Saturday, 22 May 2010

An Exciting Development

Paul's favourite pastime in the summer is hunting for slugs and snails after dark, dropping the slugs into the beer trap and pitching the snails overarm into the car park behind the house. I was sitting outside with a cup of tea while he went about his duties, when I heard "Oh my god! Julia, come here!". I went over to the steps down to the basement, and saw what his torch was illuminating:

This is one of a pair of common newts, Triturus vulgaris, which seem to have taken up residence in the garden. I'm a little puzzled, as I would have thought by now they were in full-on breeding season, and they're still very much terrestrial. But I do wonder if my tiny terracotta pot pond with its two plants (lizard's tail and horsetail) would make a suitable newt hatching ground!

I shall keep a look out, and have suggested that Paul stops collecting slugs from the steps, so the newts have plenty to eat. It means sacrificing my deciduous Magnolia leaves for the third year in a row, but worth it to see some vulnerable animals doing well in Jurassic Park.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Things I Learned From My Students #5: Pre-Exams Edition

The kids are starting to get scared about the exams. This is probably A Good Thing given that the GCSEs start this Friday. So here are some more nuggets of wisdom gleaned from the pre-exam scramble.

  1. There is a mythical goal called "Finishing The Syllabus" that few if any teachers attain comfortably.
  2. Even if you do manage to finish your syllabus the exam board will find a way to screw you over by putting the last module you covered first in the timetable so the poor kids have barely any time to revise it.
  3. Students aren't very good at spotting trends, and will predict the next in the sequence A A A A A A A A A as D.
  4. There will come a time when students just kind of give up on doing homework.
  5. There will come a time when said students just start laughing when you mention the idea of homework.
  6. Despite doing a Spearman's Rank Correlation on the grades acquired by the students versus the number of pieces of homework submitted, you will find no link and be forced to concede defeat.
  7. I'm one of those teachers who has vowed never to let a student down or to be the limiting factor in their progression.
  8. This means I'm spending a lot of time being let down by students.
  9. We really really need to keep our comparative anatomy collection.
  10. I'm getting a reputation as "that teacher who carries around animal skulls all the time".
  11. I like that reputation.
  12. Every class thinks they're the worst class I teach. Except the class that is actually the worst.
  13. Using the Venganza pirates-versus-temperature correlation graph to make a point can result in a fascinating conversation with some Somali lads who are very proud of their nation's long tradition of piracy.
  14. No student ever gets tired of watching birds of paradise doing their mating dances.
  15. Your responsibilities are far from over when they've finished the course and left college.
I doubt any of my kids read the blog, but if they are, here is a message for them:
You know more than you think you do. You are capable of everything you set your heart on. Read the goddamn question before you answer it.
Good luck kiddlywinks!
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