Mr Blue Sky

I missed last week. I’m sorry. It has been a hectic fortnight. Planning, cutting, planning, laminating, reflecting, planning, researching and planning. And planning.

Last week saw me take on a lot more lessons and a lot less observation. Two issues became prevalent. Noise levels and behaviour. It was strange for me because on my previous school experience, neither were an issue that made their way in to discussions with the class teacher but last week – it was a hot topic.

I found it a struggle. I really did. Part of me questioned whether it was worth it – not in the sense of ‘If I can’t control 5 year olds, what chance have I?’ because that is ridiculous. It was more a case of ‘Am I progressing enough here’.  Both class teachers and I spoke at length about it and while I didn’t come out with ‘I’m shite at this’, I did express my fear that my progress in these areas (noise levels and behaviour management) was poor. They both reassured me and told me to stop being so harsh on myself. I do think I set high standards of myself but everyone wants to do their best, and I’m no different.

Friday eventually came round, as it tends to do and I got home and fell asleep pretty quickly (although I did watch an episode of Cheers beforehand). Saturday and Sunday were entirely dedicated to planning. I took the odd toilet break and dash to the fridge for a bite to eat but I decided I didn’t want to leave the books, laptop or planning folder down for any longer than necessary. I managed to get the three weekends before the continuous weeks off from work and so I took advantage. Working all day Saturday during placement means for me that I don’t really get a good run at the planning until the Sunday and as I find planning for early years difficult – I’m only ever really working towards the next day. By Sunday night, around 10ish – I had planned all the activities and lessons for Monday, Tuesday and the first half of Wednesday.

Monday of this week then, I went in feeling more relaxed than I had ever done before about teaching early stages. I felt ready, I knew I had resources ready, I knew what should happen when for Monday and Tuesday. It was obvious to me and to my class teachers that I was more relaxed. It’s not as though my lessons were flawless, far from it – but I didn’t feel tense about doing them.

A huge success I had this week came from advice I got from the boss was using a table reward scheme with pom poms (the art & craft type). What a success that was. Children who found it difficult to engage with the lessons or activities were all of a sudden trying really hard so they could win some pom poms for their table. The carrot they had in front of them was first choice of activities for free play. Thankfully – getting to play with the sand tray is a huge incentive for the kids to tune in that much more. It’s something I will definitely use for the remainder of my time in the school.

All my lessons up until Wednesday afternoon I felt had gone well. It should have filled me with confidence for my tutor visit on Thursday. I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that things couldn’t possibly run as smoothly for the tutor visit could it? It didn’t. It really didn’t. All the wonderful behaviours and level of engagement I had seen leading up to this point, disappeared when the tutor came in the door. I brought the children up for lunch and went in to my class teacher’s office and told her that I had definitely failed. There was no way I could pass. The tutor came in and could see how frustrated I was and told me that she thought my behaviour management strategies were effective and they thought the main reason why I had problems was because some of the kids were not sufficiently challenged. It was a fair comment and I fully accepted it. We spoke about the need to have an activity a step above what was intended just in case they find it too easy. It was also pointed out to me that I needed to find a way to assess the learning effectively as it was something I was doing in terms of lesson planning, but not assessing for assessment sake. In the end, I passed my inspection, which was a pleasant but completely unexpected surprise.

Another surprise came in the form of the essay results coming out Friday. I didn’t know they were coming out. I passed that too.

I’ll tell you and show you a glimpse of my highlight of the week. I thought I was going to tell you about making bees with toilet roll tubes (which all the kids loved) or the fact that over half the class at some stage this week told me I was the best teacher ever (which is obviously not true but still nice to thing they like having me as a teacher) but the real highlight this week was cycling along the beach yesterday.

 

Not a bad day for taking the bike out.

Not a bad day for taking the bike out.

It was a beautiful day and I cycled up and down the beach. Cycling up I was reflecting on the successes and areas for improvement from this week. On the way back down – I didn’t think about anything. It was nice to do that for the first time in ages.

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Busy Busy Busy

After nearly two months away from a classroom, returning on Monday morning was weird.

I had a fairly restless night’s sleep on the Sunday night and I awoke early Monday morning being very nervous. I noticed a tense feeling in my chest and it was something I would have for the majority of the week. Stepping back in to the classroom and I immediately remembered the table names – Red, Blue and Yellow. The names sprung to mind quickly as it reminded me of the first three Pokemon games (although I sincerely doubt that was the logic behind choosing the names).

