Tuesday 22nd May 2018

School Holiday Memories. #LifeThisWeek 17/52. 2018.35.

School Holiday Memories. #LifeThisWeek 17/52. 2018.35.

As a teacher from 1970 onwards I remember many school holidays because they:

  • meant a break from the regular work of teaching
  • were often a holiday to my parents’ in Sydney or elsewhere when we lived in the ‘bush.’ See here for more!
  • provided some ‘breathing space’ to read books again, go to the shops for more than the necessary items
  • having time with our children to do family activities such as going to the city for the day or to a local shopping centre for ice-skating.

As a teacher and assistant principal back in the day I should have been able to remember when New South Wales Schools moved from 3 school holidays at the end of 3 school terms, but I cannot.

Maybe one of my younger and more clever readers will recall!

The Difference Made by Moving to 4 Terms and 4 School Holidays.

  • less teacher and student fatigue. In 3 terms a year, sometimes the terms were between 13 and 15 weeks long. Yes. They. Were.
  • greater flexibility for families to take vacations in other states of Australia as the holiday periods are/were different.
  • even though the number of days in which public schools must be open did not change significantly – around 201 per annum –  it seems easier with the 4 term year.
  • instead of a long post Summer holidays term one, ending in May (Autumn) term one would be finished generally by April.
  • then, instead of a long Autumn into Winter 2nd Term, ending in late August, a winter 2 week break with the 4 term year was welcomed.
  • of course, each term is a challenge within itself but a school holiday break every 10-11 weeks helps people – children AND staff. Parents of course, may argue, not because of child care out of school  but that is different argument not for this post.

This building will ALWAYS be the Dept of Education. However, it is now being converted to a hotel. The Dept of Ed is moving to Parramatta.

My School Holiday Memories as a Kid.

I started school in 1954 and left school in 1967.

  • sometimes school holidays, particularly the August/September ones, meant a vacation with my parents and brother. We travelled by car to the North Coast of NSW for a couple of them. In a Holden FJ. Took a few days! I remember the beaches of Yamba and Coolangatta.
  • other times, we were left to our own devices. Back then we might explore the neighbourhood. I wrote about that here too.
  • as I got to teenage years it was MUCH cooler to be hanging out with friends and this meant catching the bus to Manly and going to the beach. Sometimes I would catch the ferry to the city to see a movie or visit Dad’s office…because I also had a school holiday job there too.
  • and by age 17 I was working in a jewellery shop at the end of The Corso (beach end) in Manly for my school (and teachers’ college hols).

A last swim at Manly some years back. Far West Home in the background along with the familiar Norfolk Pines.

My School Holiday Memories as a Teacher, Principal & Parent & Uni Student.

The reasons I have almost all good memories of school holidays are these:

  • it was always great to finish work days, even though it meant bringing work home to do in the school holidays.
  • at times too, there would be days to go into school (no kids there!) and get some classroom prep done or office work too. This was before on-line anything!
  • I liked the idea (theory) of being uncontactable as a principal but it was not to be, as Dept of Education staff were NOT on school holidays so they might ring re staffing matters, the school being broken into (again) and so on. 24/7 role, really!
  • that I was on holidays at the same time as my children meant I could organise appointments at the dentist (fun, not!), and for clothing purchases along with some days out to ice-skating at Macquarie Centre ( I got coffee, they skated!) and to have friends over for catch-ups.
  • as a family we would use part of the January holidays to go away – usually to a beachside location – for a week’s holiday. It was how we became interested in the place we now call home, The Central Coast
  • as a part-time Uni Student (for 7 years) and raising a family AND holding a school executive role, some school holidays which did not match Uni breaks were a time for essay writing and in two instances, attendance at Residential School for my B.Ed and my M.Ed.

Taken recently at The Entrance NSW. We stayed for 6 January holiday breaks in the 1990s in the white unit block with balconies overlooking the pool.

As a fully retired educator, parent and grandparent, I see that school holidays hold opportunties for families if they can take them up. To re-connect. To go away. To have a variation of routine. These school holidays we have had two visits from our families who live in Sydney. I know people who do not work with child-friendly days off etc it can be a challenge in school holiday times. Some schools have Vacation Care and of course family can help out.

