms of any other commitments, so why not? Because fencing competitions often seem to put women's foil on the Saturday, that's why not! Aaaargh. In the coming academic year there'll be at least 2 extra Saturdays I won't want to work and that means either finding extra dates to accommodate the replacement classes or finding someone to cover those dates but also hoping I don't have to cancel any because of sickness. Naturally, those competitions have also not yet finalised their dates for 2017-18 because why should they?
graculus: (Default)
Okay, what's been going on since my last post way back in September? Well, the weasel is still alive, though I swear he gets scrawnier every time I look at him - still, as long as his quality of life is okay, I'm not going to complain.

In work news, we got a bizarre email last week going 'oh, btw, you should have got a pay rise 18 months ago but we forgot, so you're getting it and your resultant back pay in the next pay packet' which led to a few raised eyebrows. I'm still teaching 3 courses, though the second of my 6-month courses (which is due to start in February) may well end up being whatever level is needed for demand. I'm also hoping to negotiate a slight time change so that I get more than a 30 minute turnaround to get one lot of learners out, shove some lunch down my neck and be ready for the next lot to come in the door. Fortunately that only happens one day a week but it's a real pain.

I also got my first plagiarism of the academic year this past week. I'd asked for my folks to write something about an interesting place they'd been, only for one of them to give me something that was very obviously culled from Wikipedia. So I made a few choice comments to the group as a whole and also gave her some written feedback and hopefully that won't recur. Full marks for trying, though!

I've also just started at a new gym, which is based in my local high school. It's not open all day but the location and not having to pay parking charges makes up for that. I've had a year's free membership with the council gym but wasn't going to any classes other than Pilates once a week, which I want to continue, so I've saved money from not paying parking and just the sheer aggravation of driving into town. I'm a little annoyed that the people who're supposed to be supporting me from the council scheme apparently forgot I exist a few months back and I'd had nothing to say what should happen next, so I think a terse email will be heading their way next week. I didn't really need it, but I hope other people who need more support than me get a better service!

In college news, it's all a bit tedious at the moment, interspersed with the people who know the least about teaching apparently being the ones with the most opinions on the subject. Naturally, when faced with the prospect of a 2,500 word assignment, my response as a fic writer was only 2,500? - I've started work on it and it's already past that but I figured cutting it back would be easier.

Finally, I'm still making progress with the fencing lessons. Passed Grade 1 Foil a few weeks back and I understand the coach is keen to get those of us who're currently having lessons through Grade 2 before Christmas so he can then take on a new lot of learners in January and use us as examples as and when required. Or something like that. I have a continuous set of bruises on my leading thigh but am about to order proper fencing breeches (thanks, unexpected back pay!) which I hope may reduce that a little. My only regret is that, because of their location, I can't show off my bruises to the folks at work! :P
graculus: (Default)
I'm now a couple of weeks into the routine of the academic year, so I'm getting used to regular times and days once again. Two of my classes are nearly full, which is excellent, while the other is struggling a bit so it's not currently clear if that will continue or not - half-term is the date for a decision on that, so we'll see what happens. In other, work-related news, I've been freed from the tyranny of the time-sheet at last and so don't have to account for myself all the time, just in time to deal with the college course!

That's going to properly start this coming week, after a couple of introductory weeks where we haven't achieved a great deal and I've eyed up the folks I think are going to struggle. Shortly we have to do a 20-minute teaching session that's observed and for peer feedback and that could see the wheels come off the wagon for a couple of people. Personally, I just want to get on with it since I have 4 teaching observations and various assignments to do and can't be bothered with endless ice breakers and the like.

Meanwhile, in the land of pet-owning, we've had a bit of drama. I'm now down to the last, elderly remnant of my ferrets - I did the maths and think he's 7 now, which is positively geriatric for weasel-kind. Recently, he's developed a lump on his neck which he's now had a good scratch at, so I took him off to the vets earlier this week to get an opinion on said lump and options for removal. The view overall was that the lump was eminently removable but that he probably wouldn't survive the surgery - I'd been asked to starve him in case the vet decided to go ahead with the operation and he was very poorly looking when he was there. We discovered that he also has quite a large cyst in his innards, which the vet drained at the time but I wasn't even convinced he'd survive the rest of the day. And then he perked up suddenly and started eating, so who knows?

