Monday, 31 December 2007


Claire and I went to see the Disney film, Enchanted. We really enjoyed it and thought it was worth going to the cinema for, rather than just watch it on DVD at home. We only have our laptops to watch them in, which are a little small. Claire tells me that her dad has a TV so large that his lounge looks like a cinema! We don't even have a television. This is because watching TV rarely makes me feel good. Therefore I don't want to use either my money or my time on it.

Here is an interesting perspective on television programs and how it affects the viewer. Check it out to see how it affects our nervous system. 3.44 mins.

Anyway, back to the film Enchanted.
The main character, Gisselle, has such an innocence about her that she reminds me of a favourite book of mine, Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. Many people deride this way of thinking/acting as stupid and naive. But I think this has a lot of merit.
For those people who have never read the book I will give you a flavour.

Pollyanna is an 11 year old girl and she has a view of the world that is unique. She believes everyone is good and treats them as such. She assumes everyone has the purest motives for their actions. (It has been shown by research that people rise to the expectations of others so this is a wonderful way of changing people's thinking and behaviour.) She is a friendly and outgoing girl and through her conversations with the people that she meets she changes them. She has a game that she plays called "The Glad Game" and she encouraged everyone to play it. You usually play the Glad Game when something bad or unfortunate has happened. You have to think of something that you are glad about. For instance, when she received a pair of crutches one Christmas instead of a doll, her dad said, "Be glad that yu don't need them!".

The most famous film of the book was made in 1960 and starred Halyley Mills. Unfortunately Pollyanna is portrayed in this version as a bit sickly sweet. There is a great version however, a TV film made in 2003 that is far superior. This version has a more real feeling and although it is set in England rather than the US, it is closer to the book in essence. The first time I watched it was from a rented DVD from Amazon.

Anyway, back to Enchanted once more. :-) Giselle assumes the couple about to get a divorce love each other very much and because of the things she says, they see each other and their relationship in a different light and decided to stay together.

It would be great if we could all spread some happiness around the world by the things we think, do and say. We really never know where our little ripples of thought, action and words will end up and who they will effect.

Let's strive for influencing as many people for the good as we can in this coming year. :-)

Friday, 28 December 2007

My Life Since Kuwait

I left Kuwait in June 2006. With my belongings held in a shipping warehouse, I flew to the USA for the summer. (NOTE - if you are having your stuff hanging around in a hot warehouse it is best not to pack scented candles. They melted into weird shapes and the smell impregnated a plastic beaker.)


I flew to Bozeman Montana via London, New York and Salt Lake City. The whole journey took many many hours as I had an overnight stop-over in New York. This was a blessing because I was able to check into a motel and sleep in a bed enabling me to have a good night's sleep.

I stayed with a friend in Bozeman and she kindly lent me her car whilst she worked. I got toiletries at Walmart and visited another friend. I then got a lift 70 miles to where I was staying in Paradise Valley.

I attended a church conference, and volunteered as Conference Program Assistant. The following week I attended a week long seminar at the same place. I then did some voluntary cooking for a group of wonderful young people who were attending a camping retreat right in the mountains. I did this the year before, but now I had a team mate which made it easier and more enjoyable. After that I cleaned the campground showers - lots of scrubbing! I also tackled some of the self contained rooms where people had stayed during the conference. Weather and scenery was glorious and I enjoyed it all.


At the beginning of August I flew back to Britain. I went to stay with my daughters in their tiny flat in Cardiff. Whilst working in Kuwait I paid their rent for a two bed flat with a large lounge. Now I had no job so they got a cheaper, smaller place - a one bed flat. They used the lounge as another bedroom. It was a little squashed, especially with my summer luggage, but I was useful and helped to decorate the place.

I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do but I didn't really want to get a teaching job. I needed a place to live so I searched for nanny/housekeeping/carer jobs. I started a nanny/housekeeper job for a New Zealand family living in Windsor in September.

I did not know they were famous until I mentioned the guy's name back in Cardiff. Sean used to captain the All Blacks rugby team. He is a modest, genuinely nice man and the rest of his family are lovely too.

The work was enjoyable and quite easy. I took the 8 year old girl to school and back, supervised her homework and sometimes made her evening meal. I also did some errands, cleaned the house, ironed the designer clothes and occasionally took the dog for a walk. Neither parent had regular schedules and both did the school run sometimes. They would occasionally say the house didn't need cleaning so it was a flexible, no pressure job. I enjoy housekeeping for other people, so much more than for myself. They had just moved into a large house with a garden adjoining the River Thames and embarked on an extensive remodeling job of the whole house. They are possibly one of the few people in England to fill in a pool to create other rooms in its place!

