Today I learned that Carrie Fisher died – that strong, sassy, quick witted and freaking talented inspiration from my childhood that I grew to admire more for her openness about her personal struggles. That woman who showed me that I can be a kick ass human being regardless of gender. That woman who reminded us of the ageism and sexism problem that infiltrates our lives through the screen and the woman who constantly spoke her mind. There are few celebrities who have passed and left a strange void in my heart and Carrie Fisher is definitely one of them. She is one with the force and the force is with her.

I posted this on my tumblr earlier and thought it fitting to post here. I admired Carrie Fisher greatly. She was my first science fiction heroine inspiration. For the longest time I was obsessed with being Princess Leia. It was a name that I always used when I was playing make believe as a kid. (That and Ariel and Belle – I would alternate.) I even grew my hair as long as possible so I could wear it like she does in Return of the Jedi. Unfortunately, long hair is difficult to manage so, eventually, that hair was cut off.

As I grew older I grew to realise the significant impact that she’d had on my life. Fiercely independent, headstrong and not willing to take the crap that society handed her lying down. This inspired me. It inspires me…reminding me that, like her, I am so much more.

As I became more well read, educated, and articulate I came to see how important she was in framing a lot of my critical thinking around women in science fiction and women in film. She was a Princess but she was more than that.

There are many things that I want to say about this woman and the impact she has had on so many people. How she talked openly about mental illness, addiction, ageism, sexism and so much more…How she could laugh at herself and be so brutally honest…but the world knows how important she was (is).

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She is Princess Leia, Leia the Huttslayer, General Organa. She is an actor, a writer, a comedian, a powerhouse…she is brilliant, beautiful, talented and an inspiration…and she will be missed by so many.

My thoughts go out to her family at this time.

May the force be with you, General Organa.

 

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Of Tattoos and things…

You know how I talked about crossing things off your bucket list last post? Well, I crossed another thing off.

I got a new tattoo.

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Yep, it’s an origami stegosaur with a splash of water colour.

I now have three tattoos and this is the most visible one. I love it but it is also so new that I still haven’t really come to grips with the reality of it. (It’s on my left forearm in case you were wondering).

I’ve always loved tattoos but have always been apprehensive of getting them in overly visible places. However, I have been through a lot this year and I decided that I wanted to control the next visible change to my body. I have so many scars from various surgeries that I’ve had no choice in receiving (and I don’t regret them at all, let me state that up front right now) so I wanted the chance to control the next “scar” that I got. I mean, my scar from my gallbladder removal is shockingly huge… Not that I really need to justify why I got this… just wanted to explain some of my thought process…

So, I got a dinosaur. Those who know me, irl, know about my obsession with dinosaurs. Heck, I wanted to be a palaeontologist all the way through primary school and then most of high school. Unfortunately, money played a huge part in my decision to go to uni in New Zealand. No regrets though.

So, another thing crossed off the bucket list.

Also, I start a Post Grad Course next month. It’s all to do with Digital and Collaborative Learning.  It’s  done through Unitec and The Mind Lab. It also counts toward 1/3 of a Master’s Degree.

Not to mention that next month is NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month – where the aim is to write 50 000 words in the month of November. I’m managed to successfully achieve this for the past five years.

So, all in all, I’m setting myself up for a busy few months. I’m looking forward to the positive changes.

Oh – and I’m still going with the whole #31daysofhorror – and it’s getting a little tedious but I am still loving it.

Until next time…peace and pancakes.

Also, question: Do you have any tattoos?

What goals are you setting yourself for the last two months of the year?

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Things I Learned Yesterday…

I have a bucket list. In fact, I have several bucket lists scattered around on bits of papers and in half written journals. Doesn’t everyone?

For the longest time my bucket list was pretty average. Go travelling, write a novel (I’m working on it) learn how to do a handstand (still working on that one as well) and fall in love (how freaking cliched…right? ahem … right? Still haven’t fallen in love so…). From all accounts it looked like my bucket list was just a random list of ideas…but, this weekend, I knocked something off my bucket list.

I did an adventure race.

I’m a relatively active person but not to the levels that I could or should be. There are always excuses. But, when one of my dearest friends invited me to join her family as part of their team my first instinct was…no I’m not ready. But, I thought it over and said yes…

So, yesterday, I sports bra-ed and suited up. (Two bras if you were wondering… and yes, it was painful but I didn’t want to give myself a black eye…) I gave it my best shot. My friend and her family were much fitter than I but they put up with me. Plus, I remembered why I slowed down on my running…my knees.

