Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A First (in England, anyway)

Turns out a year 9 girl's father has called the school to complain about a few teachers. Apparently the maths teacher never assigns homework, someone else doesn't do something-or-other, and the music teacher only talks about America.

What a laugh!!

Half the time, kids are raising their hands in the middle of my lessons and when I call on them, I get, "Miss, in America..." and I always respond with, "We're not talking about America right now, we're talking about rhythm/pitch/singing/whatever."

Of course, it could be that this little girl is confused by the fact that I speak in an American accent. I mean, that is "talking American" but it's not "talking about America."

Apparently, Daddy is upset because his daughter is musically gifted and I talk about America. My faculty leader just came in to talk about it with me (she knows I am actually teaching, as does the Head) and we put together a list to give to Daddy about all of the lessons I have been teaching his daughter's class. I have written work and everything--a rhythm she composed, a music vocabulary sheet...

Ha! Evidence!! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!!

I know that my Head and faculty leader are 100% behind me and that is good. I just get frustrated with parents who think they could do better. Yeah, Mr. A., come on into my classroom any day and teach a better music lesson than me. I dare ya.


Well, in the time it's taken me to write this, I'm pretty much over it. I just needed a little vent.

I suppose I'll keep this little update short and sweet because I am at school, on one of my free periods.

Just under three weeks, people. Meg's a'comin' home!! Watch out, California.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Visitors, Craziness and Being Three-for-three...

Summer has arrived.

No, not that summer. I'm still very much freezing my little toes off most days. I mean Summer is here. As in Summer, my friend since that hectic last year of musical madness at Chico State.

It has been wonderful to see her. She arrived in England on Thursday, and, bless her, found her way to Burnham-on-Crouch, having never been in England before. I was just starting to worry that I had not heard from her (that and the headline on yahoo.com about foul weather causing flight cancellations in the Great Lake states, where she had a layover...) when a call came through for me. Turns out Summer had found her way to Burnham and was waiting for me at the co-op!! I giggled the whole 5-minute walk to town. I'd been starting to get worried and Summer had found her way to the co-op!

I took her back to the school and we got a ride home with Kathy. Summer managed to stay up until 8:30 and then went to bed with assurances that I would see her sometime early on Friday afternoon.

When Kathy went home for lunch, Summer was still asleep!! She woke up around 1:00 (the jet lag can be something fierce) and came to school just in time for my last class of the week.

Yup, Friday 5.

(Just a reminder--Friday 5 is my hardest class of the week.)

She came in and watched the lesson. Towards the end I introduced her to the kids and they were so excited that she is from Southern California (the beaches and movie star part). One little gal wanted to know if Summer has met Pamela Anderson.

Sadly, the answer is "no." : P

The funniest thing is that after they left, Summer looked at me and said, "I can see why you say what you say about this class...they're awful!" I started laughing. My reply:

"Actually, Summer, that was one of their best days so far this year!"

After school, Summer and I walked into Burnham for a look around (in the dark!) and a pub dinner. We caught up on each other's news and gossip and had a lovely time.

This morning I rode the train with her to London to see her off on the Stanstead Express. She's going to Spain for most of this week and will be back to England next weekend. We were going to stay a couple of nights in London but couldn't get a hostel or B&B. Looks like she'll stay in Burnham another couple of nights and we'll make a day trip to London. It's a shame she won't see more of London but that's just an excuse for her to come back (the way I see it!).

After seeing her off I took the train back towards Burnham, but got off in Romford with a few specific purposes:

1. See Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason at the cinema.
2. See Beyond the Sea (Kevin Spacey's lasest, a biopic on Bobby Darin) at the cinema.
3. Buy a travel backpack (found one for £30, specially designed for women's figures--in other words, the straps won't dig in certain places).
4. Stock up on stickers at the Disney store. I give them out as merits in the student's planners and they go nuts. Thirteen-year-old boys get excited about Finding Nemo stickers. Imagine that.
5. Stock up on cheapie little romance novels (the £3 Silhouette variety--nice mindless read) at WH Smith.

I met all of my objectives.