They did not have a flat for me until October, so I lived in the swimming pool room. Unfortunately the water was freezing as the pump had broken, so my dream of getting out of bed and having a swim before breakfast did not come to pass.

Eventually I had a lovely flat over the enormous garage/storage rooms. The downside was that they did not want me to have any visitors because they did not want strangers on their property. This was a laugh as their property was overrun by builders for months! They also did not like me booking flights for weekends in Europe because they might need me to babysit at the last minute. I understood both these views. Maybe a young person who had not led an independent life before would not find the restrictions inconvenient. So I realised that this job was really not for me, however nice the family was.

The family went to NZ during December and I took the opportunity to do a bit of supply teaching. I realised that I actually missed teaching children and that although I had accommodation and the use of a car, the wage was not enough for my commitments. Ryan Air might not charge much for the flight but traveling either side of both airports took it's toll on by bank balance.

At that time I was helping to organise a 4 day conference in Frankfurt in October. This was for the European members of my church. We also produced newsletters and had many phone and physical meetings. So it was a very stressful time for me. During the conference I realised I had not had a proper home for 4 months! Being unemployed, a change of job and organising a conference and publishing newsletters was a recipe for stress big time.


In oder to leave that job I needed to find somewhere to live and get a car of my own. So I bought a car on ebay and moved to a room in a shared house in a leafy suburb of Reading. It is a large town where there are lots of supply teaching jobs. It wasn't until I moved into the shared house that I realised that the other people in the house smoked! It was an unhappy month as the live-in landlady also sometimes took drugs. And my car was extensively vandalised along with hers.

I found a lovely 2 bed flat overlooking a large park of grass and trees which I share with my youngest daughter Claire as she needed somewhere to live too. Rent is so expensive here that it made sense for us to share. At the time she was doing supply nursery nursing (child care at private day nurseries), but she soon got a permanent job in a nursery in Theale, a village just outside Reading.

At first I worked for an agency as a supply teacher every day. I enjoy doing this, especially when asked to go back to the same schools. During the summer I was asked to do some work in day nurseries, which I also enjoyed.

In June I was asked by the Head of a large junior school that I regularly visited, if I would like to share a class of 8 year old children, taking them Thursdays and Fridays. This school is situated in a large council estate and the families are 3rd generation unemployed. The children are therefore deprived, with little support from home, either emotionally or academically. This means that there are several very challenging kids in each class and teaching them is a little like trying to get blood out of a stone. However the Head teacher is very nurturing and all the teachers are supportive and work very well as a team. I always enjoyed going their because of this. I even told her that the reason why I didn't have a 'proper' job at the moment was because I wanted to have a week or two off in July every year (when British schools are still in session). She said they would work around that, so I accepted the post. I love getting jobs without applying and being interviewed! They also wanted me to work every Wednesday in different classes, enabling the teacher to do planning.

It is great being part of a staff team again and I enjoyed helping 120 children from years 3 and 4 put on a song and dance show of the different cultures of the world. The staff also put on a short pantomime for the kids which was great fun for everyone but we only had one and a half rehearsals! There are pros and cons being part time. I don't have the full responsibility for the planning, preparation and evaluating, but then I miss the staff meetings with their discussions and training and don't always know what is going on in school as things change to fit the circumstances etc.

Montana Again

Just for a week to attend Helen and Orion's wedding on June 24th. A truly wonderful day. I am grateful to have been a part of such a joyful occasion, especially as mother of the bride. Meeting Helen's father again after 15 years was not quite as nerve wracking as I thought it would be. The bride and groom looked radiant as did the bridesmaids and groomsmen. And Claire looked wonderful as a bridesmaid. Here is a creative slide show of the glorious day:

EFT - Emotional Freedom Technique

I learned this whilst living in Kuwait from a site on the Internet. When I got to England I did a level two training in London. I use it personally to help with my own emotions and physical ailments and teach it and use it in the schools I work in. (See for more info on the technique and look at other posts of mine for info on how i use it in school.) The children doing the show at school gave a much better performance because EFT banished their nerves.

I was very grateful to have the EFT tool at my fingertips during my journey to the Montana this last summer. I took the National Express coach to Gatwick airport. The coach was delayed and so time was a little tight. I therefore decided to use the toilet on the bus to save a little time at the airport. However, as I was washing my hands the door flew open catapulting me down the gangway. I hit my backside on the armrest of a seat before landing on the floor. When I got my breath back, whilst still on the floor, I began to tap. Flying wasn't the best thing to do with a hemorrhaging buttock but I tapped a lot of the journey and by the time I got to Bozeman, 14 hours later, I did not need the wheelchair. There was an enormous bruise but I managed to walk down the aisle with no limp.