But, I had a lot of fun. It was mostly up hill and there were times when I was crawling up the hill as it was rather steep. I nearly lost my shoes in the mud run and the down hill made my knees swell but I’d do it again. (Not right now…I’m currently resting my knee…a little bit…) But it was a lot of fun. And, even though we weren’t the first, we weren’t the last. I would actually recommend this to any body who likes a challenge. It was a lot harder than I expected and my friend said it was harder than last year but I had a lot of fun doing it.

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Goodbye Dear Shoes

I learned a lot from this race and one is that I need to take more time for my own health and fitness if I want to get better. (Better at running and at being a healthier person.) I don’t often admit that I struggle with self esteem and my weight because I really love the body positivity movement and advocate it. Healthy at any size! But I also like being fit and running and dancing…so here’s to taking more time for my own health.

Also, my bucket list will always been changing but I can cross that one thing off. Next on the list – I need to finish my second novel and edit my first one more.

And maybe, just maybe, it’s time for me to be more creative with my bucket list. Or, maybe it’s time for me to do more…

What’s on your bucket list? What should I add to mine?

 

 

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31 Days of Horror, Bullet Journaling and Stuff

Admittedly 2016 has not been a good year for me. There have been highlights – most notably San Diego Comic Con – which was so awesome. There are words but none of them are intelligible at this present moment.

But, generally, 2016 has been a ‘suckfest’ in numerous senses. I guess the gallbladder thing takes the cake and I’m still dealing with all that. You’d be surprised at what foods seem to hate me at present. (For those of you who can eat anything after your surgery I’m actually glad and happy for you. Unfortunately, some food goes through me faster than … well I’ll let you finish that off.) It’s been 17 weeks since the surgery and I’ve done a lot of traveling and teaching and thinking. Maybe a little too much in the way of thinking but that’s me.

Anyway, it’s October (seriously, where the hell did the year go) and now it’s heading into Spring (which soon means summer holidays but who’s counting anyway?)

On tumblr the Northern Hemisphere is going wild with it’s fall aesthetic and pumpkin spice lattes (something I have never tried but have heard all about…the nearest Starbucks is over an hour away so … yeah). Plus, all the Halloween pictures appearing  has got me in the mood for horror films. And, thus, I have arrived at the actual topic of my blog today.

I am doing a 31 Days of Horror challenge wherein I attempt to watch 31 horror films this month. I jumped in a little late, starting on the 3rd so watched 3 horrors in a row.

Krampus (2015) which now ties with Gremlins and Die Hard for best Christmas film ever. The Chernobyl Diaries which was terrible but it counts and then I re-watched From Dusk Til Dawn which totally counts cause vampires…Then, on the 4th, I watched Rogue which is about a giant crocodile and stars Radha Mitchell,  Sam Worthington and Mia Wasikowska. Pure and unashamed cheese.

I love horror films. Always have. Especially the slashers of the late 70s and 80s.

If you want to join me jump in and tweet me @inkblotsquills with film recommendations or let me know what you’ve been watching.

I also decided to start bullet journaling last night. This came about after I did some tidying and found no less than 15 unused notebooks/journals in my craft room. I have a problem…

Anyway, I will add some pictures once I get it fully underway.

I also started a teacher focused tumblr if you wanted to check it out. The Caffeinated Teacher. I will probably use that to do more teacher posts and turn this blog back into just a blog about me and the nerdy stuff I like. (Though teaching is a huge part of my life so there will be ideas and thoughts etc… but less of the technical stuff and more of the real stuff…)

So there you go. An update. A not so great update but an update none-the-less.

If you have any suggestions for what you’d like me to watch let me know.

Also, if there is anything you’d like me to write about, well leave a comment. Let’s do this.

Peace and Pancakes

Jaime

 

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My gallbladder tried to kill me…

I have the best excuse for not updating…

Previously I wrote about my hospital stay here. This was back in April and I was popped on the waiting list for an elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy which was supposed to be done in May …

Fast forward to the end of May where I found myself back in hospital. The doctor who would have done my surgery was going to be away but said that the surgery would definitely be a go for the 9th of June. So, I was in hospital until the Saturday and then I was off until the surgery.

