Categories
A teacher's journal

Work-life balance

balance

Photo by Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

The third half-term has been very positive on my teaching journey. I am finally getting used to this job: its demands, workload and expectations. I am also a more confident and positive teacher who does not stress out as much as before.

I am glad of having left behind the days when I worked late either at school or at home. Part of this improvement has been due to the normal course of life: the more one does something, the easier it gets. However, there are a few things people told me but I had to try myself in order to take them in. For example:

Good enough is good enough:

I stopped spending a significant amount of time (outside my working hours) trying to adapt a lesson that was ready. I know that students will need some scaffolding or challenge, so I add these elements. Although this is ideal, it can be detrimental for a teacher because it increases the workload significantly. Ultimately, a teacher who has rested properly and can deliver the content with confidence and high quality is invaluable; a beautiful PPT presentation cannot compete with that!

One day after a parents’ evening, I got home at almost 21:00 and did not have time to adapt a Year 9 lesson about the Perfect Tense in Spanish. I was worried because the students had been learning other tenses and I thought they would struggle. I contemplated doing some revision on those tenses instead but… I would need to plan a revision lesson and this was not happening that evening.

With some resignation and frustration I said to myself “just use that lesson and let it be”. What a surprise when I saw that students were very interested in this new tense (I am not lying!), they took it in immediately and were very productive. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was definitely underestimating my students and slowing down based on false assumptions. The lesson was good enough, actually it was better than it looked at first. Additionally, I had rested and could give them the best of me that day. This was a win-win situation that helped me to realise that I need to be more humble in a way and use what I am being given.  Whenever possible I can add my own touch but I must accept that I will not always have time and that there are other duties to fulfil. I could use any spare time to create new resources using authentic texts for example, which is a target that our department needs to meet and some input would be appreciated.

A task that I need to do more than 3 times needs a system

I had heard this one but I did not pay attention to it just as I did with other pieces of great advice that would save me time…

This happened a lot when marking student work and giving feedback. I used to write lots of notes on the first papers and customised feedback but then I realised I had more than 200 things to mark. Would I ever finish that monumental task? No. Ironically, most students only looked at their total marks while my many comments are suggestions were not as relevant. There is a minority who pays attention to this and asks further questions… although this is not a complete waste of time, it is not worth it either.

In order to last in this job and to go home at some point, I needed to refrain from my super feedback. I began following the advice I got at the beginning, this consisted of using some literacy codes, making notes of the trends, common mistakes or misconceptions. Then, providing a general feedback where I covered what I had decided to prioritise and that provided elements for students to reflect on their work and improve it.

I also made a list of students whose work could be praised and presented as a model. I made a separate list  of the students who were struggling so that I could support them in the future.

Doing this saved me time and made the dreadful marking process bearable and useful. Students benefited much more with this type of feedback and were happy when they received some praise for their good effort and work.

The same is true for setting homework, printing, reading emails, answering emails… Doing things in bulk is much better than jumping from task to task.

Final thoughts

This was the “I told you so” half-term but I think it is only natural to try to be a perfectionist at first. After all, people’s eyes are on you as an Early Career Teacher and you want to show some competence and good performance.

I hope you had a happy and restful half-term. I did my best to rest and to keep my mind away from work although I did some marking for 5-6 hours. This would allow me to have a better start next week and I didn’t mind it too much. The good ideas (literature, revision booklets, challenges etc) are written down in my journal and will resume next Monday at 8:00 and not a minute before. In the mean time, I need to make sure the other aspects of my life are taken care of, I have had some health setbacks and this week was a blessing, I was able to get some medical advice and I will surely be recharged and smiley next week.

This post is day 11 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

 

Categories
Reading

Bible reading plan

🇬🇧

Reading the Bible is part of my life, I have been blessed through its message since my childhood and as the word of God, I hold it in high esteem. The powerful message of the love of God towards a rebellious humankind is inexhaustible and every page is full of great treasures.

Join a daily Bible reading plan and find out by yourself. In a year, you will have read the Old Testament once, and the New Testament and the Psalms twice.

Happy reading!

🇪🇸 🇨🇴

Leer la Bíblia hace parte de mi vida, su mensaje ha bendecido mi vida desde mi infancia y la valoro mucho pues es la palabra de Dios. El mensaje poderoso del amor de Dios para con una raza humana rebelde es inagotable y cada página está llena de grandes tesoros.