Violet Fire

The Violet Fire is another very wonderful technique for helping with emotions and ailments and I use it in conjunction with EFT but they are both most often used on their own.

What is the violet fire? I hear you ask. Well, I will let the person who introduced it to me, Elizabeth Clare Prophet tell you in her own words. "It is an invisible spiritual energy that appears violet to those who have developed their spiritual vision...... (It) has many purposes. It revitalizes and invigorates us. It can heal emotional and even physical problems, improve relationships and make life easier. More important, the violet flame changes negative energy, which makes it an effective tool for healing. Today we are learning more than ever before about how disease can be rooted in our mental, emotional and spiritual states. By transforming negative thoughts and feelings, the violet flame provides a platform for our healing. I call it the highest gift of God to the universe. I think you will agree once you try it for yourself." (Violet Flame to Heal body, mind and soul. Elizabeth Clare Prophet. copyright 1997 by Summit University Press.) Check it out at for more information if you are interested.

It has changed my life. I am now more positive and joyful after the application of this over the years. It has even healed my arthritic elbow and enabled me to be more calm and tolerant with people.

In November I conducted a Violet Flame workshop in London with some friends, which was very well received. One lady said she could feel the energy tingling in her body and she felt light and joyous. If I am ever feeling depressed, a few violet flame mantras banish that state fast.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

A Cracking Christmas show

The children in years 3 and 4 of the school I work part time in have been practicing for a show called A Cracking Christmas. The story goes that 4 children get given a box of magic crackers that when pulled will transport them around the world seeing the cultures and at the same time hearing about a very special story of long ago.

So different groups of children perform dances from different countries whilst the whole group sing the songs. They visit Spain, Hawaii, Africa, India, China, and the USA. These visits are in the original script and so there are songs to sing whilst the children dance. However, with so many children, we extended the show by having dances from Brazil (samba), Ireland and New Zealand (the Hakka).

Early on in the rehearsal schedule I introduced EFT to the 140 or so children. I gave them all a copy of the Happy Tapping poem by Don White to take home (with a reference to at the bottom for parents). I changed it slightly by missing out a word that didn't fit the rhythm.

Happy Tapping is lots of fun
You can do it on your own - or with anyone!
Tap tap tap on the top of your head,
Tap tap tap do just what I said!
Tap on your eyebrow just near your nose.
Then the side of your eye where the hard bone grows.
Now on the bone - under your eye,
Don't poke your eye or you'll make yourself cry!
Now under your nose - but over your lips
Tap tap tap - with your finger tips!
Now under your lip - but over your chin,
Just on the bit where your chin goes in.
Now under your collarbone - but over your chest,
Under the bump of the bone is best!
The last on the list is under you arm,
To make sure you get it right - slap with your palm!

If you still don't feel good - don't go to bed,
Start tapping again on the top of your head!

I suggested they tap on the points whilst thinking of the day's events before sleep. Some children have reported to me that they have actually been doing this!

During rehearsal we tapped on the boring waiting for their turn, not being able to remember or even do the dance steps and forgetting their lines.

Just before they went on stage for the dress rehearsal we tapped on being nervous and scared about tripping up going on and off the stage, forgetting the dance steps, forgetting lines, not being able to sit still and quietly, and scared of the audience. They were performing to the younger children and their previous teachers. As they were lining the corridor to enter the hall i suggested that if they were still nervous to continue tapping. Some did whilst others said they were not nervous.

The dress rehearsal went really well with no hitches.

Altogether they did 4 performances in order to fit all the families in. Before the first two - one in the afternoon and one at night - they tapped for being scared because their family was in the audience and also that their family was not in the audience to cover all bases. On the evening performance, just as it was starting, we realised that one of the main actors was not there and so had to hastily persuade a girl to stand in. She took the script with her and after her first scene I tapped on her non-stop during the first dance. I tapped on her again during the second dance but after that she did not take the script on stage and did not need any more tapping. She was a star!

I noticed a few children tapping just before they got up to do their dance. it was wonderful to know that they now had a tool they could use and that they used it.

I teach a few different classes in that school and have taught a few of the older children EFT for anger management and sometimes get stopped in the corridor by a child who wants reminding of the tapping spots saying they were angry at a kid in the class.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

EFT in Assembly

I got a call from the supply teaching agency to go to a school this afternoon for a year 6 class. The school was quite near my house, I have been there a few times before and liked it.
So there I was in the staff room having a bite to eat and the Head of year 6 said that he would be taking junior assembly this afternoon, but because he didn't know that he was supposed to be doing it he had not prepared anything.

