Saturday, 22 November 2014

Out of the Cocoon

I feel a bit like a caterpillar who has been in a cocoon for a few weeks and have finally emerged!

I realised, this morning, that I've been in blogging hibernation for quite a long time.  Not for any difficulty going on.  Quite the opposite.  My days have been completely filled in good and beautiful ways.

Teaching rounds.

Five weeks of working full time.
Five weeks of getting to know, and operating in, a new environment.
Three of those weeks, teaching full time.
Lots of planning (that's an understatement, by the way).
Lots of late nights searching the interwebs for activities and ideas (how did people teach without the internet anyway?).

I have had a complete and utter blast.  As well as the class I was invited to teach in, I got to teach across the senior primary classes with a streamed maths program and a three-week rotating program on Friday mornings.  All of the kids were completely delightful.  Of course every class has their 'characters' and those that find classrooms difficult when they'd rather be outside doing stuff.  But those kids seem to be the ones who endear themselves the most!  I've learnt a lot about managing a class when they hit the mid-term, end-of-year feral week.  We overcame that challenge and the kids went back to being their amazingly wonderful selves again.  It was a bit like someone took over their bodies for a day or two.  Yesterday one of the girls said "oh yeah, we were just helping you learn".  We all laughed, and I thanked her for caring enough about me to want me to learn everything I could.

The staff were incredibly affirming and encouraging.  Such a beautiful working environment!

There is always the bittersweet return to normal life that comes next.  I can't wait to see my school babies.  I can't wait to catch up with my colleagues.  I can't for life to get back to normal.  But it means I don't get to be the teacher.

In this past week I have had all my final grades released.  I have passed everything.

I am now a teacher.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Book Review: Veiled at Midnight, by Christine Lindsay

Author’s Synopsis: 

As the British Empire comes to an end, millions flee to the roads. Caught up in the turbulent wake is Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah.

Cam has never been able to put Dassah from his mind, ever since the days when he played with the orphans at the mission as a boy. But a British officer and the aide to the last viceroy cannot marry a poor Indian woman, can he?  As this becomes clear to Dassah, she has no option but to run. Cam may hold her heart—but she cannot let him break it again.

Miriam rails against the separation of the land of her birth, but is Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland her soul mate or a distraction from what God has called her to do?

The 1947 Partition has separated the country these three love…but can they find their true homes before it separates them forever?

What I thought:

Christine Lindsay brings her “Twilight of the British Raj” series to its gratifying conclusion with a flourish, in “Veiled at Midnight”.  This final instalment continues the now grown Cam Fraser’s story and brings to a climax the final separation of India from British rule.  Told in Christine Lindsay’s gentle, yet captivating style “Veiled at Midnight” is the perfect ending for this truly magnificent series.

Having been introduced to Cam when he was an infant, in Lindsay’s first “British Raj” book, it took me a few moments to realise that I was now being privileged with being reacquainted with Cam as an adult.  It is rare, as a reader, that we are given the opportunity to follow our book friends across the seasons of their life and so I was delighted to follow this part of Cam’s story.  Cam is an endearing character whose struggles challenged my mother-heart.  I watched him wrestle with the desire to follow his heart with truth and integrity in relationship with his childhood friend, Hadassah, yet be influenced by the thoughts and actions of others.  Lindsay dips into the topic of generational sin and influence and the hard work required to overcome and become free of both.  I liked that this thread of the story was written with a realistic authenticity.  Lindsay clearly shows that changing the impact of previous generations takes commitment and hard work, but that it is possible to be free of these wounds in our lives.

As Cam deals with his alcoholism, Dassah struggles with her feelings about Cam and wanting to protect herself from the effects of Indian and British separation on her relationship with him.  Again, Tikah becomes an insidious influence as she sets out to undermine members of the Fraser family.  Meanwhile, Cam’s sister Miriam is facing challenges of her own, trying to discern the right direction for her future.  Should she stay in India?  Should she pursue a relationship with the charming Jack?  I’ll not spoil the story by revealing the outcome here.  Suffice it to say the outcome of all these threads was entirely satisfying and true to the characters themselves.

I will miss these characters immensely, yet I will take with me a number of truths from their stories.  They remind me that even when all seems lost or uncertain God has a plan for each of his children.  Cam and Dassah’s story reminds me that we should hold true to that which is right in God’s eyes, even when the world around us tells us a different story.  God’s way is always the better story to live out.

With thanks to Christine Lindsay for my review copy.  
It has been my absolute privilege to be invited, by Christine, to review her books.  My review is my own opinion, for which I have received no financial incentive, nor been coerced in any way.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Planning, Planning....more Planning

The last few weeks have zipped by.  I'm sure I blinked too many times because I didn't notice.  Since I last posted Miss Sunshine has had her last day of school.  A fantastic affair with a "Disney Classics" theme.  She was dressed up as Mini Mouse with a cute not-too-expensive outfit we found online.  Our School has a beautiful tradition of the Year 12 class setting up all kinds of things in the day's theme for the rest of the school to enjoy.  We had a Cave of Wonders, Sleeping Beauty's bedroom, Cinderella's carriage and Beauty and Beast's ... well I don't know, but we got to see the tea set and enter the Beast's cave.  Children and staff dressed up in their allocated characters and the Year 12's escorted the younger classes through the different areas.  After a whole-school assembly, a lunch with parents and staff and a whole-school guard of honour to say farewell I had cried a bucket of tears.  And I forgot to bring tissues, because I'm really dumb with that kind of stuff.

Since then it feels like I have been planning my little heart out.  I've had two weeks (and a bit) of my final teaching rounds and so far all is going very well.  The kids are delightful and my colleague teacher is fantastic to work with.  So far my feedback has been wonderfully affirming and I am remembering how much I just love teaching.  It will be so hard to go back to being an aide after yet another taste of being the Queen Bee! 

But the planning.  Oh my word it is slow to begin with.  It's far more enjoyable than writing assignments and listening to useful and helpful as those were.  I can sit in front of the TV with my computer now and surf my way to some wonderful things.  It just takes time. It's a long weekend here in Melbourne and I have spent more than a work day just planning.  I can't wait until I just know in my head what to do, and can just do it on the fly.  Right now I'm thinking carefully about my questions, and setting up meaningful, engaging activities and finding little YouTube clips to support my teaching, because that's the world we live in right now.  Last Friday I taught a lesson on volcanoes, and got to blow up a bottle of coke.  And show a little video of the Mt St Helens eruption.  So much fun in two hours!  None of these precious people, or their teacher, was alive when Mt St Helens blew.  I, however, remember it with great clarity.  It was spectacular!  And my students now know that too, all these years later, thanks to YouTube.

Planning may be time consuming, but I love it.  I'm one of those geeky teachers that just loves the planning process....and then seeing it come to life.  Best fun ever.