This week

By Vita Forest

Silky Oak

This week I have been

WRITING

READING The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal (not much time for reading at the moment).

MAKING up lists and boxes and bags of costumes and other stuff to take to our dress rehearsal at the Sydney Opera House.

REHEARSING at the Opera House on a rare rainy day  (we got soaked walking back to the bus!)

TAKING a moment to enjoy the sight of the kids on stage.  Wow!

FIXING costumes with a makeshift sewing kit when there were the inevitable “wardrobe malfunctions”.

CARRYING bags of shoes when the kids were on stage (they danced barefoot).

MISSING Minna who couldn’t make it to the rehearsal.  Get well soon!

FEELING grateful that Tonya came early to help instead.

MEETING up with Fleur for a indoor French picnic lunch on Saturday and a very good laugh!

WALKING with Briony on Sunday (see link).

ENJOYING the golden Silky Oak tree outside my window.

 

 

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Betty 4 Bob

By Vita Forest


This Saturday we are looking forward to a new chapter in one of our school’s very own fairy tales (I borrowed that line from a student). This Saturday will mark the start of a marriage between two staff members.
Betty and Bob have known each other for years. They are both divorcees, both coming from relationships that didn’t work out. Betty has lived for the last few years with her young-adult children, making a new home for them, creating a little sanctuary in her own unique style. This included a fabulous wall of Betty’s cross-stitches, her Four Season plates displayed proudly in her kitchen, and of course, her secret, special paint colour – full strength in this room, half strength in another (the name of the colour was only shared with you if you were very lucky).
She was growing used to being single and enjoyed a full social life with book clubs, stitching groups, movies, mini-breaks, old friends, her large extended family and even a First Wives Club… Betty had made peace with this new life, this life she did not expect to be living, but a life she was finding to be thrilling and satisfying and good.
But one day at school, she was feeling a little sad… One day at school, in her empty classroom she had shed a tear…
This did not often happen, but this day she was feeling a little lonely, a bit down. She went about her day, teaching the children, marking the homework, going out on playground duty.
She stood, as she always did at that time of the week, under the COLA on lunch duty. Opening children’s yoghurt packets and drink bottles and lunch boxes, talking to tiny people in large hats, not knowing that the next chapter of her life was about to begin…
Bob had been working at the school for a number of years, quietly watching Betty, waiting and hoping. He started working there the same month that Betty’s first marriage had really fallen apart (they discovered later) when she was consumed by its crisis, when she was distracted by the end of her life as she knew it. He waited and watched and offered her a kindness here and there in his gentle way.
They were friends, they were colleagues, but Bob hoped they might be something more one day. He watched as Betty ploughed through the divorce, the upheavals and came out the other side renewed and resilient. He watched and waited until that day, that day at lunch, when, hidden in plain sight, he asked Betty if she would like to go to a party with him…
And the rest, as they say, is history… text messaging each other across the staff room, going on road trips in the school holidays, watching The Bridge in matching t-shirts… Keeping their relationship a secret at school for… not very long, but behaving impeccably and professionally at all times.
We were all delighted when during one of their road trips, they got engaged to each other. Happy news indeed! The months have passed, the wedding preparations have been made, the honeymoon planned. Last week, Betty showed me a lovely book her current crop of Year 1s made for her. It included musings and advice on marriage, including when you find the right person to marry, you should play Lego with them, and you should marry someone who is kind to you (wise words indeed).
The happy couple left school on Tuesday, allowing a few days to get the last of the wedding jobs completed. The school threw them a “special assembly” at which they walked down the aisle together, where they received “Bride of 2017” and “Groom of 2017” medallions, where the school captains (all of twelve years old) offered them advice on what makes a successful marriage, and the children serenaded them with “Going to the Chapel”.
All that is left to do now is to wish them a “happily ever after…”

This week

By Vita Forest

IMG_2766

This week I have been

READING

  • When Rosie met Jim by Melina Marchetta
  • Ferragost by Melina Marchetta

ATTENDING a school art show (those Kindy artists are amazing)

CLIMBING down stone stairs and a metal ladder and rock scrambling to go

SKETCHING at the level of the harbour at Cremorne Point and

FEELING the worries of the week wash away in the sun and the wind and the sound of the waves

WATCHING

  • Rice by Michelle Lee at Griffin Theatre (intriguing theatre – go and see it!)
  • some great teaching at my school during Teacher Observation sessions

PICNICKING on a crunchy baguette and goats cheese in the local park with Lucy

 

This week

By Vita Forest

From Castle Cove towards Middle Cove

This week I have been

WRITING Everyday more geckos

READING The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (just delightful!)

