So what happened in my life this last year?
I lived with my daughters - Claire all year, and Helen for part of it. Helen and Orion had many visa challenges so spent their first year of marriage mainly living in different countries. They are at present living together in Helena, Montana. We moved from a crowded furnished two bedroomed flat with a lovely view overlooking a green park to a large unfurnished 4 bedroomed house with a large garden and orchard. We picked lots of apples and sold them to the local organic co-op 'cos we don't eat apples. We did eat a few though, and they were delicious.
The garden has a lovely long washing line! I can get three washing machine loads on it. I furnished the house from furniture other people were throwing out, thus saving landfill space. I managed this courtesy of Freecycle. (Google it to see if you have one near you.) The furniture looks good and we even got some matching curtains to exactly fit two different sized windows in the lounge and they match the settees and large rug we got too. Actually the rug came for a yard sale. Most of our lamps came via the local car boot sale too.
I don't have a car at the moment so all the stuff was transported using a guy from the local LETS group. LETS is short for Local Trading Exchange Scheme. I pay him petrol money and give him 'readies' for his time. Readies is what the exchange currency is called in Reading where I live. This guy has also done several odd jobs around the house. I have done various things in order to earn 'readies' to pay him. These include several gardening jobs, helping someone move house, looking after a child, EFT with a person and a dog, and cutting someone's hair.
The rent is large, although much smaller that you would expect for the size of house, because the whole house needed decorating. I've done most of the rooms and we have tenants renting 2 of the bedrooms to help pay our rent. It took me a few months to come around to the idea of sharing my house with strangers but it has not been as bad as I had feared. Ideally I would not have tenants but it does help us live here. They are quiet and keep to their rooms mostly.
I changed jobs this year from a large school in a very deprived area with really difficult-to-teach children, to a school that has a private-school-feel to it. It is a small catholic school in a middle class area. The children are wonderful. There is only one difficult boy in the whole school and he is fine whenever i have him! They are mostly intelligent and keen to learn. I work 3 days a week there teaching all the classes whilst the teachers have planning time. There are 2 challenges to working at this school. It is too far away to cycle comfortably for me. Each journey is 50 minutes and there are several hills. The bus journey takes the same time but it is not quite as tiring. (I have to get two buses.) The other challenge is that I have to plan and do evaluations on all the lessons I take. Planning takes longer than teaching the lesson and I'm doing all the classes/age groups and don't know the children as well and the class teacher so I'm up 'til midnight 3 days a week. I don't get planning time either! The other 2 days I usually teach in a variety of schools and do not have to plan for those.
I really enjoyed volunteering at the conference in Montana this summer. I helped in the Conference Program Assistant office. I especially enjoyed finding a problem, working out a solution and following through to see it sorted. I also worked in the information booth where I did similar work. It was the 50th Anniversary so there was a celebration gala which was wonderful. The house I rented in Gardiner and subsequently rented bed space for nearly 30 European participants was mostly a success but I ended up out of pocket because a few people stayed an extra day due to a misunderstanding and as I was charged for that day.
At the moment I tutor children everyday after school either at their house or mine. I enjoy this. I have one 4 year old who is learning to speak English so we just play and sing songs twice a week. The other children have more sedate lessons and are more restful.
This year I have been doing quite a bit of EFT on myself and with others and even had some paying clients.
I am looking forward to see what 2009 has in store for me. I feel a change coming. I would certainly like to leave conventional school teaching and get involved in autonomous learning. I would love to home-school using this method. A big challenge, though, is that I don't have any children of my own do do it with. :-) So does anyone know of any children who would benefit from me facilitating their learning in the autonomous style?