Tasks for the Maintenance and Betterment of Living

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a rut and have found myself at a loose end. It all started around February 2015 when I noticed that I wasn’t really happy. I had put on a lot of weight (over a stone since I started teaching), I wasn’t doing much that I enjoyed and as a result found myself just being incredibly lazy. A lot of this I out down to work. I wasn’t happy working in the city – the hours were long, the job was hard and I felt trapped, being a country boy at heart. As a result my teaching suffered and I was forced to work twice as hard as ever just to keep myself from going under (seriously, you have no idea how awful it is to arrive at school at 5:30 in the morning and not leave until 19:00 at night). I started to hate everything and withdraw from a lot during this  point in my life. So I decided to start doing something about it.

The job seemed to me to be the root of the problems and so I looked elsewhere for employment. I found a lovely school in a little suburban village and applied. I prepped hard for the interview and luckily (or should that be thankfully) I got the job. The hours are just as long (not 5:30 am long though!) and the teaching is just as hard but I enjoy it. My department is so supportive and I love working around people that inspire me so much. Everything else would just fall into place now that this was sorted, and it did. Kind of. But not really.

Even though I enjoyed my job now I was still finding myself piling on the pounds with another stone going on between September and Christmas. In February I topped out at 13st 13lbs – the heaviest I’d ever been. My waistline had expanded a bit and I couldn’t blame work and lack of effort anymore. I was training in Tae Kwon-Do again, I’d joined a Gym and was running a bit more. Something was still wrong though since I just kept gaining weight. Turns out, I’m an avid snacker. I’m the sort of person who snacks when they work. Marking books? Snack time to get you through it. Bored? Make a snack, it’s something to do. Stressed? Have a snack and you’ll better. Well, I decided to change that yet again.

Around February, I started to actively try to lose weight and eat better. It went well for a while but I relapsed and started again with new determination at Easter. Since February I have gone from 13st 13lbs to 13st 5.8lbs (as of time of writing). That’s a good enough place to start, but I’m still not there yet. It’s not just losing weight either. I’ve been inspired…

Recently, I’ve got back into watching some old youtube channels that I used to watch and one of them in particular stood out. This man had overhauled his channel from the kooky, quirky comedy that I’d loved throughout university to a new daily vlog style of channel where he just talks about his life and what he’s doing to improve it. (Can you see that I’ve not so much been inspired by him as shamelessly copied him). This man was Craig Benzine, or WheezyWaiter as he’s known on youtube. I saw one of his videos titled Improving My Life and thought it was a gret idea. In this video he gets himself a whiteboard and writes a list of things he’s going to do to improve his life. This was called the “Tasks for the Maintenence and Betterment of Living”. As a result, I decided to create my own shameless rip off of wheezywaiter inspired goals. A few of these are the same as those Craig sets out in his video, purely because I liked them so much and thought I should do my own version!

 

Tasks for the Maintenance and Betterment of Living

  • De-clutter physical stuff – I have too much stuff, a fact that my entire family will attest to and I’ve finally decided to get rid of some of it.
  • Lose Weight – This is one of the things I’ve been focusing on for a while as I’ve said it’s going well. I’m not on some weird diet or crazy exercise plan. I’m just trying to move more and eat less than i burn. To do this, I’m relying on my trusted fitbit, which is now a year old. I’ve gone back to (roughly) tracking the number of calories I eat to make sure that I’m not tempted to snack, and trying to hit my 10,000 step goal, as well as trying to do some form of exercise, however small it is, for 5 out of 7 days.
  • Cycle more – In 2014 I bought a bike to get to work, since it was only a 10 minute ride from my flat. I think I cycled less than 5 times in the year. I hsaven’t used my bike nearly enough and rely on my car to get to places. I enjoy cycling and so I’m using my bike more, and will track it monthly to see how many times i use it! (I’ve used it today to cycle to my favourite coffee shop to write this!)
  • Read more – I love reading and yet i never do enough of it. So I’m going to read more and to do that I’m going to start by…
  • Watch less TV – Why do i need to watch the same episode of Scrubs for the 20th time? (I mean don’t get me wrong I love Scrubs but it’s a complete waste of my time!) I’m trying to keep it down to only one episode of something a day online or something interesting if it’s on the TV and I’m watching live!
  • Run more – The final task on my list is to run more. I love running and yet I stopped running as much as I used to. This will also help me achieve the second goal on the list! I’m trying to run as much as possible each week and will measure it from Saturday to Saturday (or parkrunday to parkrunday, if you know what I mean!)