I had been in contact with the teachers for the class about what lessons I was to teach for Monday – a PE lesson. I went in Monday with a plan in hand for the PE lesson and observed the teacher in action. They took the time then to ask me about what I had observed and what I’d take from that and if there was anything I’d do a little differently. It was a very helpful conversation and helped calm me somewhat. The PE lesson, rather surprisingly went off without a hitch. I had set out five activities all related to throwing and aiming and had each station numbered to avoid confusion when moving groups from activity to activity. I also had a chat with the other teacher about targets for the placement, organising a visit from a university tutor, and what the areas of focus are for the term. All in all, Monday was busy but a nice start to the first week back. 

Tuesday did not go as well. I taught a writing lesson which I thought I had prepared sufficiently for but I had underestimated the length of time and the amount of instruction that was needed and suffice to say, I was very disappointed with it. I left the school on Tuesday rather annoyed with myself but went in to the university to use the IT facilities to prepare for what I wanted to be a great lesson on subtraction. I prepared a game on Powerpoint using hyperlinks with subtraction questions, making an effort to use some of the different words for subtraction – take away, minus, subtract, less. I was, in a sense, cautious of relying too much on a memory stick for  what I thought was a good method of teaching subtraction and so I made sure to save the Powerpoint on my memory stick, Google Drive and printed out the slides – just in case.

I was hoping the lesson on subtraction would go well on Wednesday and beforehand, that now familiar tense feeling was present. Thankfully, the Powerpoint game worked perfectly. It opened from my memory stick with no problems and the children loved the smiley face that popped up if they selected the right answer. Smiles all around and as a result – the tension dissipated for the day. The teacher told me they were very impressed with the use of the different words for subtraction as it was important that the children become familiar with them early on. 

Thursday I used a similar game as the subtraction lesson for a lesson on ‘br’, ‘cr’, and ‘dr’ words. I thought it had worked well but there appeared to be a little confusion on mixing up the ‘br’ and ‘dr’ words so I spoke to the teacher about this afterwards and they assured me that the lesson went well and that the confusion didn’t mean the lesson was the cause of confusion but just a sign that more work was needed in that area. I also took a mental maths lesson in which the focus was on counting backwards from 20. I used a large number line to count backwards with them first time round and then blocked the number line from view. We then played a number game show in which I would hold up a card with a number and they had to tell me the number before the one displayed. They loved it and I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the class’ quieter characters put their hand up to join in on the game show. To finish off, we sang Ten Green Bottles. I won’t lie, I found that terrifying! Obviously, I can give a virtuoso performance of Blame It On The Boogie and other similar classics when I’m singing into the shower head but I felt terrified by singing in front of an early years class. What made it even scarier for me was the class teacher returned in to the classroom when there was 8 of the bottles still on the wall! ‘Oh sweet Jesus’ I thought when I saw the teacher walk in. Thankfully, after hearing that another green bottle had accidentally fallen, they joined in with the class singing the story of the final seven bottles. The children loved singing the song and I think I’ll be more ready to sing in a class again. 

Friday I was taking another writing lesson and another PE lesson. Both lessons went very well and when the class teacher and I were discussing them afterwards, they told me that they thought the lessons had went well but gave me an area for improvement. They told me that they felt the class sometimes gets too noisy. We agreed that a noise-ometer would be an appropriate way to lower the volume in the classroom. All in all, I thought the week had gone well and so I relaxed sufficiently to allow myself a game of pool or two with a friend from work on the Friday evening and an episode or two of Scandal when I got home. 

I have a nice bit of work to do now for today, including a noise-ometer to make! One of the lessons i’m currently planning involved using A Bug’s Life (as gardens and mini-beasts is the topic for the term) to inspire us to write our own story for Flik. Admittedly, I’m looking forward to that lesson particularly. 

Anywho. That’s all my news I think for this week. so I’ll post this and close the tab, maybe share the post on Twitter and then return to planning for the week ahead. Busy busy busy. 

G’luck!

TGIF

Wow. This week went well but it was far from easy. It’s not that didn’t enjoy it, it was just tough going. 

My laminator broke at the start of the week. As the placement is with the early years, the laminator is a vital resource. I shouted such a stream of abuse at that laminator. I’ve been using the laminator in the school so it hasn’t been a crisis here but it was a nuisance. My phone broke aswell. Naturally, the only way to fix the phone was to wipe everything off it. That was far from ideal. Oh ya, I also lost my memory stick at the start of the week too. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. Some kind soul sellotaped the memory stick to the wall on Wednesday so I got that back!

