I received an unexpected visit at work during the week. I am still processing it.

From 2001 to 2006 I was a Year Adviser to an incredible group of kids. To date, it is one of the roles I have fulfilled in my life that I am proud of. I gave everything I had to my kids for the six years that they were in high school. There were many highs and many lows. In a sense, those six years are the perfect microcosm of my entire teaching career. I often wonder what happened to some of the kids. When they left Year 12 they all had somewhere they were going. I hope they all made it to where they wanted to be.

One boy, highly articulate and always well behaved, but always in the bottom classes, graduated in Year 12. I had taught him and had witnessed first hand the depths of his laziness (and I say that with love). Through senior school he almost received his marching orders from the school after failing to complete assessment after assessment. Luckily, with a promise of catching everything up he was permitted to stay for his final chance. Most people had written him off entirely so I am sure you can predict what I am about to relay to you.

Anyhow, when he graduated, one of many that almost didn’t make it up onto that stage (are there any other prouder moments), I begged of him to at some stage, fulfil his potential and use his brain. He just smiled. Well, this is the way I remember it.

His mum came to see me on Thursday. I received a phone call from the Office. Jan told me that Mrs L was there to see me; she asked if I remembered Mrs L’s son. I did. I was very nervous walking the path to meet her. I couldn’t imagine why, after so long, she wanted to see me. And I was hoping it was good news.

We greeted each other with big smiles and she told me that she was happy I was still at the school. I told her I would probably die at the school so she was fairly safe to always find me there. We laughed (possibly more at the truth of my statement rather than the humour). She wanted to give me an update. She had been thinking of me and of how much I had given them both when her son had been at school (she is very generous).

He had worked in retail, moving through management after he left school. Then he had told his mother he thought he would go to university. Never one to pressure her children, always hoping that they would find their paths and achieve their best, she was happy at his news. He went to TAFE and redid his HSC. He made it into Medicine and gained excellent results. Part way through the course he chose to transfer into a double degree – Law and Science. Law to help others; Science because it interested him. He is doing exceptionally well. A student who was always in the bottom of the year group and who many had written off as ‘dumb’.

When he finishes his degrees he is moving overseas to finish his Medicine degree. Then he will come home.

I cried. He was always a gorgeous kid; quick witted, perceptive, sensitive, wise beyond the institution that is our education system. I am so proud that he has navigated himself towards embracing his potential.

It’s not that I was right about his potential, nor that I was justified in not giving up on him. It is more that he is happy. And he went to a school that many write off. I am happy for him. And I was so touched that his mum went out of her way to come to the school, eight years after he graduated, to update me. There is no greater validation of how hard I work, and the way that I work, than that. I will eternally be grateful to her for thinking of me, and for sharing with me.

I have always said that school isn’t for every child. And it really isn’t. IT could be but there aren’t enough administrators willing to revolutionise the system. And I have always said that just because you don’t do well at school doesn’t mean that you won’t do well in life. Some of us are nerds. Some of us aren’t. Finding our path though, and being true to our authentic selves, ensures success.

Because success comes from happiness, and happiness comes from being true.

It just takes courage.

For that first step.

It helps when someone believes in us but it isn’t vital.



Memorialising the Good

I am the first person to tell people that we need to focus more time each day on what is good rather than what is not good. I have often told other teachers that they should ring to let parents know the positive that their kids are doing to balance out all of the negative that we have to contact parents for. And I tell people in crisis that the best way to shift our perspective is by focusing on the things we have in our lives that we can be grateful for. It has always worked for me.

My job is hard. I have a lot of tasks each day that need to be done and often, I feel like I am drowning in the thoughts of all that needs to be done. And it is easier to allow myself to drown than it is to take those extra strokes and reach for the branch that would help me help myself to shore. Nice metaphor Tina ;-).

The branches today took many forms. Despite the cold today, despite an extensive To-Do list, despite the nine or so Formal Cautions that await me, I have come home happily, a big smile on my face and warmth in my heart.

I am blessed. The staff I am immediately responsible for are beautiful. I put a note on the door today alerting people that I am exceptionally busy and that I would like them to avail themselves of alternative forms of communication with me, just until Friday. One of them didn’t have her glasses on and spoke to me in the staffroom. When I alerted her to the sign she laughed and came back soon after with a bright orange sign that instructs people to read the sign already there before entering. I didn’t realise straight away. We all laughed. Warmth in the heart.