Let me just say...do yourself a gigantic favor and see Kevin Spacey's Beyond the Sea. He did all of the singing (and dancing!) and it is absolutely fantastic. Of course, I'm biased, being such a huge fan of the guy, but seriously, this is a good movie, and worth seeing on the big screen.

I got home at about 7:00...and dear me, it is 9:40 pm as I write this!

It has been a crazy few weeks. Not bad, not great, but just a strange mixture of both. I have been very busy, but mostly pretty happy at the school.

Update: We had a confession in the mysterious case of "Who Used the F-Word to Miss Cooper at the Vending Machine?"

Yes, Nathan confessed in a written statement to saying to me, "Give me back my money, you f---ing yob!!"

A "yob," by the way, is boy, backwards. I know, it makes no sense to me, either.

Friday was a non-student day, but incidents on Monday and Tuesday made me three-for-three.

On Monday a kid I don't even know pointed to a female student and said, "Miss, are you a lesbian with her?"

Never seen Meg speechless? Well, you missed your golden opportunity.

I marched that kid straight to the staff room (it happened before school) and dragged the first senior member of staff I saw outside and told the kid to repeat what he'd said to me. I was so mad, I couldn't think of anything to say to that kid.

Of course, we all know that I'm not a lesbian. And we all know that I would have been just as offended if the kid had asked if I'm heterosexual, or whatever. The point is, I'm not in the habit of talking about my sexual life and preferences with children!!! AND he included another student in it?? Teacher's careers can be ruined by that crap!!

Turns out the gal he pointed to when asking me if I'm a lesbian put him up to it. She told him she'd give him a handful of the candy she was eating if he'd ask me.

A lot of indignant blushing on my part later, it was made clear to me by none other than the Head Teacher himself that this was a serious offense and that I must write up a referral.

Two kids put on a three-day exclusion from school in two days. Am I on fire or what??

Finally, on Tuesday, I had to cover a year 11 Geography lesson. I confiscated a mobile phone and got called an idiot by one particularly lovely (I say that with sarcasm) 15-year-old snot.

But she lied through her teeth and refused to admit it, so all she got was detention.

It's little wonder I find myself exhausted this evening. So much excitement!

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. Kathy and Derek made me a card and left it in my box at work. It was a lovely surprise. I told the kids all about it and how we celebrate it every year and get 3 days off from school, etc.

My dinner on Thanksgiving was a pasta bake, shared with Summer. Tomorrow, however, I'm going to cook turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, stuffing, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce for Kathy and Derek. We've all been looking forward to our little Thanksgiving, England-Style all week.

And now, then, I shall close this update...and hope to update more often. I never update from school (well, only the one time) and the computer at home has been down much of this week. So I do have an excuse for not updating!!



P.S. Three weeks till I see my girl!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Long Time, No Update

I've been pretty busy. Good busy.

School is going well. Friday was a non-student day. We had Performance Review Meetings. Basically meaning that I had a few hours of uninterrupted time in my classroom and one 45-minute meeting with my faculty head. Nice!

I'm really starting to find my feet at St. Peter's. I have my good days and bad days, but the good are starting to outnumber the bad. I'm reacting to different situations better now. Even being abused over the vending machines...again.

Yep. Those vending machines have got to go.

At the beginning of 3rd period on Thursday, I had 27 year 7s waiting for me. We'd just had our 20-minute morning break and the pupils know they are expected to go to class. Well, along come two year 9s (both of whom have me for music) to the machines outside my room.

I told them they were too late to use the machines and to get to class. They continued to approach the machines. One is on a timer, the other is not. I held down the coin return button on the one so that Nathan's 50p piece kept going straight through the machine. Still, he and Adam refused to give up, apparently thinking that they are more stubborn than Miss Cooper.

How wrong they are... : P

I finally got a bright idea and grabbed for the 50p piece as it came out in the coin return slot.

Nathan: "Give me my money!!"

Me: "You can come by at lunch and have it back then."

I'm not sure which kid yelled the "F" word at me as I turned around to walk away. But that stopped me in my tracks.

Me: "Excuse me?"

Nathan: "Give me my money back!!"

Me: "I told you, you can have it back at lunchtime."

Nathan: "Shut up!!!" He was getting really mad at this point. And shooting himself in the foot.