I piped up that I could be a guest speaker and teach them all EFT. He agreed. I had already decided to teach the class EFT so after silent reading that is what I did. I conducted it like a workshop I did with teachers in Kuwait a few years ago.

The children wrote down a physical or emotional thing that was bothering them. Some found it difficult to think of anything, whilst others thought of three. I then asked them to rate it on a scale where 0 meant everything was fine and 10 meant they could not stand it any more.

I then chose a few children to come out to the front and work on their problems whilst the class tapped along. They then rated their problem again and wrote down the rating number it had changed to.

Ah, you may be wondering what I am talking about here! What is EFT and what does it mean to 'tap along'?

Sorry to confuse you. Here is an explanation.
EFT is short for Emotional Freedom Technique. It is an energy therapy and was simplified by Gary Craig from a very complicated version. Gary wants the whole world to benefit from this amazing technique and so you can download a free manual on how to do it at his website http:/ . You can also see a really cool video where a guy who used to have an injured back and subsequently MS is now jumping up and down after doing EFT. (this will have taken him many hours but hey, can conventional medicine produce a similar story?)

Gary does such a great job so I encourage you to explore that site. I will just tell you that the tapping is done on the meridian points on the body (mainly the face) and is a form of acupressure.

Easy to learn and very effective.
The children's problems ranged from headache, anger because teacher took my phone off me, hurt back from a fall in the playground, upset that year 3 girls were fighting at lunchtime, and a teacher telling me off for something I didn't do.

During assembly I had a few kids come up who wanted to share their problems - one physical and one emotional, whilst the juniors tapped along.

I suggested that they do this each evening whilst thinking of the day's events, especially when someone has done/said something to hurt them.
They could also tap when struggling with a maths problem or faced with a test.

I am so glad that I listened to and acted upon that little voice within that was encouraging me to volunteer to do the assembly.

Monday, 26 November 2007


My youngest daughter, Claire, was 21 on Friday. She says she's glad to be 21 because 20 is such a bland age.

I got a rare email from her father on the Sunday before this event asking what she would like as a present. He said - in more flush times he gave her sister a present worth £500 and felt 'duty bound' to do the same for Claire.

I think Helen's 21st birthday was the only other time he asked what the girls wanted. He usually gives them Amazon vouchers. Helen wanted a camcorder. Claire has simple needs. Money would be her first choice, but she knows he doesn't like giving money and certainly does not like to give what they 'need' only what they 'want'. So she plumped for a digital camera and clothes. I replied to him very speedily, thinking he wanted to get something that day, as he only had 5 days to get it to her.

At 11:56 pm on Wednesday night I got an email saying thank you and he'll get her a camera....(can you get digital cameras for £500? I was hoping he would get her a camera and some vouchers for clothes too.) and please engineer it so that no-one else gets her one as he didn't want her receiving two.

I had several ideas for replies to this.
a) Is this s bit late to decide what you are going to get her? Her birthday starts just over 24 hours from now.
b) Is this a bit late to ask me to engineer that no-one else gets her one? She has already received several parcels from people who want her to open her presents on her actual birthday.
c) No problem with anyone else getting her a camera because no-one else she knows can afford to get her one.

I decided not to send any reply. I just vented my thoughts to Helen via email, who agreed I didn't have to reply to it.

So Monday comes and still no sign of a present for her from her dad. She has decided not to care, but of course she does.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Dangers of Teaching

I've had a little challenge this week in my teaching career.

On Tuesday I taught at a school in Thatcham, Berks. I'd been there before when I had a car but this time I went via bike/train/bike. Took me one hour 15 minutes to get there. I was very pleased with myself that I cycled 4 miles in half an hour! My bike fell down once in and, whilst cycling away from the station (once I found out which way to go) I realised that myhe train bike lock had fallen off the handle bars and was now on it's way to Bedlam (or some-such place I'd never heard of).

This was a problem but not the big challenge of the day.

I had been to this school before but could not remember which class I had taken. I was in year 3/4 in the morning teaching a maths lesson for an ill teacher. Unfortunately the photocopied pages from a text book were not where she said they were so could not do the lesson as planned. Fortunately they had not completed the work from the previous day so they continued with that. 4 different groups were doing different sheets so we could not mark the work as a class. The previous day's work had not been marked by whoever had taken them.

Other lessons also produced marking so spent all lunchtime doing that task. Supply teachers are not paid for lunchtime, but I have never had that hour to myself doing this job. I am either preparing for the afternoon or marking work from the morning or both, and usually eat whist doing these tasks. We get paid to 3:30 but have to have done all the marking before we leave so I always do about 3-4 hours unpaid work whenever I do a job. I am a conscientious marker, which means I write comments and targets on their books.