And that is on top of the others who all threatened to hurt people who didn’t pay attention (their vested interest is that I am crabby when I am busy and they wear it).

And then those moments in the classroom. I had several today.

I have mentioned Year 8 before. Sigh. I love them. Every period they work away happily. All of them. Today one of the notorious boys was working on a car park illustration for his picture book. Another student is on crutches this week. When the student drew in the disabled parking spot, he was so proud of himself for naming it after the student on crutches. And there was no ill intent. But I was reminded of how very important it is that we teachers allow the kids to have space to be their authentic selves. When we cage them or attempt to repress their spirit unnecessarily, what choice do they have but to rebel and shake the bars.

Further to that, when the bell went, the same student asked if he could just stay in the room and keep working instead of going to his next class. I obviously told him no. But inside I just wanted to be able to say, “Sure. Why not.”

My Year 9 class are still in trouble for their atrocious behaviour last week when I was absent from class. They are presenting their Speaking Task on Shakespeare’s soliloquies; speaking tasks are the best method to humble Year 9. I feel for them. I hate speaking formally. It terrifies me but I force my way through. I have told my kids it just takes twenty seconds of courage (thankyou We Bought A Zoo) to achieve anything in life. When it comes to speaking, it is the twenty seconds it takes to leave your seat, stand at the front, take a deep breath and to start speaking.

One of my students texted me last night to see if she could present it privately. I told her to try to speak today and to see how she went. She did. And she did well. I am so proud of her. At some level she had to trust me that she would be okay and that if she wasn’t I would be there to protect her. And I was reminded of how vital trust is in this symbiotic relationship between teacher and student. If they don’t trust us, they can’t move beyond where they already are.

And then Year 12. A double. Only three students in the first period of the double. And I made the mistake of acknowledging to them how much I will miss them when they leave. A mistake because the second period I was back to spitting words through gritted teeth as I repeated things, three, four, five times; there were only six of them there. And when I expressed my error and said I was taking it back, one of the boys told me I couldn’t because he had felt good about himself when I said it. And I was reminded of how important the words we say to our students are; how we truly do possess the power to build them up or bring them down. And we should never want to bring them down.

And then Extension English. They had to complete their first assessment task; an hour and a half to respond to a question, to show me everything they know about Madness in Women in Text through Time. I was as nervous as they were. After all,  if they couldn’t do this that would be a direct reflection of my teaching choices/strategies (interestingly, when they succeed I do not regard it the same way; maybe my own low self-esteem as a teacher could learn a bit from this). One of my students has never really believed in herself. She was texting me last week, distressed because she just couldn’t get it (how to complete the essay – we had been scaffolding it) and so over the phone I broke the steps down, one at a time, and she would text me to let me know she was ready for the next one. We started this process but did not get too far into it when it became late. She finished the rest of her preparation on her own.

And so when I collected the tasks I glanced over them. I came to hers and I skimmed it and I started to well up. I took my glasses off to wipe my eyes because the welling had become a stream. I was (am) so proud of her. It isn’t perfect (but after a cursory glance only lacks concept statements which is structural and easy to rectify) but she did it. I couldn’t look at her but she came and gave me a hug.

And I was reminded how important their validation of me is to me. And how my validation of them is probably one of the strongest keys to my success in the classroom, and why after twenty two years of teaching, I am as passionate and idealistic as I ever was.

I love my job. I love my kids. I love my school.

Even on the worst days (and there are many), there are moments like this. And that is why it is important to memorialise them. More teachers need to do it. It keeps the spark glowing.


Finding Your Voice

As a child I was very quiet and very shy. I am still very shy. Painfully so. But so is my dad. This knowledge does make me feel better. Oddly. I fight my shyness mostly. But not always. It stems from a fear of judgement I think. And a sense that I am not valuable enough. Even though intellectually, I know this is not true.

At any rate, I was very quiet. My voice didn’t work for myself. For others it did. If I had to protect someone else my voice had no problem. Just for me. And I always acquiesced. I disliked conflict so it was easier to placate, to not rock the boat, to just do and be what was expected.

