Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday Sayings

Today I'm linking up with Tammy from 

for Saturday Sayings.

You may have seen/ heard this quote before, but I chose it today because it sums up the sentiments that pointed me towards a career in teaching. It is the statement that drives what I do, and I want it to continue underpinning the educational choices I make in the future.

So, I have to make it clear, I am not one of those I-always-knew-I-was-going-to-be-a-teacher types. In contrast, I had to spend quite a few years soul-searching before I realised that teaching ticked all the boxes for me. It was never in my plan!

After feeling disenchanted with the system, I left school early at 17. At that stage, I was working at a little country supermarket, making just enough money to fund my weekends. The rest of the time I slept. I was one of those teenagers. After a few months of this, I moved to the capital city to be closer to the action, where I was a promotional model (cigarettes, alcohol, skincare, ice cream, car races), signed people up for Amex cards (I only lasted one day at that one!), then took on a traineeship with an optometrist. 

At 19, after a 6 week trip to Europe, I saw that there was much more in the world to be explored. So, I moved to Alice Springs in Central Australia, where I worked as a (bad) waitress, a hostess at the Casino, then a gaming attendant, before moving across to the adjoining Convention Centre. I started there as a waitress, then got offered an Administration Assistant position, and then eventually moved up to a Banquet Sales Executive role. I thought I was pretty special. My job had 'Executive' in the title, and I was only 21.

It only took a year or two before the 'shine' of wearing business suits and dealing with big businesses began to wear off. So I arranged leave without pay and took off to India for three months. I had a friend with an uncle who was a Catholic priest, who knew an Indian priest who he put me in touch with. Within three months of my first email to Father Prasad, I was living in a very rural and remote part of India. It was unbelievable. I sat outside each night and watched children skip and dance and jump and play in the church courtyard. We had the only TV in the village, and it was rarely used. This forced people outside to socialise. These people had nothing financially, but it was obvious that they were way richer than me. They had community. They knew each other and they cared about each other. I wanted that. My culture had led me to believe that money was the key, but their culture taught me that life is about relationships.

Before I went to India, I really thought I could save the world. I thought I could make a difference and do something big to turn things around for them. It was quite confronting to realise that, with 1.1 billion citizens in India (at the time) I simply could not grace each of them with my benevolence. Haha, I really thought I was special :p 

After a time, I realised that grand gestures like I had wanted to make were really overrated anyway. What mattered was how I had been able to touch individual lives. And I hadn't needed to throw my money around to do that. Visiting people who weren't normally visited, smiling at people who were outcast, holding the hands of people considered as 'untouchables'. Small gestures.

These things certainly did not change the world, but I saw that they had the potential to change something. My aim had been wrong. So instead I decided to change the world for one person, one person at a time. I hope you'll understand if I don't share the exact details of my 'one person' with you, just because it was a very special experience for me that I hold close to my heart.

After three months, I trundled back home to Australia. One of the first events I organised after returning was an off-site dinner for a large truck manufacturer. It cost $80,000. For one night! I think there were only about 200 people in attendance. The disparity with my Indian experience was enormous. I simply could not continue devoting my life to participating in such a ridiculous waste of money while there were people, friends, over in India who could barely afford to feed and clothe their families. 

So I quit. And began two years of total confusion. I couldn't work out how I could make a measureable difference to anyone. When I went to India, I didn't have anything of value to give. Just my dorky smile :p I wanted to have some sort of expertise to share with the world. I wanted to be of use. 

So I got a job with the Government :p Haha, it wasn't the solution, I just needed to buy time.

Eventually, I applied for university. Following the idea of changing one person at a time, I almost settled on Psychology as a degree. I considered the super high incidence of depression in the Western Hemisphere, and thought I might be able to use my experiences with teenage depression to help others through it.

Then I had my epiphany, (less eloquent than the above quote): 'Rather than fix people, I want to try to prevent them from becoming damaged in the first place!' I recognised both the community support networks and the resilience that children possessed in India which had been been lacking in my own childhood, and which I thought may have had the power to prevent my own depression. How could I ensure that children would have a supportive community member in their lives, and healthy self esteem?

I put down Education as my preference on my university application rather than Psychology, and now I cannot imagine being anything other than a teacher!