In slightly cheerier news, I'm still learning to fence and have the bruises to prove it! Last practice of the month is always Fight Night, where we get the electric scoring kit out. I got to fight 5 different people last night, including one left-hander (which is always a source of entertainment) and the U15 regional silver medallist (who usually fences épée so it was fairer than it sounds and I took a couple of points off him). In the former match, I managed to slap my opponent's sword down onto my own leg and now have a 6" x 2" bruise as a memento of the occasion.
graculus: (oh please)
Okay, that sounds much more dramatic than is actually the case, but it's as good a title as any so we'll go with it! Yes, it's the summer holidays (so that, in the UK at least, means torrential rain alternating with days which are quite nice) and I have 3 weeks left before I have to actually start trying to teach something to someone. Which means schemes of work and lesson plans - slightly complicated by the fact that for one course I need a scheme of work for the entire year and have never taught a course that lasted more than two terms, and for the other I'm teaching at a level I've not taught before.

I'd had a couple of speculative enquiries from the firm where I temped last year as to my availability (both over the summer and in the autumn term) but was uncharacteristically realistic with myself in terms of what I already have going on. Sure, money is great but so is not losing the plot because you're trying to do too much! And then there's the little matter of starting at college myself too, which I'd pretty much forgotten till I looked at my calendar for September and saw a not about enrolment. *headdesk*

For the courses I've taught before, a new issue also arises in the form of returning students. How it works in my particular subject is that folks need to pass three exams (Speaking & Listening, Reading and Writing) before they can move on to the next level courses and it usually takes people a year to do all three. Sometimes a little longer if they're really struggling with one of the units - usually Writing is the hardest of the three, though occasionally we get people who can write grammatically but then the tenses fly out of their head when talking. Because I just finished teaching two Entry 2 classes which were less than a year, I now have the pleasure of at least 3 learners in my Entry 2 class who've already been through some of the material I'd normally use and in recent months to boot. Which means finding other stuff I can use so that I don't make life too easy for them!

In other work-related news, one of my former students who messed me about a lot (not turning up and then insisting he was better than he actually was) pestered his way into doing a Speaking & Listening exam while I was away - I'd put him in for it then he promptly disappeared, having attended less than 30% of the classes, only to state he'd 'missed a few'. Is it wrong of me to have laughed like a drain when I discovered that he failed it?

In non-work news, after just about recovering from bronchitis, I then went to Nine Worlds and got con crud, so I've been living on cold relief stuff again since getting back last week. At least I got to do what I wanted there, which was as much catch up with people (including some fan-girling of two particular authors) as go to panels. It's hard sometimes to balance the 'oh, we've already discussed this to death in fandom' aspect with other people's enthusiasm for what is new-to-them and so some panels I might have gone to ended up being ones I knew I could quite competently do and so avoided. The panels I went to were interesting though, so I didn't feel like I'd missed out too much - this year the location meant they were much closer together and I only missed out on one I wanted to go to because I arrived too late to get in.

Next year, of course, is WorldCon in Helsinki so it's fairly unlikely I'll be going to Nine Worlds as well (since it's the weekend before) as if I'm going to Finland, I want to get a chance to see more than just the capital. Now I have my timetable, I know that I'm finishing classes earlier this coming year and so I could go out before the con for a couple of weeks, but that's still a decision to be made - I need to have a look at where I want to go and get some costings, as it might be cheaper (in terms of flights and hotels) to finish with WorldCon than have it be the start of my trip. Helsinki! \o/

Other than that, stopped writing a while back and have been too lazy to get my arse in gear since - once I broke my streak on 750Words I didn't get myself going again. Knowing the way my brain operates though, I fully expect that once I'm back in a routine and at all under the cosh in terms of time, my creative side will suddenly start wanting an outlet. That's usually what happens, never when it's convenient of course! :P
graculus: (Default)
Nearly at the end of term, thank heavens.

First off, the student teacher did not come back. I'm hoping it's been suggested to her that perhaps teaching is not really her thing and she ought to consider something else, but I have no idea if that's the case or not. I'm currently in the middle of organising and managing exams, not to mention encouraging folks to sign up for classes in September (with 4 of my students joining one of my classes already, which means I'm 25% full on that class with people where I already know what they can and can't do, which makes my life much easier).