In fact, it was only just this year that I realised that my love (possibly obsession) with tattooing arose from my need to ensure my voice. My tattoos are an insurance policy that whilst ever I am alive, my voice will be heard, at the very least, noticed. Not that I like people looking at me – the contradictions that make the wonderful world of Tina what it is. Similar to my belief that we shouldn’t mix foods except for the exceptions that I like lol.

My voice first rose to prominence during my final year of uni. I was blessed to have an excellent English Teaching Method tutor and a very supportive (and patient) class. We were a very mixed group of personalities. Interestingly this is also the first year that I started wearing long black skirts, black jumpers, black shoes, black everything. This was the year of turning for me. I was twenty one.

We were discussing assessment. I dislike formal assessment. Something within me has always said that the arbitrary labelling of students and their work is just ridiculous. It does nothing more than provide kids with a sense that by society’s schooling standards they are either smart or dumb and it pays no heed to the effort that the child has put in. This was something I had never really articulated prior to this session on assessment; I’m not even sure that I really knew I thought that. But I did. And I still do.

And for that one tute session, I was a dog with a bone. Not a cute little Max, but a violent, mistreated, aggressive Pitbull. And even when my tutor realised I needed a change in direction, I relentlessly brought that discussion back to my bone.

I made myself heard.

I made my voice count.

I expressed what I thought.

I expressed me.

The me that fights for the underdog, protects the vulnerable, and stands up for what I believe/perceive to be right. In my mind, what IS right. But I have learned to temper the aggressive voice over the years and now say things the way that people like to hear them ;-).  I digress …

There were several factors at play that day that enabled this transformation to begin. I had the support and respect of my tutor. I had the shock but love from my peers (who intuitively knew that the aggression was spurting from a place removed from our classroom and from this issue – we ended up laughing at the uni bar afterwards). I was away from the place that had silenced me. And away from the people who had silenced me. And I had been for three years. I had forged my own life in Bathurst, separate to who I was at home.

I have tempered my voice over the years. Wonderful advice from an early teaching mentor, who saw in me the potential to enact change if I learned how to, offered me advice I live by, to this day; she asked, “Is this the hill you are willing to die on?” My barometer now is this. And as a result I have blossomed into a tempered hot head, living by the rules I can live by, working to change the rules that I can’t. Most importantly, I have had many people who have believed in me and believed in my potential. Without that, I would have suicided years ago. And I don’t say this flippantly.

A few days ago I was having a conversation with a dear friend who is learning to use her voice. She is a lion. I am so blessed to be on her journey with her. And it shows, my experience and hers, that even after a traumatic childhood, a childhood where we are forced within, a childhood that robs us of childhood, it is possible to still become your authentic self.

And it hinges on the development of your voice.

Finding it. Using it. Upsetting others. Learning to temper it. Using it.

And that depends on your belief in self. And the people you choose to have in your life.

If someone doesn’t like your voice, minimise the impact of them in your life, if you can’t rid your life of them. It is a difficult journey, discovering and learning how to use your voice. And a lifelong journey.

One that I am truly blessed to be on.


The Unexpected Piece

I am tired today 😦 hehe but do not feel sorry for me.

And in the interests of me writing regularly I am fighting through my tiredness to write what will become a scintillating and mesmerising post I am sure. Tonight’s topic is Education and in particular the obstacles I perceive that I encounter. Well, at this point it is about that but it might change; I have no road map tonight.

I absolutely love being a teacher. I love my time in the classroom where I build relationships with beautiful people and help them, inspire them, to find their path to learning and to becoming inspired. I love that moment when one of my kids look at me after I have explained something and their eyes light up because they get it; something that had been elusive has finally been captured and you can see it in their faces – belief that they are smart and that ultimately, they are good enough because they can learn, and do learn. There are few more amazing feelings and rewards in life. Especially in teaching in my modern world.

And to digress further still, I am just feeling a warmth in my heart because when I feel especially good about my job I usually think immediately of my Year 8 class. I love them. I love teaching them. I love just being in the classroom with them. When I look at them I imagine that what I am feeling is akin to the way parents feel when they look at their babies. They inspire me, every day, to want to be the very best teacher for them. Because they deserve that. They work so hard and are such engaged and beautiful creatures.