On the teaching front, it was a very difficult week but I feel as though I am learning from the challenges but these challenges do come thick and fast. Teaching on St Patrick’s Day was weird. I’d never experienced a school day on St Patrick’s Day and my sister living in a different part of Scotland text me admitting she too felt weird working on St Patrick’s Day. 

On St Patrick’s Day I taught a spelling lesson and a gym lesson. The spelling lesson went well but my timing was a bit off. Not everyone got a chance to try each activity. One of the activities was a noughts & crosses style game with the new spelling words which was a cool idea. It wasn’t mine. The person who came up with that idea I know reads this so I’d like to thank them for that idea! The gym lesson…oh my… The activities, my observing teacher told me, were perfect for a gym lesson. The class’ behaviour was all over the place and the class teacher’s suggestion was to use a whistle next time round. I’ll have to! 

Tuesday I was looking at number bonds and then Victorian schools. The number bond lesson could certainly have gone better. It was planned that I’d do the lesson outside but it rained. Thankfully I had planned for that possibility. Obviously, I am on placement to learn but it is remarkable how many little things you learn and realise during a lesson. You wouldn’t believe how often during the course of the day I say to myself “Jesus, how did I not think of that?”. I write things down on my lesson plans to remind myself and then a child runs up to tell me that their working partner won’t share the eraser and these little things slip my mind. The lesson on Victorian schools was a disaster. I just couldn’t get them to focus. I felt terrible after. I’ve had lows on placement but Tuesday was a new feeling of low. My class teacher spent a while trying to cheer me up and gave me loads of tips to help with the problems I had. I left the school, bought a packet of Skittles, returned to the house and just started planning for Wednesday. I’ve mentioned it before but it sometimes surprises me how well I switch off from school. 

Wednesday went pretty well. I had a writing lesson – we were writing about pirates – yaaaaaaar! I used positive praise very effectively on a class I had struggled with the day before and it worked a treat. The standard of the writing was good and it was particularly difficult to select star writers for the day. I felt elated after going from such a bad day on the Tuesday to the writing lesson going very smoothly. I also took a number bond lesson after and that went well aswell. It was one of the children’s birthdays so I had a cake and candles display to learn about the number bonds of 6. The area where I fell down was I had not considered the different ways they could record what they were learning. I had a worksheet from the day previous but the children were mostly finished those but the teacher told me a few ways to record the learning and consolidate the learning and I appreciated that feedback. 

On Thursday I took the class for a drama lesson and a follow up lesson on Victorian schools. The Victorian schools lesson went well according to my class teacher but oddly, I felt it could have gone better. I think if I was to identify one area of my planning that needs particular development – it’s judging how much activities are needed and how long they take. That will only come with experience though so I just have to keep plugging away. The drama lesson was an interesting one, and one I learned a lot from. I wrote a short story about a Pirate called Pete. It went like this – 

Pirate Pete sailed on the sea. His boots were filled with sand.

When he looked through his telescope, he was looking for the land.

He wanted to stop and fix his ship. It needed a coat of paint.

Pirate Pete felt so tired, he thought that he would faint!

When Pirate Pete stopped on land, he found a treasure map.

He got his ship ready to sail, and put on his pirate cap.

Pirate Pete needed help. His helper’s name was Casper.

They found a treasure chest full of gold, and lived happily ever after. 

I had come up with a drama lesson in which we would do actions for some of the story. I thought it would be helpful to scaffold the lesson a little by coming up with some actions to go with the drama but I focused too much on that. The class teacher pointed this out to me and when they said it – I was bitterly disappointed. I had worked hard on coming up with an enjoyable story and I ruined the lesson by structuring it too much. I was proud of the story I had written and I will look to write more short stories for lessons but I will certainly be taking care not to make the same mistake with regards the drama lesson. It’s only after dawning on me now that I know someone who teaches drama to young kids on Saturdays so I really should contact them to bounce ideas off them for drama! How have I only thought of that now?

Today went well. I forgot one or two things with a lesson on patterns, but again, it’s an experience I will learn from. When I make these mistakes, and I normally recognise it myself when I do, it’s always a little kick in the teeth but I do feel wiser from these. The teacher told me that I did well today and this week and I’m moving in the right direction so that is encouraging! 

