Battling On

Well, not really battling. I think it’s important to follow up Sunday’s post.

IVF really changed parts of me for a long time, as it is wont to do. I do not regret the journey and I am ultimately grateful for the outcome. Without all of that, I wouldn’t be here. And, here is pretty darn good.

Shedding the emotion on Sunday has empowered and enabled huge steps forwards. I have deleted unnecessary pages I was adminning on Facebook and found an admin for one of my groups that has over three and a half thousand members.

One of my inner circle is continually reminding me that I need to send clear messages to the universe regarding the life I want. Deleting pages and removing myself as admin is sending that energy out there as well as creating space for new things.

I think this is important. It is not enough to just want change. We acting very need to create the space for new things in our often cluttered lives and then we need to actively pursue the new things. Clear messages; clear direction; clear action.

I am also revamping my healing page and my writing page. I have created new promotional material for Akashi Healing. I feel empowered. Inspired. Happy. Peaceful.

Lessons from India 

I have been home for just over a week. Every day, it becomes more apparent to me that something deep inside of me has shifted. In some ways, I almost feel like I have recaptured the enthusiasm/idealism/passion of my younger years. In my twenties I possessed a fighting and partying spirit. I had formed a community of like minds around me, and I felt purposeful. 

I have also lost my patience for shit. In all of its forms. My soul is crying out for difference and I need to nurture this. 

The most significant place this is appearing is at work. And I knew I would struggle with school after being in India.

I have always believed that education solves problems. It saved my life by providing me with opportunities to escape and break a cycle of dysfunction (even though some may argue I am still dysfunctional lol). I see similar attitudes outside of the privileged west. And, so, it kills me when I see education and opportunity taken for granted. Ask my kids, they’ll tell you I’m not lying. 

And, all hell broke loose yesterday when I stood on chewing gum that transferred itself to my dress, my beautiful dress. I screamed the block down, somewhat humorously, but the frustration was real. How selfish must one be to spit gum on the ground when there are bins everywhere! 

I’ve lost my ability to put on a mask or play ‘the’ game. 

I’m playing my own. This is who I am. The real me. A crusader for ‘right’. 

It’s been 39 weeks since I found out I was under investigation. For the most part these days, I am okay. However, it doesn’t take much to trigger a relapse of sorts. In fact, now that I am consciously reflecting, it’s been a massive week, beyond just going back to work, jet lag and illness. Significant shifts. The reinforcement of lessons. 

On Wednesday, I was concerned for the welfare of one of my students, and as a result I referred her, correctly, to the Learning Support Team (Year Advisot and Counsellor too), and I informed the parents of my concern, so that they could keep an eye on her at home. I documented all of this. Our LST Co-ordinator jumped on it straight away. She and I had a conversation to clarify what could and could not happen immediately. Perfect. 

However, last period of the day and I am on class, knock on the door and I am asked to have a word outside. The person asks me to speak to them privately before I leave for the day. My body reacts like it did 38 weeks and 6 days before when a different person had a very similar conversation with me, and I walked back into my classroom, filled with anxiety and dread. I had only been back at work for three days, who could I have possibly offended in such a short time! Like, WTF! 

And, so I went to speak to the person. The parents had contacted the school and this person was blind sided. It isn’t our process to notify the person I failed to notify. And I had a small window to operate in because I was teaching four periods and Head Teacher on duty the rest of the day – I only had ninety minutes off. That was when I referred the student. I apologised profusely, and genuinely; I do not like causing other people pain. 

But, upon reflection, I became indignant. I did my job. I followed process. I shouldn’t have been spoken to. It’s ridiculous. And, ego driven. This is not my future. 

The child was happier on Thursday. And I have lost considerable respect for a lot of things. I cannot tolerate a lack of humility and integrity. We need to know ourselves as adults, and function accordingly. I can’t abide people in positions of power who do not know themselves. Effective leadership never extends from ego. 

This isn’t rocket science. 

Yep, still angry. Lol. 