And then I think of my infuriating Year 12 class whom I also love to pieces, more than I ever thought would be possible because they annoy me to tears. Everything we do takes longer because they need to tease each other, to talk to each other, to ignore me and then ask me to repeat everything I say millions of times that by the end of the tenth repeat I am hissing at them through gritted teeth. I love them because when I read out a technique and ask them to identify it they can. And if they get it wrong it doesn’t matter because they tried and because they were close. I love that. Because through that I know that I have taught them something. And I know that they have tried and they weren’t afraid to get it wrong and they feel safe in my room to make the mistake. They also make me laugh because even if we all deny it (and we will), we all love each other.

And then there is my smart class. My Year 11 Extension class. Nine girls that stay every Monday afternoon and work solidly from 2.45 to 5 pm. They devour our texts. They devour the ideas. And then they doubt themselves, and that humility is so refreshing. They are smart kids. All with their own life issues; all hiding in education as much as they blossom through it. They just don’t give up. And that resilience, more than their intelligence and their collective ability to connect ideas, will force them through this course to success. I walk out of that room alive every Monday. Tired but alive. And feeling blessed.

Blessed. Not with Year 9 lol. Nup. If Year 12 are annoying, Year 9 are … no words … lol. And still, I love them too. I get frustrated because they talk all of the time, they doubt their/my ability, they can be lazy and they struggle to think outside of the box. They possess no humility as a group. They are so rude to casual teachers even though they know they will get double the consequences; it is almost as if my absence is the key to the cell. I love them as individuals but I also love that they keep forcing me to strive for different ways to engage them. And also that before assessment tasks the monsters metamorphose and my email inbox and phone becomes inundated with, “Can you please check my task?” What’s not to love.

And then my Lions. Teaching Health. I’ve worked out how they work best. And so we work together for the most part. I look forward to teaching them. A mixed age group class with as many personalities as there are breaths. A light moment in otherwise congested days.

How lucky I am to have found my calling. Since that day in first class when I arrived home to announce to my mum that I wanted to be a teacher. And here, almost forty years later, I know it was the right career for me. Calling, I prefer. If you aren’t called to do something, can you be truly passionate and committed to success?

And really, teachers should be called to the profession. Today too many are here for the wrong reasons. They are unwilling to reflect, evaluate and learn new things. They do not possess high expectations of themselves or the kids. They don’t keep fighting to get it right, to inspire the kids, to be inspired themselves.

And they are my chief obstacles. And it isn’t fair or right. Our job isn’t easy. Teenagers suck. But man, they can be beautiful, and loving, and committed, and compliant … especially if you love them, and tell them every day.


I Am A Girl

If there was one thing I could wish for this world and it would happen, it would be equality. Not just of the races but equality in its truest sense. Every single living thing would have enough. Enough to live happily, peacefully and safely. The wealth of the world would be distributed equally; we would all strive for peace, fulfilment and happiness. We would work to keep each other alive. And we would create to keep ourselves and each other happy. We would embrace the true essence of community and love.

Girls would marry when they wanted to. And they would marry whomever they wanted to. There would be no expectations, more a surety that everyone is self-determined and accepted for who they are. Conflicts would be resolved peacefully; ego would always take a back seat as we strive to embrace each present moment. And the opportunities and beauty that each moment carries within it.

Families would exist but with the strong awareness that family is not restricted by blood. All life, every species, would co-exist on the planet, interconnected and functioning as one entity. Mothers would not sell their daughters’ virginity to buy food and then blackmail them emotionally; breaking their spirit and their dreams with every word, every condemnation that they were not enough.

Wives would be respected by their husbands; the only duty being owed, reciprocated by the husband. Love, respect, harmony. These words and the inherent actions they suggest would form the foundation of every union. And every living thing could unite with whomever they chose; respecting the other as they would expect themselves to be respected. There would be no misguided judgement; liberty for all to be whomever they truly are. We would be blessed by the authenticity of each other and learn from one another accordingly.

There would be no violence, no greed, no hate, no jealousy, no rivalry. No dictatorship, fascism, capitalism, false promises. There would be no poverty, no injustice, no criminality. No rape of the body, the mind, the soul of another. There would be no chemicals, no temptation to consume more than what the earth provided, no need for anything outside of ourselves and our community. No fear, no nightmares, no abuse, no scandal, no reprisal. There would be no cages, not for bodies, minds, souls, other species.