I’ll leave ye there lads. I won’t lie, I’m going to return to a Criminal Minds binge. Unconfirmed reports of apple crumble and raspberry ice cream in the vicinity but as I said, unconfirmed reports. 

 

G’luck, g’luck, g’luck!

Busy Weekend

This week’s post is a bit earlier. Thanks to Niall for reminding me that I wouldn’t get a chance to write a blog post during the weekend.

Today, the university Gaelic Football team sets off for the British University Championships which will take place in Manchester and Birmingham. We’re setting off fairly soon so I have the iPod library updated, movies and another James Rollins book put on the tablet. Hopefully that will be enough to keep me entertained! 

This week in university, all the talk has been either related to this weekend’s championships or to the fact that we are starting placement on Monday! 

Monday’s lecture was notable for it’s bluntness. The lecturer spoke about the potential shark infested water that is otherwise known as a staff room and that if we still had doubts about teaching that now was a good time to call it quits. We then had a workshop to finalise our essay topic for the next assessment. I believe my topic is good to go so I will hopefully be getting the research and reading done over the next few weeks! 

On Tuesday, there was no lectures so I took the opportunity to call back to the last school I was in placement for. I had to collect a Shrek DVD I had left there from previously but I also called in to the classroom in which I had been based. It was nice to see that when I knocked on the door and the pupils looked up, they all sprinted across the room and jumped over tables to come over to say hello. It was reassuring to know that I left a positive mark on the class. With regards a positive mark, do you remember me mentioning previously that I showed the head teacher that photo with the times tables stickers on the stairs? It was done. Here is the proof – 

Image

On Wednesday I met my tutor for placement. They were most encouraging and told us what areas they will focus on especially, so that was appreciated. With Wednesday afternoon free, I decided to visit the school I am starting in on Monday. Thankfully it’s only about 15 minutes away on the bus so I can’t complain about distance to travel. The teachers I met were all very welcoming and again, I am looking forward to working with them. 

Yesterday (Thursday), we had two workshops with music being particularly funny and using songs is something I will try over the next few weeks, even if I sound like a seagull when I sing. I got a puppet to be my assistant for the next few weeks so I will just tell the kids that it’s the puppet who is a terrible singer and I will use the old excuses of “I’ve a tickle in my throat. The acoustics aren’t right, blah blah blah”.

I’ll have to leave ye there. There is a need to take the aul Shake N Vac to my sports bag and hoover it out. 

Mind yourselves.

G’luck, g’luck, g’luck. 

Late post

This post is coming far later than normal but I have had a very busy day! 

Our university’s Gaelic Football team had a game today (which we won) and there was a soccer tournament between competitor companies so I represented my employers in that tournament today aswell. I was exhausted by the end. Thankfully we got food afterwards so that was much needed and went down well. I’m just after seeing in the last few minutes that I passed the resubmission of that essay I had failed previously so I’m relieved about that! Back to lectures tomorrow but no complaints on how I spent the weekend!

The last week was aimed at getting us prepared for our next placement (which starts tomorrow week) and our next assessment. On Monday we had lectures and workshops aimed at preparing our essays. The group I will be working with shared email addresses and we are each researching individually and then pooling everything together which will be very helpful. We had assistance from a tutor who was fantastic help. He really seemed to enjoy our conversations about our topics and helped us fine tune our questions so that it was focused and ready to start. Everyone left that particular workshop praising this tutor very highly. 

There was no lectures on Tuesday and while I got some research done, I spent a large portion of the time reading another James Rollins book – The Blood Gospel. Honestly, Rollins doesn’t know how to write a boring book. As I said, I was doing research but it was rather annoying when after I ventured in to the library and took out some relevant literature, I wasn’t five minutes back at the flat when I got a recall notice from the Library for the books. Others had requested them so I couldn’t hold on to them for half enough time for this essay. 

On Wednesday we had a lecture about storytelling and the usefulness for building literary skills in children. It was an interesting lecture and I can certainly see how it would be useful with early stages. I will be looking to incorporate that in to my lesson planning for the next few week. 

Thursday we had PE and dance and drama and those classes are always good for a laugh. We learn and try useful activities for each of those subjects and it’s especially useful when it will be so fresh in our minds for the impending return to placement.

