Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Project #366 week 43

Not my favourite week of the year! This week was full of unpleasant things, as the photographs will attest :-)

Sunday 21st October 2012
 The start of the final week of training for the year. Today I spent most of it indoors, doing housework and answering progressively more demanding emails from my trainees. It was still reasonably warm, and I was delighted to see the rosehips in the garden next door. I remember having rose-hip syrup as a child in Scotland. My mother used to give us a spoonful before we left for school as she reckoned it was full of vitamin C.
Monday 22nd October
19 degrees today and we had to keep the window of our classroom closed. We had a plague of ladybirds- not the nice red ones- but the red and black ones with odd numbers of spots on them. We were squashing them against the wall whereever we could. They got in to everything, down our clothes, in our lunches - euggh! Here is one that escaped!

Tuesday 23rd October

It looks as though we have started a trend in'doing up your house'. Our next door neighbours have added scaffolding and it looks as though they are having their walls hacked about a bit. They are a block of flats, though, so it will be less expensive for each of them than ours was :-(
Wednesday 24th October

Almost all of the paperwork is in and I have time to take part in #ELTchat without worrying about all the things I should be doing. The nice thing is that I managed to get home from work at a reasonably sensible time for the first time in a couple of months :-) The lift in the car park has sprouted signs which made me smile. I'm not sure it would be a good idea to follow them exactly. The view from the lift is bright and sunny and the new houses are now all full of tenants.
Thursday 25th
This morning we were given the news that one of our much loved colleagues lost his fight against cancer last night. My colleagues are sombre and even the students are subdued. His wife works with us too, so our thoughts are with her and their 12-year-old son.
I had a bit of a panic when my watch stopped working, as I needed to pick the moderator up from the airport later today. I popped up to the supermarket to buy a dinky little alarm clock, much to the amusement of my trainees. As they pointed out- I am reasonably tech-savvy, so why didn't I think to use my phone? Never mind. The little  clock will actually be  quite useful.
Friday 26th
Moderation day! The lady from Trinity is lovely and will put my trainees at ease. It is freezing cold-but dry. I will have time to contact some of our old teachers to pass on our sad news. Many of them live far away, but I'm sure they'd like to send a card or something.
Alves, or Elvis?
After lunch the examiner returned to the airport and we could then have our party for the trainees and their students. Jack brought his guitar along, and some of the students played and sang songs in their language. It was quite a jolly affair. We always give our students a certificate of studies at the end too, which they are happy to receive. We then went down to the local pub for a tennerfest meal and a celebration of the end of the course. As Tam is returning to Scotland at the end of the weekend, I offered to show him around the island, but was pipped at the post by Siobhan who had offered first :-).

                 Saturday 27th October

I started to write the #ELTchat summary and had to abandon it to drop my daughter at her friend's house. The view of the beach was stunning as we passed, so I stopped to take a couple of pictures and  found it was covered in wading birds looking for food. We were early enough that we saw the ferry leaving for France.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

#ELTchat SummaryWhat are the Pitfalls to be aware of when going to work in another country?

What are the Pitfalls to be aware of when going to work in another country?
This was the topic chosen for the evening #ELTchat of Wednesday 24th October 2012
Present , in order of comments, were: @Marisa_C, @Shaunwilden, @hartle, @ljp2010, @SueAnnan, @Wiktor_K, @teacherphili, @stephenburrows, @discovernlearn, @theteacherjames, @Noreen_Lam, @esolcourses, @vickyloras, @LozCrouch, @MarjorieRosenbe, @elleplus1, @andyscott55 and any number of lurkers, who are very welcome to join in the discussion on a future occasion.
We started by looking at some of the horror stories:
Passports: there are schools who insist on holding on to yours- this happened to Noreen_Lam in Saudi Arabia, and almost happened to @ljp in  South Korea.
Rescinded contracts: This is also a concern, where the bonus payable at the end of a contract doesn’t materialise because the contract is ended a few days before the due date.
Or how about the institution wanting control and changing the syllabus on a weekly basis?-@teacherphili- or the institution using the language provider to set up the syllabus, then doing it themselves?
Or using really outdated course books= @vickyloras
@Marisa_C also warned us about jobs offering large salaries, and asking the applicant for money up front.

ljp2010, teacherphili and theteacherjames had different views on working in South Korea. Much of it comes down to the fact that there are cowboy establishments everywhere, but not all of the schools belong on any such list.