This wasn't the challenge either.

In the afternoon I had a year 5/6 class. This was definitely a challenge. At least 5 children with severe behaviour challenges. Following the sanction strategy I sent two out of class. Unfortunately they came back a few minutes later. These boys were disruptive and disrespectful.

There is a challenging school in Reading that I often teach in and I enjoy going there despite the difficult children. The reason is the staff and management are so supportive. They know the children are a challenge and often it is prearranged that the worst behaved children spend the day in another class. The support from the head/deputy and other staff make the difficult job so much more bearable. The first time I taught at that school the headteacher came into the classroom as the children were coming in, having introduced herself to me, and spoke to the children kindly, about her expectations of them. She then popped in later to see how things were going. She gave me letters to give to the parents of children who behaved well telling them their child had behaved well for a supply teacher and was a credit to the school.

Unfortunately this is unusual in my experience. Usually I never see any management and if I do they do not introduce themselves so I don't know who they are. Last year I spent every Wednesday in a year 3 class enabling the NQT (newly qualified teacher) to have her designated PPA time. I had taken over from another supply teacher who found the difficult children too much to cope with (and they were very challenging). I had been there 6 weeks before I saw a member of the management team. It was the headteacher, who walked into the classroom without saying hello to me. She had an air of authority about her so I went up to her and introduced myself and when she didn't reciprocate I resorted to "I'm sorry, I don't know who your are."

Anyway, back to my Tuesday challenge.

The lesson had been so interrupted by the poor behaviour that they had written nothing in their books when the bell for afternoon play went. I told everyone that no-one could go out to play until they had completed the task set. Unfortunately the boys had to attend a meeting in the hall so I told them to come straight back to the classroom when it finished so they could finish the work before going to play.

As I was saying 'boys line up,' three boys ran to the door. I shouted stop, but no-one took any notice so I put out my arm to bar then from running through the door and into the corridor. They were going at speed and so the first two boys got by before my hand was extended, but the third boy collided with my hand. As he was lining up I saw him wiggle his shoulder and thought ' Oh he's making a big fuss, I didn't hurt him.' He was one of the most disrespectful boys in the class.

I was so glad when home-time came. As I was marking the books I got a phone call from the agency that gave me the work, to say there had been a formal complaint made against me. I couldn't think what I had done to warrant that! I had shouted a few times that afternoon, but that was the only thing I could think of. The agency said the child protection agency was involved. I asked what I was accused of doing. Apparently I had grabbed a boy by the arm causing red marks.
Oh now I remember! It must have been that really disrespectful boy who had collided with my arm. My gosh I was trying to prevent him hurting himself by racing out of the door into other people and now his mother was accusing me of abusing her son!

I left at 5 pm having done all the marking. The NQT came back after holding a dance club after school and I found out she had not been informed of the accusation. I therefore warned her to be wary of that child.

Fortunately I spent the rest of the week in that supportive school in Reading, who were most shocked that no-one from the school in Thatcham had spoken to me about the incident.

The week ended with a phone call from the agency. The police had decided not to pursue it. They must have been told by the other children 'witnesses' that the boy was running through the doorway at the time.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007


I'm sitting listening to more fireworks this evening. We have heard bangs and whistles for 5 days now. The official celebration was yesterday November 5th. For those non-English readers November 5th is called Bonfire Night or more officially Guy Fawkes night. We celebrate the fact that a person called Guy Fawkes and his Catholic friends were caught before they managed to blow up parliament and King James 1, in 1605. The original terrorist, before the word was invented.

I have some sympathy with the Catholic plight at the time. They were treated as second class citizens with less rights than the protestants.

I have never been a fan of the practice of burning effigies of the man on bonfires but I do love a large bonfire and can ooh and aah like the next child at the fireworks.

It is interesting that Catholics today celebrate Bonfire Night along with the rest of the population, without a blink of an eye. When I was in America on July 4th some Americans thought that I would feel uncomfortable with everyone celebrating the defeat of the British on that day. It hadn't occurred to me to be bothered. It was so long ago.

This attitude of the British is in contrast with the Muslim attitude to the Crusades, which finished in 1291. I was astounded to learn that the Muslims in Kuwait still hold a grudge about these events!

Learner Drivers

Part of my route to work is quite a quiet road. I cycle up it from the dead end and have noticed lots of driving school cars traveling towards me to the end. One morning I passed 5 such cars. I wondered why they were so concentrated on that particular street. My first lighthearted thought was that they were having a learner party. This of course I quickly dismissed as pure whimsy.