Friday in ICT we were playing with Beebots but the workshop was meant to be two hours long when a half an hour would have sufficed. The Science workshop was about friction so it was a throwback to my childhood when we were making ramps for Matchbox cars to zip down. It came at a perfect time because the night before I was talking with a friend about watching the Power Rangers as a kid and how my poor mother had to get up at 7am to record them on the video recorder so we could watch them at 8am with breakfast before school. (Thanks Mammy!) Playing with those Matchbox cars solidified my desire to get my hands on a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Megazord again. I had one as a kid and I lost it. I don’t think I ever got over that loss. 

Again, I feel as though I don’t have a whole lot to say this week. I can’t put in to words how excited I am for placement to start. That has to be a good sign, right? I was initially quite worried about working with early stages. I feared it wouldn’t suit me. While that might prove to be true, I’m no longer worried about that. I’m looking forward to teaching again. If my love of the Power Rangers is anything to go by, I should be well able to relate to the younger kids. 

Tomorrow night is the #edchatie debate so hopefully I remember to keep an eye out for it on Twitter this week. I forgot about it last week and I was quite annoyed with myself. 

Apologies about the briefness of this post. As I’ve said before, there is a vast difference between lectures and placement in terms of how much I can/want to write about. When I’m back on placement, I will have lots to say. 

Hope you all enjoyed the weekend and enjoy the week ahead.

 

Bye bye, bye. Bye. Bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye! 

Brief – A Reflection

This week was tough. Not tough in any sense that you feel you’ve developed in a personal or professional sense. This week was tough because it felt like you were going backwards. I really struggled to write this week’s blog.

I have not hid my disapproval of series of lectures to ‘help’ you become a teacher and this week a lot of people spoke of the same feeling. When I say a lot, I mean nearly everyone. They all had the same rhetorical questions that I had – ‘Would it not be better to be in class?’; ‘Does anyone else think this is a waste of time?’. That is not a ringing endorsement of the way things are done. There is quite a high level of disgruntlement across the group and it merely confirms what I have thought for a long time. University is not the place to train to be a teacher; the classroom is. 

Monday morning we had our first workshop and we were left to our own devices for the majority of the time. The lecturer/tutor turned up in the second hour but we were all already in conversation about our experiences, swapping horror stories and success stories and tips. These conversations would take place over most of the week, and would be the highlight of the week. I always feel like I learn loads and I get plenty food for thought when the student teachers share experiences collectively. The second workshop towards the end of the day, we soon found out would not be attended by a lecturer/tutor so we all signed an attendance sheet, stayed for a half hour and scooted off. You would think that one your first day back to the university that lecturers/tutors would be eager to interact with the student-teachers… 

Another area of discussion during the week was the second essay topic. We have to come up with an area of research that interests us and research it. I’ve had a few ideas floating around my head. I was told to avoid my first choice (deeper integration of ICT in early stages) so I have been looking at two other areas recently – cooperative learning strategies and positive reinforcement. As my next placement is with early stages, the research will be focused on that. Any hints/tips/suggestions would be taken on board and greatly appreciated. 

On Thursday I had a meeting to discuss the essay I had failed. The tutor was very patient and went through everything with me – areas to improve, areas to pay specific attention to but what was most appreciated is the fact that the first thing they said to me was ‘Failing an essay doesn’t mean you’ll be a bad teacher’. Everyone had said that to me and even when I felt bitter about failing, that was the train of thought I had taken but it was nice for the tutor to say it and I made sure to tell them that after. I have the failed essay rewritten and resubmitted online and I have to submit a paper copy of the new draft tomorrow morning also but that is ready to roll and in my school bag. 

Friday in ICT we looked at making Powerpoints/Prezis more interactive and it is certainly something I had not previously considered but will look to weave in to my practice as an extra tool. 

I do apologise about the briefness of this week’s post. It reflects a week that was brief in what we learned about our future careers as teachers. The weeks I am on placement, I work hard to summarise my thoughts and reflections as much as possible to prevent a stream of consciousness; James Joyce I am not. The weeks of lectures and workshops, I mostly reflect on what the other student teachers and I talk about. A few of the student teachers mentioned the apprenticeship idea I had written about a few months ago on this – https://spellingitoutblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/the-university-process/ and all I have spoken with agree that this would be a far more productive way to train to be a teacher.

This coming week, I plan to start getting a mind map together for my essay so if I make a bit of progress with that, or even if I don’t – I’ll let you know how I get on.

 

Right so.

Bye bye. Bye. Bye bye bye bye bye bye. Bye. 