Recruiters who are permanently looking for staff make@teacherphili wary,as he thinks the turnover rate could be very high on sites such as http://t.co/1O5LSdZp
Some sites which might help you avoid problems are mentioned below,( but be aware that they could be used by people with gripes against the institutions mentioned, so dig deeper if at all possible). Marisa's advice would be to google the school and find out what people are saying about it.
teflteachingthe greylist.blogspot.com   
Tefl Tradesman http://t.co/NafUVTua
http://t.co/IBrPuGLj ELT world discussion board
@Wiktor_K suggested asking some searching questions and @SueAnnan mentioned that inexperienced teachers don’t have the knowledge about what to ask. @Wiktor_K then suggested a checklist for inexperienced teachers to help them with their decisions. In fact the list is useful for anyone going to work abroad.
However, the first questions must be for yourself:
@Shaunwilden   Why do you want to go to the country? Have you done your homework about the school and the country?       
@discovernlearn Are you ready to be flexible and expected the unexpected?

@elleplus1 made the point that you can discover yourself in a new way.

The checklist:
·        How long is the contract?
·        What are the hours? Are they on or off site? Is travel time included?
·        What facilities are provided?
·        Are language classes provided?
·        Is an orientation programme available?
·        What kind of city/town/place will I be living in?
·        Are accommodation costs included?
·        Is Health care included?
·        What support is offered outside the school, particularly re cultural awareness?
·        Are travel costs included?
·        What about local tax laws?
·        How does the tax system work re my contract?
·        What is the cost of living relative to the salary?
·        What will happen at the end of my contract?
·        On average, how long do teachers stay at your school?
·        How many of your teachers are Delta Qualified?
·        Is there any scope for Professional Development:what is on offer?
·        Will you support me if I want to do the Delta?
·        Can I see the agenda for your last staff meeting?
·        What are the biggest challenges for the school next year in terms of planning ahead and school strategy?
·        Can I see the Teachers’ Handbook/Code of Conduct?
·        How do the complaints/grievance procedures work?
·        How motivated are the students? What is their reason for study?
·        Would you mind me contacting the previous teachers?
Should teachers learn a bit of the language before going? English  will get you by in many European countries, but if you are going to work further afield you have options: Hit the ground running, by being able to  use numbers, money, directions and how to order a beer (or tea) depending on the country! Or, pick it up on the ground from the locals! The consensus was that you quickly learn to communicate with someone you don't share a common language with.
There are difficult times ahead for some countries.
Be aware of the austerity measures in place   and how they will affect the tax systems.
Portugal is planning to tax everyone at 50%, making it less of an ideal place to workin 2013.
In Poland, it is not unusual to find schools asking teachers to be self-employed in order not to
have to pay taxes and insurance.
In Austria the self-employed teacher has to pay 25% social security.
It is an amazing privilege to live in another country and spend as much time with the people as we can. Embrace it and enjoy it, is @theteacherjames' advice.
There are many positives, but the key is to look at life from a different perspective @stevenburrows

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Project #366 Week 42

A very busy week has just gone by! I stopped teaching my illiterate students on Tuesday and handed them over to my trainees to work on. They were begging me for a chance to work with them- so having thought I was saving them the difficulty, I relented. The weather hasn't been bad, but the wind, combined with monster tides has made travelling to and from work quite interesting.
All of my photos have been taken outside this week :-)
Sunday 14th October 2012
 I managed to get out today and went for a walk in waterworks valley. The reservoirs are almost full, which means that we won't have any water shortages over the winter. The valley is still quite green, although the trees are beginning to change colour. It looks like someone's chickens have escaped though. They were everywhere, as were ducks from the reservoir.
Monday 15th October 2012
 The school is looking quite autumnal now. I have been enjoying the colour change in the trees outside. There are leaves all over the playground, making it a bit slippery underfoot. This is a collection of them, which have been swept up in the car park.
I remember when I was little. I used to go for walks in the Autumn, so that I could scrunch through the piles of leaves :-)
Tuesday 16th October 
Today the island is preparing for the big spring tides. We have one of the biggest tides in the world, and there is always a risk of flooding near the coast. When the tide coincides with the rush-hour, the roads are sometimes closed, making life complicated for an hour or so. Many people barricade their houses with sandbags.
Wednesday 17th October
The high tide is on its way, but there is another hour to go. I stopped to take thisson my way to work. The water is already almost up to the wall, and the wind is making it slosh over the edge. You can imagine what it will be like in an hour's time!
Thursday 18th October
 I wouldn't have liked to be a cyclist on the cycle path round the coast today. I should imagine that they would need waterproofs at the very least! The tide is closer today, so I found a safe place to take my picture, so as not to get wet. As you can see the tide comes a long way over the wall- right across the street- and I even saw a couple of cars with seaweed on them.
Friday 19th October
Today was a bit frantic. My trainees had their Language Awareness test, and then Teaching Practice, and I did paperwork. In the evening we went out for a quick Pizza, and then went down to the pub to play music. I was actually too tired to go, but I needed the information for our gig on Saturday.

