When something doesn’t feel right.

As I go through the teaching job hunting cycle at the moment… applying, getting invited to interview, either deciding to go or not to go, attending etc… I had an interview yesterday for a “good” rating academy along the south coast for a Teacher of Girls PE and Outdoor Education. 

On the same day as my application was submitted I was invited to an interview that was happening 2 days later and decided to attend as, even though it was challenging at times, I had previously enjoyed working within an academy and was keen to see what the teaching role fully involved, it sounded interesting, especially the Outdoors side of things.

So I travelled down to Swindon to evening before, then on to the South Coast from a 5am start to get to the academy in plenty of time. About 7 hours of travell time altogether.

20190520_221022_500x281.jpg

The usual sign in, introductions, meet the other candidates, greet the department, have a look around happened… then I decided to withdraw my application then and there.

Much to the surprise of myself, it just didn’t feel RIGHT.

The academy was lovely. You could easily see happy members of staff, the building was well looked after, the students had plentiful resources, the P.E department was one of the best I’d seen, yet it felt so stifling to me. Artificial. Unnatural. I’ve been so used to the processes, systems, support of an academy I thought that fitting into another would probably work in the long term, and it might still? Just maybe not right now?

At least this experience has given me a better understanding of what I would like, job wise and location wise, in the future. I surprised myself by leaving and not continuing, but then I didn’t feel like I wanted to stay. Some people I’ve spoken to said I should have stayed to gain the experience, to give myself a better chance etc. (didn’t feel this would happen as one of the candidates was already employed in the position, just on a temp contract and having to reapply), and/or to be polite and finish the interview ; though I argue, it’s better to be honest to yourself than drag yourself (and others) through what probably would be a painful interview!

So the job journey continues!

Just somewhere where there are mountains…

20190524_071251_500x281.jpg

 – Just Joanne 

 

Six weeks left!

It has only really occurred to me recently, since the email sign up for graduation has gone out, just how little time is left at my second placement, then there’s only a couple of weeks at university then I am to leave North Wales to head back down south. In fact, including the May half-term holiday week, graduation/last day of university is only six weeks away… how… sad a thought? I think that’s what I’m feeling, it’s hard to process it all because so much has been going on and there’s still so much left to do!

20190507_144635

Other than a lot of freelance work I don’t have anything solid planned yet. It’s not overly concerning me right now, I’m sure something will happen, even if it is supply work. I have to get over “this” to focus on “that“!

I know I will miss North Wales, mostly because there’s so much yet to explore but being here has taught me that even the most beautiful places can also be the most boring and unsavoury places can have beauty within them. It’s not often the location but who you share it with that makes the difference. I think I’ve been very fortunate to share this lovely location with the most kind, helpful and generous people I’ve ever met, yet it doesn’t feel right to me without the dog and the other half. The security of familiarity, combined with the adventure of exploring somewhere new will always be better shared with others.

20190510_135755

Now, I just need to spend my time convincing those two that America is the way to go… I think the dog would be up for it!

Screenshot 2019-05-10 at 21.59.53.png

-Just Joanne

 

Busy, busy

“But don’t you get lonely?”

That’s often the first question people ask when they find I’m dwelling in my van, 160+miles away from family and friends, and to be honest, the answer is always “sometimes”. Everyone gets lonely at some point, but I don’t feel as if I any get lonelier than others? I keep myself busy. I’ve just been hearing this question a lot more recently as visiting members of school staff are informed that there is someone staying in a van on site. Many are fascinated by the thought of it but are then confused when they expect to see some Instagram worthy beaut and see my little monster instead. Haha.

Speaking of monsters, my van has been a pain recently with the heating cable. It has decided that the cable must be in the most awkward and delicate position before it will spew out any heat via the fan. A challenge I was willing to undertake at first but no matter how I try to fix the cabling it slowly decides to shift itself and I’m left with having to pull up along the roadside to ‘fix’ it again. When my patience gets better I will take a serious look at it.

I’m still getting out and about it in and stopping at some wonderful places. The weather is getting warmer so I’ve been able to sleep within additional clothing and front window condensation has been dramatically reduced. Summer is coming!

I’ve been very humbled these past few weeks by the generosity of others in providing me with shelter, food, conversation and warmth – the lower level of my hierarchy of needs are being supported by their good will and I am grateful for this. My higher needs are being steadily fulfilled within the placement. I’ve done so much and at the end of the week, I am tired but happy tired. It has been interesting so far, especially experiencing the longer activities during the day and the energy young children seem to possess (more so after they’ve eaten their body weight in food!).

