Roadschooling

We’ve come back to Bundaberg for a week with Nanna, and this is a chance to get stuck into our roadschooling adventure. The enormous challenge at the moment is the absence of wifi. Mum doesn’t have it, and Telstra being the monopolied rip-off merchants they are don’t offer a prepaid service that meets our needs. They also have very interesting methods of calculating data use. How the heck they think I used up 6GB in 1 week checking email, social media and using Google Maps, The End, is beyond me?

Anyway, we’ve made use of the Bundaberg Library, which is a lovely space (today they randomly had a highschool brass band playing) and I’ve finally been able to subscribe to Mathletics. On the road I have also purchased a bunch of workbooks which, given the state of flux we are in puts my mind at rest for the time being. My biggest challenge at the moment is finding a free online curriculum organiser that will help me keep track of things.

Our rough curriculum at the moment is focussed on getting into a routine.

Maths

I’m being very boring with an hour of Maths each day, starting with revision: New Wave Mental Maths (who have helped us uncover some main problem issues), followed by a unit in Nelson Maths. Now we have Mathletics we might focus on that as I think she’ll be more motivated there. I’m still stuck in teacher-mode, worrying about which grade she should be doing, but trying all the time to shift my thinking to the level where she is being challenged, but not being completely overwhelmed.

Language

An hour if we can, letting Matilda choose the language: English, Spanish, Chinese. I added about half an hour of grammar to this today with a Grammar Rules workbook I picked up in the local newsagents (much to her disgust). Once we get to Spain she will focus on Spanish and I will need to keep an eye on English. Chinese is a little more problematic. I think we are going to have to rely on a serendipitous encounter for this.

Units of Inquiry

We’re not doing so well on this as we haven’t had time. We’re focussing on Australia, makes sense as we are here, but although she is discovering a lot of new things (museums, art galleries, rainforest walks), we have not had time to follow it up. She has collected about 3000 brochures and the plan is to put them together into a sort of journal/record of the trip, but this is a bit low on Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Science, Society & Environment, Geography etc

This is a bit annoying as I have to do more work before she can. I’ve decided to check out the ACARA (Australian Curriculum) and Scottish curriculum topics and see what she should cover as these are the most likely curriculums she will end up in for Secondary. I want to try to incorporate these into the UOI as much as possible.

Music

Gah, don’t even speak to me. Only plus is that she is missing it and keen to start learning again when we get to Spain.

All in all, it feels like it’s more work for 1 student than for a class HAHAHA

Final week #blogjune 20

Last week at school. Racing to get my bi-annual report done before Friday, book my tickets for our 2 week train jaunt around China, pack our bags, prepare gifts, clean the house, finish updating the Library policy, clear my desk…

And I get this page:

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 12.02.51 pm.png

What do you think the Chinese Government have against infographics? Every single site seems to be blocked. I’m even trying with the VPN on (which we are not supposed to use at school) and it still won’t load. *cry cry cry*

At least I have an outline for my bi-annual report – I’m borrowing the headings from my Library Policy, which I think is a stroke of genius but is more likely biting off more than I can chew (a particular skill of mine):

Library Mission, Aims, Goals etc

  • community profile

Library Services

  • Teaching and learning (or curriculum)
    • Overview
    • Library orientation
    • Collaborative teaching
    • Development of resources
    • professional development/training
  • Reader Services
    • Book Week
    • Panda Book Awards
    • Displays
    • Book talks, discussions, book groups
    • Reading lists
    • Classroom support e.g. guided reading
  • Tech support
    • ICT lab
    • laptop / ipad loans
    • Library website
    • Recommended sites and tools
    • Training
  • Use of library space
    • Bookings

Collection development

  • Collection snapshot
    • new books
    • new collections (home language, graphic novel)
    • new digital resources

Circulation

  • circ stats e.g. top 10 primary, top 10 secondary
  • top borrowing homerooms

Staffing

  • Snapshot
  • Professional development and training attended

Evaluation and Goals – moving forward

  • Library services
  • Collection
  • Circulation
  • Staffing

Can I finish for this for Friday?? If not, I will blame the internet 🙂

Leaving China #blogjune 4

Trying to think of a topic that is not immigration…but it is kind of our life just now. We are officially in our last 20 days of life as expats in China. In 20 days we will hurtle down from the 21st floor for the last time, and close the door on our 2 years in China.

I have mixed feelings, which I expected and did not expect.

IMG_1988
Looking out our apartment window to the Yellow Sea

Professionally, my 2 years here have been a crushing disappointment. The fire in my heart for libraries has completely died.  In hindsight, I wish to God I’d had more confidence in my ability and aimed higher – taken a job in Shanghai or Guangzhou or a bigger school. When I chose a small school in a backwater – thinking it would be an easier transition back into teaching after 3 years in public libraries – I condemned myself to a role with no budget, and complete and utter ignorance of my purpose and that of libraries.

Many times in the past 2 years I have wanted to quit, and some beautiful opportunities have come my way – jobs in Scotland (impossible due to visa), and jobs on either side of Australia – one literally in “Eden”. I made the difficult decision to turn them down, because I’ve left my hometown many times with the end goal of Europe, and I have turned back every time when things got too difficult. I felt like this time, I had to stick it out.

And *happy dance* in a few weeks we will be on our way to Spain.

Plus, having all passion for my job crushed out of me has made me think about what my real passions are, what I dreamed of being when I was 10, or 16. And while my job may have been less than desirable, the salary was not, so now I am in a position to live those dreams.

China has birthed my almost-mid-life-crisis.