My next thought was that it was a good spot for reversing around corners and three-point-turns. But, I asked myself, why so many in this particular road? Surely there were other streets in the area that were suitable too.

Today I found the answer to the plethora of learner drivers. I saw one car drive down the side of a property to the car park at the rear. I looked more closely and realised that the building that I had thought to be only 'Thames Heating' premises was in fact two businesses and one was the DSA (Driving Standards Agency). Presumably this is where the learners take their driving tests!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Don't Go with Strangers!

I remember when I was four years old, I went to a Sunday school Christmas party with my five year old brother. I don't remember the party at all, and I'm actually just assuming it was a Christmas one, because I was wearing a maroon coloured wool coat. What sticks in my mind is going home.

It was raining and two worthy gentlemen from the church must have offered to take us home. My mother had my one year old sister at home and a husband working away so she was probably very grateful. She might have known these men but we certainly didn't!

Being a good mother she had told us we must never go anywhere with strangers and certainly not in their car. So we tried to refuse. We cried and we bawled but we ended up being taken home in their car anyway, still crying.

I don't remember being scared, just very upset at being made to do something that my mummy had told me not to do. I probably didn't understand the reason for not going with strangers. We were much more innocent than the kids are today.

I was wondering what would happen if that scenario played itself out today. I can't imagine any man bundling two screaming children into a car nowadays. The Sunday school teacher would not have encouraged it either. They would probably have phoned my mum and got her to speak to us to tell us it was OK. We had a phone at home so they either did not know her number or didn't consider it.

So even though children were more innocent then, they were not treated with the same respect to feelings as they are now.

Monday, 29 October 2007

A Reversing Car

I had a little accident today. I was cycling to work. Well I wasn't going to be paid. There was a training day at my contracted School. I was invited to attend but it was made clear that I would not be paid because it was not my usual day for working there, and they had used up the budget on paying all the Teaching Assistants to go. The headteacher said "I understand if you get a teaching job, but you are very welcome to come if you are not busy."

I was nearly there, and at the part of the journey where I cycle on the road on the cycle lane. However it was blocked by a delivery lorry so instead of continuing and veering into the traffic around the lorry, I decided to go via the service road. This was lined with parked cars, hence the lorry on the cycle path. A car came out of a space and I waited behind it for the driver to change gears and move forward. But it didn't. I reversed. And kept going even with me shouting. If he had looked in his mirror he would have seen me plain as day behind his car. But he didn't look. And he didn't stop. I scrambled out of the way and he missed me by a hair's breath. He still didn't stop until he was way behind me and noticed me shouting and waving at him. He wound down his window to hear me bawling at him. "You need to look in your b***** mirror when you reverse!" He looked at me, lifting his hands in a gesture that conveyed either 'It wasn't my fault' or 'What is all the fuss about?' I reacted angrily to this and shouted, "You could get someone killed doing that!"

This really shook me so I turned round and cycled back home. When I got there, 30 minutes later, I was still upset so I sat down and used the violet flame to help me forgive the guy for doing it and forgive me for dumping my energy onto him in the form of shouting.
The violet flame resonates at a very high frequency and when invoked acts as a cosmic eraser, changing the energies of resentment and unforgiveness into love and joy.
So after a while of saying:

I AM forgiveness acting here
Casting out all doubt and fear
Setting men forever free
With wings of cosmic victory

I calmed down and got on with all the many chores that I have on my list.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Day Nursery

As it is half term this week there are no schools in session. The only work available is the day nurseries. I was called to my regular one this morning and found myself in the 3-4 year old class. The are called 'Snowdrops' and they are really lovely. The whole nursery is great. The children are mainly from middle class families which makes such a change from the school I usually teach in. These children are intelligent and most have a good vocabulary and because they don't carry around the emotional baggage that the deprived kids do their behaviour on the whole is wonderful. So refreshing. The last two visits have seen me in the toddler class which is lovely but today I was back to the class I started with and had most time with. The leader of the room is a mature nursery nurse of very high quality and a joy to work with. She likes that I just get stuck in and start singing with the children if she has a visitor or some other distraction. I love to read stories and sing songs. I have a repetoir that the normal staff don't have, and the children remember and ask for my specialities.

There were a few children this time who I have not met before as they have recently moved up from the 'Primroses'. I asked one pretty bright red haired girl what her name was and she replied. "Princess." I said "Oh?" in an enquiring sort of way, and she repeated "Princess." Then added "I'm going to be a Princess when I grow up but my name now is Katie Walton-Hardcastle" (or something like that).

Being half term some parents did not bring their children in due to having to be off work for their older ones. Therefore I was asked if I didn't mind leaving at 2pm as they didn't need me. I was delighted! I know it means less money and I didn't get any break but I did get to eat with the kids so it wasn't all bad. The food there is very tasty. We had lamb stew and new potatoes in their skin.

