Face down

Face down.
Aye that would be something I wasn’t expecting to hear the day after I arrived in Columbia. The things they don’t teach you at University eh?
So here I am with my little lady writing another chapter in our book of adventures.
Are you mad? Why there? Wtf? all common reactions but I was calm and told them it was for drugs and a hitman.
Ah, well that’s fine then.
I made a promise to a beautiful friend that I would come to visit her. Time to make good with the promise.Flights booked but not really a clue what I was going to do when I got here…..off we went.
First stop Madrid. Lots of people going on a cruise, returning home and heading out to Spain for the school holidays. The wee lady is a great traveller and we laugh a lot….
The plane to Columbia was clearly going to be nothing short of rammed and there seemed to be some kind of queuing system I had not been initiated into. A woman asked me in Spanish what the sketch was and I replied I had no idea but I was just happy to wait. What I can only describe as the quintessential English gentleman in his best pink shirt, chinos and blazer informed her that she had to go to ” la awtraaaah feeelah” ( la otra fila) in the loudest voice ever. He smiled and told me that would explain better to her where she needed to be and would sort it all out. Really? It was straight out of Brits abroad….I was mortified on his behalf. No amount of Rosetta Stone Input was going to sort his bog awful Spanish!
The flight was great, 4 films and a snooze later were were in Medellin.
The little lady was absolutely fantastic and immediately started speaking Spanish without any fear whatsoever. It was a joy to listen to.
Cleared customs with my giant bag of scottish blend and there was our friend waiting for us.
We were sprinted away to our finca and it was really like something from a fairytale.
The sound of the rain on the roof was welcome as were the wee birds at 5am!
The masseuse arrived and all I can say is I was rag dolled for 3 hours Colombian style. “Face down” says she. Whit?
No, seriously, it was face down, covered in a tonne of essential oil and I was pummelled by this tiny wee woman. She was just being gentle on me apparently? Really? Well, I wouldn’t want to take her a burst pay packet.
Being her first scottish person and of a slightly more rubenesque nature, she took no time in telling me what I needed to be doing to maintain my body, lose weight and hydrate my skin.
How about you, hen, take yer oil and stop putting it where it doesn’t belong, take your instruments of torture and do a bunk.
I of course did not say that and pretended to sleep.
Still it did me the world of good.
A few days in Medellin before travelling to Bogota was just what we needed.
The little lady made friends straight away and it was fab to see her play and interact even though none of them had enough of the language to hold a conversation, they just got on with it, swings, trees, picking fruit.
It’s not hard is it?
Again, despite all threats of study and travel, I’m always amazed about how much I don’t know about other cultures and how desperate I am to fill the gaps. I was also so aware that my Spanish was Spain Spanish: so many different nuances in words here and terminology. I have been like that child learning to talk and constantly asking why is that used? Why not this?
It’s really quite something.
Wonder if it could actually count as CPD?


Chase yersel

Letting it go.
What a year. Lots of changes and we are not done yet. Lots of time for clear outs both in the very real sense of black plastic bags and making room for more adventures.
I even cleared out my shoes. Yes I did.
Some sandals I had been holding on to because they were full of memories of happy travelling and nonsense. But in a freezing cold Scotland, of nae use to man nor beast.
A fabulous sparkly pair of heels to get arrested in. Loved them but the proverbial car to bar shoes and not for the Royal mile, but I did make a good go of it!
I also had a massive clear out of old bits of paper that were long overdue to go in the round file. A bit like that first break up as a teenager when you rip up the photos and keep everything except for the nice jewellery you were gifted.
Lots of half notes from colleagues as I was clearly bored out my head in a meeting where I ought to have been paying more attention.
I also cleared out the text messages. The ones that made me laugh, the ones that made cry and the ones I couldn’t bear to see anymore.
Granted there is always a few you want to hang on to just because they make no sense to anyone else but mean a lot.
The pins…..the downloaded quotes, the daft nonsense from your pal on Skype. All hogging up precious space that could be filled with new nonsense ….cache cleared. ( and stuff to move to an external drive as a I wasn’t quite ready to delete it entirely. Watch out hard drive you are next)
I had a cull in my social media too. That felt quite good but made me laugh. I was clearly following some absolute nonsense and it needed to go too.
Felt good for doing it.
I am much more aware of the nonsense I send, mostly daft pins and quotes for my friends that I think might need it. A bit like birthday cards….I keep mine up for nearly a month as I love my birthday. I keep really special cards and ones with the pictures I love. The others don’t get put in a drawer they go in the recycling to make something beautiful for someone else….so it’s sent on its way with love to bring happiness to someone else eventually down the line.
Well that’s what I think and it’s my way of rationalising.
In terms of letting it go, I am also learning to let the daft things go. The things I can’t fix.
And I find my self on the other side of the world as I decided it was time to let it go and keep a promise I made.
With my little lady and only two pairs of shoes.