IMG_1999

Planning for Europe

Only 11 week to go in China. Ms10 is sick today, so I have spent the morning researching Europe.

We’ll most likely be based in Germany, but I don’t want to commit to study, work or school until we are “on the ground”. To keep things flexible, I intend to “roadschool” Ms 10. We’ve started planning already – we’ll subscribe to Mathletics, continue to use the Chinese language site she uses at her current school, attend German summer camp…the only hard part (for me) is planning a series of integrated research projects that cover as much ground as possible so she’s not behind heading into middle/secondary school, but are also relevant to our travels. Through these projects I plan to teach writing genres, research skills and ICT.

I worked as PYP Librarian at a school in Darwin a few years ago, and after 2 years working in a school using the National Curriculum for England & Wales, I have developed a MASSIVE appreciation for the International Baccalaureate. I’m going to use the chronological history of Europe to give us a direction, but borrow from the IB PYP “Transdisciplinary Themes” (2nd wheel in from the outside of image below) to develop the 4 – 6 consistent elements we will investigate at each step of the timeline.

ib-pyp-illustration
IB Primary Years Programme

I also plan to use their “Transdisciplinary Skills” (now called “Approaches to Learning“) that cover Thinking, Communication, Social, Self-management and Research skills. I feel strong connection with their 5 essential elements that detail what students will learn – a balance between:

  • Knowledge
  • Concepts
  • Skills
  • Attitudes
  • Action

The one thing that I can’t get excited about is the IB learner profile. It’s cheesy, and boring. I work in a school that is pursuing IB DP accreditation, and this part of the IB seems so forced.

I’m not sure how detailed I will get with the planning. I want to escape the miseries of teaching, not do them for fun! There is a great planner online at Footscray School in Victoria that links all the elements of the PYP together in one document. I think I’ll need something organised to keep tabs on what she covers, but to be honest my preference is for her digital “space” (blog, website, tumblr) to reflect that.

You can find out more about the PYP here.

 

Chiang Mai paper trail

I love Chiang Mai. This is my last holiday in Asia for a while as we leave my job in China for gypsy life in Europe this June. I could’ve ticked another country off the list (Sri Lanka, Laos, Philippines) but as Ms 10 is Australia and I am travelling solo, I decided to return to Thailand,  Mostly for a hand papermaking workshop I had noticed on our previous fleeting visit to CM at Christmas. 

 
I joined a girl from Milwaukee who had come from a circus camp in Laos, to spend a sweaty, strenuous morning turning pulp into paper. HQ Papermaker is run by Kenji from Japan, who also fronts the sho in town. Kenji has many years experience in papermaking, although HQ seems to run as an export business, rather than a studio.  

skilled local – she can make over 80 sheets per day
 

Local staff create 80 plus sheets of paper a day (we were knackered after 6). The sheets we saw drying (above, behind my measly few) were destined for a soap company in California. I got the impression they did not receive too many people for workshops. The lady assisting us was lovely, but like a good Asian mama she was a little too quick to ‘help’ us.

All the same, it was a momentous occasion for me and, if I hadn’t been surrounded by strangers I think I might have cried. I haven’t made paper since primary school, when someone came to school so frequently to teach us that there was a permanent bathtub set up for the slurry. This method was different – Asian style involves spreading pulp across a single frame rather than the western method of dragging 2 frames through slurry. But…I could totally see myself doing this – setting up my workshop, practicing, experimenting, teaching others (I’m a little more excited about that last part than I had anticipated) 

This paper is called Saa paper, made from bark stripped frol mulberry trees. These days the bark is imported for nearby Laos. There aren’t enough Thais interested in the back-breaking task of stripping bark. 

my first batch of paper!
 

The case for working with our hands

“Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.” An article that eloquently describes the thoughts I am having about career, future and life.

When I think of moving to Scotland, I think of chickens and ducks and goats, of learning about how to survive life on a croft, of living in the wild places. My Dad went through a similar ‘tree-change’ in his 30s, so perhaps it is my destiny. His choices gave me all the best memories of my childhood – caravanning around Australia, camping on the side of roads and in dry creek beds, running a piggery, and a small farm, so this adds the rose-tint to my visions. Ultimately it all ended in tragedy for my Dad, but that is a thought for another day.

If nothing else, my two years in this job have proven I wilt, not thrive in the school environment. I feel I have not been myself here, have fired on only half my cylinders. Some of that can be blamed on other factors, sure, but I know now that I am more motivated and effective in a community role, but even there I am frustrated by bureaucracy and envious of those private enterprise folk.

As Crawford writes, “good job requires a field of action where you can out your best capacities to work and see an effect on the world”

We shall see where July finds me.

Fall

Too many Americans at our school this year. I’m starting to pronounce things with a twang. My daily blog posting is out of this world. Perhaps monthly would be a better aim?

dole queue

Apparently it’s recruiting season for international schools. A few of the other staff are in a flurry of CV writing and awkwardly asking SMT for references. I’m not sure what I’m doing. I’ve never had to worry about it before. My jobs have always come along when I needed them. I think qualified and experienced Teacher Librarians are a rarity.

Other teachers have registered with Search Associates and ISS and are heading off to job fairs. Kinda wish there was such a thing as an international librarian job fair. Not just school libraries, but all libraries. Imagine!
This time last year I was yearning to be back in public libraries. Now, I’m no longer 100%. I still miss them and miss loving going to work each day (wondrous feeling), but I’m also curious about what library life might be like if I actually worked at a decent school – one with a state of the art library, well resourced, a workable budget, technology in the library – and maybe even another librarian on campus.

Part of me is also curious to see where I could end up.