And Then The Universe Threw Me A Bone

Last week, I blogged about some of the stress involved with casual teaching on a day to day basis. After I came home and wrote that post up, I worried about having to do that for a while - I was thankful to have a few days of work come in, but I was not looking forward to them at the same time. Funnily enough, that's when something random {and wonderful} happened.

The very next day, I missed a call while on the treadmill. [Side note: I'm currently finishing up Week 3 of the C25K program, though working random days has meant that my routine is all over the place!] When I checked my messages, I was surprised to hear a principal asking me to ring back - most of the time the casual bookings are done by a teacher or an executive staff member, but rarely the head honcho. I rang back, had a quick chat with him & was soon zipping off to have a face-to-face interview with him in person, within the hour.
I didn't tell anyone that I was going for an interview, because I didn't want to jinx the whole deal. You see, the school was perfect. It is around 20-25 minutes drive away, it's small with only a few classes in the school, and it was to be teaching a Year 1/2 class. All those things? Perfection. And when I actually got to the school and walked around, everything just felt right. The staff were friendly. The rooms were beautifully coloured and welcoming.

My interview went well, and I was asked to start the following day. My first day was Friday, where I set up my new classroom - the class is a new one, thanks to an unexpected increase in numbers, so I'm currently teaching in an old library room until a demountable classroom is installed. I started with my brand new class yesterday. You guys, I officially have my own class again.

I could be there for the rest of the term. I could be there for a few months. I could be there as the main class teacher until the end of the year. It all depends on how the education department works & if they decide to do a transfer of a permanent staff member into that job. All I know is that I'm playing catch-up and creating this new class and a whole new teaching program here in Week 5 of the school term, and I'm taking it one day at a time.
Looking back, it all happened randomly but at the perfect time. I was getting disheartened with teaching, and then the perfect role quite literally fell into my lap. I couldn't be happier.
(Though having said that, wow, getting back into the working every day thing has been quite the shock to my system. Gone are the days of having everything organised, spending time chasing up wedding items and days off catching up with friends - now I have to go back to cramming in everything into afternoons and weekends. It'll take some adjusting, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.)

Teaching is tiring. It's exhausting. But it's fabulous to have one set of kidlets who I'll be learning about, assessing, keeping busy and expanding brains. If I'm quiet over the next few weeks, you'll have to bear with me - I'll be the one who is trying to come up with an entire teaching program while being five-weeks behind the rest of the school, madly paddling along and trying to keep my head above water!

A Day In the Life of a Casual Teacher

Today I had my first day back in a classroom.

There are so many differences when it comes to teaching on a casual basis compared to working with your own classroom full of kids. It's the attitudes of the staff and the students. It's the complete lack of routines that are in place. It's the uncertainty of knowing whether you have a timetable to follow, any work left for you to plan. It's the unknown of where the classroom is, where you should park your car, where the roll is. It's the 'going in blind' approach, especially when it comes to children and their behaviours, personalities and strengths/weaknesses that you know absolutely nothing about.

It's a real eye-opener, that's for sure. You might remember that when we first moved to London, I started out doing some casual relief teaching there too. I stuck it out a few weeks, and really struggled to find a rhythm with it - which was when I started looking for other roles in education, and ended up working in an office environment for the majority of my time there instead. Well, today brought back flashbacks of coming home miserable and wondering what else was out there. It's early days yet, and I have potentially got a few more days booked in at a different school next week - but we'll see what happens there.

To break down some of today's more eventful happenings, I'm enlisting the help of some bullet points.

  • Got a phone call at 7.30am, asking me to be in by 8.15am - got up, showered & dressed in ten minutes, threw together some random token food products and made sure I had a few resources in my bag ready to get going.
  • Arrived at school early, only to find no parking spaces left in the lot or along the street. Parked next to a dumpster in the school car-park, went into the office to check that I could leave it there & was encouraged to drive right in to the car-park, blocking in several cars. (I wasn't too comfortable about that, but the instruction came from the Asst. Principal, so okay...)
  • Found classroom - no work left, no time-table set. Decided to see about photo-copying some of my resources & told that school has a strict policy: casuals only allowed to copy 2x worksheets that have to be approved & signed off by the senior staff & only admin allowed to use the photocopier.
  • Left without copies for first half of the day - so kept busy with other things, though more than a little stressful.
  • Had a class of Year 1 students, which was nice. Kids okay, just kids. Quite a few personalities, though it felt comfortable teaching them - although we had a pants-wetting incident midway through the day, so that was fun.
  • Administration staff not particularly friendly and/or helpful when it came to filling in my casual teaching paperwork. They treated me like a teacher fresh out of university, very patronising - and if it weren't for the kindness of a teacher that overheard our conversation & could offer some assistance, I may well have had to drive back there on another day to bring back forms that they should have provided.
It was a doozy, I'll admit. I came home and felt like I'd run a marathon - the teaching side of things was just fine, but the whole disorganised day of keeping people busy & trying hard to keep topics related to what I guessed they would be covering at this time of year - well, it was a challenge.
Here's to some more learning experiences over the coming weeks. And also, can I get a WOO HOO for finally getting some days booked in & some shiny gold dollars in my pocket at some point in the future? For all my worrying and sometimes complaining, I'm going to be grateful for each and every day's work I get.