I, of course, was inwardly outraged that I was being subjected to this abuse. So I said, "Right, let's just go see what Mrs. Reed says." Mrs. Reed is my next-door neighbor, an art teacher. She is wonderful when I need help.

At this point, Adam was pissed off on his friend's behalf and getting himself in more trouble than he would have been in if he had just minded his own business. But try telling that to a 13-year-old.

Mrs. Reed agreed with me (as I knew she would) and they got borderline verbally abusive with her. So she called for a Senior Member of Staff (SMT). While we were waiting, Mrs. Hardy (another SMT, on her way to teach a class) happened by and got involved. They were abusive to her, as well. She had to get to her class (and my poor year 7s were still waiting for me). So along comes Miss Owens, an assistant headteacher, and she tries to sort it out. What a mess!!

She took the two boy to the Inclusion Room--kind of like an in-school suspension. They spent the rest of the day there.

A few minutes later, the SMT on call came by my room to ask for my side of things and to tell me to fill out a couple of referral forms. I gave him the 50p piece to give back to Nathan.

All told, I was 10 minutes late for my lesson.

But hopefully what those two year 9s will take away from this is that they shouldn't go against Miss Cooper's instructions. I'm sure they'll be kinda pissed off at me for a while, though.

But they've never been good in my class, so oh well. I can just send them out.

Eventful week!

Other than that incident, things are going well. I am, as I said, finding my feet. I'm feeling more confident in my abilities and I'm doing some good lessons. The kids seem to enjoy them anyway. I have a few who gripe and complain but I chalk it up to puberty. : P

In the Fan-tab-u-lous News category: Summer is coming!! Yessiree, she is due to arrive on Thursday. I am really looking forward to seeing her and showing her around Burnham and later, London. She's never been to Europe and I know she is going to love it. What's not to love?

She'll spend two nights in Burnham, here at Kathy and Derek's place. They have kindly offered a spare bedroom to her. Saturday, she'll catch a plane to Barcelona. She'll come back to London on Thursday. On Friday, I'll join her there for two nights to show her my favorite parts of London that are off the beaten path. She'll fly back to the States on Sunday, December 5th, and I'll train it back to Burnham-on-Crouch. At that point, I'll only have a couple of weeks left before I fly back to the States myself. Yesterday it was one month! I'm getting excited to see everyone.

In other great news, I had some help from a bunch of Sixth Formers on Monday and my classroom looks fantastic! We got rid of a lot of junk--out-of-date books, papers from previous school years, etc. We moved my tables around so the kids sit in groups now, not rows. It looks great. It's not done yet, but it is so much closer. On Friday, I put up posters in the messy back corner and started getting it ready to be the Composing Centre. I will take pictures soon.

Well, I'll wind this post up, then. I will be better about updating this week (or so I'll try!) and about emailing, too.



Friday, November 12, 2004

Home is where...

Hmm. That's a tough one.

I think I've told most everyone that my parents have pretty much sold the house in Folsom and are off to Port Ludlow, Washington. They're very excited, and I am excited for them.

But it leaves me in a bit of a quandry.

The popular old saying is, "Home is where the heart is." And this is certainly true. Perhaps this is why I'm so confused. My heart is heading off in a million directions.

Of course, I am in England. And I love England. Five years ago I left a piece of my heart here, and being back again is the most fantastic thing I have done. I can picture myself making my life here. Watching the music department of St. Peter's grow and thrive. I am finally realizing that I can make that department shine. I can help it grow to the point that people want their kids to come to St. Peter's because of the opportunities for their children in the arts.

But then there's Washington. Mom and Dad will be there, along with my sweet Millie. And we can't forget California, where my friends will be.

In all likelihood, if I return to the states at the end of this school year, I will gravitate to Washington. The comfort of being near my parents, automatically having a car to use (good ole Rosie the Protege) and, of course, the cuddles and purrs of Millie all steer me in that direction. Beyond that, California just doesn't make me happy anymore. The cost of living is too high, the summers too hot. The job market for young music teachers is frightening. I can't really see myself calling California home anymore, with my parents living somewhere else.