Laparoscopic surgery is the easier option and a lot less invasive where, at most, you’ll have to take a week off work and take it easy for a wee while. Four incisions are made and the gallbladder and stones are whipped out. There is a 1-10% chance that during this surgery they may have to go to an open cholecystectomy – meaning they have to cut you open.

Guess what happened…

So I wake from what was supposed to be routine surgery to find out that they had barely started the laparoscopic surgery when I started to bleed and they had to go straight into the open surgery…apparently my gallbladder had begun to go gangrenous and, according to my nurses and surgeon (who were brilliant btw) it was the most stones that they had removed from a gallbladder. One of the stones was also stuck in one of the ducts…according to people I’m bloody lucky to be alive. Of course, when I woke up, I began to apologise profusely to the nurse for causing any trouble. I apologised for the fact that my gallbladder had tried to kill me…

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I managed to lose a lot of blood but, luckily, didn’t need a transfusion though it was close. I’ve been off work for two weeks and start back on Monday but can only work half days. The doctor and nurses originally recommended taking three days off but I need to build up my strength because I’m still going to America in a couple of weeks. (I’ve been cleared to fly so there is no worry there. It will be four weeks after surgery that I fly so I’m good.)

Anyway, I just thought I’d do a quick update. I’m doing really well though I’m too bloody stubborn for my own good. I have overdone it a couple of times and given myself a fright but I am feeling so much better than I have in a long time. The professionals believe that I’d been growing those stones for some time which could explain my general ill health and lethargic nature more readily than stress. It might also explain several other things, health wise, that had been getting me down for at least the last year or so.

I’m tender and have a 22cm scar from the middle of my chest to my lower side but I’m no longer attached to Bert the Bile Duct Drain (check my instagram for more images). I have trouble getting comfortable but, like everyone keeps reminding me, it’s barely been two weeks since surgery.

So that’s why it’s been a little quiet on the blogging front…

Peace and pancakes,

Jaime

P.S. This is surgery number 19 if anyone is keeping score…

 

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Thoughts from a teacher – Tuesday edition

I love my job. My students are amazing and ever so complex and I work with some amazing teachers who inspire me everyday. That being said, here are some of the thoughts that have gone through my head today and I’ve only had one class. (Inspired by the #BFC630 English chat on twitter that I read through.)

Where have all my pens gone?

Where is that smell coming from?

To do list – why are you growing so quickly?

How can I best utilise my space? (Which relates to my inquiry this term.)

Where have my whiteboard markers disappeared?

Why can’t students name their work properly?

What did I just stand in?

What part of silent reading don’t you get?

You’ve known about this for a week…

You’ve had four weeks to read this short story and I’ve read it to you in class…

Why are you checking your instagram?

Just breathe.

Actually, they did really well and this is why I love teaching!

So, by the end of the first lesson this was everything the students had told me to write down. Some of it was a little off but it was their work on the board. (With a little prompting from me.)

I think they’ve actually soaked in a lot more than I’d thought. Next step is to turn these notes into a stellar essay. Which I know that they are capable of.

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Never Ending To Do Lists

I write many to do lists. In fact, I write them every day and every day I get some kind of weird pleasure when I cross everything off. The thing is, however, that I never finish the list.

I don’t know if it is a teacher thing or a me thing – though sometimes they are interchangeable. But, the new term has started which means new to do lists, new students (sometimes) and new stuff to further cram into my brain. All of this adds to the creation of radical ideas and, usually, ends with me ill because I try to do everything to the level of a perfectionist – something that doesn’t really exist in the world of teaching.

At the moment my To Do List looks like this:

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And this is the third draft because I completed the first two earlier this morning. Plus, this is only for my teaching side – my personal to do list looks a lot messier and complicated. I’m not going to show you a photo of that, yet.

But one thing I am proud to have completed/crossed off is changing my room to more resemble a Modern Learning Environment. It is a work in progress but I have removed the front of the classroom and I have endeavoured to use every available space.

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You might not be able to see it that well but I have writing on the windows and on many other spaces because I can…plus, the students seem to be responding to it.

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This is also part of my new Inquiry for this term – seeing how room layout and design effects students learning. There is more to it than that but I will write a proper post about that shortly – I’ve even got that written on my to do list.

My question to you, dear followers and fellow teachers, how many things do you get through on your to do lists? Do they help you?