I Fail At Frosting

And we're now back to our scheduled rambling.. with just a dash less whinging. I'm sure the job thing will work itself out eventually - and in the meantime, I'm going to keep looking, keep applying & invest in a few 'lucky' objects to push me in the right direction.

Moving completely along though, I'm doing my best to become a whiz in the kitchen. I don't cook every night - probably every other night? But I'm starting to experiment with different things a little more, and I'm like the results. Jase got a slow cooker from my parents for Christmas {such an awesome gift!... for me) & we broke it in last week - it is delightful! We had guests over for the evening yesterday and I whipped it out again - threw in my apricot chicken go-to recipe, and served it up to rave reviews. I even baked a chocolate cake in two layers! All it needed was some frosting. Plain, simple, chocolate frosting.

Unfortunately, this is my kitchen weakness. I cannot make icing. I've tried the simple icing sugar/liquid/cocoa powder ratio. I've followed recipes to make cream cheese frosting. And last night I experimented with a chocolate and sour cream (!) icing - and it STILL went runny. Apparently all of my cakes are meant to look like drowned, chocolate covered space-ship domed blobs. Lucky they still taste good.

So I have the ultimate question for you: How do you make the perfect frosting? Spill the beans!

Job, Schmob

Excuse me while I interrupt my lovey-dovey wedding happiness - I need to vent, and it's not going to be pretty.

Job hunting sucks, you guys.

It's still early days in the school term, but I've not had any calls for work. It's frustrating, that's for sure - but in actual fact? The more I think about it, the more I feel that I don't work well with this whole casual teaching thing. I did it for a while when I first arrived in London and ended up hating it - the waiting around, the different place every day, the never knowing what's been planned, the complete disarray that comes with it: all things that this uber organised girl struggles with.

I've come to the realisation that I need to find something stable. In my perfect little career bubble, that would be in the form of a full-time, permanent classroom teacher role. Unfortunately, finding a school in Sydney that will take you on as a permanent member of staff is harder than finding a needle in a haystick. It's pretty damn irritating too, considering all teachers ever hear about is the dramatic shortage of quality primary teachers in the Western Sydney suburbs. Ha. Well excuse me, but I know of a fully qualified and experienced teacher, with a car, who is ready to settle down with a classroom of kids and willing to work in some of the more 'challenging' suburbs and she is STANDING RIGHT HERE. Well, sitting, but you know what I mean. AND SHE IS NOT WORKING.

{deep breath}

Anyway, numerous permanent job applications that I've put in through the Department of Education here have led to nothing. The system is ridiculous - it really is. I must have applied for twenty different teaching roles on offer in the last two months, and only one has even got back to me, just one. The one response I got? Was that the position had been filled internally prior to the ad going live. This leads me to question if the jobs on display are actually even vacant jobs at all, or just ones that are advertised because they have to be. Chances are, they've already got their own teachers slotted in for the vacancy - so there's no real job there.

As much as I didn't want to do it, I'm going to have to start looking for work outside of teaching again, because I can't afford to sit around and not work. We have so many things that need financing, and I feel incredibly guilty that Jase is busy working and I am not. I've tried to keep busy - I'm doing as much as I can to help with home/wedding/life stuff, so that he can relax when he gets home from work. But what about me? This is ridiculous.

Feel free to send your good-job-vibrations this-a-way. I'll take 'em.

Love & Stuff

So... have I mentioned that I'm marrying the love of my life in oh, around four months time?  Can I just say how happy that makes me? So, so happy. Except that now, everywhere I go I see things I want to use in the wedding. I have bookmarks and photo files coming out of the wazoo. Everything is pretty! adaptable! would look perfect! Yep, I'm obsessed. And so without any further ado, let's get busy with the looooove.