The sunset was golden. The island is pretty in the watery sunlight that bathes everything in gold during the day, but the sunset was amazing.
Saturday 20th October
big jam session
fais'sie du cidre

This weekend sees Jersey Heritage organising La Fais'sie du cidre, or the Cider-making festival. It takes place at Hamptonne,  a country life museum, and showcases some of the old crafts. We were invited to play on Saturday, in the cider tent, a good place to be :-) As we hadn't been sure whether all of the band would be able to play, we had called on the people we play with in the pub, to see if they would like to take part. The result was that the band had about 14 members at any one time! It was a fantastic big jam session. The men in the whites are members of Helier Morris, who had danced earlier, and some of whom play out with us. People sat around on straw bales and listened to the music for a good couple of hours. I then wandered round the show, looking at the cider making and enjoying watching the blacksmith at work.


Sunday, 14 October 2012

project #366 Week 41

Another week over. This was a busy one, with my trainees in the classroom for the first - and all the inherent problems of preparation, timing etc. The weather was foul on occasion, and sunny and bright on others. This week saw the Jeresy Rally- one of a very small number which races on public roads. I wouldn't have fancied doing 80MPH on narrow roads with a granite wall on either side!
Sunday 7th October 2012
I was so busy during the week, plus a ceilidh, that I forgot to go shopping in time for the dinner party I was holding in the evening. Marks and Spencer to the rescue! We don't have Sunday shopping here, but some small stores are allowed to open for a short time on a Sunday. Many of them don't bother- but the M&S franchise made sure that their food outlets on the island were small enough to meet the criteria, and they are a godsend when you need something nice, fast! The one on the coast  also maintains a nice little garden area for people to sit in and look at the sea.
Monday 8th October 2012
Today the College had a group of French environmental students arrive. They have lessons in the morning and visits in the afternoon. I had a bit of free time while my trainees were meeting their TP tutors- I am going to teach the illiterate beginners group, as I feel that they are too much of a challenge for trainee teachers, and they have been sent by our Social Security department to see if we can help them. I offered to go with the French students down to the incinerator. There were too many of them to go as one group, so we split them into two groups and took them to look at the power station too. I then went back to school to find that my group of TP students was the biggest, as most of them live in the refuge down the hill. Our bus drivers decided to go on strike over the fact that a new company is taking over, and they have all been asked to reapply for their jobs. This prevented many of the students who would have taken the bus from St Helier from coming, although a few dedicated students actually walked the 4 miles!!
Tuesday 9th October
The bus drivers are still on strike!
I dropped one of the trainees home on my way back from school. He lives near the Greve D'Azette lighthouse, which always amuses me as it is used as a bus stop too. Looking at the rocks, though, you can understand the need for the lighthouse. This is the beach behind, at ebb tide. Even more rocks will be uncovered when the tide is completely out.

Wednesday10th October
Today I was extremely grateful for the support of my PLN. I needed material to deal with my enormous class of students who cannot read and write at all. #ELTpics came to my rescue today. I'll keep a record for later and tell you what I did with them when I get time. Many of the others offered support and resources galore! I really cannot tell you how helpful this was! Another problem with this group is that many of them have an alcohol dependancy. You can just imagine how lovely my classroom smells! I had to go out to buy flowers to keep the air as sweet as possible, but eventually I needed an air-freshener. My trainees refused to come back into the room after their lessons, and the smell was pemeating the whole upstairs area. After a while I become immune to it- but others don't.
I enjoyed the #eltchat on Mindfulness- but thought it was something that most of us do already, and I wasn't sure that it needed a whole discussion on the subject.
Thurdsay 11th October
Busy, busy day. The bus strike is over and the students decided to turn up en masse. The trainees    were observing my colleagues today, so I had a late start. I did a few errands and wandered up to the college in time for the coffee break with my colleagues. I don't get a lot of time to touch base with them during a training course, as my timetable doesn't always correspond with their breaks. This is to ensure that my trainees don't get underfoot when my colleagues are pressed for time to prepare lessons. In the afternoon I remembered that I hadn't taken anything out of the freezer for dinner. When I eventually got home I suggested going to the pub for a meal. In October all our pubs and restaurants run a programme called the Tennerfest, where you can eat  a 2 or 3-course meal for £10.00. Although this is difficult for the top restaurants, and their prices have crept up, over the years, to £15.00, it is still excellent value and most people take advantage of the promotion to try out new restaurants. We went to one of our usual haunts as I love their espetadas. It is anly a five-minute-drive away, and the food is excellent.
Friday 12th October
As if my life isn't busy enough, we have a ceilidh this evening- a Friday! Normally we work on a Saturday, but this week we have two. This one is a birthday party for a 70-year-old.To add insult to injury I have to be there at 7pm!  I have put  my share of the band equipment, and my clothes,  into the boot of the car and will go there straight from feedback with the trainees. The venue is the parish hall of St Ouen, (pronounced Sint Won). We don't often play in the parish halls as they are a bit precious about their wooden floors.