And then yesterday, another student needed support. Followed the process. More ego unleashed. And I wonder why education is so troubled at the moment. Again, though, child will receive support. So ultimately, two wins this week. Yes, I am needed in education. But, it isn’t what I need any longer. 

I am valuable. I am beautiful. I am deserving. I am of the divine. I am worth something, everything. 

These are my lessons from India. Thank you to my soul sisters and Richard for empowering me to integrate these lessons. These are the lessons for all of us. If we aren’t being respected, valued, adored, then we need to move to an environment where we are. We all deserve abundance and prosperity and soul bliss (thank you Alana and Lakshmi).

Simple. Trust it. 

PS. I am writing letters tomorrow. My fight continues. I never want someone else to have to endure what I have endured this year. It is criminal. 

But today, well, today is my day. Gardening, decluttering, feeding my soul. Being in my bliss. Being home. In my head, my heart, my soul, my location. Yep, today is my day. 

Oh, and I have decided my next tattoo. Lakshmi. 

Success in the Classroom

I have just started my twenty third year in the classroom. I am always looking for ways to keep my lessons fresh and vital for my kids. I think I was born to teach; most of what I do is intuitive. I watch my kids’ faces and if they aren’t getting it I stop and try another way.

I have been responsible for many practicum students over the years and in recent times have become perplexed with one university’s advice to their future teachers regarding behaviour management. It was only after observing a few practicum teachers in one block at our school that I realised there was a pattern. And so I asked …

The students had been instructed by their university mentors to manage the students in pockets by walking around and delivering individual instructions to pockets of kids – WTF!

Behaviour management is really quite simple in theory; it starts to work when we work and are consistent. And if you persevere at the beginning, you never really struggle like we all do in the early years again.

Successful management of a classroom hinges on:

1. Clear boundaries
2. Consistently enforced boundaries
3. Strong and appropriate relationships with the kids and,
4. Engaging lessons.

This doesn’t all come at once. No beginning teacher can follow this and magically the kids are working, responding and achieving. You plant the seeds and they grow as you grow.

My rules at the beginning of each year have become less and less each year. I now simply explain to the kids that my classroom works on respect: I respect them, they respect me and we all respect our learning, and everything will be great.

I promise them they have a teacher that loves them and wants them to know more at the end of our time together than they do at the beginning, and if they do as I ask, I guarantee them success.

But when I started teaching, I was very very specific. And I asked the kids to write Behaviour Rules as well as Book Rules. I don’t need to do that anymore because my reputation precedes me; the kids have an expectation of how they should behave before they enter my classroom. They already know they will receive consequences if they don’t follow the school rules. I am the pack leader and this inspires confidence that they will be safe in my space. And they are. But this didn’t happen overnight.

This comes from years of hard work consistently enforcing those rules; many many lunch times spent on detentions with the kids talking to them about the whys and the hows, and inadvertently developing strong relationships with each of them, because I cared to talk to them, listen to them, and spend time with them. Kids respond to this. By spending the time with them I let them know that they were valuable to me as people first, students second. Their learning and the struggles that compromised this were important to me. They believed I loved them and that their success drives me forward.

And once I had control of my classroom, the lessons I had prepared could engage the kids. By knowing my students and understanding how my kids learn, through practice not theory, I could devise units that were relevant and pushed their understanding of our world. And then they learned.

My greatest achievements as a person occur through my work. That moment when the light bulb switches on in a student’s mind, and they look at you and say, “I get it! I understand!” is amazing. There is nothing like it and I am blessed with that occurrence every day.

Because my foundation is strong.
Because the focus in my classroom is learning and not behaviour.
Because I spent years developing relationships through enforcing boundaries and reiterating expectations.
Because I strengthened my craft.
Because I never gave up, even though I threatened it and cried heaps.

I struggle in this era of teaching. I see young teachers who show potential that are encouraged to take on extra roles and duties before they have had time to perfect their craft. I believe that it is only once you have perfected your craft (and this occurs at different times for different people) that you can afford for your classroom practice to be ‘compromised’ by other roles.