So I’ve been mining, gorge walking, a mini via-ferrata, hill walking, on low/high ropes, orienteering and beach exploration!

Just a few photos below of the activities:

Fisherman’s Walk and low ropes:

20190312_134258_500x281

Cwm Idwal and Conwy Mountain:

Both were equally fun. We looked at a lot of the geology, rock formations, history and flora and fauna of both areas. The only difference being with Conwy Mountain was the hill fort at the top and being able to discuss slingshots and use the rocks to create routes for the teams to navigate with!

I’ve also been taking one too many pictures of the curious sheep within this area:

These are Lleyn (pronounced ‘Kleen‘) sheep (named about the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales) and are identified by the lack of wool on the legs and face, their white faces with black noses and lack of horns. These sheep almost became extinct in the ’70s! Their use today is their fine wool and meat. They are curious and will approach you until you make any sudden unexpected movements. Still not as lovely as the Herdwick.

One day I will own a sheep. Or maybe several. I might just Sheep Trek instead…!!

I just wanted to add in these photos from Anglesey. I’ve never seen such iridescent waters as we did on this day. The sea was in a swathe of blue hues and it just looked so unnatural but equally mesmerizing. The camera did not capture its beauty and I doubt I’ll ever see anything like this again.

These few weeks have been busy and have passed quickly. I only have seven teaching weeks left within this placement, an action research project to complete, a couple of outdoor course assessments, a couple of weeks at university then it’s all over! In the meantime, I shall be heading back home, the Isle of Wight, Peak District and some caving and I still have no idea what I’m doing this summer or beyond! Fun times.

-Just Joanne

Back to uni…

I’m slowly working my way back into university life as a leisurely few weeks back at home over the Christmas period, however, all I need to do really is blink and I’ll be out of uni life, on placement and finding all about outdoor centres in North Wales. Time has gone quickly already!

I have been doing a few interesting things on my uni course which I thought I would update this blog with (and avoiding doing assignment work)…

Dinorwig Quarry
A 700 acres (2.8 km2) quarry, Dinorwic Slate Quarry is a former slate quarry located between the villages of Llanberis and Dinorwig in North Wales. It was the second largest slate quarry in Wales, indeed in the world, after the neighbouring Penrhyn Quarry. 

It closed in 1969, after 170 years, due to the result of an industry decline in slate and is now used as a visitor attraction at the nearby National Slate Museum and also as an adventure rock climbing and scuba diving venue. It was a fun day out exploring and looking at the different teaching contexts that could be used here.


Poacher’s Cave

Ogof Hen Ffynhonnau (almost universally known as Poacher’s Cave) lies in the Alyn Gorge in Flintshire, close to Ogof Hesp Alyn.

I really enjoyed this cave (NOT the cave ladder exit, but then I hate the things). A short cave, that can flood from the river it runs over, it was good fun and very mucky in the mud. We even saw a bat down there.

Tremadog
The group visited Tremadog to look at setups again on the crags. When I wasn’t distracted by the views I was watching what they were doing. An interesting ‘double abseil’ was done at the end.

WhatsApp Image 2019-01-17 at 13.08.58.jpeg
Llyn Padarn paddling
Another trainee and I went paddling on Llyn Padarn. I’m improving! I’ve joined a canoe club to get out more and learn more – especially feeling a lot more comfortable in a kayak. This is one of my aims this year, to improve and hopefully go for awards.

Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 12.35.04.pngFB_IMG_1547873832899.jpg

 

Cwm Bychan

We went out as a group to walk Cwm Bychan and look at storytelling in the outdoors. A novel idea involving collecting of items along the way to create a story of the journey/experience. Alongside this, we looked at the ruins of an old mine and Gelert’s Grave in Beddgelert.

 

As well as visiting Terry for his birthday and finding a train service where I only have to take two trains from North Wales to Swindon rather than five previously (Sadly, the trains only run once every couple of hours but still, saved me nearly 1 and 1/2 in journey time!) I’ve had a good time.

There’s still more to come, environmental education, ICT in the outdoors, reflective practice in outdoor activities, coasteering/sea kayaking, mine exploration and the John Muir Award… alongside an assignment due in soon!

20190122_122316.jpg

Busy, busy, blink and I’ll miss it!

Just Joanne