I would hate to think of any change to school holidays as I believe the adults AND the children all benefit for the breaks.

What about you?

What school holiday memories do you have?

Denyse.

I hope you link up a post, old or new, on or off prompt for #LifeThisWeek 17/52.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 18/52. Taking Stock 2. 30/4/18


 

 

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My Moving House Stories. Pt.1. 2018.34.

My Moving House Stories. Pt.1. 2018.34.

Maybe I have some ‘moving house stories’ to share because I am 68!

Let’s go. Oh. At the beginning, of course!

All of my houses have been in New South Wales, Australia.

I was born in Wollongong, south of Sydney and lived there until the end of 1959.

This pic taken by me a few years back. Mum and Dad built this house aided by family and friends. I was brought home from hospital to this house in 1949 and my brother nearly 3 years later. I remember every room of that house!

House Move #1: Wollongong to Balgowlah Heights in Sydney (near Manly on the Sydney map). I wrote about that last week here.

Built as a one-off by the owner builders who sold it to Mum and Dad, this house is split level. Living areas as you go in, and you downstairs to bedrooms and more living space and out to…the pool Dad put in for him and the grandkids!!

As a 10 year old what I remember most about the move was the excitement of a house with stairs, starting a new school at the end of the year and how close we lived to the Harbour. It was a great place to live aged 10 to 20 and I will always be grateful for that.

House Move #2: Adult life and graduating as a teacher at 20 meant a move from home. From Sydney to Barraba. Barraba is north of Tamworth on the map. The best part was starting my career as a teacher and having my first class, being in a very social group of staff in a share house AND meeting my husband-t0-be at the end of that year. I also was totally not great at house-sharing. I was wanting to be ‘out and about’.

Share house: with 3 other teachers from Barraba Central. My bedroom at the front (awnings) was a shared one. The school is over the road so it was not far to walk!

House Move #3: Married Life begins as a 21 year old! In a house on a property outside Narrabri and within driving distance of my school and my husband’s. Also pregnant and in my 2nd year of teaching, I was glad to be married to a man who had already set up a home so at least one of us knew what we were doing! It was a lonely time once I had our daughter. My home-making skills became cooking…and eating…and then, after two more years  my husband got a new school, I did too. Our daughter was still a toddler. So another move was happening! I was 23.

Last year my husband took a trip back to where we both taught and lived. Here’s a rundown of Maules Creek:

Maules Creek

Maules Creek is a hamlet burrowed in the picturesque foothills of Mt Kaputar National Park. It is accessed from Narrabri by taking Old Gunnedah Road, crossing the Harparary Bridge and then turning onto the Maules Creek Road to head for “the hills”. The rugged and enchanting landscape hides a deep rich black soil, perfectly suited to farming. As a result, the region harbours some of the country’s leading cattle studs.
Water flows from the mountains, trickling through Melaleuca-lined creeks to arrive crystal clear. Many beautiful locations along the river provide captivating hideaways for picnics or quiet time in the presence of nature. The size and grandeur of the Nandewar Ranges viewed from the Maules Creek area is spectacular.
To the South of Maules Creek is Leard Forest, which predominantly features pine, iron bark and gum trees. Parts of the forest are being mined for high quality coal deposits.
Whitehaven Coal started building its open cut coal mine in the Leard Forest in January 2014. Whitehaven also runs the nearby Tarrawonga coal mine, and Idemitsu operates Boggabri Coal, also an open cut coal mine.

The playground of Fairfax PS where my hub taught from 1968-1969 ( a one teacher school) and then in 1972 & 1973 I taught there as it was a 2 teacher school. Our baby daughter was cared for in the house in the distance by my principal’s wife (her godmother).

Driving from Narrabri to Maules Creek, last year, my husband came to the sign leading to the property we once called ‘home’ Violet Downs. All given to crops now.

 

House Move #4: The Department of Education paid for our move and it was in the Christmas holidays. We were hanging out in the cool of my parents’ house for most of the school hols but eventually had to drive to the new school residence and school at Merriwagga (Black Stump territory) ..in the heat of Western NSW. Mum came along to help with our young daughter. Mum was a great help but we were soooo hot. Dad tried to send a cooler unit by train from Sydney but there were  none. We ‘did’ survive and Mum was glad to get back to the coast. This home was a very comfy one and we entertained a lot. We even put an above-ground pool in. I taught at Hillston and travelled each day with our daughter in the back, going to the deputy principal’s house where his wife cared for her like she was hers! We stayed there for 3 years. I was 26 when we moved on. Read about Merriwagga and its history here. 