I've also managed to snag a few more hours from September of what was going spare, though I didn't want to take on too much and also wanted to keep a day off in the week if I could - in order to manage both of those aims, I've agreed to teach a Saturday morning class, but at a higher level than I've taught before so that's going to be interesting. It's very grammar-heavy at that level, which is no issue for me, except making sure that I know how to explain the rules (which I've discovered is quite a different thing from knowing if something is right or not when I read it). Teaching on a Saturday means that I will now have Thursdays off completely and also no teaching commitments on Mondays before I head off late afternoon to college for a few hours each week.

I realised a few weeks back that if I didn't get a wiggle on, I wasn't going to actually have a holiday this year (since going to Nine Worlds doesn't really count, even if I sneak off to a museum or two instead of going to panels now I'm going to be in central London) so I've been organising to go to Mull for 10 days before the schools all break up. I'm also going to be camping, though camping when you have a car is a little less Spartan since you don't have to carry everything with you wherever you go. I've booked a couple of trips when I'm there, but tried not to organise myself too much just in case - my main plan is books, coffee and beer, and wandering about. It's prime otter territory, apparently, but that's what they said about Skye too and I never saw any otters there!

I also recently took a refresher navigation course, since I live very close to the Peak District National Park but haven't really explored it properly. I'd done map and compass navigation many years ago but had forgotten most of it, so I went off the other Saturday and spent the day re-learning how to do stuff and also would like to get back and do more later on in the year - the same guy does navigation in poor visibility training, which could be very useful in the coming dystopia. ;)

You may notice I have not, to this point, mentioned the referendum. I'm really not sure what there is to say about it, other than that one side was vigorously campaigning on what's turned out (to the surprise of nobody on this side of the situation) to be a tissue of lies and half-truths at best. It's also validated the views of a small bunch of horrible people who now think that the majority agrees with them about 'foreigners' and people who are British but not White, making them feel bolder about being arseholes in public. The folks who 'won' clearly didn't expect to, because they had no plans on what should happen next, so we're stuck in a bit of a limbo at the moment while political power games carry on and everyone on both sides of the House try and jockey for position.

It's all a bit pathetic but also quite worrying because nobody really knows what's going to happen - the referendum was, after all, advisory (another thing that seems to have been glossed over by and to the folks who want to leave the EU) so could be ignored by government if they want to do so, though that would probably require significantly more backbone than most politicians possess when faced with unpopularity. Whether or not I'll have folks to teach in the longer term is another matter, but for now nothing has immediately changed, so we'll have to see just how deep we're all in the shitter.

Yikes!

Jun. 8th, 2016 05:41 pm
graculus: (oh shit)
I'll be the first one to admit I have an issue with second-hand embarrassment - it's something I absolutely hate seeing as a plot-line in TV or movies and will happily turn off a show if it goes down that route - so how much worse when it's working out right in front of you at work?

I've had a student teacher with me one morning a week for the last few weeks. She's nearly at the end of her course and has been spending time with myself and a couple of other teachers, getting an idea of different levels of learners and also some of the subjects we teach adults. As part of this placement she had to do some actual teaching and, since she seemed keen to do it, I agreed she could take the lesson this week - I'd suggested a subject area my learners haven't tackled yet (namely, how we talk about future plans) and said I'd be more than happy to see anything she prepared, give her feedback and so on.

My first hint that this was going to be a bit of a train-wreck should have been when she emailed me last week and seemed to say she was going to teach something else, so I replied and reminded her what I'd asked her to cover. She didn't, however, send me anything more about what she was planning. Probably because she didn't really have anything planned and was hoping to kind of 'wing it', which is a tactic that rarely works all that well unless you are massively knowledgeable about your subject, have a bundle of confidence and learners who'll go along with what you're doing because they understand what you're talking about. Today was a perfect storm of none of the above. *headdesk*

Anyway, that happened. At one point, after my manager had left (since she was observing the lesson as well in an official capacity) I had to point out that what this person was teaching was actually wrong and the example she was giving didn't use the tense she was trying to illustrate. Bad enough that I'm going to have to do a lesson next week on the same area, to deal with this and try and restore some confidence on the part of the learners (not tomorrow, that'll be too soon, the dust needs to settle!), but then she asked me at the end of the lesson if I was teaching the one next week! Fortunately I was in the middle of a conversation with someone and managed to bite back my almost-instinctive response that she'd done enough... she'll be having a conversation with my manager on Friday so I guess I'll see if she even comes back next week!