As I was leaving I noticed a dead mouse on the ground near the entrance so pointed it out to management and left her to get the poor creature before the parents started coming again.

Whilst cycling home I noticed an eagle circling above. It just kept going round and round in the same place. What a wonderful sight - so rare in this country. I passed two ladies carrying supermarket bags and pointed it out to them but they were not interested. What a shame.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

A Week of Culture and Special Needs

This week has been interesting, as most weeks are being a supply teacher.

On Monday I worked with a year 1 class. This was my second visit in that class and they were much better behaved as a result. They have a system where there is a tick put by their name on a star chart each day for good work or behaviour. They then get a sticker at the end of the day for each tick they have on the chart. Last time I was there I gave out about 4 stickers to each child because of all the stars they had. This time some children got only one or even none. It was a little weird that the overall behaviour was better this time! They often physically put a tick by their own names at the request of the Teaching assistant or the Teacher. Anyway, One boy had 5 ticks and I asked him what they were for. He said playing nicely on the carpet. I then asked who had given him the star and he said no-one. He had just thought that he deserved it and gave it to himself. It turned out that no adult had given him a star at all (poor lamb) and he had awarded them all to himself.

On Tuesday I worked as a Teaching Assistant in a residential school for Autistic children. This was miles from anywhere and too far to cycle, but amazingly the nearest bus went passed the bottom of my road! The bus went every 2 hours so I got the 7:13 am one, arrived at 7:45, walked down a country lane, arriving at about 8 am and waited an hour for someone to escort me to the classroom along with the children.

There were 4 higher functioning boys in the class and I made the 3rd adult in the team. They were aged about 10 but working at a year 1 level. I had been to the school before and enjoyed it greatly. Last time I worked in several parts of the school, with the higher functioning children and also those functioning at a low level, with little or no speech. Last time I was paid as a teacher but this time I was being paid as an assistant at half the pay. However it seems I did a very similar job. The room leader was a man from Ghana who had his two little girls and wife still over there. I was struck by the love and respect both Katie and Erastus had for the children, indeed, one of the reasons why I like the school so much is that all the staff have a wonderful manner. I also liked the kids.

The first thing a person new to the room does is read the information displayed on each child to learn the triggers for behaviour and strategies of dealing with them. This day did not look too promising because one boy, I'll call him Tony, was afraid of the sound of rain and the weather forecasted heavy rain. The strategy was to put on music to attempt to distract him. He started out the day in a difficult mood but fortunately the rain did not fall and his mood improved.

There is a drawback to agency staff. Even though we all have current CRB checks we are not allowed to be left alone with any child. This is usual in this situation and in nurseries too. The reason is that the children do not know the adult and the adult has limited knowledge of the children. After lunch one boy, Jonathon sustained a bump on the head and started feeling sick so Katie took him to the nurse. When it came time for Troy to have his Occupational Therapy session we all had to troop to take him to the room as I could neither take him on my own, or be left with the others.

The last 3 days of the week I am in my contracted school (which is in a very deprived area)- 1 day taking a class so the teacher can have preparation time and 2 days with my normal year 3 class that I share with the school SENCO (Special Educational Needs Coordinator) who needs time out of the classroom for all the work that entails. We have boys on the autistic spectrum in year 3. Why is it that there are more children with autism now, than there were 10 years ago?

It was Cultural Arts Week and so I dressed in a sari in the afternoon teaching the story of Rama and Sita in our India room. We have three year 3 classes and for three afternoons the children rotated through to 'India', 'Kenya' and 'China' to do various arts activities . Our new TA, Deep, is a lady who was born in Kenya from Indian decent. She provided wonderful resources for both India and Kenya.

Thursday saw me learning an Indian Dance and

Friday watching a brass band from England. The 5 members were all peripatetic music teachers who demonstrated their instruments and played a variety of interesting and enjoyable music. with the children in year groups, joining in with the complicated percussion rhythms on the Latin piece.

I taught a different year 3 class on Friday. Two of the year team were having PPA time, so whilst the children were watching The Lion King (for the Kenyan landscape scenes) with the other PPA teacher the rest of us got some displays on the wall from the week's activities.
I also did an international music quiz with them. They had listened to music from India, China and Kenya whilst doing the various activities about those countries. I put together several clips of music from those countries and played them one at a time for them to discuss with a partner and decide where it came from.

The resource I used for this was the catalogue on CD of ARC Music. This has clips of a few minutes of all their music form all over the world. A wonderful resource for any school, or anyone interested in music from around the world.