However, there would be peace, prosperity, happiness, authenticity and love.

There would be enough.

For everyone.

And every thing.

Today’s Journey

I have a very bad headache today. I am almost convinced that my headaches/migraines occur so that my mind has time to process my many activities and thoughts. I am also hoping that this particular one is calling my bleeding to stop. It has been nineteen days since I started my period. I have been to the doctor. I have had blood taken (to check for anaemia – the irony that if I am suffering I really cannot afford to sacrifice more blood hehe). I will book in my internal ultrasound and another pap smear after I stop bleeding. I have taken the prescribed drugs to inhibit the blood flow and the headache; they aren’t working too well. Meh. And I keep receiving signs that maybe I should try conceiving again.

I went to a specific surgery because I trust the doctors there. I only go to this surgery if I am worried about whatever is happening to my body. They don’t subscribe to the five-second-consultation-here-are-your-antibiotics craze that most other doctors I have ever seen subscribe to. As I have aged I also don’t mind seeing male doctors for female problems; I really have matured. Anyway. I had to have a pregnancy test. Yep. I assured him I wasn’t pregnant and with such kindness and sympathy he said, “I know but we have to cover everything.” But he cared. And he apologised twice. That’s what you need in a doctor. He was also Irish and greeted me with a handshake, smile and introduction. So respectful.

And then I had my blood test. The nurse asked if I was okay with needles. I think she was a little worried. I don’t blame her; I didn’t look great. My migraine had set in by that stage. Plus I had been dizzy in the doctor’s office and almost fell off the step to get onto the bed. I laughed. It probably wasn’t very funny though. He didn’t laugh. He did say though, when he was taking my blood pressure that Audrey was the finest detailed Audrey tattoo he had ever seen. I wonder how many he has seen? So I gave the nurse my very broadest smile when she expressed concern and revealed how psychotically much I loved needles. She does too. We were bonded. My cardigan came off, she saw the arms full of tattoos and said it was obvious I liked needles.

There were ominous clouds in the sky when I left the surgery an hour after arriving. You know how the sky develops a yellow tinge when a storm threatens, contrasting against the very dark, full sky; it was like that. I thought it was appropriate.

I’ve always looked for signs. They have guided me through my life. I tend to follow them and for the most part I have been happy as a result. I am resilient too. Mostly. So in the past couple of weeks I have experienced signs that maybe I should try again: third time lucky etcetera. Fear is a culpable emotion though. And I find that I am not trusting them for the first time in my life. And the longer I take to make a decision, the less likely success is. I am old. And even if I don’t feel it, my eggs do, and I think they are traumatised from the sexual abuse I endured as a child. So do I use donor eggs this time? Do I just try with mine again? Is it time to just let go? Meh.

I was directed towards a Facebook post today by a very good friend. Monique Brumby wrote last night that she has decided to share her “honest feelings and thoughts” because people are mostly afraid to do so. And she is right. We hide behind fear of judgement, fear of persecution, fear of isolation, and as a result, we find ourselves alone anyway. Not lonely. There is a difference. For Monique, it was to share with those that are interested, voyeurs but most importantly, friends she didn’t get to see often. We keep our truths concealed; we really shouldn’t have to. We should function as a community. Our society doesn’t desire that though. Technology provides communication networks but not connection. Real connection. Or does it?

I have been processing her post all day. Through sleep. Through headache. Through nausea.

She also talks about the expectations on women and their appearance and how even the most beautiful looking are often consumed by the same things the rest of us are. We are all vulnerable and all under relentless scrutiny. It is hard to be oneself and hard to put voice to our personal truths. Personal truths that I believe are universal human truths. And she talks about the pressure of approaching forty and worrying about her chances of becoming a biological mother.

And this post has made me think. I have been debating contacting her. Sharing the relevant parts of my experience. The experience I have only shared with those in my life in small refrains. Irony. Again.

The Start of my new Novella for adolescents

Chapter One

I don’t know what normal is. How am I supposed to? I just know what my normal is. And my normal is just, you know, bleh. But it’s the first thing the counsellors always ask me, “Do you feel normal?” Like, really, I dunno. What’s normal? And then they say, “Well is your life different or similar to the lives of your friends?” And I just stare at them, usually with my hands in my pockets so they can’t see the frustrated fists that grew out of their stupid questions. My eyes always give me away just a little though. Like, seriously. I don’t ask my friends what happens at home when it’s only them. And they don’t offer me the info.