In other news, also work-related, I've been offered a place at college from September to get my teaching qualification. Yep, the course I couldn't start last year because the sky had fallen will be starting this year instead. Back to academia for the 4th (and last!) time, because I still have a good chunk of my working life ahead of me (alas) and need the options this qualification will give me. I've already asked my boss to keep reminding me of this when I inevitably start grumbling and, at least, I would have to work very hard to make any observed lesson I might have could match the one I cringed my way through this morning! ;)
graculus: (Default)
I managed to lose my house keys yesterday so had to call a locksmith, which I don't recommend not because said locksmith wasn't a really nice guy (he was) but because it cost a load of money. Since he couldn't pick the lock, he had to drill it out and replace it. And I'd just picked up my car from its MOT and was rejoicing over the fact that it had passed without needing anything done to it. Knowing how my income works, all I could think was 'well, that's x hours teaching'. :(

I'm very much enjoying working part-time but the drop in overall income is not so enjoyable - I used to travel a lot more, but now what with teaching in term time and the money thing that hasn't really happened. However, we have a couple of people retiring in July so their hours should soon be up for grabs. We run a load of ESOL courses every week (weekday mornings, afternoons, late afternoons, most evenings and even Saturday mornings) at various levels and in four different centres so I'm really glad I'm not the one who has to timetable it all!

I'm trying to get out more on my day off and also really want to have a proper holiday at the end of our year (the week before the schools break up), to the point where I've been offered the possibility of more work by the university but they want me to do more training and I'm probably going to blow that off in favour of going to Scotland for a week. Going to conventions is nice but it's not really a holiday, you know?

I also got invited to stay behind this week at fencing and train with the rest of the adults for the first time, so I must be making progress; that means I got out of warming up again, as I was still very much warmed up from my lesson! At the moment, there are only two women turning up regularly (both of us relative beginners), so that means I got to fence a couple of teenage boys this week in addition to my fellow learners - I don't mind losing, though it's frustrating, as long as I've given it a good shot and hopefully taken at least one point off them. I'm now about halfway through my first set of lessons so I can definitely see myself carrying on past that, though I plan to delay buying any equipment for as long as humanly possible.
graculus: (Default)
Apologies to the folks who find my recent foray into the world of fitness etc. of zero interest - in recognition of that, I've put the next part of my post behind a cut so you can skip onto me whittering about other things instead!

blah, blah, rowing machines and fencing... )

In other news, well there's not a whole bunch to say. I'm still teaching two classes, though I've now been given a student teacher for a few weeks so she can see what life is like in adult education - she came today and I asked my learners to talk about their course and they immediately told her what a good teacher I was, which made me laugh a lot. I've been given an idea of what I'll be teaching from September and it's pretty much the same, unexpected funding cuts permitting!

I'm also reading a lot (no surprises there) and went to see Captain America: Civil War on Friday when it opened in the UK. It will probably come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I loved it, though I still prefer the Russos' previous movie. Without spoiling anyone, since I know it's only opening elsewhere this week, I'd say that it probably tries to do too much but still manages most of it. Also Chris Evans' eyelash game is very strong. ;)
graculus: (Default)
As we rapidly head towards the Easter break, I am looking forward to trying to get ahead of the game in terms of course preparation for the two classes I'm teaching - I'd already got a lot of material I could use since I'd taught stuff at a similar level in the last academic year but (of course) no two courses are completely alike. I've also had to adjust what I'm doing for one class because it's being taught alongside functional maths and ICT classes, which means teaching the kind of vocabulary that you need to be able to follow instructions around those subjects and also talk about what you're doing. So that's a bit of a work in progress!

In theory, there's a bit of an overlap in terms of ability between my two courses but the extremes at both ends drag things out of a nice sensible shape. At one end I've got a chap who says he's bored because he knows everything I'm teaching - though when I get him to do stuff in class, that's not always borne out by his work, so I'm taking that with a big pinch of salt - and at the other end I've got folks who sit and look at me like rabbits in the headlights. So there's a lot of repetition in that class. A lot of repetition. *sigh*

Anyway, at least I've started getting paid again, that's the main thing - the outstanding wages from the university turned up, I got paid for the hours I taught in January and I'm looking forward to wrestling with the tax office soon about the money I've given them which I'll be having back. Unfortunately for them, I keep meticulous records of all my incomings (good thing too, since I got paid by three different employers last year) so it's not as much of a chore as it could be.