So there you have it. Some tasks to hopefully make me feel better  and more energised. So far? It’s going pretty well. I think. I hope. We’ll see! I’ll keep you updated! (That’s the next thing to go on my list – Write more!)

 

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The TftMaBoL Whiteboard that I’ve put on my bedroom door so I have to see it everyday! 

 

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Did Game of Thrones Stop Doing That?

“That’s what I do. I drink and I know things” – Tyrion Lannister

A year ago I posted my latest entry in the “Stop Doing That” series where I rant and nitpick about various things in society, the only difference with this post was that I did it purely about the HBO programme Game of Thrones. Well a year has passed and it’s time to see how well Game of Thrones has done at listening to my complaints, because obviously the people in charge read this thing, right? Let’s go STOP by STOP…

THIS BLOG POST MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR THE BOOKS AND TV SHOWS and also a bit of bad language but honestly, if you’ve read or watched the series you’ll be completely desensitized to it and if you haven’t then this probably isn’t the best place to start or you clicked on this by mistake…

STOP: Giving Sansa Stark so much screentime

Okay, they didn’t do this. HOWEVER, they have made a massive adjustment to her story line to stop her being the boring, one dimensional cardboard cutout of a character and she’s actually doing things (I mean seriously check out next weeks teaser). Having her reunite with Jon Snow was an excellent move and a bold change from the books in bringing Brienne into her story line, but I think it will pay off. I no longer want to fast forward through her parts of the show. Good work.

STOP: Rushing through important plotlines but stalling the boring ones

The Dornish plot was awful. It didn’t get better. Tyrion and Jorah have been rushed and I don’t think we’ve had a satisfactory episode for either of them so far (I live in hope, though I think Jorah is off on his spirit quest to find the greyscale cure for the rest of the season). Thankfully, Petyr Baelish has been reduced to a minor role this season – good. I was growing tired of his creepy little beard.

Also, we are set for a return to some of the skipped plot lines such as the siege of Riverrun. I’m very happy about this as it means more Blackfish and rights this next problem…

STOP: Making Jaime Lannister an afterthought

Jaime has been in the recent episodes of season 6 but it hasn’t exactly been his best season. Thankfully, all that looks set to change when he gets to Riverrun next week and go toe to toe with the Blackfish!

STOP: Letting characters disappear vaguely for large spells of time

Osha came back. Then died. Yara came back and is set to inherit some of Victarions book plot. I’m alright with this, especially since they’ve reunited her and Theon. Varys is even back, though in a slightly less than jazzy plot line, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I’m still holding out hope for Gendry though…

STOP: Forgetting about the direwolves

I take it back, just stop killing them. Please.

STOP: Cramming House words into it the episodes for the sake of it

Yep, this has been done and the show is better for it!

STOP: Toning down the swearing

Slightly, maybe. I don’t really know but if The Hound comes back, so will his foul mouth (hopefully).

 

So there we go, all in all not a bad improvement. I once said that Season 5 is the series you could skip in a Netflix marathon and with the exception of a few episodes I stand by that belief This season? Much better. Well done Game of Thrones. Well done.

Things Madrid Loves and Hates

I’m on holiday in Madrid right now, if you hadn’t guessed by the title of this post. It’s a pretty cool city, lots to do, lovely people, a nice atmosphere. I’d definitely come back again for another visit in the future.

If you know me at all (or you’re die hard into this blog, clearly even more than I am since I don’t post for a year at a time, and you remember the Roaming Rome posts) you’ll know that I like to go for short city breaks in the holidays between my actually pretty okay as far as jobs gosuper stressful secondary teaching job. With that in mind, and the fact that I might as well write a new blog post at some point and why not now here is a brief list of the things that Madrid, as a city in General, Loves and Hates.

Please note that this list is purely observational based on the things I’ve seen and witnessed in three days in the city. It is by no means an actual representation of Spain’s capital city.

Madrid loves: Ham

This city is obsessed with Ham. Literally. There are shops filled with only ham products. There’s a museum of ham. It’s everywhere. You can’t escape. Now, I knew that the Spanish diet had a lot of pig based products in it being an avid lover of chorizo, but even for me to have shop front after shop front proclaiming your love for ham (or jamon as they call it) is a bit much. Still, it makes Madrid a charming and weird and wonderful city even if it is a kosher mans nightmare

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Madrid Hates: Wheelchairs

Very few of the tourist attractions in Madrid that I’ve visited have wheelchair ramps and even fewer of the shops do! Some places have lifts and are accessible, but if you want to go up the tower in the Bernebau stadium, you’re fresh out of luck!