And I believe that you can only lead once you have experience. Obviously, people develop at different rates and different life experiences impact on a person’s readiness to lead so there are no fixed times attached to this.

But that experience leads to knowing thyself which leads to being able to support and lead others.

In contemporary teaching I see people take on leadership roles before they are ready and the foundation of a school becomes compromised. Leading people effectively, whether they be kids or adults, requires sacrifice and time. It requires knowledge, conviction and time. Overloading people before they are ready is not in anyone’s best interests. But it continues to happen.

To the detriment of education and learning. And ultimately, to the detriment of our individual and collective futures.

Maturing :-/

A few years ago, probably six years now, I managed to read Ekhart Tolle’s very dense text on the importance of living in the present moment and dismissing the claims of ego. It was a difficult read and so I would wake up every morning, sit on the balcony of a holiday flat in Queensland (I know – wtf), and read until my friends woke. I would spend the rest of the day thinking about and processing what I had read. I think most of the good advice I have gleaned during my 43 years of existence has emerged from books. No wonder I write to process.

I have experienced a monumental year of professional growth. I have really blossomed in my practice in the classroom, embracing new ideas and strategies, and loving being in my classroom as a result. I have blossomed as a leader in my school. I love the staff I work with closely, in my faculty that I lead, my faculty I teach in, my Literacy Committee, and my network of friends. Most of my school are really good people. And the kids, well it is no secret, I adore them. They are my lifeblood in teaching. Tomorrow I will have finished my 22nd year of public education teaching, and I am so proud.

This last year has been my best. I feel like I have arrived. Finally. Part of that has been my maturing attitude towards conflict and resolving conflict. This will all fit together shortly (I am hoping). I try not to engage with the other person’s emotions but really try to hear what they are feeling and trying to express. I’m not perfect but this strategy has succeeded more than it has failed. And you see a different perspective of contexts as a result. I had several tests today. And after hours of mulling them over, all in the present moment (what a long moment!), I feel the need to be sitting here typing when I should be heading for sleep.

So the tests, hmmm. The one that has impacted me the most has hurt my ego. The ego I try to not engage in these situations. And I am faced with a dilemma. Is it ego to speak to someone who has disrespected you?

I am scared to face them and talk to them about it, and over the last few hours of running different scripts through, the scripts have become significantly more gentle and, I think, less ego-centred. I have moved through blatant anger, “How could they do this to me?!” to “I will make them regret saying it by telling them how wonderful I am” (that’s always a winner – rolling my eyes at myself) to now, “I just want to talk to you about something that happened yesterday and was reported to me by other staff members. I have been told that during my presentation to staff you were seen rolling your eyes to someone else in the room. Is there something in my practice that I need to change?”

I am most comfortable with this. And I am comfortable in just approaching the more senior of the two people. I know I will be bitched about as a result, but my hope is that next time someone is presenting, they may be more sensitive to the audience who may or may not see their behaviours.

No I didn’t see it. But I do believe it happened.

Once upon a time hearing it would have reduced me to tears and raised so many doubts about myself it wouldn’t be funny. But their dislike of me is their issue. They do not know me; they only ever see the portrait of me, my public self. And I am not convinced that I even always like that me. So sitting back and seeing myself through their eyes, I can understand how my ¬†passion for Reading to Learn can be misconstrued as arrogance or false hype. They don’t know how excited I get sometimes to just be alive, or at trees, or at moments of honest love. So to them, my excitement for a Literacy and Numeracy program could be misconstrued or misunderstood.

I am also not sure that they are blessed to feel about teaching and our students as passionately as I do. They haven’t been there quite as long or been engaged the same way I have. That’s not to say that my commitment and passion comes from longevity, it doesn’t. There are many teachers in their first year at our school that do feel my passion and enthusiasm in exactly the same way that I do. So really, as I process this, I am starting to feel for them. In my inbox and on my desk have been so many gestures of love and respect, and so I choose to hear those voices.

Unfortunately I can’t drown out the negative completely, but tomorrow I choose to empower myself by confronting with compassion, extending the proverbial olive branch to a supervisor who really should know better.

Much love to you all …