The quote's relevance to my practice today is that it reminds me that what I do is important. Every word that leaves my lips, every casual glance, or sigh, or gesture, has the potential to affirm a child's worthiness or to dismiss them as unworthy. It's not as cruical for kids who have a strong family background, but for those who don't, school can become a place which fills those gaps or makes them bigger.

I have to remain conscious of this fact, and aim to give my children more affirming moments that raise their self confidence than negative dismissive ones. I see my role as a teacher not only to teach reading and writing and science and maths and arts, but to give each child a solid foundation of self confidence and worthiness on which to build their unique personalities. 

Thanks for reading this far! I know I've gone on a bit :p I'd love to hear your story of how you came into teaching too, especially if you had a roundabout journey like me :)

Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Free fonts with Spanish Characters + Ash's Giveaway

My favourite blogger right now is Ash 

  (formerly Pixie Stix and Teacher Tricks)

Apart from being cute, talented and very smart, she has added all of the Spanish characters... 

ÁÉÍÓÚ áéíóú Üü Ññ ¡¿ her wonderful fonts! It has been really tough to find fonts with those characters so I was super appreciative when she said she would add them for me. Seriously, she is the best :)

Click on the fonts here which link to Ash's blog post (for links to the free downloads), 
and don't forget to link back to Ash's blog if you use them in a product!

Ash is also having a huge giveaway, which ends in about 3 days.

I was so grateful for Ash's Spanish-friendly fonts that I've donated a $10 Teachers Notebook gift card to this giveaway! I've also been pretty lucky with winning some other giveaways, so it's about time I give back to the bloggy community :p

If you haven't yet, head on over and enter now. 

Buena suerte! Good luck!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Liebster Love

Oh my giddy aunt...

In the past few days I've recevied four Liebster nominations from the following lovely ladies:

The beautiful Nikki from

 The delightful Bren P. from

My wonderful Australian buddy, Tania, from

and awesome Texas teacher, Marcy, from Saddle up for Second Grade.

The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs. Thanks to everyone who nominated me!

The Rules:
- You must post 11 random things about yourself.
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
- No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!

 11 Things About Me:
 1. My father is quite anti-education. He is a self made businessman and he thinks his kids should be the same!
2. I fell off my bike when I was 7 and fractured my skull in three places. The doctors thought I would be permanently brain damaged. 
3. The first time I saw friends watching 'The Walking Dead', I thought they were pathetic. Now it is the only TV show that the Mister and I download and watch weekly!
4. I do not currently own a television.
5. When I was 21 I decided that I needed to go and 'save the world' and spent 3 months in rural India with a Catholic priest.
6. I was brought up as a Lutheran, spent my teenage and early adulthood not quite knowing what to believe, and was baptised as a Latter Day Saint in 2010.
7. I won the Student of the Year Award for my state in Grade 11...
8. ...but I left school before finishing Grade 12.
9. I used to be a Banquet Sales Executive
10. I spent a LOT of money last night on the TpT sales.
11. I love salsa dancing!

My 11 Favourite Questions from Nicki, Bren P., Tania and Marcy
 1. Do you have any siblings?
Yes, one older brother. All my family live in the same little town back in Australia.

2. If you weren't teaching, what would you do instead?
I badly want to be a Neuroscientist! Maybe after 15 years of teaching, I'll make the transition into Cognitive Neuroscience. I am particularly interested in the way the brain learns languages.

3. Where is the farthest place you have traveled?
Well, If you look at where Adelaide, South Australia, is on the globe (I was born about an hour from there), Mexico is about smack bang on the opposite site!

4. Night owl or early bird?
Definitely night owl. Midnight (and beyond) is the blogging hour :P

5. How many stamps in your passport?
A few! Let me count... England, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain, India, Thailand, New Zealand, Mexico, Belize, USA, Costa Rica, Nicaragua. Not counting transit countries of course.

6. What is your all time favourite book?
So hard to choose! The one I have read over and over again is a series by an Australian author named John Marsden- Tomorrow, When the War Began. This is the only book that has actually made me cry. I also liked Shantaram because it reminded me of my time in India.

7. What is your favourite movie?
Again, hard to choose. I like the message in Life is Beautiful. But I like Slumdog Millionaire for the way it captures India.

