Tag Archives: learning

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….

I posted back in May about an in service I was asked to speak at on leadership. (leadership in the time of cholera) It was perhaps a bit of an alternative context for me but I was pleased with how it had gone. I really had not given it another thought to be honest when a friend had told me that she had been speaking to someone who was there.
They wanted to know if I really had done the things I had said.
Teach weans?
No, that was not me at all.
Looked after staff?
No, definitely not.
Said no to senior management when I believed I was right about curriculum pathways?
No. Didn’t do that either.
Chase yersel.
I’m not serious about many things, ( daughter, shoes and piano playing aside) but my work is one of them.
Clearly a new context is something that frightens others. Gies a break. Good teaching and learning has always been the same no matter how you dress it up. No matter what label you put on it.
I’ve always believed in giving everything I can to what I do and I make no apologies for that. ( Although I have been told sometime I need saved from myself!- sleep?… Aye, that’s over rated too) but honestly, do I look like some chanty wrastler making it up? You couldn’t make it up. Similarly you couldn’t get that quality of teachers to work with very often.
As a wise woman once said to me: learn your craft,take your time and be gentle with the people and children you are privileged to be with.

I just want to learn…..


It’s been a summer that was full of good intentions but ended up full of adventures. The little lady and I had a ball visiting and seeing people and learning. We painted, cooked,watched movies, splashed in puddles and talked. A lot.
We spent an amazing holiday travelling in Spain and Italy and the Italian part was mainly driven by her experience with her teacher in school. Her teacher had been dong some Italian with her and she was really quite taken with it. So what better way to put that excitement into action than going to the place itself. We had a holiday that was driven by the little lady. We visited places that got her talking, we spent a day at the beach,we did 4 hour train journeys through fields of sunflowers and beside the coast. We ate a tonne of ice cream, we people watched and we blethered. Mostly in English, a bit in Spanish and some Italian too and I was the proudest mama in the land as I listened to her talk with other wee people.when she didn’t know what to say in Spanish she either ran over and asked me or said it with a Spanish accent and waved her hands a lot. Yes, my daughter indeed. It would appear that I do have a lot of random nonsense stored away and was able to give the wee lady lots of info about where we were and the background to some of the places.She informed me I was full of interesting facts.had that come from a colleague it would have been code for you are a boring tube I suspect.

Getting back in to the pattern of work always fills me with excitement and dread. I spent the first two days back delivering INSET and I couldn’t work out what was worse…..being first up on day 1 or being last on day 2. You know that everyone is desperate to get into their classrooms and you need to find the motivation to keep it relevant and interesting so that they don’t want to beat you up. I had looked long and hard at my ability to keep up with the schedule I had set last year and decided it just wasn’t possible. You see, I want to learn too. I want to enjoy learning something that will just be for me. ( keeping my hand out the biscuit tin maybe)

As a musician ,I often talk about the last time I leaned a new piece. I don’t take the time to learn new pieces as often as I should. When I was first learning,it was constantly new pieces of music and I had the discipline to sit down and learn whereas now there is always something else that needs to be done. That’s often the case with learning as we get further into careers. I was reminded of this when I met a former student this week.

Long story short, I had the privilege of teaching this young man who had arrived to us from a war zone and after significant trauma. How he engaged with education,his thirst to learn and to improve was staggering. Inspiring if I am honest. Things have changed for him and he is potentially looking at having to leave Scotland. He is distraught about the prospect and told me “I just want to learn”

After my hiatus with the blog and neglect of my learning, it is a new start.
New year,new start.

So,clean sweep on the points…..mammys,manolos( yes….new ones for school)and methodology.




It’s been quite a week for special moments with the weans and I thought it would be a nice way to finish off the week by sharing some of the lovely moments.
I suppose weans is being used in the most generic sense. I was visiting a fair few of my student teachers and it was amazing to see them interact with the pupils. Quite often I do find myself chatting to the weans in the classes and I love the reaction when you’ve spent some speaking to them in a foreign language, then chat to them in English. Being involved in teacher education is great fun as well as a chance to really examine your own practice. Having that lightbulb moment when you watch another teacher and thinking you can’t wait to try the same thing out with your own class is great development and I still get a kick out of taking that type of practical CPD into my own class. Learning from the weans!
I had the chance to go into the little lady’s school for World Book Day for half an hour between schools and appointments and it was an absolute joy
I went in as they were finishing their parade and I got the sneakinest wave, then her pals spotted me and it was a wee sea of waves.i had wee groups to read to and we did French and Spanish stories and working with the tinnies always gives you that chance to let your inner 6-year-old out and go long with the facial gymnastics. The little lady was desperate to talk in French and Spanish in a way I have never seen and it was magical. I felt part of this secret glee club, they were all so excited and when we were counting what the hungry caterpillar had been eating they were rolling about laughing. That energy and joy would be priceless if we could bottle it.
Friday brought a day of orals which inevitably brings meltdowns, tears and snotters et al. They went fine but I probably had some of the most profound conversations I have ever had with pupils. The seniors are now realising that they are nearly finished in school, and I don’t think they are entirely ready for that.
We spent for day night with a group of seniors doing our homeless sleep out and they were quite simply stunning.
The way they conducted themselves, the sense of dignity and solidarity and their enthusiasm to join in was tremendous.
I was chatting with one of my colleagues and we just enjoyed listening to them chatter and laugh. A few of them were saying how nice it was to sit round the table and eat together….
Wee things matter indeed.
But by far the best moment of all with the weans this week has been with my own little lady.
We have had a proper girly day of eating, crafting, walking , drinking tea and eating kit Kats. We cooried up under a blanket to watch a movie and now I am listening to her snore beside me. We galloped down pavements, spotted flowers, sang songs and tried to do the splits all while out walking- no gentle stroll for us because that’s how we do it. Quite frankly.
I think sometimes I can over complicate things and I always try to remember a brilliant article I read many years ago about how to live your life like a two-year old. That sense of joy and wonder, saying no when you mean it and not getting upset about it! Always let your huffs last 5 minutes then get over it.
Weans, that’s why we do the methodology, it is why I love being a mammy and it is also why I wear sparkly shoes,
Quote of the week from one of the wee lady’s pals: look at M’s mum, she has glittery shoes. She speaks Spanish. That’s cool.
Aye, that will do.