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=images+merriwagga+school&source=lnms&tbm=isch

The school buildings are now a caravan park. We lived in the residence (not shown) alongside.

House Move #5: My husband’s teaching career was blooming, and my ability to have a second child was not. That was when we got the chance to go to one of most isolated schools in NSW as a teaching couple. He would be acting Principal and I would be his teaching staff, along with some teacher aides from the local Aboriginal community. It was again a move that the Department paid for but we still had to pack and be ready for the BIG truck making the trek of 2 days from the Riverina of NSW to almost the Queensland border, Weilmoringle. The house was elevated like a Queenslander and had some air-conditioners to fight the sometimes 50deg heat outside. I learned about how to cater lunch for visiting Specialists like the late Dr Fred Hollows, as well as how to teach co-operatively with my husband!! Living there was pioneer stuff and as we arrived in late January 1976, with a laden station wagon with us and supplies…so did the flood and we were ‘stuck’ for 10 weeks.

https://www.google.com.au/search?biw=1542&bih=868&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=yPPSWvjgKYGR0QSBn4vwDQ

The school building has not changed much. Upstairs: classrooms and office. Downstairs: library, craft spaces. Building in background is a cottage used for visitors to the school and where I taught some cooking lessons. The school residence, not shown, is no longer occupied as our now adult daughter found when she did a trip down memory lane some years ago. Good to see the school is still operating!

This was a most challenging but awesome place to teach but not to live comfortably. Unfortunately this was when my husband’s physical ills became more evident. Clearly we needed to be closer to medical facilities, our daughter needed to go to school where her parents were not her teachers AND it was time for us to BUY a house in Sydney. That all happened by the time I was 28.

q=image+map+of+nsw&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_ybeUs7naAhXGlJQKHa3vAnAQ_AUICigB

Next time I will write about the house moves within Sydney…and of course, the house moves OUT of Sydney!

Just re-reading this I see I moved house 4 times from age 20 to age 28.

Have you moved house much?

What were those moves about?

Tell me more!

Denyse.

Gratefully linking here each week:

Tuesdays with Kylie Purtell for I Blog On Tuesdays here.

Wednesdays with Sue and Leanne for MidLife Share The Love here.

Thursdays with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky here.

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Telling My Story. Chapter 1. 2018.26.

Telling My Story. Chapter 1. 2018.26.

 

Photo of Me on my 67th Birthday 30.11.2016.

The day before I was diagnosed with upper gum cancer I published ‘the first’ of a fore-shadowed series of posts about Telling My Story.

The response to the post of 16 May 2017 was well-received and I am glad I made a start. Here it is. I have included, from that post of almost a year ago, the introduction:

Recently I decided to begin Telling My Story.

Initially it was school-career based in a memoir genre. Then I wanted to tell what had happened in my life once I’d reached 60 and what I had learned. Where I am at now it a mix of all of this! I am going to start here: the beginning of my life, and interspersed with my career will be aspects of my life and how I have grown and changed…over and over!

I hope you will find something of interest. I know essentially I am doing this for me as it helps. However, as a blogger, I would like to think it has enough appeal for you to enjoy too.

I admit it was a pretty full-on time from 17th May 2017 and my mind was in quite a few places where blogging took a lesser priority but I knew I wanted to keep on doing this story of my life. I am finally ready to dive deep and remember where I was and what I want to say next!

Fast Forward: 2015 I returned to my old H.S. and presented at my last ever teacher professional meeting. I was retired in full after this!

High School Years. 1962-1967.

I was part of the cohort of N.S.W. students to enter high school in 1962 and become ‘the guinea pigs’ for the introduction of the Wyndham Scheme where it was decided that breaking the high school years up into 2 sections was the best plan. The first was Forms (years) 1 to 4 with an external School Certificate examination and then Forms 5 & 6 with an external Higher School Certificate.