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Madrid Loves: Talking rapid Spanish to people who clearly have no idea what’s going on.

This is a slightly more personal one. There have been many times already on this trip where I am met with a barrage of Spanish from locals and tourist guides alike, even after I’ve asked a question in a different language. I love that different cities I go to have different languages and would never criticise someone for speaking their native tongue in their own country yes you would, you’re doing it right now you useless old sod but if I’ve asked if you speak English, please don’t reel off what sounds like half a Spanish dictionary and expect me to reply with more than “que?”

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Madrid Hates: Saying “excuse me”

Right, this isn’t just a thing for Madrid, it’s happened in almost every European city I’ve been to (Paris was the worst by far, but my lack of feeling for that city is another post for another time.) people will not say excuse me if you’re in their way. They refuse to. I know full well it’s in your language because it tells me in my guidebook how to say it so stop pretending these words don’t exist (for reference, it’s “perdon” in Spanish, just in case you were wondering). Instead of uttering this simple word/phrase, people will walk inordinately close to you in order to squeeze past in the tiniest nanometre of space that appears, or worse yet they hiss at you. I am not a stray cat taking a steaming hot dump on your lawn, please don’t hiss at me like one. I’m just trying to experience your city!

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Madrid Loves: Football
It’s everywhere in the city. The Real Madrid kit is in every tourist shop. Players loom over you from billboards and advertising hoardings and you just can’t get away from it. You can even tour the stadium for the princely sum of 19 euros (well worth the trip actually!) and have your picture taken in the grounds and green screened in with a current member of the team. Lots of fun and lots and lots of history there! It was a great part of my day today!

Madrid Hates: Cheap Hotels

They just don’t. You either get a proper hotel for the price of both arms, both legs, your first born son and thirty camels or you have to stay in a “Hostal” where you then have to also cater for every meal. I’m staying in a Hostal and it’s actually pretty nice, if a little spartan. There’s a kettle thou but it only has devils tea green tea so bring your own or find a shop!

Madrid Loves: Bears

The symbol of Madrid is a bear eating fruit from a tree. They have a statue of said bear in the main central plaza. They have this bear on almost every postcard, manhole cover, bus, wall plaque, you name it, they’ve probably got a bear on it. With all this in mind you, like I, may be thinking that there must be a fantastic story to go along with this bear and fruit tree iconography. That maybe the city was founded and one day a hungry old bear meandered into town looking for something to eat, saw the fruit trees in the then symbol-less village of Madrid and decided to chow down on some tasty tasty fruit. Nope. There’s no story behind it. They just really like bears (who doesn’t to be honest) and there used to be a lot of bears around Madrid in the past. As for the tree, there’s literally no reason for it. No-one really knows why it’s there, they only know that it’s there (sort of like why U2 are still a thing that’s happening, or why Bob Geldof is famous still). Not even Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, is sure. There’s a bit about how animal feed was passed on to the ownership of the clergy and as celebration they added the fruit tree but that’s as close as Wikipedia gets. Trust me. I checked.

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That’s all from this post. I think we got through that quite painlessly. I might be back again with another post but who really knows at this point. I’ve said that before and not followed through with it. Maybe I’ll see you again sometime… Maybe not. Probably though. Ish.

Post credits scene! Yes! Just like in all the Marvel Movies!

Madrid also loves DC. The comics. More on that soon…

Stop Doing That… Game Of Thrones Edition!

It’s not easy being drunk all the time. If it were easy, everyone would do it” – Tyrion Lannister

Oh yes, that’s right the ever ranting Stop Doing That series returns, this time with a Game Of Thrones special edition!

We are now nearing the end of Series 5 of the hit show, so if you haven’t heard of it yet it’s time to crawl out from under the gigantic rock you’ve been living beneath and step blinking into the sun (yes, it’s the ciiiiiiiiircle of life).  Before we start, I’d like to make everybody aware of something:

THIS BLOG POST MAY INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR THE BOOKS AND TV SHOWS and also a bit of bad language but honestly, if you’ve read or watched the series you’ll be completely desensitized to it and if you haven’t then this probably isn’t the best place to start or you clicked on this by mistake…

Now that’s out of the way, lets take a trip to Westeros and find out what we need to stop doing!