A wee bit noisy…..

A few weekends a go was a wonderful noisy weekend with much music and emotion. I’m always amazed at the power music has to move people just like a language can.
The weekend started off playing at a wedding, many of The pieces had real significance for the couple and were very sentimental to them. You can never gauge just how people will react with your interpretation of a special song or piece for them and as a musician you are genuinely hoping you can move them back to the place that made it significant to them.
I was playing with my usual band of reprobates and the sound we manage to get is something quite special indeed. I think because we are all very at ease playing with each other and that wee nod or a look to signal either a change or phrase is something quite unique to a band of musicians who are comfortable in their own musicianship. I have written about this before but I think some examples of the best team work you will ever see will be from a music group!
My baby cousin (well not so baby now) was signing and every time I have the privilege of playing for her I still cry. However, the reaction from the guests was quite something, there were tears of joy for the couple and a big show of emotion at the music. The jewel in the crown was the flash choir signing oh happy day. Laughter, tears and an encore. So many people stopped to talk to us after it to say how much they had enjoyed the music and how much it had moved them.
I played again twice for some friends the same weekend, both having very different reactions to the music. Both tears but for very different reasons. Probably some form of cathartic release but whatever it was, it seemed to do them the world of good.
The final playing of the weekend was quite a set up. I was asked to accompany a friend for a memorial service. We didn’t really know what to expect but it was indeed something quite special. Lots of reminiscing for people and we were almost like lounge musicians. Sitting in a corner gives you a great chance to observe and take it all in. We indulged in a few of our favourites and some alternative versions of some well-known pieces that should only be played at certain times and places but by totally rearranging them it was going to take someone in the know to pick it up. One person did. We got a wink and smile, job done.
No better team than one that communicates and makes beautiful noise.

Everything in its right place….

I am constantly amazed at the wonderful things my PLN post about what they have been doing in their classes. The amount of tech, innovation and excellent teaching and learning is astonishing. A somewhat heady mix of pedagogy and resources. And I can see the fear on both students and newly qualified teachers.
We had a discussion about planning to meet the needs and how to keep in manageable so that you don’t lose every night and have a one day weekend as you are creating a show for every lesson.
Yes, every lesson should be good, in fact every lesson should be excellent but that doesn’t mean you throw 20 different ingredients in for entertainment value and hope the weans learn. Or throw enough Technology in to give the national grid a worry.
Oh aye,if you can tweet,Facebook and Instagram all of it as you go too? Yes, that would be great. After all who needs plans and records of work when you can just check social media?
Chase herself.
A recent session with my postgraduates was quite enlightening about this. They were given one resource -a pair of mermaidesque boots and asked to look at different talking and listening exercises. I was astounded with the results. No tech,but some of the most innovative ideas I have heard for a long time.
Then the million dollar question…..”would you feel comfortable planning like that?”
It wasn’t a trick question but more a temperature gauge to see where people were and confidence levels
Too many of us now preface our teaching styles with ” I know I am old-fashioned but…..” When there really is no need. I look at the teaching styles of my teachers, it worked then and it works now. Good teaching is good teaching. There are many things that have made it easier for us -love a clip rather than fast forwarding a video! Love a sound file than pressing pause on a tape and zeroing the counter.
Does that make me a traditionalist? Ooft, do I care?
Meeting the needs to the weans means the teachers need to teaching in an environment they are secure in.
Sharing pedagogy, ideas and resources has revolutionised the way we teach and learn and long may it continue.
As the great philosopher Thom Yorke once said, Everything In Its Right Place.