In other news, my aged computer finally fell over and breathed its last, just refusing to boot up at all. Considering it had gone through various bits being replaced over its lifespan, not to mention outliving the company that made it by a matter of 7 years, I decided that enough was enough. So now I have a refurbished Windows 7 computer that cost me less than a night in a London budget hotel and so far, so good.

Speaking of London hotels (see, what a neat segue!) I'm still currently undecided about what to do about Nine Worlds this year. I enjoyed last year's convention, mostly because of getting to hang out with folks, since a lot of the fandom panels in particular were quite basic in nature. And this year, after a bunch of understandable complaints regarding the hotel it's moved to, of all places, Hammersmith. Very convenient for the folks running it who I assume mostly live in London but a little more difficult for the rest of us who weren't able to get a hotel room in the hour that the discount rate rooms were on sale.

Being in the hotel itself makes a big difference to the experience (in my opinion), both in terms of being able to disappear off for a bit of peace and quiet if needed and also not having to worry about carrying everything you're going to need for the day. A list of back-up hotels has gone round but I've yet to organise anything, so who knows if any of those other places even still have space? I was also underwhelmed by the concept of having to phone to book stuff, because phones... bleurgh. So I may or may not be going, I really don't know right now.

If nothing else, I will be going to Helsinki next year. I'm already starting to look at what else I'll be doing while I'm there, though sadly I think I'm missing the main season for spotting flying squirrels!
graculus: (Default)
Oops, how has it been a month since I last posted? Anyway, last time, I was making plans to go down to London and then do some work, first for the university and then getting back to teaching again.

I highly recommend the Cosmonauts exhibition at the Science Museum, in case anyone here has the chance to go and hasn't yet - all sorts of cool stuff from the history of Russian space exploration, though the gift shop was shockingly lacking in cool stuff I wanted to buy (except for all the posters, where I could have pretty much cleared the wall if I'd let myself). What I wanted, more than anything, was a mug with the Valentina Tereshkova poster artwork on it, but nope.

Since I've been back, I did a week at the university and then started shadowing the folks who're currently teaching the course where I'm taking over the ESOL part when it runs again from after half term. Getting the other tutors together to review this (since it was a pilot) was a nightmare though, since there are 4 of them and nobody could do the same times as everyone else, so we've ended up having two meetings to cover that. I suppose I should probably be grateful we've managed it with only two!

Meanwhile, I've also picked up another course to teach, starting the same time, which is excellent news in financial terms. I'd like to say I've been prepping stuff for both of them, but that'd be a lie, though I have been organising what I already have so I can actually find what I'm looking for. And I also got given a load of stuff by one of the tutors who retired, so I have no shortage of possible material, only needing the time and concentration to look through it and see what's still useful.

I also did a solid week's worth of invigilation in January, so I'm looking forward to getting paid for that this month. In related news, I was in the supermarket and bumped into the woman who organises the medical school exams, only for me to completely blank on where I knew her from (since it was utterly out of context) and have to blag that I remembered when I didn't. *headdesk*

Meanwhile, in terms of health and welfare news, I signed up for something last year through my local council which offered free gym and classes for a year if you met certain criteria (which I did) and am trying to improve my overall fitness. Not quite a New Year resolution, since it started in November! I think I'd got to that point where anything like fatigue was a toss-up between 'am I ill?', 'am I just getting older?' or 'is it just that I'm not very fit any more?' (like the question about whether there was something going on with my thyroid function, which came back as not proven) and decided the best way to sort out between the two was to remove one of them as a possible factor. Sadly, it wasn't 'am I just getting older?', which nobody can do anything about! ;)

Anyway, I've been going to the gym although I find the cardio aspect of it incredibly tedious, and also trying out Pilates, which can best be summarised as 'I was never very coordinated when I was younger and that has not improved'. This week I was also persuaded to attend a circuit class, which would have been fine if I hadn't been the only person to turn up - free personal training is not fun, my thighs can tell you all about it two days later!