Participe en este plan de lectura bíblica y descúbralo por sí mismo. En un año usted leerá el Antiguo Testamento una vez y el Nuevo Testamento y los Salmos dos veces.

¡Disfrute la lectura!

🇧🇷

Ler a Bíblia faz parte da minha vida e tenho sido abençoada pela mensagem desde a minha infancia.  Valorizo-a muito pois é a palavra de Deus. A mensagem poderosa do amor de Deus para com uma raça humana rebelde é inesgotável e cada página está cheia de grandes tessouros.

Participe deste plano de leitura da Bíblia e descobra por si mesmo. Em um ano você lerá o Antigo Testamento uma vez e o Novo Testamento e os Salmos duas vezes.

Boa leitura!

 

 

 

Categories
Journaling

On being grateful

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

We will say goodbye to 2021 very soon and as a journaling lover, I am reviewing my year. I am looking at countless tasks done and at many tasks that were rescheduled or cancelled. However, what stands out the most is all the memories that I recorded throughout the year. This year was full of positive things, big and small and I wouldn’t be able to remember them all at once and appreciate them with the same intensity if I hadn’t written them down. This allowed me to bring those feelings of gratitude and happiness back which is my favourite part about journaling.

I was thrilled when I looked at every page of this year’s journal and wrote down some of these blessings, for example: health, life, provision, protection, family, friendships, progress etc. I filled one page and a half!

The best illustration of 2021 is PSalms 103. I have only quoted verses 1 to 5.

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

In a chaotic year worldwide, I experienced the Lord’s mercy and provision and could grow in every aspect of my life. I know that even in the midst of trial, I would be sustained by his help.

I praise God and pray that 2022 may be a year of dedication and service to him.

✨ Happy new year! ✨

This post is day 10 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

Categories
Gatinhos da Internet

Oi!

Photo by Ion Şipilov on Unsplash

Categories
A teacher's journal

What a term!

Today teachers and students breathe a sigh of relief because it is the last day of term and the Christmas holidays begin. Schools around this time get a funny vibe, people carry on because they have to, there is some excitement about the holidays and nobody cares about things in the same way they did back in September.

This is interesting because I thought I would never be “that person”…what I mean is, a person counting the weeks and days to the end of term. However. I shamelessly began counting  towards the end of November when I piles or student work to mark and also when I kept hearing: “this is the longest and most difficult term for teachers”, “it is cold and dark”, “it is the flu season plus there is a pandemic” etc.

I usually ignored comments like those and just got on with my life, I did not want to get into that mindset. Nonetheless, at some point this crept in and I longed for the end of term like never in my life. Part of the problem was that I worked many extra hours just marking and really struggled managing my workload.

Part of this was expected as it is my first term as a qualified teacher and I have 90% of the responsibility a teacher has. Compared to my training year, this is an increase of almost 50%.

I am currently on the Early Career Framework and I have a lot of support and continuous training. However, the best thing that has happened to me has been to share my experiences with colleagues who have been in the same situation before and to be open about my weaknesses/areas of development. On the conversations and a couple of workshops I attended, I learned strategies to be more efficient with the things that take the longest in this profession: marking, feedback and student reports.

Although I heard this over and over since the beginning of my training, it took me a while to implement it and to get my head around it.

  • Being systematic: if I need to repeat a task or if something takes too long, I need a system. For example, when marking a writing activity, I can write a code that relates to a specific action (sp = spelling mistake). When students get their feedback, they will be given examples of these common mistakes, check against their text and improve it. They will do the thinking!
  • Begin with the end in mind: Planning a sequence or even a whole term in advance. My friend Adeline, who is an early teaching career mentor calls it “retro-planning” and held a brilliant workshop on this. If I know where my students must be at the end of term or what the assessment is about, I will consider that into each lesson and provide them with all the knowledge and practice they need.
  • Just ask for help: this is the most obvious one but as a new teacher I wanted to give the best of myself and show that I could do it. But in just a term I had days in which I suddenly disliked teaching, I had no patience for my students and was unwell. I had a cold for about a month, my voice weakened a lot and I had to teach some lessons whispering or using Spanish audios.