The previous system which had been around for decades had students doing an Intermediate Certificate at the end of 3rd Year (and could leave school for work or a trade) and those who wanted to train, for example, as teachers or go to University went to do the Leaving Certificate at the end of 5th Year.

I was in a public primary school at Balgowlah Heights on the Northern Beaches in Sydney and the ‘feeder’ High School for my area was Manly Girls High School. It was located quite a way from home & not in Manly but a bus took us from a street near home to school and then the same in the afternoon. Manly Girls High was only pretty new too. So, when we arrived, there were students doing the five years and us, the newbies. There were at least 5 classes of 35+ students in this cohort of mine and I was placed in 1A. . This was, apparently, based on ability from primary school testing. In 2nd Form 2A meant I was studying the compulsory English, Maths, Science & History  along with my chosen subjects of French and German. We also had P.E., music lessons too. I admit I was not a swot but enjoyed the social aspect of school. I have written about that before here!

In the photo we are in Winter uniform (tunic, long sleeved shirts, tie, blazer). I am 3rd row, 2nd from left.

The school uniforms were traditional even though we were essentially a new school. The  main colour was brown, with green too. Who picks that, I ask? There were summer and winter uniforms and prefects checked length of uniforms (visually) as we walked into school and also…if our socks were turned down correctly. If we were seen in public (for example, my bus went through Manly and if I needed to go to the dentist or elsewhere, I would get off the bus there) and we had to ensure we had hat and gloves on. Even in Summer. I am not making this up.

 

First Day of High School. Gloves must be in my pocket! Summer Uniform was beige. Hats were made of straw…and flung around on the bus ( oh, not for a while!)

Our headmistress (no principal title for her!) was very English private school in her policies and we even sang British anthems at Assemblies: Jerusalem being one. (mind you I actually still like it!). To officially open the school we had the daughter of the Governor General of Australia do the honours. As in all things with government the official opening came way after the actual opening – I was in my 3rd year of H.S. but then – but we all got our photo taken to mark the occasion.

 

 

With our group being the first  to have two senior years we got the chance to have (and help design) a senior uniform. By now, the old headmistress had been replaced by a more reasonable head…but a deputy head who was dragon-like in her insistence on petty rules also arrived. Sigh. We also had the choices in subjects and could take 6 subjects in Form 5 and then drop one if we wished into the Higher School Certificate Year. I immediately dropped Science! No good at science ever. So my subjects ended up as compulsory: English and Maths, Modern History, French and German.

 

On Being The First Group To Complete Six Years at High School.

Last year it was the 50th anniversary of the first students to complete the 6 years of high school with the Higher School Certificate examination at its end. In the many years since we did it in 1967 there have been changes, such as making English the only mandatory subject and allowing many more ‘mini but specialised’ subjects into the list. The purpose as was foreshadowed by the Wyndham School of the additional year at school was to add maturity and experience in completing more complex subjects to enable most of those sitting the H.S.C. to go to University or, as in my case, Teachers’ College as they were known then.

The formal end of compulsory schooling was via the external examination called the School Certificate. It was rigorous and we sat for it in a similar way to the H.S.C. After this examination was passed (or not) students could decide to:

  • by passing, they could continue their education into the last 2 years of school at senior level
  • by passing, they could choose to leave and enter into the workforce or get a traineeship or apprenticeship and many did
  • by failing (awful word) repeat the year OR if they were 15 and over, could leave school without the qualification and enter the workforce.

There was nothing like the services of centrelink or similar. In fact, it was true that most people did get work or trained for a career. Some professions like nursing took entrants in with a School Certificate (or the H.S.C.) and they did hospital-based training as well as work in the hospitals. They were paid as they did so. They often lived-in and would have to pay board etc.

For those wanting to attend University in the time of my school leaving, there were paid Commonwealth Scholarships for University for those who wanted to do a degree (say B.A. or B.Sc) and then a Dip. Ed. to become a High School Teacher. These scholarships, earned via the quality of the final examination results,  indentured the student to work in a particular place/area of Australia for an agreed time. For me, as a new-to-be teacher in a N.S.W. Public School I secured a teachers’ scholarship which paid me an allowance to study and as I was living at home I did not need board and food allowances as my husband did when he went to teachers’ college away from home. We were both ‘bonded’ to the N.S.W. Department of Education for the first 3 years of our teaching and could be sent anywhere in N.S.W. or forfeit the bond and not have work from this employer. Neither of us did that..and if we had, we never would have met! That’s a whole chapter in the future!