Longer term, I'd also like to get back into some kind of regular sport and am currently looking at what's feasible for me considering age and attention span. I played hockey (field hockey to the folks across the water) for more than 10 years but don't really fancy getting back into that again, even though there are 'veterans' teams. One thing I've been looking at is fencing, since there's a local club that does adult lessons quite reasonably priced and it's something I've always wanted to try. But improving my basic fitness comes first, I'll make some enquiries after Easter about that and see where things go from there...
graculus: (oh please)
Finally met with my boss so now I know what I'm going to be doing next year, when my new teaching contract kicks in. I've been asked to do evaluations for a particular course that's currently running for the first time (which gives students an IT, ESOL and numeracy qualification) and then take over teaching the ESOL part of it when the next cohort starts after February half-term, right through to late July by the time we've done exams. It's only a little more in terms of hours than I was teaching last year, but it is the next level up from what I was teaching last academic year so that's another new curriculum and new things to figure out how to teach!

Anyway, in terms of my interview apparently there were a bunch of folks who didn't score as highly as I did despite being more experienced/qualified. Likewise the teacher I'm taking over from had never actually had an interview before and since this is a course specifically for jobseekers, that was one of the reasons I've been asked to take it over - the other was that my manager wanted someone with 'a bit more spark' (which doesn't surprise me, since the teacher I'm taking over from always reminds me of Eeyore).

Anyway, the way it's going to work next year is that I should be able to do a week's invigilation for the university before I start with this job, so that'll help out in terms of money. I'm currently temping 5 mornings a week which is a bit tedious but helps immensely in terms of regular income as I continue to figure out how much the tax office are going to give me back in the new financial year. ;)

If I'm going to get to London, it's going to have to be the first week in January, which is always risky in terms of weather, as the Celts exhibition ends that month. I've discovered I will in fact only be teaching 3 days a week, not 5, so that's a little less traumatic in terms of organising my life although my only opportunities for a block of time off will now be the same as school terms, which is not so good for getting anywhere cheap. That's not so much of an issue this year, but in 2017 I really wanted to go to Finland for a couple of weeks before WorldCon, which is the first full weekend in August so that's going to take a little bit of organising once I know what next academic year's timetable brings.

I'm going to do a separate post for books, since I've read some absolute crackers since the last book-related post back in June and possibly a TV post too over the next few days - currently really enjoying Jessica Jones (though I'm only 2 episodes in so far) and hoping it continues to be this good all the way through!
graculus: (olivia)
A little while ago, I got an email to say that I had been successful at interview yesterday (god, was it only yesterday afternoon?) and am going to be offered a contract. *\o/*

Which means that I will be teaching again from January, taking over an existing class and/or starting with a new class of my own - the organisation had gone into a holding pattern pending the restructuring and so we'd started less classes than we normally would to be sure we had the funding and the tutors to teach them. Some of the classes running now are being taught by tutors who are taking redundancy at the end of the year while we also have more students waiting to start who we couldn't guarantee we'd have classes for prior to this all getting sorted out.

I have to be honest, I had pretty much convinced myself that while they were giving us all a shot, it wasn't going to work out. Instead, next week, I'll be meeting with my manager to confirm how many hours I'll be teaching and start to look at what classes/times/days. This should also mean I can start the PGCE next year, unless we get a major axe taken to our funding again between now and next September.

Holy shit, I still can't quite believe it. :)
graculus: (Default)
It really is downhill and no brakes till the end of the year, isn't it? It seems like only five minutes ago I thought I knew what I was doing and then it all went to pot - I've just started back working 4 hours a day on a temporary basis at the place I worked at in August, doing data entry. And trust me, 4 hours of that is more than enough! The money's not great but every little helps while we see what's what and I've told them I'm available till Christmas, which works for them as well.

The process with the other job is going to interviews, so I don't hold out a great deal of hope I'll be one of the lucky ones, since there are others out there with a lot more qualifications and experience than I have, but I may claw back some credit because I actually bothered to do training this year (which I know some of the 'old hands' didn't) and because I am prepared to do any day, any time. My interview is on Tuesday afternoon, so I plan to give it my best shot and see how it goes.