Why would they.

Like, I see the bruises sometimes on Hayley. And sometimes I wonder why Catelyn wears long sleeves on the hottest of days. But I figure if they want to tell me, well, they will. Sometimes friendship is better without words; sometimes it is better when you just sit together, hang together, none of this deep and meaningful shit. Friendship gives you the space to be free from it. That’s what I think, and that is why I don’t intrude. I figure if someone wants me to know something, they should just tell me.

I hate games.

Life’s Big Decisions

My last failed IVF-ICSI treatment was December last year. I bled profusely for two days. A lesser flow after that for a week. It was horrific. And it was very lonely. But I survived it, depending on how you define survival. My periods still aren’t normal but I am thinking that has more to do with the small fibroids my fertility specialist found in my preparatory assessments. At any rate, I have looked into fostering and adoption but I haven’t pursued those options as keenly as I am pursuing being pregnant.

And that makes me think. Not to the extent of being obsessive, but I have at least one thought about having my own child at least once every day. Some days those thoughts are of gratitude that I have freedom to do and be whatever I choose to be. Other days it is more about regarding my pets, Max and Molly, as my kids. The remaining days are about longing for my own children. About the mundane duties of being a parent, longing for my time to not be my own, longing to not sleep because I am up with a crying baby. You get the drift.

And then a couple of weeks ago I started to think that maybe my blood test was wrong and one of the three embryos had taken and it was just too early to detect. I thought how awesome it would be if I could be on that show “I didn’t know I was pregnant”. And then I knew I wasn’t pregnant because that was just silly. Tests don’t lie. But I started to think maybe I should try again. I need a sign. Ridiculous I know. I lost a lot from my last failure.

I lost friends that I had regarded as family. I lost friends. More significantly I have really lost my ability to trust. So even the people that were there only get a shadow of me now. I get scared at the smallest sign that I might be a burden so I back right off. Then I become guilt ridden. People don’t pursue though; the wonder of our modern age: technology provides an avenue for connection but we are ultimately infinitely more disconnected. Maybe I needed to follow this path though, to be where I am today.

I have started costing another cycle. I have started planning my dietary and supplement regime.

Last week a friend gave me a piece of jewellery. It says that I need to listen to and I need to trust my inner voice. Uncanny timing. I had asked for a sign. I received it. Part of me wishes that this journey was over for me. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, it seems I have a little more travelling to do.

And I sigh.

When will I know it is time to stop?

Writing for Competition

I love writing. I think I have established that. However, I do not make enough time to write in the rigmarole of chaos that is my life. A few weekends ago I was trawling writing competitions and I decided to craft a poem. Thirty minutes inclusive of editing. Not a bad piece.



There you are –



Smiling, I hope.

Blue expanse enfolds you

if I dare to squint my eyes against the sun.

A halo

emanates broadly;

curls rustling bravely.



Legs entwine

as sheets beckon for the floor

whilst draping

those parts

that gyrate and move:

faces moaning with

eyes closed

as fists reach across your back.

We come.



Tongues slash

the heart, what was.

Fists curl

and uncurl as torrents change.

The beast unleashed,

needing this destruction

prior to the dawn.

Slammed doors, screeching tyres, scuttling gravel.

Head held in hands as he waits for that soft returning click.



Vanquished pain forgotten,

drowned by the reality of you.

Quivering lips as I reach

to gently rest them on your

unclean, tiny forehead.


as I hold your warmth

and your glazed eyes search mine.

I cry.



There you are –

Both of you.

His hand in yours

as you search the seas.

Undulating waves; our lives.

Changing currents

as we move forward


just three.


My Writing Room

Thanks for stopping by and welcome to my new blog! This is just an introductory post so I’ll keep it short and sweet.

I decided to start a blog because I have finished my Master of Arts in Writing and as a result I stopped writing regularly. It is when I write that I feel most myself. I have missed that feeling and that state of being.

Over the next few months I plan to be writing and sharing posts about the things that are important to me: education, happiness, writing, music, my life. I will post some of my writing as I write and will relish any constructive feedback.

That’s it for now! If you’d like to be kept updated with my posts “Like” this post or subscribe to my blog.