STOP: Giving Sansa Stark so much screentime

Her book plot happens to be one of the most tedious things I’ve ever read (and I’ve read two out of three 50 Shades books: Part 1 and Part 2) and to be honest the changes they’ve made to the storyline for the TV show are just not quite enough to make it as interesting as the rest of the show. Fair play to Sophie Turner for doing her best with what is quite frankly a weak and underdeveloped character that most of the time feels like padding to make sure there are some female leads in the story but if we need that, can’t we just have some more Brienne? Or even even bring back Osha the Wilding or Yara Greyjoy (remember them?).

STOP: Rushing through important plotlines but stalling the boring ones

Keeping on the theme of dull stories being told, why are we giving so much time to the unnecessary story lines this season? Petyr Baelish continues to be one of the most despised and creepy characters I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch and yet we’ve seen some of his story in almost every episode. It’s just not needed, let’s skip ahead to the good bits. Similarly, how quickly do they want to move along the Tyrion and Jorah storyline?!. Last week they were captured by slavers and this week we’re suddenly in the fighting pits of Mereen. I feel like we’ve missed a bit. Don’t even get me started on the Dornish plot line either…

STOP: Making Jaime Lannister an afterthought

Not much has happened to Jaime since he lost his hand. He should be the Head of the Kingsguard if his book counterpart is anything to go by and we should be seeing him in Kings Landing, dealing with the ramifications of his clumsy new hand before going off to Riverrun to deal with the last remnants of the Tully resistance. Unfortunately we seem to have forgotten there’s not long been a war and the Tullys are all but a puff of cloud on a clear blue sky so they’ve shoehorned Jaime and even Bronn into the Dornish plot line; seemingly just to give them something to do. I’m not complaining about the chance to get more Bronn (he should be in every storyline possible) but let’s take a pause and give Jaime Lannister the respect he deserves because at the heart of it, he is quite an interesting character to follow.

STOP: Letting characters disappear vaguely for large spells of time

Remember Osha? Yara? Gendry?

You keep dreaming, Gendry... You keep dreaming, Gendry…

Probably, but the memories of them will be hazy. All three of these characters were introduced to us, made out to be important and then suddenly they’ve been relegated to the lower leagues of GoT characters. Probably to make more room for Sansa plotlines (I can’t bash Bran this year since we mercifully get a break from his storyline). Even Varys appears to have disappeared without a trace since that fateful brothel trip in Volantis, though I’m sure a fan favourite like him will be back before long (the series has suffered without his dry wit and sarcasm). At least the actor who plays Gendry has a good sense of humour about his continued absence.

STOP: Forgetting about the direwolves

Seriously, you spend your CGI budget for the season on dragons and stone men and yes that’s fairly interesting but let’s not forget we still have Ghost the direwolf and so far we’ve only seen him in a single tiny scene! Step it up.

STOP: Cramming House words into it the episodes for the sake of it

After an entire episode titled after the words of House Martell we have yet again been told that Winter is coming. I know most of the Starks are dead an Winter is indeed on its way to Westeros but can we at least give some love to the other ouse words. Have we had House Lannister’s said recently? House Baratheon?  Didn’t think so…

STOP: Toning down the swearing

Is it just me or have we had far less swearing since the last few seasons? GoT used to be pure filth streaming from the mouths of characters that would turn the air blue. This season, we’ve had a bit of swearing but sadly it seems like the loss of The Hound has meant the loss of a large portion of the swearing. Who could forget his greatest scene ever, complete with all the swearing!

So there we have it. A few things we need to stop doing in the world of Game of Thrones.

And just remember, you either win or you die…

Channelling Mad Eye Moody to Manage Maniacal Mayhem.

Janitor: [into the stethoscope] Is there anybody up there…up there…up there…up there….? I’m all alone down here…here…here…! It’s cold. I’m frightened!

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Whew, that’s a lot of dust to blow off of this site. I guess I haven’t been posting in a while but as the quote above shows, I’m fully aware of my inability to blog. So a fair bit has happened since the days of regular ranting and crafty cookery posts. I’m back, for now at least and I come armed with a positively overflowing bag of blog topics to post about. So without further ado, let’s begin shall we?

Being a teacher is not all it’s cracked up to be.

There, I said it.