Since I have time on my hands, I'm currently trying to get my garden cut back before winter really arrives, as well as clearing out extraneous crap in the house. And cooking, a lot of cooking - I subscribe to a bunch of cooking blogs and use an app called ChefTap to get them onto my tablet, so I can use it as a cookbook. Also it's now apparently pumpkin season, since the local supermarkets have loads of them (for carving, not eating, I presume!) so I expect my newly-cleared-out cupboard under the stairs is about to get some new residents. ;)

In other news, I'm still writing every day and have well over 60,000 words written in the period I've been signed up to 750 Words - it's all been Man from UNCLE movie fic so far, but when I'm done with the story I'm currently working on, I intend to dive back into my WiP (where some Mag7 and WWW lurk) and see if I can knock some of those on the head finally.

Since it's new TV season, I'll do a separate post on that and maybe also a book post soon - I'm still regularly posting on Booklikes if anyone is interested and am currently at 102 books read this year. I'd set a target for myself of 100 so I'm past that and still going, courtesy of my TBR bookcase and my local library's 45p hold arrangement.
graculus: (olivia)
As regular readers of these posts will know, all my clever plans to teach this academic year and also start a part-time PGCE got given a major kicking by our lovely Tory government's inability to manage joined-up thinking. Sure, we're going to be taking more refugees (as we should, no argument from me) and in the meanwhile people need to learn English for reasons but this will happen by unfunded means similar in appearance to magic.

Anyway, the current situation is this - we're in consultation over what happens from January onwards. The folks I work for employ a bunch of folks on various fractions of a full-time post and then a few folks like myself who are paid on a sessional basis. The fractional folks have to teach so many hours per year, depending on their contract, and get paid through the year, while us sessional folks only get paid for what we teach and have no entitlement.

From next week, the organisation is running a reduced level of classes staffed by the fractional folks as a holding position while they reorganise for January, at which point people will either have a job or not. Fractional folks can take voluntary redundancy before this (and the teacher whose class I took over in January this year has done that) or will get compulsory redundancy if they don't get re-hired. Sessional folks are eligible for neither but it's been agreed we can put ourselves forward for re-hiring on the same basis as the fractional folks. This is an unexpectedly even-handed approach and actually I was pleasantly surprised to hear the door was open for us too.

So we're not completely bollocksed, but it's still a bit up in the air. We should get interviews mid-October, unless enough people leave or voluntarily reduce their hours prior to that and mean the relevant hours can be provided by everyone left without too much squabbling. There's already been at least one 'why don't we all play nice and reduce our hours a bit so we don't have to go through this?' but some of us don't have any hours to reduce and others can't afford to. It's a nice idea but relies on the concept that folks are doing this job for pin money and while that's certainly true for one or two I'm aware of, it's definitely not the case for others.

The PGCE is done for this year, though. No guaranteed teaching hours (at least not until January, assuming I'm successful at interview) = no place. I'm going to ask for deferred entry, as they'd accepted my application, as things will be settled this time next year, one way or another!
graculus: (smirk)
After the metaphorical smack-in-the-face that was last week, I figure I deserved a break and on Monday I seem to have got a small one at least... I got a text from the agency who organised the time I worked in the university library (and I didn't think I was still on their books, as it was more than 18 months ago) asking for someone to do admin work for a couple of weeks locally.

I started yesterday and it's going to be 17 days' worth of work in all, in the office of a small manufacturing company (don't ask me exactly what it is they manufacture, something to do with insulation) dealing with purchase orders and all that sort of thing. Yesterday was a crash course in what to do, as the person whose job I'm covering is away on holiday, though she's only been there a couple of weeks herself!

And yes, they know I need next Thursday & Friday off (I can't believe it's time for Nine Worlds already!) and were cool with that too, so that's excellent news. Hopefully I'll be getting some work from the university in August too, as it's resit time and apparently there's a lot more demand than they were originally expecting (uh oh!), though there's a bit of an overlap so I won't be available for just over half of the resit period. Hooray for money! \o/
graculus: (oh please)
This week in particular, our lovely Prime Minister has been banging on about the importance of integration and British values and all that stuff.

And then he sloped off on what is planned to be the first of possibly 3 holidays before reluctantly coming back to work in September, but that's another story altogether...

One of the ways we encourage integration and all that is by people who live here learning English. It's good for people, both as individuals and as employees, that they can communicate with other people in the community in which they are living. Likewise it's good for employers if the people they employ are able to do their job and having an appropriate level of English helps with that too.

