Tuesday, October 17, 2006

... and I ramble on

Lots of little things to talk about right now so I thought I'd toss them all into one post, rather than writing them all seperately...


Yesterday, I received my very first "teacher gift" from one of the students in the class I taught for a month. This little boy was one of the hardest working children in the class - both at academics and at behaviour. The gift was (on first glance) a very nice bath set, complete with a couple of scented candles, and a card thanking me for being his teacher. Very sweet and I plan to keep that card (along with the others I've received from students) in my teaching scrapbook.

When I got home, I opened up the bath set to show Jeremy and realized that this little boy's mum had probably chosen this thoughtful gift without reading it's labels.

If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you'll see what I mean. The description on the lotion brags about helping to induce "relaxed sensuality" - something I'm pretty sure my student's mother didn't intend to give as a gift.

Okay, well maybe the British are more in tune with those things. I dunno...

I wasn't sure if I was going to blog about this, since I genuinely appreciate how thoughtful my former student and his mother are for giving me something - but it really is pretty funny.

especially if you consider what is written on the back of the tube of lotion:

The gift pack included room spray to "get into the mood", scented candles, and bath oil too. All with a very nice scent, but I just can't get past the labels...


Speaking of school...

This week I'm working with a class in year 2. This group of 30 children (again with 30 children!) has had 4 different teachers come into their lives in the last 3 weeks (not counting their regular classroom teacher, who I believe is in the hospital). This has proven to be very hard on both the students and their parents, since each teacher has a different management style and a different set of expectations.

My goal this week was to get through the curriculum as best we could, while trying to get them settled down and back into a routine of following classroom rules and behaving properly. My first morning with this class brought a major headache as I surveyed the room while they worked independently. The noise level was completely ridiculous and after 5 minutes, I decided to interrupt them (at the risk of offending the teacher who has been with them for quite a long time - and whom I was supposed to basically be observing). They responded very well to me asking for their attention, but took less than a minute to start talking loudly once again. I made a vow to myself that I would help them to remember how to behave in the classroom.

This has been a major challenge. I really don't like playing Drill Sergeant Teacher Lady but sometimes it's completely unavoidable (like all afternoon today) and I found myself actually using a whistle at one point to get them to stop talking. They froze as soon as I blasted the thing and stared in amazement. I had no choice but to use the sternest tone possible and demand that they all sit at their desks NOW and listen carefully. After putting their heads down on their desks to think about their own behaviour, I slowly went around the room, tapping students who had been "sensible" before the interruption. They worked in total silence after that.

For about 10 minutes.

Some wouldn't consider 10 minutes a victory, but I certainly do and tomorrow will try to 30 minutes. I don't want a classroom full of robots, and always encourage lively conversation and debate about academic topics during lessons. But needing to remind the same 10 kids over and over again about sitting quietly and getting their work done takes its toll. Completely tired out at the end of the day, I answered the Head Teacher's questions about how the day had gone with blunt honesty.

He was happy with my management techniques thus far and seemed very confident in my ability to get them settled down.

I hope I can prove him right...


Every day I take the Underground all the way from Bayswater to Walthamstow (where the school I've been teaching at is located). I've always been impressed with the helpfulness of the staff, most of whom are always willing to give directions or a helping hand.

Until today.

As I made my way down the stairs to catch the train home, I noticed a small group of elderly people making their way to the Tube with very large suitcases. Wondering at how they must be handling their luggage, I walked slowly behind them in hopes that they would make it down alright.

The man at the front of the group suddenly lost his grip on his suitcase, sending it plummeting down 8 steps to the concrete below. His group stopped moving and stared, as people pushed past them in their hurry to catch their trains. I just couldn't walk past them without offering to help. Together the old man and I lugged his suitcase down the final set of stairs, resulting only in a small crack to the plastic bottom after he dropped it on the last step.

He thanked me and I made my way through the station, stopping to ask an Underground staff worker if he might be able to help the man and his party safely make their way to their trains. There were 3 of them standing around, not really doing anything, but he said that this is not part of their job and he "couldn't help them".

Give me a damn break.

Honestly, if I wasn't so exhausted after dealing with 30 children all day long, I might have told him off for being so uncaring. As it was, I gave all three of them a disapproving glare as I walked past, turning to see a fellow passenger helping the old man push his suitcase onto the escalator. I would have helped them through, but he had ushered me along, saying that they could manage from where they were.

What really bothers me about this is that even if this isn't part of the job description of the Underground staff, I'm sure if the passenger was a sexy teenager that help would have been provided. It's really sad that people are so disrespectful to the older generation. I'm disappointed in the lack of aid provided, since spending 3 minutes helping these people would have made their lives a heck of a lot easier.

When Jeremy and I were lugging our 5 heavy suitcases from Gatwick Airport all the way to Willesden Green (where we stayed for our first week in London), we were exhausted from hours of traveling, and unsure of how we were going to get ourselves from point A to point B. Thankfully our fellow passengers took pity, and at every single stop we met a good samaritan who grabbed a suitase or two and helped us move them on or off the trains.