Until next time, peace and pancakes.

xJaime

P.S. No news on the surgery as of yet.

What the heck happened…?

So I was going to regularly update this blog but, unfortunately, my gallbladder had other ideas.

On Good Friday, when I had a glorious long weekend spread out in front of me, a mysterious pain started in. At the time I thought it was just indigestion but the pain steadily worsened until I decided that I should probably get it checked out. I drive myself to the ED (Emergency Department) and wait to see the on call doctor.

By this time I’m having chest pains and lower back pains and I’m feeling bouts of nausea – so a great way to spend my Monday off. (Yes I’d had the pain for nearly four days before going to check it out…I’m strange like that…)

The doctor looks at me and takes some vitals and suggests gallstones which means I have to go back to ED and get semi admitted so they can administer pain relief that’s a little stronger than panadol. I get a few needles shoved in and then get some blood taken followed by tramadol and buscapan (excuse spelling…) plus a tonne of paracetamol and ibuprofen. Then I get sent home and told to keep on a low fat diet. (Which is fun considering I’m also gluten free due to IBS … all the stomach problems.)

I am told to make an appointment with my regular doctor to get a surgical appointment as well.

Tuesday is also a day off for teachers due to where Easter fell so I’m resting (or trying to because the pain hasn’t gotten any better) when I get the call to go for an ultrasound which also means that I’m not allowed to eat for a few hours.

The ultrasound confirms gallstones and I have to go back to ED (though I’m not sure why) where I get given a prescription for a range of painkillers on top of the range I already have and am told just to manage it until I can see my doctor. By this time it’s five in the afternoon and I haven’t been able to eat since nine that morning. I’m tired, cranky, in pain and a little scared because the pain hasn’t gotten better, in fact, it’s gotten steadily worse.

I call in my relief for Wednesday because I know I won’t be able to function at school like this and manage to get an appointment almost first thing on Wednesday morning. By this time the pain really hasn’t subsided and I’m unable to get comfortable but I also don’t want to bother people. My doctor (who is freaking amazing by the way!) takes one look and basically sends off for a surgical referral and then tells me to ignore the second prescription and gives me one to help with the nausea I get with tramadol and send me home. She does tell me if I feel worse to go straight back to the ED.

Cue ten o’clock on the Wednesday night where I’ve tried to go to bed. The pain is really bad and I take my dose of tramadol and the anti nausea. It is over an hour later that I realise I’ve been crying for at least half that time. I can’t lie down and I can’t sit up so I start pacing and focusing on my breathing. I also decide to take some ibuprofen and paracetamol as well.

Cue 1.45am and I am still in pain and still crying. I realise that this isn’t right and I drive myself to the ED. (I could have woken my border but didn’t want to disturb her.) Mind you I’m crying the entire way because I’m in pain and I’m angry at myself for being in pain.

I get into the ED and I am crying and apologising for being a pain and disturbing them in the middle of the night. (I know…I’m a numpty). They admit me straight away and then have to deal with an emergency before being able to get me some concentrated pain relief. Then I was admitted to the surgical ward.

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Me wasting time in cupcakes pjs and doodling

Basically I spend the next couple of days in hospital on saline and IV antibiotics. Then released. I’m still in a little bit of pain but no where near as bad as it was on the Wednesday/Thursday.

I then go back to school for the final two weeks before the April break though I kinda rushed it and ended up having to drive home early for a few days.

That happened almost a month ago and now I am waiting for the surgery date so they can remove my gallbladder. I had the appointment with the anaesthetist and will hear about the surgery very shortly. Needless to say I haven’t felt like blogging for some time due to feeling incredibly exhausted.

Now my only worry is if the surgery is in the first week back at school because I really hate writing relief…(in reality I hate missing school because I really enjoy my job…and the students I have a funny, and strange, a weird, and kind, and just great humans who are still trying to recognise their potential.)

This comic is a happy thing for me Gallbladder’s last day.

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Me trying my first coffee in a month … it didn’t go down well…

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Giving Students Choices

At school we are working on Teaching as Inquiry with each teacher looking at their teaching and choosing an area to focus on.

 

teaching-as-inquiry_referenceTKI Teaching As Inquiry (Where I sourced the above image and more information)

The basic idea is that we identify the outcomes we want for our students and then we look at different teaching strategies to help our students reach this outcome.

I think that the majority of teachers do this instinctively but we don’t always think about the whats, whys and hows, which is actually a great way to look at your teaching and look at the needs of your students.

