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Hints from the wise: Bringing up boys June 1, 2013

Posted by Geek 20/20 in Teaching.
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Being a sister of two brothers has effected how I interact with male students.

Rule One: Once I start screaming they stop listening. My male siblings immediately ‘zone out’ when my pitch begins rising.

Rule Two: Remain firm when you give instructions

Case study 1: What not to do

“Miss, can I go toilet”

“No, you should have gone during break” I reply

Ten minutes later…

“Can I go now, Miss”

“Umm, not yet” I’m weakening

Five minute later…

“You said I could, Miss” The student begins hoping up and down

“Yeah go ahead.”

Case study 2: What should have happened

“Miss, can I go toilet”

No, you should have gone during break” I reply

Ten minutes later…

“Can I go, Miss”


“It’s not far just down the corridor”

“If the was at the back at the room it wouldn’t matter. Go and sit down”

Five minutes later…

“Miss, can I go now”

“What did I tell you before?”

The student repeats my earlier statement in a mumble.

Rule Three : Give lots of praise and be genuine. A simple “Good thinking!” goes a long way. It is better than false gushing!

I’m sure there are more. let me know what your ‘rules’


Pencils Down … January 15, 2013

Posted by Geek 20/20 in Lifestyle, Teaching.
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It is exam season – A time I remember with fondness. At this time I am glad I’m a supply teacher and my student days are behind me.

In what way do exams prepare one for the ‘world of work’? Not really as I haven’t taken a test since graduation. Yet whenever I’m asked a question the same thudding heartbeat rings in my ears.

“Miss, how come …”

Thought 1: I haven’t the foggiest

Thought 2: I really should know this

Thought 3: Why don’t I know the answer? Gasp! My brain has expired.

Thought 4: Who cares that I don’t know. If I were a genius I wouldn’t be doing this job 😛

I say sweetly, “That’s a great question. How about you google it when you get home. [insert famous Scientist here] life’s work was on this topic”

Accurate recall under pressure

Why do I miss this?

Possibly, I’m haunted by the trill of being high on adrenaline.

Mostly, fretting over uni exam is a minor stress trigger compared to rent, work, health etc.

Truly, I gained confidence by being able to share my hopes and fears with my classmates. That camaraderie is hard to find these days.

An Ode to a ‘Supply’ October 17, 2012

Posted by Geek 20/20 in Lifestyle, Teaching.
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I’m not a poet so this is technically not a poem.  Most of the time my posts are inspired by my work and this is no exception.

It was 7:26am

Ms Locum stood by her front door

She went through her mental check list

Two dozen pens – Check

A baker’s dozen pencils – Check

A piece of fruit, dried soup and a sachet of hot cocoa – Check

Ms Locum is a supply teacher


It was a crisp autumn day

Cool blue skies with tints of sunrise red

She walked quickly toward station

Then sprinted when she the thunder of an approaching train

Ms Locum is a supply teacher


It was a typical old style building

Ancient red brick, pipes along the corridor wall

‘I could be in any decade’ she thought

As she tailed the office staff to the classroom

Ms Locum is a supply teacher


It was year nine class

There would always be a year nine class

In they came, high on crisps and sweets after morning break

Some greeted her cheerfully

Some swore, startled by the new face

Others jostled and shoved

One or two slammed the door against the wall

Ms Locum is a supply teacher


It was a trick she learned from another teacher or maybe a book

“Good Morning” She said directly to each student as they came in

Her smile was wide and inviting

The wave of hostility receded

Then she stood in the front waiting for silence

Her smile vanished

Ms Locum is a supply teacher

May 21, 2012

Posted by Geek 20/20 in Science.
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This post was written by Mellavora. I agree with the comparison


Scientist or pirate? They have more in common than you might think.

  1. Leadership positions (professor, PI), assume and confer substantial autonomy, even in an institutional context.
  2. Research is often state sponsored, but not state controlled.
  3. A lab operates on merit. The “crew” (Ph.D. students, post-docs) choose their own captain to follow. Advancement through the ranks is actively encouraged.
  4. Spoils of victory (these being glory and honor in science) are shared. I have seen several first year Ph.D. students get first authorship of Nature papers.
  5. Both operate in waters which may be known to them but distant from mainstream society.
  6. Get to play with dangerous toys.
  7. Specialized vocabulary.
  8. There are many interesting characters in science.
  9. Bad clothes.

Pirate science!

yes, yes I can count. You figure it out.

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Of Men and Of Angels March 30, 2012

Posted by Geek 20/20 in Books, Nuts and Bolts.
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Easter 2004: I discovered R Harrison archangel series. we were having an easter school trip at Wesley Owen, Oxford St (it has since closed down). I could spend hours in a bookshop and I did that day. I picked up a bluish book with a yellow title. I was drawn to the angel wings and shimmering sea.

Simply: This was the Book of Acts retold through the diary of a guardian angel.

When people usually write about angels they emphasises ethereal beings, awe – the fantastic. Harrison does touch on these points but his angelic characters could be anyone I know; Oriel is the lead character and very organised and concise. His world view is very logical. He is anxious to complete his task and return to his responsibilities. Through his twisting adventure he gains insight into the complexity of ‘us humans’. More importantly he sees the depth of God’s love.

Harrison has a witty narrative style and the dialogue between the angels is laugh-out-loud funny. Many times on the tube/bus I’ll stuff my fist in my month so to stop the uncontrollable laughter :).

 It’s been eight years since I first read the book, each re-read has been as captivating as the first.