But (another "but"), when I think of how long I have identified myself as a California Girl, it makes me wonder if I can be anything else. I have lived in the Golden State since the age of two. No matter how long I stay in England and start to use words like "Cheers" and "loo," I don't know if I'll ever stop inserting a drawn out "Duuuude" into my conversations. I doubt I'll ever really lose that West Coast non-accent I am often complimented on in England.

I have decided not to make any decisions until at least March. The school wants me to stay, but they know that it is not a decision I can make lightly. Though I am already thinking that making my way here in England, seeing what I can accomplish with this music department, looks better all the time.

Maybe I'll just end up one of those lucky people who has homes all over the world, where people are waiting with open arms and hot tea, happy to see me.

Please know that the same welcome will always apply to all of you.



Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Day in the School

It occured to me that I've never explained our school day. I have 10 minutes left of lunch, so I'll do it now.

8:50-9:10 Registration. The kids are in Mentor Groups (mine is year 12, of the Sixth Form). We do citizenship, announcements, etc. Sixth Form has a briefing at this time every Tuesday.

9:10-10:10 First period

10:10-11:10 Second period

11:10-11:30 Break (Twenty minutes. Free tea in the staff lounge. Heaven!)

11:30-12:30 Third period

12:30-1:30 Fourth period

1:30-2:15 Lunch

2:15-2:20 Registration (a quick check-in)

2:20-3:20 Fifth period

3:20 School's out and now it's meetings, planning, or my GCSE group (on Tuesday and Wednesday).

That's it. And lunch is over soon. I still need to eat my celery and then use the loo.

More soon.

Cheers, Meg

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Nine Trains

Choo choo...choo choo cha-boogie,
Woo-woo, woo woo, cha-boogie,
Choo choo, choo choo cha-boogie,
Take me right back to the track, Jack!

Oh good heavens, keep me as far away from trains as possible for at least a week!!!

Sorry for those of you who are used to regular email contact. I've not checked since Sunday. It is now Tuesday night.

I had a course in Colchester yesterday. That's not too far away as the crow flies but as the train chugs, it takes at least an hour-and-a-half. And several changes. Four trains to get there, three to get home. Seven different trains in one long day. But the course was really good and very informative.

Today, I had another course, this time in London. Farther away as the crow flies, but less train mania. One train direct from Burnham-on-Crouch to London Liverpool Street, one train directly home (with one 20 minute delay...).

Today's course wasn't as good but the chance to be a working girl in London was fun. Though I wore a new pair of shoes. Big mistake! They are very cute and sassy and my cute and sassy little feet are still complaining. Oy.

Not to mention I don't really have a solid lesson plan for tomorrow. Fantasia it is! Gotta love good ole Disney.

So, just a quick update. It's almost 9:00 pm here so I will be off to Bedfordshire soon. Thank goodness there's no train involved in that trip!!



Friday, November 05, 2004

Surviving Hurricane Hormone

And now back to our regularly scheduled blog...

What a week! Crazy doesn't even begin to describe it.

Let's see, I've had the unshakeable cold from H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks, a visit from the Essex County Music AST (Advanced Skills Teacher) and a lot of paperwork and stuff to get done.

The AST is awesome. He's been to see me twice now, and I will go see him in December. Beyond that, he'll be available through phone and email for advice and if I need to find particular resources. He's been a super help to me, from helping me figure out what to teach my GCSE group to helping me figure out the National Curriculum.

Definitely a good thing.

And in other good news, I'm going to be the most technologically advanced music teacher you've ever known! I'm going to have computers with composing software and midi keyboards (play a tune on the keyboard, the composing program writes it down...fantastic!!) in my room. Woohoo!!

In other news, Hurricane Hormone has been through and I managed to survive. It's been a bit nutty with the year 9s, as you might have guessed from previous blog entries. Year 9 is the equivilent of Grade 8 in the US, and we all know what that means: they're 13. Run screaming for the hills.

Friday 5th period was about as bad as they've been. Between the deputy head (who comes in every week to assist) and myself, we took HALF of the class out today. But I made tiny progress with one kid, and I was glad for it. He happens to be the son of one of my co-teachers, and I was so happy to give this guy some good (although small) news today.

Overall, I'm feeling very positive. And the cold is going away little by little. I'm still getting used to the English germs. But I'm definitely more into my job this week than I was before break.

