Teachers are not entertainers

Every weekday morning, my daughters both moan about having to get up for school. They moan about their teachers and they moan about homework. Given free rein, they would spend all day every day watching BuzzFeed video channels, making Spotify playlists, watching Netflix and taking online quizzes. It’s not that they’re lazy, it’s just that…

via Should teachers do what children want? — David Didau: The Learning Spy

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‘Bow-out’ before a friendship ‘blow-out’

Over the last 10 years I have constantly checked-in with myself, reassessed my progress against my goals and worked extremely hard to reach a moderate level of ‘enlightenment’. I self-reflect, spend time in gratitude, use mindfulness techniques to stave off the pressures of everyday challenges and mostly spend time with myself.  I’m what many people might think of as a bit of a loner, but the choice to not surround myself with people all the time is deliberate. I have always been a good friend – and still am.  Loyal, generous and supportive of the people who need me and who I have cultivated a friendship with over a period of time.  Yet, I do not depend on this friendship to measure my worth in this life.  I don’t really know which came first – my feeling of contentment in solitude, or my retreat into solitude following a disappointment from a friend.  I recently went on a short trip with a friend of 10 years, someone that I called my closest friend. We joked leading up to it how we would walk away from each other if we needed space, or just stop talking if we needed silence.  But it didn’t go that way, instead we stopped communicating our feelings and when I tried to re-engage I was met with a person I hardly recognised.  I experienced judgement, hostility and downright rudeness.  It was more than realising we were different ‘types’ of campers. We had grown in different directions and when I think about it perhaps the signs were there over the last few years but given we were never in that close of quarters it never manifested into anything.

So, here I am again.  Reading my books, exercising with gusto, making recipes from childhood and throwing myself into my garden. What does it mean, the answer lies in the common denominator of all these activities – growth. Personal growth (my books); physical growth (strengthening my body); nourishment (wholefoods) and growth in nature (my earthiness). And, I feel better than I have in a long time.  I understand that relationships are important to mental health but they can be equally toxic if you don’t read the signs and ‘bow-out’ before an inevitable ‘blow-out’. Relationships and friendships need to be balanced with time to explore one’s inner self.  This exploration is not only crucial but dynamic. We are shaped by the external events and people that we encounter daily and without time spent understanding our responses, feelings and state of mind we lean more and more on the company of others to avoid ownership of our own conscious thought. The moments are often enjoyable – a coffee here, a movie there but it is when we don’t balance this with a moment of gratitude, a session of mindfulness, that we lose sight of our purpose. Our purpose is not to feel good because someone else is providing us with an opportunity to enjoy an experience. This is merely incidental to the situation that we do not exist as  remote islands in this sea of life. We are in an archipalego, but we are not THE archipalego. This is why I feel grounded when I retreat to my island, if only for a moment to enjoy the beauty of the sunrise or sunset, to gaze at the possibilities and to saviour the stillness of that moment.

A road I choose to travel

Open letter to my friends and support network:

944653_10153777993220675_8913182289449508217_n.jpgLast week I announced to my friends that I was trying something completely different this year.  This exciting ‘adventure’ has been a long time coming.  Over the years I have studied my butt off, firstly was my accounting degree whilst the boys were little, then my CPA qualification. About 8 years ago, after being divorced for 2 years and struggling to keep up with being a Mum and working full-time as an accountant, I opted to study again.  It meant sacrificing – alot! I walked away from a regular income to take a year off to complete a Grad Dip Ed and become a teacher.  In my mind, this pathway not only suited my love of learning (and desire to do something to inspire others) but it also was intended to be a career that would offer me more flexibility with my boys.  8 years later and I can honestly say I was wrong and I have done my kids a disservice (plus almost had a serious breakdown).  Don’t get me wrong – I love the classroom, the kids are amazing and it’s those ‘a-ha’ moments that I live for.  But teaching is more than that, schools are a complex and demanding place. The constant pressure to do more and more, coupled with my character traits of being a motivated and ‘determined to do everything well’ person, has seen me giving more and more, and these schools taking more than I have to give.