I am completely & utterly in love with these babies. The cute! I die!
And aren't they going to look just perfect on our wedding cake? Yep, this is our cake!
This (in similar colours, since our scheme revolves around grey, green & ivory) is my current project, which I can't wait to get started on!
These amazing letterpress invitations make me swoon, but oy! Way out of our budget.
And as for people? Well, I have loads that I loooove:

My family: they drive me crazy, but they also keep me sane. I was so happy to be able to spend Christmas at home with them this year, for the first time in the three years we were away. They helped us move into our new apartment, they provided us generously with spare furniture and cookware, they've made our transition into life back home that little bit easier.

The whole gang at Christmas. Complete with dorky hats.
My MOH (& bff-extraordinaire): Honestly, moving back home hasn't been easy. Jase and I are both more than a little bit homesick for London, I'll admit it. But one thing I was crazy excited about moving back home for, was to spend more time with my best friend, Miss K. Being able to see each other heck, even once a week, is SO great. I love that despite being apart all this time, we're still as close as ever. She's fabulous.
Fresh sangria in Barcelona, don't mind if we do!
My two boys: Jase & Oscar-cat. There are two things that make my heart melt: men with their babies & men with their pets. Obviously there are no babies here yet, but watching Jase fawning all over the cat is one of the most adorable things and I'll never get tired of watching them together.

It's blurry, but that's Oscar for you.
What are YOU loving lately?

You can see this post featured on 'Love Everyday Life' today, as I guest blog for Becky.

Multi-Tasking Little Bunnies

It has been mighty, mighty hot here the past few days - and it's predicted that Sydney is going to have one of its hottest weeks ever. To that I respond with a resounding 'UGH'. 

I don't think I mentioned it here, since I've been so flighty when it comes to blogging, but I went for a job a few weeks ago. I was approached by an ex-London colleague who works in a not-for-profit children's agency, and asked if I would be interested in interviewing for a management position. I went along, mainly for the experience, and was offered the job - except I was told the salary would be higher than what it was (they made an error) and so I decided to hold out for teaching work. The job would've seen me outside of the classroom again, and I really would like to get back into a routine again, similar to what I was in before.
The school year for the kidlets started yesterday in New South Wales, but casual teachers don't tend to get a lot of work then since most teachers are coming back fresh & perky, and because numbers tend to take a little while to settle down. I've been sending out applications, though I've lost a lot of faith in the Department of Education - I swear, the majority of vacancies posted don't exist. It's so frustrating. Instead, I'm just waiting around and keeping myself busy with wedding & house stuff, hoping that I'll find myself in a permanent position soon. I'm not a casual teacher: I work so much better when I'm planning for myself.
Speaking of house stuff... so, we've made some progress on that. Long time readers might remember that Jase and I bought a block of land in our perfect suburb, almost exactly a year ago today. It's sat there in its grassy glory this whole time, while our surrounding neighbours built up around it. We haven't met our neighbours yet, but the house on one side of the block is completed & the other side is nearly there. Our little patch o'grass is one of the only vacant lots left. 
We knew when we moved into this flat, that we wanted it to be temporary. Our goal was twelve months - meaning we had that amount of time to work out mortgaging & finance details, choose a build design we wanted, and go ahead to get everything started. That's been happening, slowly. Before Christmas, we found a home design we loved & went ahead to get our block surveyed and soil tested - the start of a very long winded process. After a few ups and downs (our building consultant leaving the company unannounced, our survey results going missing, our agreed inclusions being removed, me going into panic attacks about having to find another house to build) we're finally making some progress. Just this past weekend gone by, we nutted out our inclusions (air conditioning, for the win!) and signed the initial deposit.
It's exciting but it's nerve-wracking at the same time. In approximately four weeks, we'll have our plans sketched up & our appointment to choose colours and designs for the home. In six weeks after that, the plans will go to council, and once they're (hopefully) approved - it'll be time to start financing and building. BUILDING. I'm hoping that by the time the wedding rolls around in June, that we'll have a concrete slab down - and if all goes well, everything will follow on from there. Smoothly, I hope.
I foresee this year being completely mental - but in a good way. We have so much going on, but they're all super-important-life-changing things that I can't wait for. I guess after three years of living in London and feeling like we were being left behind by friends & family.. it's starting to come together for us now. It's a good feeling, even if it means we'll be poor at the end of it. 

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