8. What made you begin blogging?
Initially I stalked blogs. I didn't consider blogging myself as I didn't think I had anything to contribute. I still haven't commited myself to regular blogging, mainly because of my temperamental internet connection here in Mexico! I want to create a portfolio of my work, and share my ideas and collaborate with other teachers. I have learnt SO MUCH from blogging, and I hope I am able to give back to the community too.

9. Favourite food
I love a good Indian curry (no meat though.. bad memories from India!!) but I also love Mexican food like mole. I love chilli.

10. Who was your favourite teacher when you were a student?
I had Mr Taylor in Grade 3, 4, and again in Grade 6. I got my love of language from him.

11. If you could time travel to any place any time, where would you go? 
Well I love history, but which do I love the most? Ooh, I think I would go back to when Cortes and his crew were massacring everyone in Mexico and try and save some of the books that were burnt.

Wow, that was hard!

The 11 Blogs I am Nominating:

OK, you'll have to forgive me... I have been searching through my blog list for at least half an hour and everybody has over 200 followers OR has already received the Liebster. I'm sorry! The three that I have chosen are all deserving though, so please go give them some love!

11 Questions for my Nominees
 1. What was your favourite purchase from the TpT sale?
2. What did you want to be were you little?
3. If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
4. Favourite quote
5. Favourite place in the world
6. Where will you be spending Christmas?
7. Dogs or cats?
8. If you had to rename yourself, what would you choose?
9. Favourite subject to teach
10. Favourite teaching memory
11. Why are you a blogger?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

That Winning Feeling! 7 giveaways to get you there :P

That Winning Feeling? Yep, I've got it!

I have won some absolutely fantastic (and generous) prizes from teacher blogger giveaways in the last few weeks, and now it's your turn! It's a good feeling I tell ya, and well worth the time it takes to click, visit and enter :p  Plus you'll likely find some brand new blogs to follow. You never can have too many ideas!

Nicole from One, Two, Three: Math Time is hosting a November giveaway. Two, actually! There are 40 contributors in total. Here is a link to the first one.

It closes in just under 4 days.

Aimee from Pencils Books and Dirty Looks is giving away some of her favourite things in celebration of reaching 300 followers. There are some non-downloadable prizes, so make sure you live somewhere suitable for posting! Sadly, Mexico is not so suitable. But that means more chances for you!

You have about 10 days left to enter.

Jennifer from Live. Teach. Create. is hosting a Fantastic Fall-ower Giveaway. There are four different Rafflecopters for you to enter... can you say spoilt?!

You have less than three days left to enter!

Sweet Wendy from Teacher's Toolkit is celebrating 200 followers. She has lots of Rafflecopters, and they're grouped into categories, like Winner Choice, Graphics, Pre K-Third, Thanksgiving. 
You are guaranteed to find something that tickles your fancy!

There are just under four days left to get your entries in.

Mrs S. from The Peanut Gallery is giving away a bunch of cute Christmas resources. 
Why? Just cos she's lovely. Well, to be accurate, it's also to commemorate the adoption of her cutie pie puppy dog, Holly... what better excuse to share the Christmas joy? That dog is seriously cute!

This giveaway ends in roughly ten days.

Megan from I Teach. What's Your Superpower? is having a giveaway to celebrate 500 followers. Yay Megan! There are six different giveaways and they are all full of awesome teachery stuff, plus some pretty girly things :)
These Rafflecopters close in just under five days.

Is that all? 

Well almost! I've heard a rumour that Cindy from Granny Goes to School is also hosting a giveaway, one with lots of gift cards! For some reason, the link to her blog is not working, but it came up on my Blogger Feed, so it must be true! I suggest checking back in a day or two if the link isn't live yet ;)

Good luck!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween in first ever! +giveaways

Not my first Halloween in Mexico, my FIRST EVER halloween! Typically, we don't celebrate it in Australia, although some folk are trying to bring in it. It definitely wasn't done when I was a kid anyhow!

So... honestly, I wasn't looking forward to doing it here. I just wasn't. I predicted sugar-crazed children and you know what? That is exactly what I got! Typically Halloween isn't celebrated in Mexico either, but my English school wanted to share a bit of English-speaking culture this year. So I tried my best to bring it!

