Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday Tykes

I was thinking Tuesday morning as I was coming in to work that I just really didn't want to be there. You know, waking up early in the morning when I'd prefer to be sleeping, not *entirely* sure what the state of the songs are this week and sort of dreading needing to figure out how to put this Christmas show on. (I made a mistake with the nursery tykes in that I am not excited about the songs that they are singing, but it's too late to change them now and it's important to make sure that they're still having fun and learning the songs. It's a bit of a slog like that.) So...feeling a bit down and cranky.

But then?

Then I got to work and had my performance review meeting where we made a list of things I'm going to be working on this year, all three of which I'm excited about because they're things I actually want to do and that will actually be helpful. (Learning to use solfege through Kodaly training and working with the reception classes on it, making a resource bank of rhythm and instrumental games or exercises for teachers to do when it isn't music specialist time, and creating a progress grid based on national guidelines for tracking how well individual children are doing with music.) I was given a drawing made by one of my nursery tykes for me yesterday (tyke love! Yay!), and spent half an hour making up prototype hats/costumes for the Christmas play. The duck hat is covered in feathers and googly eyes and everyone that I've asked (including some of the most literal people around: nursery tykes) have correctly identified it as a duck! I spent the afternoon working with one of the nursery teachers to organize the stage set up for the show, the running order of the songs, and and figuring out what props we need.

So we're set, and I got to spend my morning doing arts and crafts and singing. So clearly, I'm back to feeling like the luckiest person ever that I get to do what I do.

(Yeah, that's bragging again...sorry)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Religious Education

On Tuesday we had every one's favourite class! RE! I'm beginning to understand that the class that I teach for two hours on Wednesday is, in fact, a handful. And it's not just that I have no clue what I'm doing. (Not "just")

Last week we were learning "right" and "wrong" (For real? Really? That's the lesson plan?) The plan involved brainstorming things that you got complimented or rewarded for (Right) and things that you got in trouble for or shouldn't have done (Wrong) and then writing poems with the examples we brainstormed.

Writing down 'Right' went well enough, but in the same way that I forgot to tell the masters in the slave/masters exercise not to hit their slaves, this time I forgot to tell the class to tell me the things they got in trouble for- not show me. (Smack, whine, interrupt, etc. We actually had someone yanking on a new pupil's pig tails...classic.) (And also Wrong! Stop that!) They were kind of a mess there for a bit.

One of the girls had been particularly annoying. Getting in people's faces and personal space, talking while other's were trying to give answers and whatnot. I ended up giving her a negative house point and crouching down frequently so that I could look her in the eye when she was sitting on the floor. I told her that I thought she was a wonderful girl, but that her behaviour today was not appropriate. As I sent everyone else off to lunch I went back over to where she was still sitting and asked her if she was okay and if she wanted to go down to lunch with the rest of the class. She burst into tears and told me her head hurt. Figuring that something else was going on I asked her if she was sad? Angry? Disappointed? As many different emotion words as I could think of. It turned out that she and her sister had been having a big fight that morning and had been hitting each other. Eventually she was willing to be coaxed down to lunch and arrived in time for seconds of the pasta.

I can sometimes forget how complex an internal life these children have. One of the things that I really enjoy is reading their stories from English class- they're incredibly revealing. And probably I'm looking at this through the lens of having been a lonely and unhappy child, but it sure seems to me like there is a lot of pain at that age.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Excitement and Adventures!

I'm never really sure what to call my catch up posts- the ones where I realize that tons of things have been happening, but I've forgotten to write about all of them. So here's a list for you anyway of recent exciting things and adventures. (In no particular order)

1. Ella and I are getting an organic vegetable box delivered now. It's like Christmas! And so tasty! And decently priced! We have this *massive* bag of kale, the most delicious (though odd looking) carrots I've ever eaten, huge parsnips that scare me with their massiveness, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, a whole slew of tasty leeks, broccoli, and a loaf of chewy crusty olive bread that I've been slathering in butter and devouring. Mmmmm. The things I'm excited about in next week's box are the cherry tomatoes, butternut squash, and (because they're clearly loading on the deals currently so that we keep ordering from them) a free bottle of milk.

2. On Tuesday my bag almost got stolen. I was sitting with my friend Nik on a bench in St. James's park chatting away and not paying the most attention ever when a middle aged man on the path hollered "Excuse me, is that your bag?" I didn't really understand what was going on, but turned around and saw a man in sunglasses walking off with my stuff. Thief guy said "Sorry, mate" as though he'd just accidentally picked up the wrong satchel, set the bag down on the ground, and then ambled off....It was the weirdest, most chill almost-robbery ever.

I kept the strap looped around my foot after that, and thanked the man on the path as sincerely as I could.

3. I will eventually stop posting about Charity, probably when she stops being fascinating. (Meaning, never.) I'm not sure that that link will work but it should at least get you to video and if you look under Health, Charity should currently be one of the first videos listed. (She continues to make me cry.) (In a really good way, just to make that clear.)