Saturday 13th
Today I decided to run a file clinic and tutorial session for my trainees. I opened the college from 10-3, which I think is sufficient time to give each of them my undivided attention. On the way home I stopped at a different honesty box from the usual one and picked up some fresh flowers. They are really autumnal, and look lovely on the mantlepiece. I always enjoy flowers in front of a mirror as you can get twice as many for your money! I am Scottish after all :-) I was also interested to see the number on my view counter. It has changed super fast this time- Must be the ELTchat summary I did:-)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

project#366 Week 40

What a wet week! I left home in the rain, went out in the rain and went home in the rain. There were dry periods in between, and it hasn't been like the weather in the Uk, but-blehhhh!
I feel sorry for Tam, who has come down from Scotland to do his CertTESOL, and was hoping to get out and about in between times. He won't have much time as the course warms up, but I hope that the weather will be kind to him when he does.
Sunday 30th September 2012
The supermarket near me has been very clever. It has invested in some trolleys with little cars on the front. That way the child is occupied while the parent does the shopping:-). It has resulted in many young families changing their routine, and going to that supermarket instead of one of its rivals- shrewd marketing!

                                                 Monday 1st October 2012
This year is just flying by. My new course started this morning- I haven't got the measure of them yet, but they are very different trainees from the last group. My timetable is a bit different too. My colleague is doing the Unknown language input after lunch, giving me a 2-hour me-time :-). Unfortunately, it has been wet, and I haven't wanted to go out much. The tree outside, which is my calendar, is beginning to change colour now. It will be glorious when it is completely done. None of the neighbouring trees have shown any sign yet of Autumn.

Tuesday 2nd October
I lost one of my trainees today, through ill-health. I think you need to be physically and mentally fit to do a training course which is so intensive. The others are fine, beginning to suss each other out and make friends. Today I had time to go to the local supermarket cafe for lunch. The Bulgarian chef was pleased to see me again, and gave me a table by the window, where I could look out- high up over St Brelade's bay bay. The difference between the water and the sky was very clear as the sea looked almost silver.
Wednesday 3rd

remember this?
I had time for #ELTChat this evening, which was excellent! Knowing that the trainees would be tied up for a large part of the next day, I volunteered to write the summary. I'm really looking forward to Marisa's Greek lessons- and then I'll have a holiday in Greece to test out my new language skills :-).
This sign has gone up in the car park of the college.
A while back, one of the trees fell down on the teachers' cars and so now we can park, if we want, but......  You can see the trunk of the one that came down.
Thursday 4th
One of the trainees practises yoga and stress-busting techniques, which he was sharing with the others. This could be a very handy trick to have for the next few weeks. Here are a few of them trying out some of his 3-minute techniques. I hope that they will make use of them during the month:
Friday 5th
Golf in the dunes

The island of Sark in the distance
Ages ago my husband signed us up for the Church of Scotland Annual Quiz Night. It is organised by a friend of his, who was collecting together a team to take part. M and his friends decided that they would volunteer to do it, so the wives were roped in too. It took place at the posh golf club of La Moye which I have never been to before. Fortunately for me, it was on the West of the island, as the early start would have made it difficult for me to get there on time. The golf club building is nothing special, but the setting, in the dunes above St Ouen's bay, is out of this world.

Saturday 6th
 A normal, domestic day, for a change! We did some housework, and then I wandered down into town to have lunch with friends. Cairis had lunch planned with the members of her course who are still on the island, as they will all be off shortly. Unfortunately, they changed their plans at the last minute, so she came into town with me, instead. M met up with us afterwards and we went out to look at bedroom ideas. We are thinking of changing the layout of the house to make it work better for us.  We  might annex Cairis's upstairs bedroom as our office when she goes overseas. We will give her the one downstairs, and turn it into a granny flat, so that she would be independent whenever she came home. We could then think about becoming a host family for the college when they get busy in the summer. I had a wedding to do in the evening. It was back out  West again. I sometimes wonder whether I should just have a bed at the college! This time the venue was opposite the lighthouse at La Corbiere. Unfortunately, although it has the potential to be amazing, it rained hard all day, and I drove down there in a drizzle which obscured the view :-(. The family of the bride were hospitable Irish people and the evening was a great success, despite the weather.