Some Things Are More Important

Well that’s placement done for a few weeks now. I’ll admit, I’ll miss the school I was placed in. I enjoyed it so much. All the staff were so helpful and encouraging so I made sure to thank them for that. 

I started the week in with a younger class as the teachers wanted me to experience the younger stages as they knew that my next placement is with a P1 class. Monday and Tuesday was spent with a younger group and it is certainly a far different environment than the one I had experienced for the last few weeks. It will certainly be an interesting challenge. If there are any teachers reading this who work with younger stages, I may need some help when I start my placement! 

Thursday and Friday were challenging in a positive way. The class teacher came in Thursday morning but was feeling ill so I offered to take them for the day. The class teacher was delighted I had offered and I was happy to do it. It was strange to begin with. I had come in thinking I was observing so I had only a few minutes to prepare to teach. It was great to see the class came in as normal and didn’t see it as a relaxing day because their class teacher was off. “Mr. _______ are you teaching us today?” was the only question posed! The head teacher came in and asked if I’d like for them to come in every so often to see how I was getting on. I said I was happy for them to call in but that I was fine with taking the class and I had no fears that the group would run amok. 

Thursday was the day the class were due to go down to the lower stages and teach them science so I had to assist them all to get ready for that. Thankfully that went off very successfully but I was very amused to see them all so quiet when we returned to the class with about half an hour left in the day. I asked them to put their hands up if they felt either stressed, exhausted or frustrated. Everyone put their hand up so I asked them what they found stressful, exhausting or frustrating. Here are a sample of the answers I got –

“We had to prepare so much for that hour”

“We didn’t have enough resources”

Student A -“They wouldn’t listen, it was so unfair”

Student B – “Ya, we worked really hard for them and they were just messing about”

Naturally, I found this fantastic. When everyone had vented their spleens, I said to them

“If you found that last hour frustrating, imagine how your class teacher feels when they are preparing lessons and resources for you to learn throughout the whole day AND some people then interrupt them or don’t listen because they are too busy messing!”

Silence. I’m not sure if the message sank in fully but I can tell you that Friday was probably the best I had seen them behaved. Even in music, a class they get a specialist teaching them but they traditionally spend messing, they listened intently, engaged, and ignored the pupils misbehaving from the other class. If that message DID sink in then I’d like to think it will be a very valuable lesson for them!

Leaving the school Friday was bittersweet. As I’ve said, I will miss the place and the people I was learning from. However, I leave that school with my head held high and proud of myself for working diligently and learning a lot.

I am very close to finishing my second version of my essay so I should have that done now soon. I’ll probably have to turn off the music I am playing at the minute. I don’t think I’ll concentrate sufficiently on the essay nor will the neighbours appreciate me too much  if I am singing/screeching Joe Dolan songs at the top of my lungs – “OH ME, OH MY YOU MAKE ME SIGH, YOU’RE SUCH A GOOD LOOKING WOOOMAN”.

Finally, I took a call from a friend during the week. As you do, I asked “How are you?”. They said they were fine but they didn’t convince me so I asked were they sure. The person burst in to tears and told me they weren’t in a great place. We chatted for well over an hour and I don’t think they ever really stopped crying until the last 15 minutes or so of the call. This friend admitted a lot of fears and stresses they’ve felt for the last few months and at one stage criticised themselves for being weak and admitting these things to me. I told this person, and I’d say the same thing to anyone – bottling up fears, stresses and problems is too easy to do. Talking about them is a sign of strength. It reminded me of Tony Soprano in his psychiatrist’s office ironically asking – “What ever happened to Gary Cooper…the strong silent type?”. Why should silence be a preferred option? It shouldn’t. Ever. My friend and I talked about ways to properly address the stresses and fears they had bottled up but they agreed that they already felt better for sharing how they felt with me. A problem shared is a problem halved. My friend reads this blog every week (thank you for that) but I want to tell you that I am so proud of you for making the decision to share your problems with me. To everyone else – if ever you are feeling low – talk to someone. If you know me then you would know how to contact me and I’d be happy to chat any time of day. Some things are more important.

 If I don’t know you then I’d still be happy to talk to you. I’ve just set up an email address for the blog – spellingitoutblog.gmail.com – this is set up so I’ll receive these emails to my phone. I may not ever receive an email to it but if I do, I’ll reply. 

Anyways, I’d say it’s about time to turn off Joe Dolan before I do harm to the neighbours’ ears. This essay would want to get done too.

Right so lads. G’luck!