Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaching is not an option

It seems impossible for me to get a teaching job in the UK. It really doesn’t matter what my experience, certificates and education – no British school really cares what I’ve done in Florida.  I’m hoping my posting this frustration will bring around someone who says, “Oh yes, I have this problem too.”  I can’t be the only one who is having such a hard time because the rules for US teachers in the UK may change this year

I’ve talked about my quest to find work as a librarian or as a teacher since I have experience in the latter: Right now I don’t have Qualified Teacher Status but since I am an Overseas Trained Teacher I can get a job teaching and get my QTS within four years of my first day of work.  The trouble is all the jobs listed require QTS. A big Catch-22.  Plus, in order to get into a college program such as the Postgraduate Certificate in English (PGCE) they need you to have experience in a UK classroom. Again, it doesn’t matter that you’ve taught for however many odd years in another English speaking country and that the PGCE will take you into the schools and give you proper teacher training.

None of this makes sense.  It’s like the opportunity is out there but it can’t be reached.

I finally contacted the TDA’s support line today to ask them what I can do about this whole situation since I’ve been looking for a year to find work, registered with teaching agencies, had my Criminal Records Background check done, had my credentials verified and been told that I should be able to get a job.

TDA let me know that the rules regarding US, Canadian and Australian teachers who want to work in the UK may be changing per a proposal this school year. Since any teacher in the European Union (regardless if their first language is English or not) can get QTS in the UK and can begin teaching.  For those who aren’t European (the Overseas Trained Teacher – OTT) has to go through the process of obtaining QTS through work or university coursework.

What it boils down to is that a bunch of people who are fully capable of teaching and are more than happy to learn the UK Curriculum are sitting around without jobs. Granted a lot of people are sitting around without jobs and if UK schools are now requiring QTS for all teaching positions in order to give first priority to those British teachers who are looking for work too, then I understand that completely.

But the TDA isn’t saying that’s the case. They told me that it really isn’t that hard to get a job without QTS because you will have to get QTS through the job anyway. So from the chat I had with them today, they suggested that I contact local schools directly and ask them if I can at least volunteer so I can be a part of the school’s system somehow.  I can always let them know that the PGCE Department of Newcastle University told me that this is what I would need to do before applying for their program anyway. I know as Floridian that’s not really something they just let anyone do but here maybe that’s something they’re willing to allow.

However, in Florida we take library volunteers whereas in the UK I was flat out told by my local libraries, “we don’t do that.” So…

And as an aside, I’m sure I mentioned the GCSE test scores that kids take in high school here. They ask for those on every job application regardless of what college degree you have. Seriously. What you do when you’re 16 and 18 in the UK does stay on your permanent record. I still don’t understand that at all. You need those to get into college so who would care what you did in high school if you’re 40, worked 20 odd years as a teacher and had a Master’s in Education?

That’s the beauty of the American school system: the child can leave their school behind.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Warding off the cold

Our home has turned into our retreat from the cold weather and our recuperation from the pesky cold germs. Gratefully neither of us are as bad off as I was right before Christmas (the walk-in clinic visit and doctor drugs were necessary before Santa arrived.) Still, we're not 100% and we've been in the house for three days.

In that time I've almost finished The Hunger Games (and still not done book reviews for the last two I finished). I also have been trying to figure out how to complete the Simbot BFF challenge in Sims 3 Pets. Apparently after reaching level 10 of Inventing, your Sim will get a call telling them what materials they need to collect to make the Simbot. From what I've read, it can take (Sim) weeks before that call comes. If the game didn't freeze so often (a nice quirk of the Sims that has existed since the original game came out) it would be much easier to let them just live their (Sim) lives until that call came. I’m guessing it’s a bug in the game.

Being sick and stuck in the house made me really apathetic about things. Poor Steve got to see first-hand how bad daytime TV is. Not working for a year now has just made me realise how much I miss being out and about on a regular basis. Yes, being able to have my own time to work on the things I want to work on is great but I'm under no delusions that it will give me a decent yearly salary.

But I'll keep my head up and keep working at home for myself. This recession can't last forever.