Now--the big story. I've never really had any kind of medical thing happen in my classroom--until a year 9 girl had a panic attack in my class today. It was terrifying! The poor thing just sat on the floor and shook like crazy. She was actually hyperventilating. I know just enough about panic attacks to know that they just need to be calmed down, and that it takes time. One of my kids ran to Pupil Reception and brought the lady there back to my room. She has dealt with this before and she was great. She helped my student calm down and gather her bearings, then took her back to Pupil Reception to sit quietly and calm down.

Fortunately, I saw her later in the day and she was just fine. Apparently, she's been having panic attacks the last few months (and has always been of a nervous disposition anyway) and no one knows what is triggering them.

The excitement...and the gray hairs that will surely follow!

And my kids...bless 'em. I heard later from the lady in Pupil Reception that a bunch of them came by to ask after their classmate. I thought that was very sweet. They may act like little wierdos, but they are compassionate.

The forcast says that Hurricane Hormone is coming back for more. I think I'll weather the storm quite nicely...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

God Bless America...It's still home, after all.

Please do not read this blog entry if you are easily offended.

This is my blog. My online journal. It is normally a light-hearted look at my life in England. My life here is today affected by the events in my home country. If you are offended by what I say today, that is your right. I just don't want to argue.

I suppose, all my life, I have believed in God. A higher being of some sort. He is someone I turn to when I need direction, or peace.

I was not raised as a church-goer. The number of times my parents took me to church on a Sunday equals zero. And I am glad of it. They gave me the freedom to find my own beliefs. They gave me a strong moral foundation, teaching me to be responsible for my actions, persistant in obtaining my goals, and aware of how my presence and actions affect those around me. They taught me to be kind, to take care of people who cannot make it on their own. They taught me compassion and empathy. And they encouraged me to think for myself. To make my way in the world with dignity and courage. To admit to my mistakes, apologize for them, and correct them.

So yes, I consider myself a moral person. I would never willingly or knowingly hurt another human being. And I believe in God.

But I am not a religious person. Religion, in my opinion, muddies the waters.

I have tried religion. I went through a period in early high school in which I wanted to explore my Mormon roots and eventually attend Brigham Young University. But I am not a Mormon girl. I hit a roadblock when I discovered that at the very base of the Mormon religion is the belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet.

A couple of years later, I started to hang out with a nice crowd of kids. They all went to church together--a non-denominational Christian church. I decided to give it a try, and I ended up attending for about half of my last year of high school and all of my first year of college.

I finally hit several roadblocks, in many forms: living in liberal, party-all-night Chico, feeling the lustful stirrings inspired by my first college love, and the budding realization that I have some feminist tendencies. The final straw came when I watched a friend from church get married. Her groom promised to be to her "as Christ was to the Church," while she lovingly gazed at him and vowed to be to him "as the Church was to Christ."

Imagine the Megan you now know, sitting at this wedding with jaw on the floor. I was happy for this couple--a more perfect match I've not seen since--but I was absolutely floored by these vows. And by the attitude of the bride when I mentioned that a mutual high school friend was living (unmarried) with her baby's father: "I hope she repents."

I have not been to any church since.

I can't reconcile myself to religion because I always felt like a square peg trying to cram into a round hole. So I am "spirtitual--but not religious."

God, as I know him, does not authorize people to condemn in his stead.

Which leads me to the subject of the day.

My country has just had it's say. Just enough people wanted four more years with George Bush. That is the right of the voters.

What disturbs me is that God has come into this election.

God, without a doubt in my own personal beliefs, runs this world. And He gave humankind the reign to care for that world. And when I say God does not run America, the people do, I know that God understands I am not cutting Him out of the picture entirely. I know He understands that my hope for America is that all of the people, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Native American, Agnostic, Atheist, etc. will run the country together. In peace. And in unity.

George Bush talks about God a lot. He uses God to justify a messy war in which many innocent people (civilians, soldiers, aid workers) have been killed. What was the objective? Yes, Saddam is gone, but Osama is still at large--and it was Osama bin Laden who sent men with visions of virgins and jihad up into the skies on that Black Tuesday 3 years ago.