GETTING to school early for our performance group’s big audition (you may be interested to know that we had Ivan of Will you take the risk?  fame read half the introduction (the other girl reader was back too) – so they both got their moment of “Fame and Glory” and both did a fabulous job!)

FINDING out later in the week that we were successful and will be performing at the Sydney Opera House later in the year!

The Succulent Garden with the Sydney skyline behind

SKETCHING in the sunshine in the Succulent Garden in the Royal Botanical Gardens

The Succulent Garden, Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney

WALKING in the bush of Castle Cove with Saskia and Rowdy as we continue our exploration of this beautiful part of Sydney

A fallen bird’s nest amongst the ferns, Castle Cove

Everyday more geckos

By Vita Forest

For the last two weeks

A strange phenomena

A gang of geckos in my classroom.

They march up the walls

Keeping watch over the rubbish bin.

They peer at the whiteboard

Their sticky toes hugging the frame.

Some particularly curious ones watch me work at my computer

They must tell their friends –

Everyday more geckos.

And on the back wall by a Boy table and under the Indigenous language map

An army has appeared

Everyday more geckos

One clings to the clock and listens to its tock

They crawl up the windows

Every size, every colour, every pattern

When will it end?

Everyday more geckos.

This Week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

WRITING Will you take the risk?

READING The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

GOING back to school

LEARNING some interesting things about Gen Z and Gen Alpha (our current students) and Creative and Critical Thinking at some Professional Development sessions.

ENJOYING having my children back from their overseas holiday (except for the feral jet lagged fighting)

WATCHING Julie and Julia with Lucy

SKETCHING and enjoying the good company and warm sunshine at Carriageworks, Redfern.

Will you take the risk?

By Vita Forest

Lots of good things happened this week.  This is one of them.

Our final dress rehearsal before the audition for a big interschool production was scheduled for Thursday.  On Tuesday we discovered that one of the key players – the girl who was going to read the introduction explaining our piece to the audition panel, was away on holidays and would only arrive back at school next Monday – the day of the audition.  My teaching buddy and I discussed who we could get to fill in for this girl, someone who was in the performance and who hadn’t already got a “special job”.

I thought of Ivan, a Year 6 boy who I had watched run a Peer Support Group.  He had been friendly, firm and had handled the younger kids well.  (Besides this, he seemed to possess a strong, expressive voice that could be clearly heard across the room).  Neither my buddy or I particularly knew Ivan, but we knew he was a nice kid who always tried his best.  He seemed like a good place to start.

I approached Ivan on Tuesday lunchtime carrying the script in my hand, and asked if he would like the job of filling in for the absent girl, with the slight possibility of having to read it for the actual audition.

Ivan wasn’t sure.

I was a bit disconcerted.  I hadn’t expected this.

I explained that I thought he could do a really good job so why didn’t he take the script and look it over?  If he really didn’t want to do it, we would find someone else.  He reluctantly agreed.

The next day I mentioned this encounter to one of the Year 6 teachers.  She stared at me in alarm and told me a different story about Ivan.

Apparently he was prone to anxiety.

Apparently he was not very confident.

Apparently he could get a bit tearful sometimes.

Oh.  No.

Maybe we should have gone with one of the school leaders who speak at every assembly.  Perhaps we should have chosen someone on the Debating team.  But I had wanted to give someone different a chance.  Was this going to be a mistake?

Thursday was the day of the dress rehearsal.  Feeling increasingly worried that I had caused Ivan some major stress, I sought him out at recess time.

Was he ok to read the script in front of everyone?

Yes, he told me.  He had been practising.  He would do it.

After lunch, the kids changed into their costumes and got into their starting positions.  Ivan stepped forward with his script and…

Absolutely nailed it!

He spoke confidently, clearly and with excellent expression.  I gave him the thumbs up.

The principal went and got us “an audience” of five classes of various ages from across the school.  Ivan would now have to speak in front of over one hundred people.

Again he did a fantastic job.  We continued on with the rehearsal.

Later Ivan told me – public speaking really scares him as he sometimes stutters!

The next day I found his teacher and was telling him the story.  I was in the middle of the story -telling him how I had decided to choose Ivan and give him a go.  He too, like the other Year 6 teacher, immediately looked worried and started to tell me he didn’t know whether Ivan would be a good choice – he didn’t know it had already happened!  I told him how great Ivan had been.  I told him how I hadn’t known Ivan had a stutter.  His teacher was thrilled to hear of his success.

I love these times when a kid steps up, takes a risk and really shines.  I hope Ivan will always remember how brave he was that day.  I hope he will recall how despite feeling terrified, he was able to accomplish something wonderful.  I hope it gives him confidence.

Sometimes we go to school to teach the kids.  Sometimes we get taught by them.