This is actually still a provision of accepting a role of permanence in N.S.W. Department of Education : whilst in our employ you can and may be instructed to teach anywhere in N.S.W. When I was teaching Masters of Teaching students in 2013 and 2014 I told them of this and many were in disbelief. Unfortunately there is much less of the pioneer spirit had by those of us who graduated in the 1950s and 1960s which is a shame as there is so much to learn by moving away from your home and comfort zone.

The Social Aspects of My Teens 1962-1967. This will be the next chapter!!

What was high school like for you?

What kind of uniform did you have?

Did you go to High School to learn or to play?

I will be looking forward to reading your responses!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell here on Tuesdays for her link up called I Blog On Tuesdays.

On Wednesdays I link here with Sue and Leanne for Midlife Share the Love link up.

And of course, never least…but the last link up of the week is with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life.

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Starting School Stories. #LifeThisWeek 6/52. 2018.12.

Starting School Stories. #LifeThisWeek 6/52. 2018.12.

For this week’s prompt I am having a trip down a long, winding memory lane of kids (and teachers!) starting school from this retired teacher, deputy principal, principal, mother and grandmother! There are more than a few stories let me tell you but I shall add the few.

For those readers who have just had a child start school, daycare or pre-school this is my annual letter for you…to send to the teacher.

Me as the School Starter.

Back in 1954 I started school after the September holidays. I was 4 years and 9 months. Yes, there were 3 terms for a long, long time in NSW schools. We lived in the same street as the school so I certainly knew where it was. Mum took me on Day 1 and I looked around me at the kids that were crying. “Why” I thought. Anyway, once we got into the classroom I was in love. Up the back was a white full-size rocking horse. I so wanted a ride. I do not remember if I got one, but I do remember liking school a lot and this was fun.

Off to Gwynneville PS. Our Tunic was Brown (I think!)

Our Daughter as a School Starter.

When your parents are both teachers and they are appointed to a very isolated school in NSW with Dad as the (teaching) principal and Mum as the teacher and it’s time to go to school this is what you do. There is no uniform, so you dress in your fave outfit, add a cool bag because you LOVE Abba…and off you trot across the space between home and school called The Playground. You know this place so well but right now there are around 20 different kids you haven’t yet met but eventually you join in their games, called your parents “Sir” like the other kids do and thrive on the independent learning in a small school.

Born in August and turning 5 that year, MIss K was able to start ‘school’ in February as we had a pre-school class too.

The school is on the right of this pic. The tractor is picking up kids from the local Aboriginal community to bring them to school in Term 1 1976 when we had major floods.

Our Son as a School Starter.

In complete contrast to his sister’s enrolment at her parents’ school, he was enrolled to start at the local (now we were in Sydney) large primary school. Having already been to the orientations and pre-school the previous year he was used to the ‘leaving his parents thing’. On the day he began, I was at my school where I was an Assistant Principal but wanted to be part of his start, so I returned to his (soon-to-be) school, met his Dad holding his hand, and down to the classroom we went. Without a backward glance, his nametag already on after Orientation the year before, he entered the classroom, the teacher said “goodbye” to us. That was it. Anti-climactic but at least I was there.

Student Starts School With Entourage.

As the Deputy Principal in a large Western Sydney school it was my role to meet each new starter (not everyone came to Orientation the year before) and their parent(s) to ensure all the relevant details about the child were current and to ask if there were any questions, and welcome the child and family to the school. I allowed around 10 minutes per child and it usually went well.

On one memorable occasion more than the parents entered my office with the child. I saw siblings and I guessed grandparents giving this one small person an overwhelming sense of “woah”. I could see this and asked the family to please stop the photography of me and the filming of the child being enrolled. They did.

But it set a precedent for me as I certainly understood the reason to mark the occasion but with the stressors placed upon a young child beginning school it was enough. No more photos or filming as enrolment took place. Far more important for the child and family to feel welcomed and at ease with this NEW event.

 

Underage Child Found To Have Started School.