Sunday we plan on going out for a little adventure so we don't feel like we've shut ourselves in for the entire weekend. If we see anything cool, I'll make sure to take pictures. It really is a shame that Flickr isn't buzzing more. I love photography.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

30 Things About Me

Texas Woman's University Blagg-Huey Library

Since this was trending yesterday online I decided to go ahead and make a blog post about it.  Most of the information is pretty uneventful that you could find on my resume but nonetheless, here it is:

1. I worked at grocery store for 4 years.

2. I have a Master's Degree in Library Science.

3. A lot of what public librarians have to do reminds me of working at a grocery store.

4. I have a Bachelor's in English Literature.

5. I've taught middle school, high school and college.

6. I worked for United Space Alliance for a year.

7. I use to have an email address through NASA.gov.

8. My first job was working for the Department of English at my community college.

9. My first salary was $4 an hour, working 12 hours a week.

10. I have a Master's in Creative Writing.

11. I liked teaching college the most.

12. I used to be able to jog pretty well when I was in middle school.

13. Last year I twisted my ankle from jogging.

14. I moved to England a year ago.

15. I started reading more last year.

16. I finished my first draft of my first book before Christmas last year.

17. I'm a slow at re-reading and editing.

18. I wear my glasses more than contacts.

19. My favorite bands in my life have been: R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins and The White Stripes.

20. I really like taking photographs - it's my way of being artistic.

21. My feet are cold all the time.

22. I went skiing twice - once in Aspen, and then in Gatlinburg. I wasn’t very good at it.

23. Shows like “Glee”, “X-Factor” and “American Idol” don’t appeal to me at all but I love to watch documentaries and period piece movies.

24. I love swimming. It’s one thing I really miss about living in Florida – big, outdoor heated pools.

25. I could swim before I could walk.

26. My husband is my very best friend.

27. I don't like to listen to music or the television when I'm reading or working. I’m too easily distracted by noise.

28. Foods like sushi and fondue don't appeal to me at all but I love Chinese, Mexican and Italian food.

29. I love going to Disney for our vacation except I am not a big fan of the rollercoasters.

30. I love The Sims 3, Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto on the Xbox. I’m not good at 1st person shooter games. I fail the tutorial missions.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A trip to Castle Keep

Yes, we visited another castle over the weekend. This one is the “new castle” of Newcastle so it was fitting to finally go see it after my being here for almost a year.  I will celebrate my first year as a resident of England on the 20th of this month.  It took me a while to get use to the cold, the walking, the bus, the subway, and all the other new-found experiences that completely threw me for a loop when I first got here in 2009. 

But last night I was thinking that if we were to win the lottery, I wouldn’t really want us to move anywhere else in the world.  Sure, with the monetary means of travelling we would visit Florida as much as we wanted but we both like it here.  We live in a nice neighbourhood, there are things to do and see (like castles!) a stone’s throw away.  Sure I’d get a bigger house and chock it full of shiny electronic gadgets for making my life more convenient but being here is just fine by me.

So, on to the castle.  We set out early on Saturday with the temperature being about 32F (I forgot to mention that I’m still trying to get use to the cold) and went up the hill (and we have hills here that I have to walk up – lots of hills.)  Once we were in the city centre, we stopped at St. Nicholas Cathedral which was completely amazing since they had grave markers and plaques dating from the 1700-1800s and as early as the 1400s.  What I always found fascinating about the cathedral is that at the art galleries we’ve been in, all of the old paintings show St. Nicholas Cathedral in them. 

After our little visit to the cathedral we walked across The Black Gate to Castle Keep. The thing about this castle was that it was narrower inside than Edinburgh Castle and we had to walk up these big, steep steps that wound all the way up to the top.  But at the top – wow, what a view! You could see the Quayside and Central Station from up there.  Quite a neat experience.  Inside the castle they had ye olde toilets, models of how the city buildings looked over time, and some historical artefacts.  I was interested in the history of the new castle but sort of disappointed that there weren’t more bones and creepy stuff around.  I’m sure a ghost tour will solve that.

It was a really great experience to go there since it is a huge part of the city’s history.  Plus, I love being around the city to explore on the weekends even if it is 30 some degrees outside and I have on the biggest, puffiest coat I can find.  Being in the city is just such a great feeling.  After living in the residential areas for so long that are hours away from any city life, it makes me feel more a part of the place when I’m hanging out in the city centre.  Now, if I could make myself take a bus journey there on my own.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The January blahs

You know how we all started with these New Year’s resolutions a couple of weeks back? Well, mine isn’t really doing much for me. I mean, I’m doing what I need to do, just not in a vigorous way. I feel like a sloth rather than a hare.  I just can’t get motivated to get to the finish line.

