Tuesday, 24 February 2009

You've had the gifts, now for the shockers...

We were doing a reading comprehension when suddenly a student leapt up and ran out screaming.

Now, my classes are not usually that exciting.

What had happened was, she was sitting next to a girl who is a bit of a skivver. Let's call her Girl A and the screamer Girl B.

Girl A was using the class time to discreetly fool around on the Internet. Specifically, to fool around on an Arabic website that purports to tell you the future (terribly haram in the Islamic world, BTW).

Girl A had typed in a silly question to which the website bot replied "Stop playing! This is not a time for playing!"

Which caused a bit of a sensation. Especially with Girl B, who is a fairly sensitive soul.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Gifts and shockers

This morning I had set up the class to talk about an object - you know, describe what it looks like, what it's made of, what it is for, what it means to you...

Just before I left the house this morning, the youngest of our three cats shot into the house with what looked like a tennis ball made of raffia and flock in her mouth.

A bird's nest, with three tiny orange-tinged eggs in it.

We think it is a sunbird nest.

The eggs were still warm (possibly because they'd been in Roxy's mouth) but there was no way we could have persuaded a parent bird to sit on them again. So that's three little birdies that will never say tweet tweet tweet.

Oh dear.

A mog is a mog, and they will hunt, but having three of them does rather tilt the odds in favour of the feline crew as against the feathered prey.

But it did make an excellent talking point for the class. And while I would never disturb or handle a nest in the wild, it is fascinating to see one up close.

It's mainly made of something like reed or dry grass, with a fluffy padding. I can't tell if the fluff is organic, gathered from the Arabian Fluff tree (there is a tree here called the Ghaff and another called Ethel), or gleaned from the discarded matresses of itinerant labourers.

The eggs are cream speckled with orange, with denser colour at the rounded end.

(I wonder, about eggs, whether the pointed end is the end that emerges first... that's one for henhouse experiments.)

Anyway, that was my warmer for the class ... it went downhill from then on.

More on that later.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Never volunteer!

A few months ago an email went round asking for volunteers to work on a college magazine - a magazine that would represent the students' and the college's achievements to the wider community.

I volunteered because I have some editorial skills and experience, and because I think a magazine would be a jolly good thing.

There is no funding for this, and an earlier pilot was produced by someone whose job was student development and promoting the college... and it didn't come off.

They got as far as a pilot is all.

Naturally, with no funding, everything has to depend on selling space to advertisers, but my boss said - I quote - that I "would never have to worry about dealing with sponsors" -

Well, we busted several guts, but mainly mine, to get an issue together and over to the printer for the pilot.

And guess what?

The funding from sponsors is not enough for what the printers are asking, the sponsors can't get their ads together, the boss wants publication brought forward to coincide with some random visiting bigwig... and somehow this is up to me to sort out, in my spare time (hah!) from teaching, marking, team leading, assessing and keeping up-to-date in the world of EFL.

Now, I do have editorial and writing skills, but I have no skill, and almost certainly no ability, to conduct financial negotiations or sell advertising space!

I'm an English teacher - you might as well ask the cat to do it.

The lesson, surely, is that when an employer says to you "you will never have to worry about X" you should start worrying about it immediately.

One of the reasons I like working where I do is that there are lots of opportunities to participate in the life of the college outside the classroom, and there are lots of ways you can enhance students' experience.

Should I just swear off this volunteering business?

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Random thing

Well here we are again, back at the chalk face (ahem, the white boards) after the mid-year break.

A student said to me this morning "English isn't really about anything, is it?"

I had to agree with her.

Topics we've been talking about in the last 2 weeks include

imports and exports
labelling of products
the incense route
smells we like and what they mean to us
the trade in spices
Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the Americas
bushfires in Australia