I knew this but I had to learn the hard way anyway… When marking, I fell into the trap of correcting every single error and wrote the correction in another colour myself. Students spent about one minute looking at it and very few actually cared about improving what they had done.

I also began teaching without really checking where I was heading. I had to look at the assessments eventually and realised I did not have enough time to teach all the content. I had to modify assessments or rush teaching and kind of hope for the best. At the end of the day this created a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. Did you not feel betrayed at school when the test included topics you barely covered in class? I did! My students coped with all this but it should not happen again.

Finally, I did not need to strain my voice, lose my appetite or sleep less. I did not do a good job at taking care of myself and this impacted my mood and health to some extent.

Well, today is the end of term and I am glad. I joined the many countdowns and who knows, I might do it again. However, I have decided to set sustainable systems and to get my workload under control with retrospective planning which tells me where I am going and keeps me on track. Most importantly, I am going to take care of myself, after all, I love teaching but this is just a job, I have a family, friends and a purpose in life which is strongly linked to my Christian faith.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV

Learning takes time and the only way to learn is by doing, finding out where we failed and correcting it. I am ready to rest but also to have a great 2022 in the classroom!

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Merry Christmas and a Happy new year!

This post is day 9 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

 

Categories
A teacher's journal

I got my QTS!

This was my first half-term as a qualified teacher in England. Although everything was new and fast-paced, a new persona emerged in the classroom and this was a positive experience.

When I was a trainee teacher last year, I always felt like an impostor in front of my students. I had butterflies in my stomach before every lesson until about June 2021 when the year was almost ending

Unfortunately,  my lack of experience was always in my mind and I have no doubt this permeated my lessons and influenced the way I taught or behaved at school. No matter how much I prepared or rehearsed whatever I was going to do in my lesson, I was often uncomfortable and a bit apprehensive.

Several people observed my lessons and provided weekly feedback. This was constructive and it helped me to improve. However, people usually pointed out at my lack of confidence and presence in the classroom. I did my best every day but I felt inadequate most of the time.

At the end of my training year, I was ready for a new experience. One of the last and most valuable things my mentor said to me was that leaving would give me the opportunity to have a fresh start and to reinvent myself as a teacher. I could begin a new year with no preconceptions from myself or others.

On my first day, I decided to walk into the new school as a new person and left my previous modesty about myself at home. I met new colleagues and new students and just decided to present myself as a confident, straight forward person who (at least outwardly) knows what to do. To my surprise, this has had an incredibly positive impact in myself and also in my students, it is like a brand new world opened up for me.

I have been able to walk into my classroom with confidence and have set my expectations and main routines. My students are lovely and I am getting really well with my classes and building relationships with both students and colleagues.

I am really glad to see how things fall in place day by day and to look back and see how valuable my teacher training was. What made it  outstanding though was not the school or the training provider (although they were very good), it was the people around me. My colleagues were key to my development and I am very grateful for all the things they taught me. I would not be where I am without their support.

The quote below appears in my welcome postcard which my mentor  gave me. When I began my training, the journey seemed endless and things were very unpredictable.

Photo by Hester Qiang on Unsplash

Nonetheless, my professional and personal life improved as a result of the daily journey as a “teacher to be”. I am grateful to look back and see how far God has allowed me to come. The journey continues day by day and it just gets better and better!

This post is day 8 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

Categories
CrossFit

CrossFit

I joined a CrossFit gym a few months ago without much information of what I was getting into. I only knew that it consisted of a variety of workouts to develop strength and conditioning. As time went by, I found out much more…

CrossFit has a fun, engaging and demanding nature. It requires a ‘no nonsense’ mindset, one needs to engage with the workout and do the best. Today was my 54th workout and I have learned not only about exercise technique but about my self, specifically my inadequacies and my potential. I am always surrounded by more experienced people who motivate me, they are friendly and supportive too.

This is a perfect environment in which I have tested my limits and surprised myself, I recently managed to do a few pull ups for example. This may be nothing to some but it was very difficult for me and it took some time!

Rowing machine and Kettle bell

CrossFit is a lifestyle characterized by safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition. 

CrossFit Journal

The combination of exercise and sound nutrition is nothing new but it must be underpinned by discipline. Like every new habit I have implemented in my life, I found it hard at the beginning but I got into it very quickly for the reasons I outlined above.

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.

