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Showing posts from June, 2019

On the Cards, Part 2

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Going there is usually a KATastrophe. Yes, I am talking about KAT, that most loathed and detested of all Bulgarian institutions, that bastion of bureaucratic bungling boredom and pointless paperwork. The really bad news for any expat in Bulgaria is that, sooner or later, you are going to find yourself in that dreadful place in Geo Milev. The Microwave Woman was actually quite polite and helpful, but we still had to go back again and again, first to the notarius and then to KAT itself. Our BG residency cards were about to expire, we are off to Greece next week and BREXIT is looming ever closer, so we simply had to get our new ten-year BG cards.



Why is KAT so horrible? It is in an awkward place, well away from the centre of the city and all of the MTR stations. The actual building is a dumpy, dull, crumbling concrete construction, with a dark stairwell. The cracks and fissures in the walls seem to suggest that KAT is the epicenter of an earthquake zone.

In order to speak to someone who w…

Making a Difference

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I seem to be spending a lot of time reading and commenting on TES articles.

‘Your pupils are never too young to make a difference’
​​​​​​​Sleeping out overnight to raise awareness of homelessness had a profound impact on one school’s staff and pupils
By Emma Sturm

Last September, three weeks after I had begun working at James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh, I attended an assembly for S1-3 pupils. We had a guest speaker, Alice Thompson, co-founder of the Social Bite social enterprise (which has created such a stir by attracting Hollywood starssuch as George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio to Edinburgh to support it). She was an inspiring young woman who talked about homelessness.
She introduced the idea of "The Wee Sleep Out": thousands of pupils sign up to sleep out – a variation of Social Bite’s "Sleep in the Park", for under-16s who want to do their part to help fight homelessness in Scotland. Soon I became the school’s lead on our very own Wee Sleep Out.
I vastly…

A Greener Doobuy?

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This article recently appeared in the TES.



'Teaching in Dubai is exciting and energising'

This head of technology spends his days in Dubai ensuring that edtech has a positive impact on both pupils and the teachers

By George Stokes



It was with nervous excitement that, in July 2013, I moved from rainy London to Dubai, with no plan of how long I would stay. I had a sparse knowledge of the UAE but was tempted by the career opportunities and lifestyle benefits of being part of a young, vibrant teaching community.

I currently work at a school called the Arbor School, which is unlike any other school I have worked in before. It opened in September this year and is determined to be different. It teaches the English national curriculum through project-based learning with a focus on sustainability and eco-literacy. Our teachers, students and their parents all believe in the school ethos: education with a conscience. The aim is that when our students leave school, they have a vigorous academ…

LGBT "Education"

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This article appeared recently in the TES.

Coming out to my students was one of the most natural things that I have ever done. I vividly remember the first time I told a class. We were studying non-fiction, specifically Obama’s speech on same-sex marriage from 2015, and they were struggling to understand the emotive nature of his speech.
I told them that I’m a lesbian, and how it felt when my then-girlfriend proposed to me before it was legal for us to be married. They got it, and reacted with warmth, respect and acceptance (as well as writing some epic analyses because they could better relate to the text).
They were full of questions – most of which I answered – but after about five minutes they were more interested in getting on with their work.
In all honesty, it was about as eventful as if I had told them I had eaten chips for lunch, but there was a clear respect for the honesty I had shown. I hope that, as a result of this openness, my students feel more comfortable with and accepti…

Going to Guangzhou

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Here is yet another e-mail from a teacher who wants to work overseas. Sometimes I wonder where there are any teachers left in the UK.

Hi Simon,



I spoke to you some time ago via TES and email (although, I can't seem to find the email in my inbox!) about teaching in China. I am currently in the UK but you gave me plenty of information that enabled me to decide that it was something I really wanted to do. 



I was looking at a 2020 start but I have been offered an interview for a job at the British School of Guangzhou starting this summer. I imagine that perhaps a candidate has reneged on their agreement to go to the school and so they have had to re-advertise the position at this point in the year. I know you worked in Dongguan (wasn't it?) and I was wondering whether you knew of the school and had any information that could be relevant? 


Additionally, I'm definitely set on heading towards that region of China, but if you were choosing between Guangzhou and Shenzhen, would yo…

When the Cat's Away

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One noticeable advantage of my dear wife being away in the Crimea for a month has been that I have been able to do some unusual and adventurous cooking. Moussaka (or Moussaka, if you are Bulgarian) is one of my favourite dishes, but Irena never cooks it. I love the aubergines and the cheesy / yoghurty topping. 

Of course the Secret of Life, the Universe and Everything is not 42. No, it is Hollandaise Sauce with some asparagus. Yes, it is true that the asparagus does make your pee dreadfully smelly.

I was afraid of making Hollandaise, as I had always thought that it would be very difficult. White wine vinegar, egg yolks and plenty of melted butter: a symphony of creamy yumminess. 



I also found time to play with my new toys, the Lego Mindstorms EV3 set. I have always been interested in robots and control technology.