  So, here I am at a crossroad – over school holidays I asked myself continually: ‘what do I do?’ ‘how do I make the change I need in my life?’ Hmmm….it took a call from my friend Suzy, who now lives almost 1000km away, to stimulate a spark that had been there all along.  You see, I realised I have never been paid my worth and I never would if I continued.  My kids are older – one at uni this year, one in Year 12 and the youngest entering Year 10.  I have an opportunity to do something now, or continue giving and giving to a system that is not giving back.  So this is what I am doing….

6 years ago Suzy introduced me to Arbonne and I have been using it consistently since. Those orange bottles have always been in my bathroom cupboard waiting for me morning and night. Sometimes you trya product on urging from a friend and then move on…I never have, I love the botanicals in this skincare and the benefits I see in my skin. Over the time I have slowly incorporated the make-up products into my beauty routine. As you all know, I am not a ‘girly-girl’ and I opt for a minimalist routine. But upon trying the basics, I have never wanted anything else. These products work, but that’s another story.

   S0, yes – you have worked it out.  I have decided to start my own business and become an Independent Consultant for Arbonne.  NOT to drive my friends crazy, NOT to pressure anyone into anything they don’t want, but to have a go at doing something that I believe in.  And, at the end of the day, the week, the month, the year, I am putting a price on what I think I am worth.  Somebody else does not get to determine that anymore…and the best thing, my kids and my partner will get the best of me.  And for everyone else…I hope you will find how incredible the products are, like I have.  If not, then you will not hurt me feelings. Everyone has one life to live…this is how I am giving mine a shot.  So, yell out if you want to know more, want some samples and most of all…Wish me luck,

  Kerri

Teaching Job Interviews

I find myself in the position of selling myself, or more precisely, promoting my worth as a future employee/teacher to a prospective employer.  It’s been a while – 5 years in fact – and I’ve sat on the opposite side of the equation (and the desk) quite a few times, interviewing applicants for positions at my previous school.

You forget what a harrowing experience it is. Although you know yourself and your craft well, producing The statement, at The right time when being interviewed is often by pure luck or even a ‘fluke’.  I’m sure people will disagree with me but for me, this is how it works.  I look over my philosophical statements, I prepare by rereading notes from my favourite education professional development, I project myself into the position.  I feel entirely sure of myself as a teaching professional and what I can offer to the school and then….I walk in the door…

It’s like an outer-body experience, my tongue takes over from my brain and I find myself saying things that are not in the plan.  My head feels like it is a chicken on a rotiserrie, turning from smiling face, to focused face, to serious face, and then repeat.  Who are these faces, these people?  What are they thinking of me right now?  Arggggh!  The voice in my head will not stop.

And then comes the period After-the-Interview. The period of realising you answered a question in a way that was not the intention of the interview panel.  The replay of the dialogue, the images of the faces in the room that seem to be burnt into your memory.

It’s hard, teaching is competitive and that is a great thing.  I try to be philosophical but the investment in the process creates an attachment to these people, the school, long before you hear the words ‘We’d like to offer you the position’.  And even then, you may never hear that statement. You are left to walk away and know that someone else will indeed work hard to prove the decision was the right one, and to move on to the next opportunity.  This is what it comes down to – an opportunity that is either meant to be or not, life is not as complex as I thought after all.

Learning Needs a Context

User Generated Education

This is a follow up to a post I wrote, How Do We Learn? How Should We Learn?  The purpose of these posts is to encourage educators to examine practices they take for granted, implement without deep reflection of their efficacy. This post discusses the instructional practice of asking students to memorize information.

How often have students (ourselves included) been asked to memorize mass amounts of facts – historical dates, vocabulary words, science facts, get tested on them, just to forget almost all those memorized facts a week or two later? Given that is this learning experience is more common than not, why do educators insist on continuing this archaic and ineffective instructional practice?

To learn it in isolation is like learning the sentence “Hamlet kills Claudius” without the faintest idea of who either gentleman is–or, for what matter, of what “kill” means. Memorization is a frontage road: It runs…

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