At the above-mentioned school before I became the Deputy Principal there had been some lapses in viewing and noting the various documents that needed sighting before a child can start school. There is a requirement that a child cannot start school in NSW Public Schools IF they have not turned 5 after 31 July.

So in the year of my appointment to the school here’s how we (the Kindergarten teachers and I) found we had an underage child at school. One little girl seemed, according to her observant K teacher not able to do some of the gross motor activities which included how to walk upstairs (the school was two-storey) and she had little language and seemed “young”. I made a phone call some weeks into the term to the contact number and her mum answered. I asked outright what the child’s birthday was and the age worked out to be that she was 3. She would not be 4 until later in the year. I explained kindly but firmly that she would have to come and get her child now and that she could start the next year. The mother said sheepishly when she came to pick her up “I hoped you wouldn’t notice her and I didn’t want to find more childcare where I have to pay”. Sad but true.

We had much tightened arrangements for enrolment from then and that little girl did come back the following year and started school successfully.

Today’s School Starters.

For the past few years, the Australian government requires all students to undergo an initial assessment upon enrolling at the school where they will enter… Kindergarten, Prep, Year One (we still have different names for the first year of formal schooling in Australia. Sigh).

In NSW Public Schools it is called Best Start. It is a snapshot on one day of the enrolling student’s capabilities/readiness/knowledge/skills PRIOR to starting formal education. This is a good thing! The students’ baseline is a measurement that is used by the schools and the parents in terms of ‘where is my child at’ and lends itself to support if required or extension or that the child’s progress will grow accordingly in the first year of school.

When ‘Best Start’ happens is up to each school but more and more a child is given a Best Start Assessment in the week before he or she starts school. In fact I have seen this occur for three of my younger grandchildren. Best Start is done with a K teacher (usually) and parents may or may not observe but probably will wait elsewhere for the 40 minutes or so for the assessment. Then the child starts school on a date and at a specific time within the next week. This little one was pleased as punch to have her new school shoes when she came to see us. I sure hope she enjoys wearing them for 5 days a week from Monday 5 February.

 

Handwriting help.

An added bonus to this post. This is an example of the first handwriting children will see and copy in NSW schools. It is NSW Foundation Style. This is the early years’ printing. I used to do this handout when speaking to parents’ groups at pre-schools so they could ‘practise’ themselves. Children learn that capital letters are for names and so on. That is why all capitals is discouraged in early writing.

I wrote this 3 years ago and the message still stands!

What Do You Remember About Starting School?

Denyse.

Joining here with Alicia for Open Slather.

Do link up for Life This Week, I always comment and so do many of the bloggers who join in! We are a very friendly community!

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week is the optional prompt’: 7/52.  “Who’s a Worrier? 12/2/18.


 

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Art Kits, Materials & More. Part One. 2018.6.

Art Kits, Materials & More. Part One. 2018.6.

Introduction.

In 2013 I was looking for something to give me some level of contentment. It was a pretty stressful time in my life and it was a shout-out from Deb Dane who blogs here that changed my life for the better.

That IS a big call, I know!

A R T was it. But back then I was both curious and shy. I had ALWAYS enjoyed creating colourful and crafty classrooms for kids, and then as grandchildren came along I joined the scrapbooking phenomenon of the 1990s and beyond. I also did a college class on sketching when I first retired.

But A R T for ‘arts-sake’ was surely for more talented people than I am. 

Finding My Place as an Artist.

Oh seriously it took some time to apply this term to me but as one of my art gurus said ‘what are the rules for this?’. Rule-maker and keeper me realised I was the one limiting myself. Deb suggested I join the group on Facebook called DaisyYellow and take part in their Index-Card-A-Day challenge from June to July every year. In 2013 I joined, became a devotee, even signing on as a moderator in 2015 and 2016. In 2017 I did the challenge until it was time for my cancer surgery in early July.

This post explains more about it. I thank Tammy Garcia, the founder, for much of her encouragement of my art. Some examples here of my interpretation of the daily prompts in 2016. These are all created on (old speak) 6inch x 4 inch index cards.

What’s An Art Kit?

I credit learning more about art from being a member of this on-line group as above. It’s a free website and there are minimal costs for certain activities. However, as in all things in life, it was time for me to decide what I wanted in an art kit and what would be its purpose.