4. I went to a game testing event last night! It was super duper fun and it felt good to be back. I can't tell you much about what we did because I signed a non-disclosure agreement. But suffice to say they're on to a fabulous idea and we were given pizza and beer for our "trouble. " (Like any of us felt anything other than absolutely privileged to get to be there.) Also, I love that I'd met about 50% of the group before at other gaming events.

5. Happy Bonfire night! Sarah and Meredith and I are celebrating in the not-at-all-time-honoured fashion of having a girl's night and making minestrone soup. Not sure yet if fireworks will be involved, we wouldn't want to make this too typical...

Future excitement and adventures include some potential new workshopping gigs, my friend Jo's art installation at the Barbican, and my next Maestro improv show on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Tykes are BACK!

Or rather, I am back with the tykes. In any case half term is over and we're together again at school. Christmas preparations are in full swing! The tiniest of the tykes are doing a medley of songs focusing on the theme of Stars! Because...that's Christmassy. Right?

Did you guys all know that in the UK jumping jacks are called star jumps? I totally called on that knowledge to create an impromptu bit of choreography for the tiniest tykes when they were getting super restless during my class. We had two other songs to learn, but they clearly needed to move, so I ended up standing them all up and then doing star jumps through the first two lines of Twinkle Twinkle. Then, emboldened by that, made the little hand actions into full body actions and called it a dance. Which we're now totally going to do during the show. (I love being in charge!)

On Tuesday I woke up at 5, decided I had another hour to sleep before my alarm went off, and then woke up again at 8. Since I'm meant to be *at* work by a quarter after 8, that was kind of a problem. After scurrying through some of the fastest day preparations I've ever done I managed to make it to school only an hour late. At which point I used 5 minutes to craft the wonkiest star puppets ever. (I love that I have to get to work on time in order to cut paper and stick things on to Popsicle sticks.) We used the puppets in "Five Little Stars," another one of our star themed songs for the show.

Today there was a tube strike (again) so I was late (again). It took over two hours to get from my house to school. Not to worry, I hit the ground running and started the bigger tykes off on their Christmas show tunes! All was going well through the first class- the songs have a super peppy backing track that meant that the tykes were like "Again! Again! Miss Casey, we want to sing it again!!!" Which, really, is all you could ever dare to dream of for a tyke's music class. So I was feeling nicely set up for the other two classes. However, when I sat down to start the second class I found that somewhere between the bottom of the stairs and the top of the stairs- the CD had broken in half.


I have no clue how that possibly could have happened given the fact that it was in. a. case. But oh well. I winged it. (To less acclaim than I was hoping for, but you do what you can.) So we're puttering along. The show is the first week of December (or maybe it works out to the second week of December...single digits anyway.) So we have our work cut out for us.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Marissa, Meredith, Ella, Geoff and I had an impromptu pumpkin carving party last week. We bought pumpkins and some 50p paring knives, ate some curry, covered the floor in newspaper, and squeezed into the kitchen to get to work.

Pretty sweet, huh?

Geoff did the face, Meredith did the awesome phoenix flying out of the flames, Ella did the classic jack-o-lantern, I did the ghost saying "boo", and Marissa made the cat with the moon.

Chichester, West Dean College

My friend Abby is now on a Post Grad course at West Dean College near Chichester. Since it is half term and since I haven't seen her since a year and a half ago when she came to interview at the school, I went to go visit. Oh my gosh you guys, I kept giggling the entire time I was there because it was so stunningly beautiful everywhere you turned that giggling was the only reaction I could have. It was either that or go light headed from gasping so much. May I suggest that you head over to her flickr site as soon as possible? Amazing photographs of gorgeousness.



This post will still be here when you come back.

Abby is there to study book conservation, but other people study ceramics, clocks, instruments, metals, furniture, and tapestries. It was like a post grad, English Interlochen. A tiny, gorgeous environment populated with creative, passionate people that you divide according to their majors. ("See that guy? Bet'ya he's ceramics...") Most of them live on campus in this idyllic country estate.

I went for a couple of walks (first by myself because Abby was in class) I wandered through sheep fields, alcoves made from trees, and corridors of autumn leaves. I took a short nap on a bench with the sun shining on my face and chortled to myself whenever I startled the pheasants. (Which was constantly as they are both abundant and easily startled.) Abby took me through the Victorian kitchen gardens and I kept delightedly clapping my hands and grinning. We ate apples from the orchard, went on an epic tromp to the trundle, ate delicious food (even if Abby's classmates complain that the cheeseboard has the same cheese every night. Whatever, the Stilton was lovely.) And fell asleep gossiping. The next morning I was allowed to watch their book binding class and was fascinated. What a delightful visit.

As a quick aside- West Dean College was founded by the estate of Edward James, who worked with Salvador Dali. When Abby took me on a quick tour through the main building we kept turning around innocuous corners and running into, you know, just random things. Like two of the lobster phones. And the original watercolour of the artichoke house. You know. Just things. (!)