Today though, I was totally and utterly knackered, with a killer headache. Is that normal for the day after Halloween? Thank goodness we had a teachers-only marking day today (for the Monday and Tuesday exams), and tomorrow is Dia de Muertos, so I have two days (and a weekend) to recover from three very full on days.

Are you ready for photos?

I have six different groups of students, and they all helped with the spiderwebs and creation of bats, spiders and skulls in my classroom. Most groups are teenagers, so they were more than happy to climb onto the tables to help extend the spiderwebs into high places!

Unfortunately the lighting doesn't really do the webs justice. Anyway, they were all over, and there were bats and spiders dangling from threads.

Because I wasn't really convinced about the whole Halloween business, I decided that I would find the cheapest and easiest costume. Toilet paper mummy! I had the paper in my bag all ready to go, but then I started making zombie brains (super simple by the way: cornflour, cooked spaghetti, green food colouring and styrofoam 'eye balls')...

And had a much better idea! Inspired by The Walking Dead, I present you with... Zombie Teacher!

We had a mountain of candy in my room donated by my wonderful advanced students...

But what are those apples for?

Well, one of my students brought in a chocolate fountain, which we filled with chamoy instead. Chamoy is a very red sauce that is part chilli, part sour, and a tiny part sweet. Lots of Mexican candy has the same kind of flavour combination (which is very odd for my Australian tastebuds!) Anyway, apples cut into slices taste very yummy dipped in chamoy.

My blood stains? Also chamoy. My costume was totally edible!

OK, so I admit that I did enjoy myself just a tiny little bit. But mostly it was super hard work! In addition to my room with zombie brains, where the kids had to dig in and fish out the eye balls if they wanted candy, I had a scary movie set up with the data projector in another room for the big kids (English, plus English subtitles, can't miss a learning opportunity!) I do not know what they did in there, but at the end of the party it was the messiest room in the entire complex! They had popcorn and chips, but nothing much else for ammunition. How mysterious.

Oh, I should also mention that here in Mexico, you put Valentina sauce on popcorn (it's a really common chilli sauce). Is that weird or WHAT?? I ragged on the idea for about a year until I tried it for myself, and you know what? It's not so bad! I actually prefer it that way now :s

So as you can see, I have been crazy busy with exams and halloween this week, (so no blogging) but I  still wanted to share with you some giveaways I've come across:

Danielle at Classroom Cupcakes has a brand spanking new blog and is having a giveaway to celebrate. There's a $25 Lakeshore Gift Card available!

It ends tomorrow.

Nichole at The Craft of Teaching is having a 100 Follower Giveaway. There are some great teaching products, plus, if you are the winner you get to choose which $25 Gift Card you would like to have! 
I would choose TpT card, because I have a Wishlist a mile long :p

It ends on Friday too.

You've probably heard about Sara's Giveaway already; it's been popping up all over my Blogger newsfeed! If not, make sure you head over to Miss V's Busy Bees to enter the five Rafflecopters in celebration of her 500 followers.

There's still another week before this one closes.

Tomorrow is Dia de Muertos and I've asked the Mister to take me to the graveyard. No cameras though, as it is disrespectful. No matter, I'll give you the rundown tomorrow in words!

Hasta manana!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gividaway , gividaway, gividaway now!

That's Red Hot Chili Peppers, for those of you who remember!

Anyway, onto the business at hand...

Nicki from Mrs. Thigpen's Kindergarten has reached 50 followers! This is a pretty big moment in a young blogger's life, so go show her some support =D

If you haven't seen her TpT store yet, make sure you check it out. She has some super cute products and lost of freebies.

Erin from Tales From Room 112 is having a 200 Follower Giveaway with over 50 products all for one lucky winner!

Entries close next Monday.

Brooke from The Intentional Momma is hosting an October Group Giveaway! There will be two winners of prize packs worth over $75 each.

Entries close in just over four days time.

Mimi from 5th Grade Rocks, 5th Grade Rules is having a 400 almost 500 Follower Giveaway. She's giving away a $25 Target Gift Card.

Her giveaway ends on the 31st.

That's all for now. Good luck!