As my regular readers will know, I teach English to folks in that situation, some of whom pay for themselves and some of whom are sent by the Job Centre because their English needs to be better in order for them to get and keep a job. We also get folks who are kind of in the middle of this, not sent by the Job Centre, but taking advantage of the lower fees for people who are on state benefits. Last year we ran about 60 classes, because we were getting some money in advance for the folks who get sent and also some money afterwards if we get people through exams.

However, given this government's stunning record on hypocritical decision making, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the budget to cover people being sent to learn English has been completely axed this week (and while we knew there was a possibility of some cuts, we didn't expect it would get the chop). Which means no guarantees for the organisation I work for that we will get enough bodies in September to make classes viable and therefore leaving folks like me (who don't have a permanent contract, so the organisation has no obligations to give me work) in limbo.

I literally went from a conversation on Monday about classes I would shortly be confirmed as teaching in September to an email yesterday afternoon that they may not be able to offer me anything because it's all up in the air. Likewise, I'd been offered a place at college myself from September to start getting a full teaching qualification, but that's conditional on me having teaching hours so they can observe me over the year. No teaching hours = no college place.

At the moment, I'm not sure if I'm more angry or upset but (as you can imagine) not feeling great about this. We're also just over 2 weeks away from Geekfest and I really don't feel like dealing with all of that at the moment - curling up under the duvet for the foreseeable future is looking far more appealing!
graculus: (olivia)
Still waiting on final details of my classes for September, but I'm keeping 'my' evening class, along with picking up something else (as yet still to be confirmed). Instead of 3 evenings, I'm going to be teaching slightly longer for 2, as I'll be at college myself on the Wednesday. Still, even if I don't get anything else consistent, I've survived so far and there's always cover and exams hours to pick up.

Speaking of exams, my students have done me proud. We usually do exams in all three terms but since I only took over the class in January, I'd put a hold on everything till this term. That gave me a chance to see where everyone was at, get them all lots of practice at what they needed to be able to do and also catch up the new folks. We have rolling admission, so people can join any time of the year (if there's room in a particular class) and that means going over everything on the curriculum more than once throughout the year. I've got a couple of folks re-taking one of the exams next week, after very narrowly failing, but if they pass I will have pushed a significant majority of my class up to the next level. And now some of them are going 'but what classes are you teaching in September?'. ;)

I'm picking up some mandatory training next month, as well as (hopefully) resits for the university in August, but that's pretty much it in terms of work till September. So I've decided that it's time for a major sort-out of the house, including the dreaded cupboard under the stairs. *shudders* This is not a task that fills me with joy, but it definitely needs doing - I've just recycled about 5 years' worth of carrier bags, as well as getting rid of broken electrical items that had been lurking in various cupboards. All sorts of minor domestic chores need doing and, if I'm not working, I don't really have an excuse for not doing them except for 'I can't be bothered'.

Being an adult sucks. :P
graculus: (hero)
Status: currently waiting for an email to tell me what classes I'll be teaching in September, which is apparently also known as 'the time when we all try not to kill each other' according to one of the admin folks.

At least I have passed my probation, with comments being made about how much better I was than they expected a new tutor to be and how their feedback was to help me be even better, rather than just 'good enough'. Hopefully that bodes well for what will be offered from the pickings of the carcass of classes left by the permanent contract tutors (and yes, I am one of the hyenas in this scenario, but meat is meat). I could do with the same hours again as I have been teaching, to be honest, but I'll take what I can get.

I need a minimum number anyway, as I plan to get qualified starting in September - my tuition fees loan application came through very quickly and I won't have to pay it back till I'm earning at least £21K, which could take a while. ;)

The main craziness of exam season is over too, though there are still the August resits to cover - I fully expect I'll see a few of the folks I did exams with these past few weeks again, like the lass who came to a foundation science exam but forgot to bring a calculator. *headdesk*

In other news, I went to the GP because I've been feeling lethargic and cold - though as I'm getting older, it's becoming increasingly difficult to separate 'feeling tired' and 'getting older' - and the blood test says I'm on the borderline for hypothyroidism. So, back in a few more weeks for another test to see if that's what is going on. In the meantime, I've been really glad I'm not working full time, because I can drag myself off to work to teach for a couple of hours (perform, really, because that's what it is - a performance) and that's perfectly doable.

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