“What Is Fitness”, CrossFit Journal, 2002

I have seen significant improvement in my life both mentally and physically. Although I am still adjusting my diet, I am mindful of what I eat and when. I plan my week ahead and balance it with working days and other responsibilities. I wish I had more energy and didn’t need to rest so that I could train 6 days a week, some people have told me that CrossFit may be addictive, I believe them!

A few days ago, I saw an ad in the underground. It had a pancake picture and prompted people to lose weight without having to change their lifestyle or sacrifice what they enjoy the most. I personally find this approach misleading and very sad. Firstly because it doesn’t work, secondly because things that are worth living for take time and effort. It is rewarding to push yourself through a workout and keep going even when you feel you won’t make it. When you push yourself and others push you (coaches, peers), you strengthen your body and mind and are elated at the end. No pancake has given me this feeling and I like to work hard.

There is a lot to learn and I look forward to continue training and learning. I highly recommend you to find a CrossFit gym nearby and to learn more about it, the CrossFit website is very useful.

Happy training!

This post is day 7 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

Categories
Finances

Budgeting

The software and the method

YNAB (You Need a Budget) is both a software and a method that helps you to manage your money. It is based on four rules that are life-changing that have helped lots of people to have peace of mind in their financial life.

Detailed explanation here

Rule one: give every dollar a job.

Decide how you are going to use your money and stick to the plan.

Rule two: embrace your true expenses.

Budget for upcoming expenses, when they come, you only need to pay the bill.

Rule three: roll with the punches.

You will not be able to anticipate all the expenses and will need to adjust your budget multiple times. Move funds from one category to another and make room for the expense you need to cover. For example: there is no money in the dining out category but you can afford to transfer from groceries. You make the treat affordable by taking advantage of some offer at the supermarket or by adjusting your shopping list.

Rule four: age your money.

As you begin to live within your means and spend less than you earn, money will start to age. This way, you will spend money that you earned at least 30 days before. This is completely different to the pay check to pay check life-style many people have got used to.

If you are interested, have a look at the workshops here.

My experience

When I got my first salary (I was 17 years old), I couldn’t believe it, it was both exciting and shocking to see money coming in and out almost immediately. At the time, I needed to cover some expenses I ran into so that I could start that first job: clothes, transportation, food, essentials. Therefore, my first pay check wasn’t mine anymore. I had to return the money and hope to catch up and stabilise my situation in the coming months. However, this situation (which should have been temporary) became the norm. I kept my head above water most of the time but I did not experience financial peace until I got my degree and my second or third salary as a professional (I had to pay my university debts first).

I will graduate, get a job and lack of money will be a distant memory. This is temporary!

My thoughts as a university student

Perhaps some young people, especially university students who work to pay for their studies might be familiar with this situation and might get on with it.

I learned valuable things, for example, I could cope with the struggle, hope for a better future, be a more disciplined student and prioritise my studies. I am not sure this was the case with some people who got support from their parents. Don’t take me wrong, great for them but I would not change a moment, those were good times. When I finally saw money left in my bank account after paying my debts and my monthly expenses, a thought struck me:

Surely I deserve a break after all my effort! Let’s travel, eat out and do things I couldn’t afford before!

I am flushed with cash … this will make sense if you watched Parks and Recreation 😀

This was a big mistake! I could have enjoyed for a while, I did deserve it. However, I forgot the tight budget of the old days and spoiled myself with treats for too long. Therefore, I went back to square one and I continued to live pay check to pay check. I eventually got a credit card and accumulated debt carelessly. It took me a while to realise how bad the situation was.

I was planning to get married at the time and I was determined to pay my credit card debt and to change my financial behaviour once and for all. My future husband told me about budgeting, financial principles and gave me ideas to fix the situation. The whole process took about 7 months and there is no secret… just keep this in mind:

  1. Live within your means, do not spend more than you earn.
  2. Plan ahead, not only for the monthly expenses but for emergencies, a house or retirement.
  3. Most of the things we want to spend our money in are unnecessary, give it a second or third thought. Indulgence might be your worst enemy.

I have no debts at the moment and have tried to master the rules above. I still struggle sometimes to stick to the original plan and allow myself treats at times even when I know I shouldn’t. However, the underlying principles I have decided to live by always help me and bring me back. I am glad to have an organised financial life for the most part and this motivates me to keep on track.

