Saturday, 15 October 2016

Women Role Models

I grew up in an era when some mums worked part time while their children were at school. They were always there when you left and there upon your return. And somewhere in between they managed to cook, iron, clean, sew, shop and the list goes on. Times were changing as women were permitted to work but also expected to keep house & raise a family too.

Yet there were those who believed that women should be at home during the day to make sure everything was 'just right' when the husband returned home from work. I remember hearing someone say that women don't know how to look after their husbands anymore.

Years ago, I met with a male leader in an education system to inquire about a PhD scholarship. He responded by saying, "But you have 3 children and a husband, don't you think you should just do a masters?" Clearly, he hadn't taken the time to read my CV and I wondered if a male would have received the same response.

October is Women’s History Month in Canada where they recognise the contributions of women. On social media they are using the hashtag #BecauseOfHer to show how extraordinary women, both past and present have great influence. 

When I listen to Michelle Obama, this week and Malala and Women Leaders in previous times, I am confident that gender equity is progressing. Do you have role models or mentors in your life? Role models don't have to be famous; they don't necessarily need a platform, but their voices need to be heard. We are moving forward but is it fast enough and are we ALL contributing? 

I do believe my daughters have a more equitable future because women are projecting their voices, challenging the norm, and slowly being heard.

Please feel free to list your role models or mentors in the comments box.


Friday, 9 September 2016


Do you know someone who has had their integrity questioned? Do you ever stop and think how you would handle the same situation? Would you have sympathy, empathy or apathy?

Many emotions would surface-

Insulting … especially when it’s done publicly.
Shocking … does someone actually thinks that about them?
Confusing…where is this coming from?
Hurtful … one reflects on their actions and asks why?
Frustrating … one's reputation could be marred.
Creates anxiety … who controls their reputation?
Heartbreaking … people work (sometimes) a lifetime to establish their integrity.
Personal … that’s it…It’s PERSONAL!

If we care about the person, we'd be sympathetic.
If we had walked in their shoes, we'd be empathetic.
If we have no concern at all, we'd be apathetic.

It could be argued that we all should think before we speak, blog, text, present, tweet but that solution simplifies the problem...or does it? 


Friday, 2 September 2016

When the verb becomes a noun.

I experienced something new last week. I have always encouraged my students to take risks. If you fail, learn from it, move on, but make sure you take actions so you don't repeat the same mistakes. I've shown my students Famous Failures video, shared Famous Failures posters on my portal page, and always aimed to create a growth mindset culture in my classroom.

But then, last week, I experienced something new! I am currently studying advanced research methods at university. I have always believed that if I work hard, put in the effort, I will learn and achieve. But this was different. I felt completely isolated. Completely lost. Out of my learning zone. I've seen this visual, I've shared this visual but until last week, I had never connected with the visual. 

My learning history-
  • I finished school in Year 10,
  • Attended university at 30.
  • Awarded Dean's academic prize. 
  • Completed Masters in education (focus on primary mathematics)
  • Completed Graduate certificate in gifted ed (COGE). 
Last week, all this meant nothing! I was now in the PANIC ZONE!

I sought help from everyone. I wasn't afraid to ask for assistance, but very few people knew about multiple regression. All those feelings in the panic zone were felt. While the marks aren't worth much, there was that part of me that wanted to learn, to understand, and to not be defeated.

Then I thought about the students. Is this how some feel? I recently read Lucy Clark's, 'Beautiful Failures' and now I have a better understanding. I have taught students with high anxiety in maths. As a teacher, I always wanted to create a classroom that promoted a love for maths. Songs, books, games, technology, anything and everything to change the students attitudes toward maths. Change their attitude and self-perception, and their ability may follow. How many of you have heard a student say, "I'm no good at maths"?

So now, I understand. I get it. This experience generated a rich conversation with my adult children. We discussed the pressure, the expectations, developing resilience, and the teachers, and how they influence the student's self-efficacy. I can't imagine having those feelings day after day, year after year. It's not sympathy but empathy that I have for the students who don't see themselves as more than a grade.

So yes, it's ok to fail but we also have to recognise that failing for too long can leave some without hope. I may not receive a great grade for the multiple regression responses but what I did learn this week was more important. I felt what some students experience on a daily basis. And I didn't like it! 


Friday, 26 August 2016

Too busy?

I received a message requesting a name of someone I knew. Responding quickly with the person's name, I continued on with my busy day. Later that evening, I looked at the text and felt a little guilty. I didn't say hi or ask how she was. I messaged my apology. I don't want to become one of those 'busy' people. You know the ones I mean. The ones you meet or converse with and you know they are not actively listening or fully engaged. They may respond with a few words, nod their head, type a brief email or text. You are disappointed because you don't feel heard and they're not invested in the conversation.

'Small moments build relationships' 

My coaching accreditation course has resulted in more self reflection as self awareness is an important element of coaching. The foundation of education is relationships and without them, improvement and progress is impeded. Once that trust is established in a relationship, anything and everything becomes more achievable. Today, everyone is busy! Yet, making time for people and investing in our relationships will have long term benefits...and sometimes it could only take a couple of minutes.

Always learning,

Monday, 18 July 2016

Do you encourage or discourage?

I encourage educators to tweet, blog, present, study, publish and step out of their comfort zone and into their learning zone. Some want to share and learn from others. Some may ask for feedback. Let me clarify-questioning and inquiring should be encouraged but making opinionated comments is not constructive feedback. Not all who post on Twitter are looking to be critiqued, judged or challenged. 
And yet... a brief scathing tweet may discourage, dishearten & disengage the educator from social media. The comment may even push them into the panic zone. If you don't agree with their beliefs, opinions or comments, instead of slamming publicly, why not DM and keep it private? You just don't know if that tweet you just slammed was someone taking a risk, which we encourage in our students-take risks!

Do we have the right to publicly criticise on Twitter? Twitter has many benefits and I appreciate this social platform for learning but should all tweets or tweeters be fair game for criticism? With the popularity of social media increasing daily, it is our social responsibility to stop and think before we tweet and comment negatively. Model being a respectful communicator for your students.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Building Confidence & Humility

Hearing an early career teacher talk about her aspirations of becoming a principal reassured my optimism for the future of education…only then I heard experienced teachers say something along the lines of- ‘can you believe the level of confidence?’ and ‘get through your first five or ten years first’. I have previously encouraged early career teachers to present, only to hear the concern of what others would think. I‘ve blogged about the Tall Poppy syndrome, which is familiar to many Australians.  On the flip-side, I’ve known of early career teachers who believe that after their first year, they’ve ‘got this’. This is concerning as we all know teaching is never mastered but a continual learning process. I wonder if they want to appear confident and competent. And there lies that fine line between confidence and arrogance.

If we invest in our early career teachers through coaching, could we influence their confidence, while modelling humility? Arrogance in education has no place, but confidence on the other hand, is about trying to improve oneself, which is vital for all teachers and learners. It was inspiring to learn about the tall poppy campaign developed by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science. Young Tall Poppy Science Awards aim to recognise the achievements of Australia’s outstanding young scientific researchers and communicators. It is up to us to encourage, guide and inspire all our colleagues and I for one, would love to turn around the concept of the ‘Tall Poppy’ and make it a positive attribute of all teachers. Just imagine what more we could achieve, if we supported and promoted all our teachers, especially the early career teachers who enter this profession intrinsically motivated and enthusiastic.

Thanks for reading,