The right pair of shoes……again….

We had the usual shoe chats before we went back to school and the little lady fell in love with a pair of boots. Very smart and she loved them. I looked at her in her school uniform and wondered where the time had gone again. It seems that the start of school comes round quicker every year.
Wishing a few weeks the boots were gubbed. No other way of putting it. An attempt to repair them was out of the question so it was a dilemma of a Thursday evening……could she do one more day in them and we would go on Saturday and get a new pair?
Eh no.
Apparently being 8 years old is very stressful and she didn’t want to wear her trainers. No. Not even for a day.
When did that pressure happen?
I was then given a run down of her school day, what it involved ( line leader partner, water bottle filling, reading partners, -very important things I was told) and how going in with scabby boots was not going to cut it.
I get it.
So late night shopping it was.
The young chap that served us was just lovely butts it was maths week he was clearly out to try and bamboozle me “well if you go up a size but down a width” I don’t speak maths. I do speak shoes but I just like the short cut of try them on,get the right size.
We looked at various pairs, sizes and styles. My little lady was very clear about what she wanted and what she didn’t and 20 minutes later I was a significant amount of money in a five week month lighter and she had a big smile on her face as she didn’t make have to worry about anyone saying yer boots are a state.
Looking at my own shoes….well there are those lovely ones that come out only a few times a year winking at me, the too many pairs of sparkly trainers, the sandals I have travelled round the world with, the winter boots, the work shoes, the ones I think I’ll wear but can’t bear to throw out and the sandals I bought in a market in Dali in China about 13 years ago. I was travelling with one of my best for ends during the spring festival and he was laughed and said they wouldn’t last. Every year I take a photo and send it to him saying “still here”
However, there is no shame in eventually admitting that they are completely unsuitable, taking up room and need a new home……
Maybe next year.
I am delighted to report all is well with the wee lady and her 8 year old world with new shoes is intact

Ok, I admit it…..

I have had the privilege of being on interview panels and I use the word privilege in all sincerity. Recently something that was coming over a lot in discussions was that people had stopped using the word teacher and used the word facilitator of learning.
Going to be honest, I’m not really sure I like that.
It seems like a misuse of terminology the same way as people think that active learning is weans jumping about in a class shouting out answers.
I think I can understand the notion of facilitating activities but I still teach. I still directly impart knowledge and have discussions, pick apart ideas, talk about opinions, apply knowledge to problem solve.
I don’t think it is something to be ashamed of, as I don’t believe that weans are suddenly just going to get everything if I facilitate the reading of information. When did we get so coy about saying the word teacher?
It’s the best profession in the land ( well maybe except for cake taster or shoe critic) and we shouldn’t be ashamed to say that’s what we do. I teach.

I still l miss you….

Do you not miss it? I don’t know how many times I have been asked that in the past few weeks.
I have been out of class full-time for about two and half years. Out of classes of weans. I still Teach but in a completely different setting. One of the things I have always worried about it is maintaining my credibility. A long time ago I sat in a meeting as CfE was discussed and I asked a senior leader what 2nd level literacy would look like in a primary and the answer I was given still horrifies me. ” I’m too far away from the class to know that”
As many times over the past few weeks I have wrestled with the idea of disappearing back to class.
You see, I miss teaching. I don’t miss the nonsense that surrounds it, but I miss the weans. I miss their stories, I miss their ideas and I miss how it made me feel.
Purely selfish I know.
However, my teaching environment has changed but no less meaningful. The jewel in the crown is when I get to teach for 4 hours with senior pupils. I can pretty much put up with any amount of stuff being flung in my direction as I get to indulge myself , I get to teach.
No hassles of school politics, no one going mad about a report Or analysis needing done. Just me, the weans and some magic making.
I suppose it all goes back to my mantra in the morning: cannae have inspired weans if you don’t have inspired teachers.