So, my first inquiry of the year is looking at how to give students more choice within my classes. I want to focus on improving the self management of my advanced students while also allowing all students in my class find their own success.

I want to know if giving them free choice improves their self management and results.

I am focusing on my Year 10 class which is also a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) class and my form class – which is actually rather handy because I get to see them a little more than an average teacher would. There are 26 students, more males than females, and a mixture of Maori and NZ European students.

My intended outcome is to have students be able to choose from a range of differentiated tasks during our study of Romeo and Juliet.

The base data that I am starting with is the tracking sheets I have compiled that shows their Year 9 results (including eAsstle results), my goals for them and other baseline data.

I have also created groups for the students based on their Asstle scores – they don’t sit in these groups but it enables me to help with my differentiation.

We have finished reading the play and they are currently working on a Tic Tac Toe activity – there are nine different activities ranging from creating a wanted poster for one of the characters to writing a series of interviews with characters within the play to creating an alternate ending to the play. The students have to choose three in a row – though they have already tried to ask if they can do the three they like the most.

When I first introduced the task I had them move into 9 small groups and I gave each group one of the tasks. It was their mission to figure out what the task was asking, what the success criteria could be and see if they could find exemplars or explain what would make an Excellence, Merit or Achieved. Most of the students fully engaged though there are two that I may have to create more individualised tasks.

The first completed task is due this coming Thursday.

I’m still developing the ins and outs of my inquiry and thanks to the people who have helped me frame it so far. (You know who you are…) But, so far, the students are engaged and they are re-reading the play to get ideas about why certain characters might be wanted, or what songs would be on Juliet’s playlist, or, what would happen if Romeo received the letter in time.

And, they are helping each other, giving me a lot more time to sit with those that are struggling and giving immediate feedback to those who are looking to raise their grades.

I will provide more information as I continue to explore and develop my hunch…

Until next time.

xJaime

 

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The One When I Had a Sick Day

Note: This is just a quick blog so I don’t fall behind. Next week will be a better post.

Sorry for not blogging on Monday but I had to have a sick day. I woke at four with a blinding headache which I quickly recognised as a migraine. I couldn’t turn my head without the world spinning and there were definite squiggly things in my vision.

I proceeded to get ready for school (because I’m me and I’m bloody stubborn) but decided, at 6.15am, that it might not be the best idea for me to go to school. Instead, I went in, briefly, to set up relief.

Relief is something that I hate doing. I hate having days off sick because it is often more of a hassle to set up relief than it is to actually teach a class when sick. I know that I’m not the only teacher who thinks like that, either.

Anyway, I went home and slept most of the day a way. I couldn’t even attempt to look at my computer for longer than a couple of minutes.

The benefit of the sick day is that I got extra sleep and, as someone who doesn’t get sufficient sleep anyway, this is always good. It also allowed me to come back into school in a better frame of mind.

I’m not going to lie. I have days were I question why I became a teacher. Not because I think I’m a terrible teacher (though I have those days as well)- but because I feel like I can never do enough. I plan lessons, spend hours researching ideas and theories and even more hours reading about ways to make myself a more efficient teacher – a more effective teacher. Still, I always feel as if there is more that I could be doing.

My average day:

5am – wake up and do some stretches and get the coffee ready

5.30-6.30am – Drink said coffee, check emails, mark some essays, eat breakfast.

6.45/50am – Arrive at school and begin organising my classroom, do more marking, prep lessons and so on

8.25am – Morning Briefing

8.40 – 3.15 – Teaching/planning/duty/brief breaks

3.15-4.30 – Still at school most days – sometimes I have a meeting sometimes I’m just trying to get work done.

5pm – Hopefully home and sometimes still doing work.

Now this is just my average week and I’m not doing a thing where I’m all like – look at the hours I work – I’m stating my day. And, having that sick day, helped me put some things in perspective. (No guarantee how long this will last)

Writing down what I do helps me remember that I also need to acknowledge what I do as a teacher and as a person. It also reminds me that I like smiling and I like helping students and fellow teachers. Teachers have a difficult job and, although most people realise it, we don’t always acknowledge it.

So, to all my fellow teachers:

You are wonderful, brilliant, amazing, powerful, educated and strong. teacher-motivational-quotes-2

And this lovely Buzzfeed list about teacher memes

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