Saturday, November 03, 2007

Spending all of your time balancing stuff means you don't get to sleep much

It's 11:30am on a Saturday, and I'm still in my robe and bleary-eyed from sleep.

Yesterday was one of the busiest days I've had in a string of busy days. It started with me doing some office work for my boss (who's away in Peru), and getting everybody's stuff ready for the weekend - organizing invoices and birthday party kits and making sure everything is ready for the other Mad Scientists. After a quick lunch, I headed out to do a workshop in a school that was all about motion and kinetic energy and basically involved playing with wind-up toys, catapults, making rocket cars, and other fun stuff about harnessing potential energy. Fun and interesting, and luckily, I got to work with a great group of students who participated and behaved beautifully.

After the workshop was over, the classroom teacher offered to help carry my gigantic - and very heavy - kit back to the car. We chatted for a bit, and I mentioned I was a teacher and doing this job to help get onto the elusive Supply List for our city's school board. She got a funny look in her eye and said that if that's what I'm wanting, then I should pay a visit to the principal one of the next times I'm there and they "might be able to help me".

While this might not sound like much, it's actually a huge deal for me. London's school board does it's hiring through the principals, who get to know supply teachers and other staff much better and thus have a clearer idea about who would fit in at their schools. The only problem with this is a person like myself who doesn't know anybody here, went to school in a different city, must now scramble to make contacts in order to get hired.

It's a big part of why I became a Mad Scientist (in addition to the amazingness that is this job): it will help me get to know people in several schools here so I can make contacts and hopefully find teaching jobs.

I've been working in this position for over a month now, but my very first school show will always stand out in my mind. A small school in north London full of cute little kids, with a good staff and friendly, helpful secretary - my boss thought it would be the perfect place for me to start. I drove up to the school 20 minutes before the show was set to begin, butterflies in my stomach, and experiments going through my head. Mumbling some of the patter I was about to entertain the children with, I carried one of the boxes of stuff though the corridor to the office.

Nobody was there.

The janitor was very helpful and guided me to the gym, helped set up the table, and gave me hand with carrying the rest of my stuff. I looked at the clock and saw with relief that I still had almost 15 minutes before the kids would be coming in. Deciding to set up and then go find the secretary so she could make the announcement, I grabbed some things and put them on the table.

"Oh hello - you ARE here! Good! We're going to start bringing them in now."

I looked up at the annoyed looking lady. Apparently she had expected me to be there for 2:15, not 2:30. This was a mistake on their part, as the paper I held in my hands did in fact say 2:30pm Show.

Taking a deep breath, I said, "Okay, I'll be ready for them in a just a moment".

Steeling myself (and knowing full well that I wasn't ready at all), I forced a smile onto my face as footsteps and the sounds of children echoed in the hall.

"Look! It's a Mad Scientist!"

"Hi everybody!" I called out cheerfully.

I waited for them to take their seats...


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