Yes in my absence I have undertaken a PGCE Teacher Training course and am about to enter the final half term of my first year as a fully qualified teacher. Time flies when you’re marking manically every night like a green ink obsessed baboon trying to get the best bit of mango thrown into your cage having fun.

I’ve learnt a lot this past year and have found myself growing as a person. If I may steal a quote from the inimitable John Dorian of Scrubs fame: “I’ve changed too. I have a beard now.” Yes in order to make myself look less like the fresh faced 22 year old that I actually am I have grown a beard and the fabulous fuzz of fur on my face makes me look like a grizzled veteran of this teaching malarkey rather than the fresh off the boat beginner that I really am. It’s all a bit of smoke and mirrors to fool the pupils into believing you’re old and in charge.

Sadly the beard comes with a price and this is how I learnt the first hard lesson of the year:

Children can be cruel when it comes to your age

Now I wouldn’t exactly say that I am particularly sensitive about my age or looks, (who are we kidding, I’m one of the most vain people I know) but it only takes a few weeks of all your pupils trying to guess your age and almost all of them coming up with numbers that are 32 or higher (The most popular being 37 years of age) before it starts to grate a bit (this fact has not been helped by the Microsoft How Old app going around – it did the same thing to me. Why do you hurt me Microsoft? I’ve been loyal to you for many years…).

Yes to sum it up children can be cruel, but that’s not the only way that I learned this lesson. And as a result of my next tale, the title will become much clearer…

Year 11 Students are the same as weeping angels from Doctor Who

Accurate depiction of most Year 11s

Accurate depiction of most Year 11s

For the past year I have been teaching a pretty challenging year 11 class. They can be the loveliest bunch in the world or they can drive you up the wall. It depends entirely on a range of factors such as what they had for breakfast, the current state of the weather and whether or not mercury is in retrograde (maybe not that last one, but honestly sometimes there’s no reason for what they do). Suffice to say, it’s at the hands of this class that learnt my hardest lesson so far as a teacher.

That’s right, don’t blink. Blink and you’re dead. I you take your eyes off your pupils for even a second mayhem will ensue. I guarantee it.

Sadly,this does not work with Year 11. I wish it did.

Sadly,this does not work with Year 11. I wish it did.

It just so happened that I made this fatal flaw back before Christmas when I turned my back for no longer than 30 second to put a laptop away when I heard an almighty cacophony akin to the Gods of Olympus having a wrestling match in a pit of cowbells erupt behind me.

I turned around to find one of my pupils masking taped to a chair.

Now when I say masking taped to a chair I don’t mean a little bit of tape around the middle. Oh no, I mean full on cocooned into the chair with masking tape. There was no way he was getting out of this and apparently nobody had seen anything happen (another lesson to learn is that kids will always stick together as if that will somehow let them escape punishment).

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that point. I settled for my usual and became instantly incensed with anger before laughing into a tirade of clichéd teacher speeches that I swore I would never do and after about 5 minutes of sounding like the world’s most ineffectual supply teacher the children were dismissed and Chair Boy was set free from his tapey prison.

The funny thing is that my classroom doesn’t have masking tape. The little scoundrels had been planning this for a while.

As a result of that day I have now learnt to channel Alastor “Mad Eye” Moody from the Harry Potter novels and have adopted his own philosophy to suit my classroom.

Mad Eye

My advice to you if you ever set foot in a classroom? CONSTANT VIGILANCE!

Always keep your eyes on them. Don’t let them out of your sight.

They [teenagers] are fast, faster than you can believe. Don’t turn your back and DON’T BLINK!

Oh and always hide the masking tape.

A Cinnamon Danish and an Oddly Seductive Picture of George Osborne

There are things in life that we may not necessarily like. If this (and the really rather strange title) seems like a strange way to start a blog post, bear with me and it should all be a little clearer soon.

As I said there are things in life we don’t like but regardless of personal feelings we have to do them. For me, one of these things is going to London. I can’t stand it. Nevertheless at 7:15 I was entrenched upon the local station platform surrounded by an ocean of commuters, some dressed rather scruffily for work in my opinion whilst others (myself included) were dressed to the nines. There was a rather sombre mood permeating the atmosphere, not only owed to the pregnant pause between the weather waiting to rain and actually raining. No, as if to add to the drudgery of my days task the train was delayed. Combining the shambolic attempts of a certain UK rail provider (who shall remain nameless but whose name does indeed rhyme with the phrase “Burst Eight, Heston!” You make your own deductions from there)  to organise a train on time for once, my general disdain of the general public and the fact that I was on my way to the urine soaked, antisocial hub of wretched debauchery and assorted unsavoury miscreants shining jewel of civilisation and prosperity that Is our capital, it was safe to say I wasn’t in a brilliant mood.