I guess it’s just the January bug. We were all worked up for Christmas and enjoyed ourselves for ten whole days of just being able to be on break. Now the schedule has gone back into motion but I’m still dragging my feet.  On the first day I was gung-ho but the following morning I could barely get out of bed.  Now I’m in the in-between phase.

I’m plodding along while the possibility of vacation and fun excursions is in the distance. At least the weather isn’t completely crummy (although it is supposed to get colder this weekend.) I’m sure I’ll perk up soon enough but man am I just moving at a snail’s pace to get anything done.

This weekend we’ll try to go on a little excursion through town to feel back into the swing of things. I’m still trying to go over my first draft with Steve – a process that is not as fulfilling as the initial frenzy of writing to get the work done.  I’m also still trying to get through Breaking Dawn too. (I couldn’t get back to sleep last night so I finally am more than half way though. I’m wondering if the Kindle Fire is slowing me down or if I’m just over the half-vampire monster baby drama.)  We jogged together last weekend so I’ll want to keep that up to help me get trained up.  (All these years that I’ve tried to do this by myself has really not made me a great jogger.) We also made a New Year’s resolution to go to church more – we didn’t go at all last year.  I feel really stupid for letting that happen when it’s right up the road.

I haven’t done more than one article either. After writing about Pinterest I was out of ideas.  Next I should write about Sims 3 Pets because I certainly spent plenty of time on that over vacation. I played today too but I did some re-reading on my project too so it’s okay, honest. I didn’t play Sims the whole time I worked on NaNoWriMo…I played Saint’s Row 3 then.  Hhmm, maybe there’s a correlation to the pace of the entertainment and the pace of the work produced.

Lastly, there’s still no snow on the ground but the air is getting colder (and will presumably get warmer again right after.)  I think that keeps things pretty blah right now – we don’t even have any exciting weather to marvel at this month.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What happened to teenagers on TV?

It's 43F here and it is about the same in Florida. At least here the cold seems natural. With the humidity of Florida the chill cuts through you. Oh well, better than heat you can't escape I guess. Though I do miss being able to jump out of the shower, leave my hair wet and wear flip flops on my feet and be perfectly suited for everyday wear. But the rain and wind here has been up for a couple of days now so I've been indoors.

With my new year productivity goals in place I want to make sure I get something written up. Yes, that even includes posts to this blog. I have to do some more reading than I did last year and I want to include books that will make me remember what it was like when I was young.

Today I watched half of the 1970s Freaky Friday with Jodie Foster. In that movie Annabell Andrews, the 13 year old main character looks and dresses like a kid – braces and all.  That’s the way kids on television should look but for some reason teenagers in shows now are way too adult. They all look perfect; they dress in designer outfits and have fabulous parties. There never seems to be any authenticity in teenage characters on TV now. The kids in most popular shows are rich and even if they're supposed to be slightly less than wealthy they dress the same as their rich friends.

How is this any reflection of what society is today? We're in the midst of an economic crunch that is predicted to be worse this year yet Paco Raban adverts and Breaking Dawn are all about the wonders of extensive cash. How can anyone connect to images like that these days? Granted being a teenager means you want things and, for girls, cute clothes but geez, cocktail hour and diamond chokers at age sixteen?  Even adult women had the idea of wearing Manolos even if you found them used on Ebay. That’s a first world big girl problem, not a kid who needs to study for her SATs problem.

In the 80s, on Dallas, maybe. In the 90s we had 90210 and Dawson's Creek but still the have and have-nots were addressed. We had My So Called Life were kids looked and acted real. Now we have Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, Secret Circle, Vampire Diaries and the 90210 remake. Those kids all look as if they had a trip to a spa with a shopping spree with Donatella Versace before the camera starts rolling. It was fine to believe we could buy these things when everyone had jobs and homes were owned. Now we're lucky to find part-time work and their house repossessed. Kids are so obsessed with having an iPhone or an iPad which most families can't afford because their parent is unemployed.

Why are we still trying to dangle the obsession with riches in front of kids when it has nothing to do with their real lives? I think the Disney Channel is about the only channel that comes remotely close to making young characters be and act young. I know there always has to be an aspiration for everyone but I'd love to see more young adult television shows based on kids who look like kids.