And Bush uses God to justify his intent to get rid of Roe vs. Wade and to disallow stem-cell research.

I can hear the arguments from across the Atlantic. I want to make it clear that by no means do I think abortion is a good thing. I cannot support the thought of ever having one myself--but in certain circumstances, like rape, or a horrible illness detected in the fetus...can I justify not giving a woman the right to choose? I find it absolutely disgusting that there are women who blithely use it as a form of birth control. But I cannot justify taking abortion away from the people who need it because of the few who are irresponsible. History has shown that without safe, legal abortion, women will go the back alley route.

If Bush appoints a justice or two (or three) to the Supreme Court, I am fairly certain Roe vs. Wade will fall by the wayside. Okay, so we'll deal with it when it happens. But what next? The Pill? Will my right to plan my own family be taken away? I hope, hope, hope, not.

I had an interesting debate at a message board for NASCAR fans today. A woman there tried to persuade me that God is at the very center of the founding of our country. She wrote:

This country was founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ. The people that wrote our Declaration of Independence was writing it based upon God's plan for this country. And our country and our president don't decide our future; each of us ourselves do. We make our lives/futures what we want them to be.

My reply was this:

Since when does the Constitution have anything to do with the Bible?

Because as far as I know, there were Puritans, Quakers, Catholics, Protestants and many, many more peoples who built this country.

Let's not forget the contributions made by the Jewish, the Muslims, Native Americans, Buddhists, Hindu, Sikhs, Orthodox Christians, etc. to our great and beautiful melting pot.

I love our country for its diversity and try to remember always what is clearly printed on our currency: E pluribus unum. Of many, one.

I am scared for my country today. I am scared that the actions of this man who leads it will stir the hatred of the extremists of the Middle East and cause more fear, hatred and suffering the world over.

I am scared for my future as I work and pay taxes to a government in debt. While the rich get richer and I, in my quest to "change the world, one child at a time," am left terrified that I will not have means to support myself when I am old.

I know my views are not popular with some of my friends and all of my family. I thank God that these relationships are stronger than political leanings.

I am scared today. And yet, my ever-present optimism hopes that it won't be as bad as I fear. I thank the Founding Fathers for installing limits to the power of very power-hungry men. I am grateful for term limits and new chances in 4 years.

I said it in the subject and I'll say it again: God Bless America.

Monday, November 01, 2004

A Crash Course

...in English Terminology.

It has occured to me that a lot of the words and terms I throw out in this blog and various emails might not make a lot of sense. I am sticking to words and names that I encounter and/or use in my daily life here--students saying it, reading it in magazines, etc. I don't use all of these expressions myself.

So this is a helpful glossary of terms for you to refer to...because I am starting to talk like a Brit more and more each day I'm here.

6th Form -- The last two years of high school, made up of year 12 and year 13 (16-17 year olds). These two years are optional, for kids who want to go to Uni.

All right? -- You okay? How are you?

ASDA -- A store with nice quality clothing, cheap CDs and DVDs, and lots of groceries that happens to be owned by the WalMart corporation.

Aubergine -- Eggplant

Bank Holidays -- Monday holiday. Easter Monday, etc.

Bap -- Hamburger bun.

Barclay's -- My fine financial institution that just last week sent me a new debit card.

Bender -- To go on a bender is to get drunk.

Bin -- Trash can.

Biscuits -- Cookies. That you dip in tea. The chocolate-coated ones are best.

Bloke -- Guy

Bloody -- Example: "What a bloody nightmare, that child!"

Boot -- The "boot" of a car is the trunk.

Boots -- Popular chain chemists.

Bridget Jones -- My heroine. And her next film is coming out very soon. I smell a train ride to London...

Brilliant -- Exactly what it means in the US...fantastic! Used to express pleasure. When people as me what I think of the Imperial War Museum in London, I say, "Oh, it's brilliant!!"

Bugger Off!! -- Go away!!

Bum -- Bottom. Rear end. Need I say more?

Cadbury -- Chocolate. Makers of the famous Cream Eggs we see at Easter. But year-round in Britain, they have Dairy Milk bars (creamy milk chocolate) and Crunchie Bars (chocolate-covered honeycomb). Yum!!