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The trains had been delayed for so long that people abandoned all hope of going home and set up camps on the platform

Soldiering on like the trooper I am I suffered through a rail journey (once the train arrived of course) spent entirely stood up for an hour whilst penned in shoulder to face with my fellow cattle passengers. I eventually emerged at London Paddington and with surprisingly little fuss I was on an underground train and arrived at my final stop before a short walk to the secondary school that was to be my final destination for the day.

Just before moving on I’d like to briefly mention that for all the fuss made about how fantastically amazing and modern and culturally advanced London is I could not, for love nor money, find anywhere to buy a coffee that wasn’t out of the back of a gentleman’s Peugeot106 (and I use the word gentleman very loosely). Whilst I do love coffee I prefer mine not to be purchased in a car boot sale style, only being one small step away from swapping a manilla envelope of cash for a brown paper bag hidden cup of java underneath an underpass. If this is what being modern and culturally advanced is, I’ll stick to the dark ages thanks.

Skipping ahead my mornings plight was rewarded at registration for the event (which was a meeting of network connected geography teachers as I know you were clearly wondering) with a large cup of steaming hot coffee and a gigantic cinnamon Danish (ooh mystery 1 solved) it almost made up for the events of the morning. Almost.

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The event itself was actually quite interesting, sharing good practice ideas over pastries (a practice which needs to be adopted as the sole way to do this in any situation) before having some interesting talks from members of the Royal Geographic Society on the changes made to GCSE and A Level geography in the UK.  All in all a useful and thought provoking few hours which I’m very glad I got the chance to listen to. The real treat however was still to come.

Post comfort break (as teachers we can’t be expected to sit still for more than two hours without moving around or else we begin to act like our students during after lunch lessons) we were treated to a bit of subject knowledge enhancement on the topic of Hydraulic Fracking (which was fracking interesting if you ask me). It was during the lecture that the aforementioned picture emerged. When discussing the pros and cons of the process as a viable source for meeting UK energy needs in the near future an oddly seductive picture of George Osborne became emblazoned on the SMART BOARD to highlight the fact his views are that we should push on with fracking despite the impacts that this may have and use hydraulic Fracking as a transition or “bridge fuel” between the current over reliance upon fossil fuels and sustainable alternatives. To use the really rather brilliant metaphor that the teacher leading the Hub shared with us, Fracking can be seen as the methadone to the heroin addict, a way to wean us off an unhealthy and unsustainable addiction to fossil fuel.

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All in all the experience of working collaboratively with other teachers in the network, some of whom have been teaching for years, some like myself at the beginning of their careers and some at the very start of it all doing their training year also known as the worst year of your life and a surefire method of driving you to alcoholism in order to survive was incredibly positive and it was great to get view points from different perspectives and to, as the horrifically irritating man stuck in my group much to my chagrin (well it was going too well for him not to be) kept saying, see concepts through a different lens. I’m not sure if he was an idiot. No, actually I’m positive about that point a secret lover of photography and ophthalmology or just a man utterly in love with metaphors but if his point was to leave a lasting impression of the complexity with which we should examine  global issues as opposed to the simplistic, singular point of view that we often take then he most definitely succeeded in changing my thinking.

Even if it is only until I get back in the classroom tomorrow…

Teacher Training as told by song titles (or how the most stressful year of my life can be summed up musically)

I haven’t written a blog post in over a year. That’s actually a lie, I’ve written lots of them for about 5 minutes each. Then I’ve realised that I have too much to do and gone back to my work instead of procrastinating with the hope that I may actually get to bed before my alarm goes off in the morning. The reason behind my absence is that I have been doing my teacher training this past year. Yes, I am now a qualified Geography Teacher and although the process of getting there was incredibly arduous and resulted in a lot of blood, sweat and tears (and the largest amount of coffee that I think I’ve ever consumed) not to mention the constant feeling of stress, I believe that it was all worth it to have a job that I enjoy (that no doubt will turn out to be equally as stressful in the long run but ho-hum).

