Thursday, 26 April 2012

What about the Good Stuff?

The life of man is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" but this does not entail that good things do not happen. However, the worst thing that could happen to us and maybe Hobbes did not anticipate it was the additional time famine from which we are suffering today. I have not blogged for a while; teaching, examining, mentoring, parenting and studying have left me with no time to blog. Not much time to make a note of the good things happening, despite the fact that life IS nasty, brutish and short for a great number, if not all, human beings. It is a sad state of affairs when you do not make a note of the good things. To train myself to do this, i have divided my to-do list in four parts. Important Stuff, Good Stuff, Boring Stuff and Very Boring Stuff. (My friend, LS, suggested we add another section, Daunting Stuff. I am considering collapsing Boring and Very Boring or Important and Good, to allow for a neat division of the page in four parts. I am not sure when i will reach a decision, as i am debating whether the Important Stuff is necessarily Good or the Good Stuff necessarily Important. Issues of definition, perception and experience are standing in the way of groundbreaking developments in the area of to-do-list-making, but Daunting will definitely be there.)

So here is my confession: my Good Stuff list since the last time i blogged. I hope i am forgiven.

1. My Year 1 students had an interactive oral session on Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto that made the room come alive with ideas and possibilities. The concept of the three-star question that i picked up from Erica McWilliam challenged them to higher levels of probing into the text and understanding its ambiguities. LS was there to witness it all and that made the experience even more precious, for the students who felt appreciated and worth observing, and for me, navigating my way in the new course (with so many others in the sidelines of the OCC forum) looking for good practice and improved student performance.

2. My lovely boarding student, S, prefaced this stimulating event with an equally stimulating and very enlightening presentation on Japanese culture. Might i add that she took the time to read the book in both languages before addressing my students? (No category exists for these experiences and the eagerness with which she picked up the phone to call her mother in Japan and ask her to send us a copy of the original).

2. The final draft of the second assignment for the online course was turned in on time. The design of a learning network for IB teachers with a focus on their professional development by creating a learning environment and a learning space for them has been completed. (Surprisingly, despite being famished for time, i did manage to spend a couple of days on JSTOR and other databases researching... ) Yes, the idea of a space where teachers can share what we know, learn more, share ideas, connect ourselves to individuals, professional communities and learning organizations is Good Stuff.

3. Quality time with the librarian=balm for the soul. Our lovely librarian had a little project prepared for World Book Day and i gave her a hand setting it up. (If she were to allow coffee drinking in the library i would seriously consider moving in there.) Her idea brought together book suggestions by members of staff and the outcome was an interesting list of books from around the world, dated from 200BC to 2012, books that can make one cry or laugh, books that have changed our lives. On that day i read an excerpt at school assembly from a book that i had chosen, viz. Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy, and our librarian tells me that students did ask her about it later. Several approached me asking for the title and the author again. This is Really Good Stuff.

4. Exams are approaching. We are all in one piece and getting there. This year i find myself in both camps. I will be examining and invigilating, but also sitting exams next month on the same day as our Economics and Biology IB students, in another venue and for another purpose. In solidarity with our IB students who are studying i moved my reading 'corner' outside. Where the sun is shining.