There are useful resources that gave me a different perspective on finances and I list them below if you are curious.

The Richest Man in Babylon

The book contains a series of parables which are set in ancient Babylon thousands of years ago. The financial advice encompasses saving, controlling expenses, earning, preserving income, investing and general principles which anyone can grasp. Additionally, I was able to draw numerous lessons in regards to character: diligence, caution, patience, honesty… The book is fascinating! You can purchase it online easily.

David Ramsey’s story

He is a financial advisor in the United States. He tells the story of his bankruptcy and subsequent recovery. He hosts the Dave Ramsey Show and offers advice and courses.

Biblical wisdom

The Bible speaks about stewardship, debt, diligence, laziness, labour but most importantly about God’s promises. If we keep his word, he will help us in all things.

Luke 14:28 
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Psalms 37:21
The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth.

Proverbs 27:23
Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. 

Proverbs 6: 6-8
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Hebrews 13:5 
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Happy budgeting!

This post is day 6 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

Categories
English

Noticias y artículos

Aprenda leyendo noticias y artículos cortos

Hay páginas dedicadas a la publicación de noticias o artículos en inglés para diferentes niveles. Puede encontrar una transcripción, un audio y algunas sugerencias para aprender inglés usando estos materiales. Por ejemplo:

  • Lea el texto y busque las palabras desconocidas.
  • Lea el texto nuevamente y escuche el audio para familiarizarse con la pronunciación.
  • Lea y escuche la misma noticia el día siguiente, con seguridad su entendimiento habrá mejorado. Al leer y escuchar nuevamente podrá consolidar más vocabulario.
  • Repita el proceso con una nueva noticia. Cada día usted estará revisando lo anterior y aprendiendo algo nuevo.

Days in Levels se puede usar de la misma forma. Aquí encontrará artículos cortos sobre eventos históricos.

Pienso que 20 minutos diarios serán suficientes. Es una forma fácil y entretenida de aprender.

This post is day 5 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.

Categories
English

Materiales

En este artículo encontrará una lista de materiales disponibles en internet para aprender o mejorar su inglés, la mayoría de recursos son gratuitos pero a veces es necesario crear una cuenta.

Pronunciación

Tim’s pronunciation workshop

Aprenda los sonidos a través de episodios cortos. Recomiendo empezar por el primer episodio el cuál tiene una introducción a todos los sonidos.

Forvo

Busque la palabra y el acento (británico, americano, otro). En los resultados podrá escuchar la pronunciación, podrá ver la palabra siendo usada en contexto y sinónimos.

En la sección guides encontrará las palabras por categoría.

Escritura

Write and improve

Esta es una herramienta fantástica. Hay que escoger un nivel y un tema, escribir un texto en respuesta al tema escogido y hacer click en check. Su texto será revisado y recibirá un puntaje junto con sugerencias para mejorar. Realice los cambios y envíe el texto de nuevo, esta vez podrá ver un nuevo puntaje y continuar trabajando en su texto hasta que esté a la altura. Este video muestra cómo funciona.

De todo un poco

BBC Learning English

Aquí encuentra cursos, noticias, historias… Algo que recomiendo muchísimo es 6 Minute English. Cada día hay un nuevo tema y una discusión y la transcripción está disponible.

Discursos

Esta página contiene una serie de discursos con subtítulos y transcripción. Cada discurso tiene una pequeña reseña.

Canciones

Escoja el nivel y la canción que desea aprender. Es muy bueno para escuchar activamente, aprender vocabulario y practicar la escritura de las palabras. ¡Es bastante divertido! También hay canciones en otros idiomas.

Juegos

Games to learn English

Algunos juegos para practicar vocabulario, gramática o la estructura de las frases en inglés.

Quiz your English app

Esta aplicación le permite practicar y competir al mismo tiempo con otros jugadores. Es de selección múltiple principalmente y parte del contenido es gratuito, fue creado por Cambridge Assessment English. Está disponible en  Android y iOS.

Para niños

Contiene juegos, canciones y otras actividades interesantes.

Sé que estos materiales serán útiles para quien procura aprender de forma independiente. Puede ir a su propio ritmo, sin prisa pero sin pausa como dicen por ahí.

This post is day 4 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Visit 100daystooffload.com to get more info, or to get involved.