Boromir knows the deal for all PGCE Teachers

If anybody out there among you readers is wondering exactly what it takes to undergo your Initial Teacher Training (through a PGCE course at least, though I’m sure that many other trainees will tell you the same regardless of how they underwent their training) then I am here with the answer. This post will explore the entire year from beginning in September until the end, with Graduation in July and even a little bit of starting the new job! Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Let’s begin…

Day 1: It’s A Beautiful Day – Michael Bublé

That first day of the PGCE: nothing can go wrong, you’re starting out on a new path, finally going to take the career world by storm. You can’t be stopped, you’re on your way to the top and today is your first step on the path. You’re excited, nervous and enjoying the world; whatever this year throws at you, you’ll be ready for it. Nothing can ever bring you down.

First day of placement: Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble – PJ & Duncan

You’ve sat through three weeks of lectures and countless seminars on subject knowledge and the importance of a good starter activity. The big day has come and you’re ready to get out there and inspire some pupils!

First full week of placement: Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti

The training wheels are off and you’re in school full-time, no more Thursday or Friday lectures for a while! This is the time when you’re sure you’re going to be amazing and nothing can stop you! You know what you’re doing after all!

Final day of the first placement: Farewell – Rihanna

You’ve completed the first 3 months of your training and you’re ready for a holiday. You’ve laughed, cried and loved the kids you’ve taught, as well as hating them on occasion (it’s okay, we all feel that way). It’s your last day at School number 1 and it’s a sad time for you. That Christmas break looks REALLY appealing though…

First day of the second placement: Starting Over Again – The Dollyrots

Christmas has come and gone and you’re back to start your second placement school. Buoyed by your success at the first placement you feel ready to completely boss this placement stage and become the outstanding teacher you know you can be. Time to begin again!

The day you get a job for September: Everything Is Awesome – Tegan & Sara ft. The Lonely Island

You went through all of the possible questions you might be asked, planned and re-planned your lesson and checked it through with every member of your department and guess what? It worked! You’re employed! Hooray! (This step may come earlier or later in your year, it came right around this point for me though.)

The day you start struggling to balance everything: In Too Deep – Sum 41

Again, this stage can move around in your year. Mine came just after half term where I had spent the week doing nothing; no marking, no planning, no nothing. I had just finished my second written assignment for the course (which i had decided to take at Masters level because I am an idiot and hey who wants any of that “free time” stuff anyway?  it seemed like a strong career move, thinking about the future.  You will struggle and everything will start to become too much. Just cling on and make it through!

The day you have the observation that gets you back on track: Not Afraid – Eminem

You’ve been struggling, swimming against the tide trying desperately to claw your performance back to where it should be and that day arrives when you will be observed to measure this performance. This is a big one, if you mess it up then there’s a very terrifying conversation (which is in no way a conversation at all, more like a character assassination of your flaws) in your future…

But you’ve got this. You’re ready.

The day you realise everything is awful and you start hating your job: Welcome To Oblivion – Madina Lake

That’s IT! YOU’VE HAD IT WITH THIS JOB AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH IT!!

You’ve had a really bad day and, most likely a really crappy few weeks. My moment like this came straight after the third and final assignment. I had a complete melt down and everything started to go to pot. My department weren’t overly supportive of me and I’d been feeling the growing disinterest from them for a while (ever since they didn’t hire me actually, but that’s an escape I feel lucky to have had) which when combined with the department shake up and my mentor becoming the new head of department lead to me feeling isolated and unsupported which resulted in a colossal F-Up. Know this: it gets better.

The day after the meltdown: I’m No Superman – Lazlo Bane

You’ve had a breakdown and you think you’re alone but trust me, you’re not. This is the day where you realise that you have friends around you. Those people on your course with you are there for you, they know what you’re going through because they’re in the same boat. You’re like war buddies, all fighting together and forging an indestructible bond with each other. You don’t have to do this alone, you can get help from them as long as you’re willing to help them out when they need it.

The final day of Placement: We Made It – Busta Rhymes ft. Linkin Park

It’s finally here, thank goodness. The day you’ve been waiting for since you started hating your job and focussing on “getting through it”; the LAST day of placement. You’ve got through it with some help from your friends and those around you. You are finally here, despite everything this year has thrown at you. Now just a final week at university to finish off the course. Whew.

The day you graduate: Celebration – Kool and the Gang

Enough said, right? Enjoy this day. You earned it.

So that’s the PGCE in a nutshell. This is how I’ve spent my last year and now I have the new challenge of being an actual qualified teacher ahead of me. It can’t be that bad, can it?