Cycling home in the light has become a novel experience these days. It was great to be able to get home before dark on Friday. Whilst cycling on Thursday I had a beautiful red sky in front of me that kept changing until, as I cycled into the car park at my apartment there was just a deep red low in the sky.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Train to London

I got a train from Reading to London Paddington this morning along with lots of other people. The train had come from Oxford and was only 3 short carriages long. We filled the seats and so some people had to stand and even more people got on at Slough. I was amazed to see that the seat in front of me was occupied by a coat and a bag. Sitting next to these articles was a young lady of east Asian origin. She was totally oblivious that the seat was needed by several people. A man walked onto the carriage at Slough, put his heavy bag on the floor and pointedly looked at the seat and then at the woman. I don't think the woman noticed. He must have been English because he did a typically English thing and said nothing to her at all. After another pointed look, he turned away and spent the rest of the journey standing next to the 'empty' seat.
I found out later that she did not speak or understand English so I wonder, was it a culture thing on her part that she didn't think to move the articles or was she just very self centered, or simply in culture shock?

There must have been an International football game because there was a high police presence at the station and many boys and men were dressed in their replica England football shirts. The tube was like riding in a sardine can.

The return journey in the evening found me on a train to Taunton. I walked right to the front of the train - about 4 times longer than the morning one. It was crowded with families, singles, couples and football fans. There were lots of tickets on seats denoting those that had been booked. I was really pleased to find a pair of seats that had been reserved from Reading to Taunton, so I settled comfortably in and waited. Unfortunately this bliss did not last long because their was a message to say that all people in the carriage I was occupying had to vacate it and find another seat! The door to this carriage would not shut and they didn't want to lose anyone during the journey. How thoughtful!

The train was delayed for 20 minutes altogether for another safety technical reason and as we were setting off we had a message apologising for this delay and announcing that the buffet car had run out of beer. Ha ha. At least the lovely seats would be kept clean.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

The story of my car

My car died at the beginning of the summer so I bought a bike and convinced myself I was not poor, but keen on becoming fit. This is what I have been telling people. However the truth is a little more complicated that that......

To give you the correct picture I need to back up a little to the Spring. I needed to buy a car, being car-less at the time and wanting to get back into Supply teaching, but had no money to do it with so a friend lent me the money. I bought the car on Ebay. My reasoning for doing it this way was because the people selling anything there strive to get and keep a good reputation for honesty and efficiency which is all recorded by means of customers' feedback.

I bid for a car for £400 and was very excited when I won it for £410. As it was a Friday evening and the seller did not work weekends (he had made it his job to sell cars on ebay), I arranged to pick it up on the Monday. That Monday was the first day of my supply teaching and I was given an afternoon job so I checked emails in the morning. Good job I did! The seller emailed me to say that he no longer had the car for me! He had got it out of the secure parking place on Sunday ready for my collection and it had been vandalised whilst sitting on the road near his house. He did not want to sell me a vandalised car, even though I had bought it. When I told him I really wanted to get a car that day, as planned, he told me to look at the other cars he was auctioning and he would stop the auction for me to get it at the same price as the other one. Most of them were too expensive but there was one nearly in the same league. It would probably go for at least £600 but had just got to nearly £400. He was true to his word and let me have it for £410 - a dark green Volvo. It ran well and served me well.

However, one Thursday morning I found it sitting in the drive with all 4 tyres slashed, deep scratches over every section of body and the wipers wrenched off the car. Needless to say I was late for work that day, having to get the bus. Saturday morning was spent watching a mechanic trying to get the wheels off without the required locking nut implement that had not come with the car! He was telling me it would take a few hundred pounds to get them off. However I prayed and low and behold he immediately managed to do it without resorting to expensive methods.

I got the car running which cost me a few hundred pounds but the insurance company told me the scratches meant it was a write-off as far as they were concerned, because the car was not worth the cost of a total respray. I accepted what they were offering but it took a while for the car to be picked up, so as it still ran fine I used it. However the week before they picked it up it died and the rescue guy told me it needed a new alternator and would need a new clutch soon so the timing was just right. It died but I got the money anyway.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Meanwhile.....Back in England nearly one year later...

I will catch up with what I have been doing in a later post, but for now suffice it to say I am living in a town called Reading, which is 40 miles west of London.
I am sharing a year 3 class in a deprived area of the town and do Thursdays and Fridays whilst their other teacher works as a SENCO (special needs coordinator). I also teach in the same school on Wednesdays - different classes. The other 2 days I do normal supply work.
I live in a 2nd floor flat overlooking a beautiful large green park. As this is England, 2nd floor means - up 2 flights of stairs.