Can't be arsed -- Can't be bothered. And we do use this expression.

Canteen -- What we call the school cafeteria.

Chat up -- Flirt with.

Cheeky -- A smartass. I have a lot of students that are cheeky. Sometimes cheeky is cute (when it's Robbie Williams) but most often it's not.

Cheers -- A common word used for "thank you," "bye," "hello," (when passing on the street).

Chemist -- Pharmacy

Chips -- Fries. And what Americans call chips are called crisps here.

Chuffed -- Pleased, happy.

Co-op -- Exactly what it is in the US. But when you see me mention it, it's the local grocery store I do my shopping at.

Courgette -- Zuchini

Crouch -- The River Crouch runs alongside Burnham. Hence the formal name of the town: Burnham-on-Crouch.

Curry -- Indian food. As popular to Brits as Mexican food is to Californians.

Daft -- Stupid or silly.

Debenhams -- Fairly upscale department store (think Macy's) that I love already.

Dodgy -- Suspicious. I will not flirt with dodgy guys.

Duvet -- Pronounced "doo-vay" and it is a comforter.

Essex -- The county Burnham-on-Crouch is located in.

Essex Girls and Essex Boys -- Young folk with peculiar ways of dressing that remind one of the 1980s. Not in a good way. They have a national reputation. I am NOT an Essex Girl (I am too conservative). From a web site I found: Characteristics may include being working class, sexually promiscuous, fashion conscious, heavily drinking, confident and of low morals.

Fag -- Cigarette. Still, unfortunately, extremely popular in this country.

Fancy -- As in, "would you like...?" Example: "Fancy a drink?" Can also be used to express your desire for someone. Example: "I really fancy that Robbie Williams."

Firth, Colin -- Best known for his portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and for his portrayal of Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones films. The epitome of handsome, aristocratic English hunka hunka gorgeous man.

Fit -- Not just in shape, but seriously lookin' good. Colin Firth is fit. Robbie Williams is fit. Damian Lewis is fit.

Football -- Soccer. Also referred to as "footie."

Fortnight -- A two-week period. People honestly use this term in daily language.

Gawp -- To stare at. I see this word in More! magazine a lot. Because 20-something gals like to gawp at cute blokes.

GCSE -- Stands for...hmm. I forgot what it stands for. But it is a year 10 or year 11 class that leads to a test the students take in the subject at the end of year 11. I teach two GCSE-level classes. One year 10 with 8 kids, one year 11 (my after-school group) of year 11s. And the exam is what used to be called an O-level. Harry Potter fans: Think OWLs.

Ginger -- Referring to Red hair, or an orange cat.

Gobsmacked -- Amazed. I'm gobsmacked when Friday 5th period listens to two sentences in a row from me.

Gutted -- Upset.

Handbag or bag -- Purse

High School -- Consists of years 7 through 11 and 6th Form. The year equivilents are: Year 7 = US 6th grade; Year 8 = US 7th grade, etc.

High Street -- Main Street. Burnham's High Street is filled with businesses and homes.

Horses for Courses -- "To each his own." Kathy uses this one often.

"It's not that cold today..." -- Megan better grab a heavy jumper, a wool coat, gloves, scarf and hat.

Jacket Potato -- Baked potato with fillings.

Jumper -- Sweater

Keen -- Enthusiastic. Widely used by kids here.

Knackered -- Tired, exhausted.

Lewis, Damian -- Ginger star of HBO's Band of Brothers (yep, they hired a Brit to play an American hero). Very, very handsome man.

Lie-in -- Sleeping in.

London -- Inexpensive therapy for homesickness, bad mood, boredom. Enhances good moods. My favorite city on the planet (tied only with San Francisco).

Loo -- Bathroom. Also refered to as "the ladies" and "toilet." But use the word bathroom, you get laughed at.

Lorry -- Truck

Lovely -- Used in place of "nice." As in, "That was lovely! Well done."

Marks and Spencer -- Also referred to as Marks and Sparks. Famous English department store along the same lines as JC Penneys or Mervyns. Upscale but not expensive. Quality stuff.

Mash -- Mashed potatoes.