I will continue to pay that forward to anybody who looks like they need the same help. Because sometimes that little bit of time can make all the difference in the world.

It sure made a difference to two scared, and tired travelers who were trying to find their way in a place they had never been before.


...and finally autumn arrives in the city of London

On the way home from school today, I passed by a maple tree. Having a particular fondness for them (and anything that reminds me a Canada), I glanced up at its branches and noticed a reddish tint on many of the leaves.

I dropped my bags and grabbed for the camera, finally getting pictures of the first autumn colours of the year. Can't wait to visit the park next week - should be incredibly pretty.

I'll leave you with another image of what home looks like during this season (might explain my anticipation of the leaves changing colours a little better).


Don't you hate it when people just keep on rambling?

I had planned on ending my post with the autumn thing, but I just had to add this in. One of the things I got in my care package from Canada (darn pictures not uploading right so it's taking a long time to get that post finished) was a bunch of the CDs that used to live in the glove compartment of my car.

I miss my car...

I popped in Matchbox Twenty so I could listen to the acoustic version of "3am", one of my absolute all-time favourite songs. It's just Rob Thomas and a piano. Completely heartfelt singing and just bliss to listen to.

Next was the Tragically Hip, a band so stereotypically Canadian that I was immediately struck with a LOT of memories of high school, outdoor concerts (seen them 3 times live), and other memories from growing up. Some of these songs bring up memories so strong that tears come to my eyes as I can almost smell the wood walls of my camp and hear the voices of friends I haven't seen in a very long time...

Wheat kings and pretty things
Let's just see what tomorrow brings


Okay, I'm all done. Sorry for another mishmashed post, but I thought they'd be better all together (that way I can bug Ledawit with another super long post).

Until next time...


  • At 7:15 PM, Blogger Stu said…

    My money says that the kid picked it out and the mom just paid for it. A mom would have read the label.

    In fact, my back story is that he and his mum were at the chemists or Harvey Nichols or wherever and he spent time looking through all the glass cases for something just right. He saw the bath stuff, smelled a smell that reminded him of you, and requested it from his mum. She was probably too overwhelmed with his thoughtfulness to do anything but nod and pay for it. Afterwards she rewarded him with Benjys.

  • At 8:41 PM, Blogger Stu said…

    Bravo on helping the travelers. Sometimes you have to lie to get someone to help someone else: "Excuse me, tube staff, there's an incredibly rich man over there who needs a hand."

    And I adore The Hip! My fave rave is Grace Too. I'm more a Candada-phile than an anglophile, as I find that Canadian artists (Neil, Joni, Jane) are more sincere.

  • At 8:55 PM, Blogger Laura Coubrough said…

    I'm thinking that the gift was on purpose. I really think that the British are more in tune and are much less conservative with that stuff... too much BBC for me I think... or just too much coronation street.

  • At 9:22 PM, Blogger Beechball * said…

    That was very nice of you to help those people out, it's rare to see people do that in today's society - which is extremely sad. I love the gift, I think it's sweet, unless of course she's a single mom and was trying to tell you something and last but not least, a mishmashed post is better than no post and to be honest with you, I like them that way - reminds me of myself! :P Mine are always random with no structure - keeps people on their toes, lol Keep it up blogger bud :P hehe

  • At 9:22 AM, Blogger Kim said…

    This is the first time I've had a chance to even LOOK at your blog in forever! I'm at work so I caught the first story but am unable to read the rest right now (because you write like you talk...lots! ;) ) Your story about the sexy bath kit made me laugh so much, thanks for making my morning! I'm so anxious to catch up with you. I was going to write a long email (I still might) but plan on a call from me tonight when I get home. Hope I won't be waking you up...

  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger Sub Girl said…

    great blog...makes me nostalgic for london! except the underground part. i can't believe people...

  • At 12:18 PM, Blogger Suldog said…

    Oh, Melinda, you live near Bayswater Station? Near to Harrah's? On quite a few of my trips to London (haven't had one in over 20 years now) I stayed in a hotel just about equidistant from both Bayswater and Queensway. It was called the Hotel Inverness Court. Used to be a grand old-fashioned hotel, but I heard it was modernized (read: ruined) many years back now.

    My family used to have a game where we'd make up an English name for ourselves by combining two Underground stop names and adding a first name that was impossibly British sounding. My name was Ian Bayswater-Queensway :-)

  • At 12:20 PM, Blogger Suldog said…

    Well, of course, I meant "Harrod's", not "Harrah's". Must have casinos in my subconscious for some reason.

  • At 7:16 PM, Blogger NotCarrie said…

    This cracked me up bc I'm teaching right now and often wish I had a whistle. I used to coach a swim team and I never realized how powerful the whistle was!

    10 minutes is a victory! Good for you!


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