Mate -- Friend

Mentor Group -- A group of kids I see twice a day at registration periods. I take the register, and turn it in to the head of 6th Form because my mentor group is a year 12. I'm temporarily assigned to some year 12s because of some personnel shuffling. I'll be back with my original group of year 13s (a group I shared) after Christmas.

Mobile -- Cell phone. And it's pronounced Mo-bye-ul.

More! -- My favorite Brit magazine for 20-something gals.

Naff -- Uncool.

Nab -- Steal.

Off your trolley -- Crazy.

On the Pull -- Picking up blokes/gals at the bar.

Out of Order -- Disrespectful, unfair. I have a year 9 who is always shouting, "Taht's out of order, miss! That's out of order!!" when I am perfectly justified in taking away whatever toy/piece of candy/distraction he is loudly disrupting my class with. He gets sent out a lot.

Pants -- Underwear. I have to stop and think before I mention that I have a major lint problem on my pants. And change it to trousers.

Pavement -- Sidewalk

Posh -- Sophisticated, stylish.

Posh and Becks -- The First Couple of English tabloids. Becks would be David Beckham, superstar football player. Posh would be Victoria Beckham, his wife and mother of two (and expecting their third) who was a member of the Spice Girls. She was--you guessed it--Posh Spice.

Prat -- Very rude term. Someone told me on my first day on the job, "Last year's music teacher was a prat." !

Pub -- Public House. A bar, usually with food until certain times. More fun than bars/clubs because it's more laid-back.

Purse -- Wallet

Quay -- A sea wall. There is one along the River Crouch. And it's pronounced "key."

Queue/Queue up -- Line/Line up

Quid -- Slang for pound (the money). Just like we sometimes call American dollars "bucks."

Register and Registration -- I take register (roll call) during the registration periods. We have a 20-minute registration first thing every morning, and a 5 minute one after lunch.

Right -- This is used to begin sentences. Kind of along the lines of "Okay." Example: "Right, let's just settle down and get to work, then." Also can be used in place of "very."

Ring -- To call someone. Example: "Ring me and we'll talk, right?"

Robbie Williams -- My future husband. Okay, he's probably not my future husband. But he is my favorite cheeky Brit and I own every album he's put out.

Roundabout -- Traffic circle.

Row -- Fight, argument. Rhymes with "cow."

Rubber -- Kids ask me for a rubber and I still have to internally berate myself to keep from laughing (so immature, I know...). A rubber is an eraser.

Rubbish -- Garbage. And it gets put in the bin, not thrown away.

Sellotape -- Like Scotch tape. And I only include this because I wanted to point out why J.K. Rowling's fabulous books contain Spell-o-tape.

Smart -- Used to describe someone who is dressed nicely, or sharply. I try to look smart for work each day.

Snog -- Kiss. Example: At the top of my blog. "Will she snog Robbie Williams?" She'd like to.

Spot -- Pimple.

Stone -- A unit of weight that equals 14 pounds. And people talk about their weight in stones. I would like to weigh 8 stone (112 pounds) but...I don't.

Strop -- Sulking. You can be "in a strop," or "a stroppy cow."

Sweets -- Candy. Kids actually ask me what I'm talking about when I say, "Don't eat candy in my classroom!!!"

Telly -- TV

Theatre -- Live performance of a play. A movie theatre is the cinema. And you don't see movies, you see films.

Totty -- Attractive female.

Trainers -- Tennis Shoes

Trolley -- Shopping cart

Trousers -- What I have to remember to call them, 'cause the kids will laugh at me if I refer to them as pants (see above).

Tube -- The London Underground. A subway. Known as the Tube.

Vest -- Tank top. Sleeveless shirt.

Well done -- Used in place of "good job." Sometimes followed by "yay you!"

Zebra Crossing -- Crosswalk. And it rhymes with "Debra."

Zed -- The letter Z. They say "zed," (rhymes with "bed"), not "zee."

And finally...from a great website. This really sums it up:

Excuse me - This is a great one! It's what kids are taught to say when they belch in public. We are also taught to say "pardon me" if we fart out loud. Unfortunately in American "excuse me" means you are encroaching in someone's personal space and you say "pardon me" when you don't hear someone properly. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that actually Americans are not belching and farting all the time.