You know when you are caught waiting in a room for an appointment or sitting in the car waiting for someone and whilst you could look at your phone or read an old magazine there is this idea! An Art Kit.

I always had small one in my bag when we lived in Sydney and then somehow when we moved and I was mainly being at home, I got out of the habit of keeping one. It was when I had to go to hospital last July I thought I needed to take some art materials for when I was recovering AND cognisant. I was right! In 2017 I was obsessed with mandalas! I was designing and drawing them, making patterns to colour later. They were (and still are) a very MINDFUL activity for me. I made a large version of an art kit with my A4 book with pre-drawn circles and some lines on many pages, added in some Unipin pens, some colouring pens and I was set. I did not watch TV at night in hospital, I drew mandalas and they helped in my mood and physical recovery as I relaxed!

Now I am getting dress with purpose every day, one thing I do is go out for a solo coffee. I have been doing that for more than 2 months now and I am loving it. I get to people watch, sip a favourite coffee, sometimes try to eat something nice, and play with ART. Here I am last Friday at a local cafe. By the way, it took me about two goes not to feel self-conscious so now it’s second nature!

Next post I will add more details about:

  • materials I use that might be expensive initially but ‘pay for themselves’ in terms of lasting and quality
  • some ways in which art has helped my emotional health improve
  • how all of us can make art in a way that is meaningful to us and how to shut up the critic’s voice
  • ideas for colouring-in those lovely patterns and pictures in books and freebies on-line
  • and anything you might choose to ask me questions about in the comments!!

I hope this has been helpful.

I wrote this post as a response to Vanessa Smith’s comment recently and she blogs here. Another blogging friend, also named Vanessa and blogs here  is now colouring mindfully and this post may be of interest but the next one will be more so I think.

Happy Art-ing everyone!

Denyse.

 

Joining Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays and on Thursdays I join in the Lovin’ Life Linky with Leanne here.

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My Last Year of High School. #LifeThisWeek.44/52. 2017.123.

My Last Year of High School. #LifeThisWeek.44/52. 2017.123.

Regular readers know I decided to become a K-6 school teacher way back in Year 5!

But what no-one really knows till this post is how that may not have even happened!

Oh!

I graduated from primary school and went to the recently opened Manly Girls High School in 1962. I was part of the cohort who would do the first School Certificate (end of Year 10) and Higher School Certificate (end of Year 12). This meant those who started in 1962 as I did would be at High School for 4 years minimum (for those who wanted to leave to train or do a course or had a job waiting) and 6 years if tertiary study at University or Teachers’ College was the plan.

Who actually knows in Year 7 what they want to do or be? Well, for me, I had a plan to teach in the back of my mind but I thought of a few other jobs but, let’s just set the scene for how much of a student I was.

Year 11. In the new senior uniform.

I started really well. I was put in the top Year 7 class and that continued for Year 8. I was studying: English (compulsory) Maths (compulsory) Science (compulsory) Modern History, French and German (all my electives) and we also had Music, Cooking and Sewing, Physical Education.

My life as a scholar is that I really am quite lazy  unmotivated more likely and much preferred the times at school and out of it to be talking to my friends about: boys, music, surfing, boys, dancing classes with boys, reading (a lot) and caring for little kids as a neighbourhood baby sitter.

I went down a grade for Years 9 and 10 and did not get maths or science much at all. Nothing has changed. Still. 50+years later. Sigh.

But I got through the School Certificate and then it was onto: the last 2 years of school! Where I was…down another grade to the classes which ended with C. But hey, I was having a good social life. Writing for the school magazine, being in school musicals with the local boys’ school and socialising at fellowship on Sunday nights (the place where you pretended to be part of the church but actually went to socialise afterwards). Legit I say. My second boyfriend came from fellowship whereas my first boyfriend was from dancing classes after school.

Typical report #1 for me.

Typical report for me #2

Into senior school. OK.

They did give us a new uniform and it was a bit different but like us, the teachers were winging it all a bit too. For my last two years of school I was able to drop science. Thank goodness. My subjects for Years 11 and 12 were English, Maths, Modern History, French and German. I did well in Modern History because the teacher was very engaging and I survived the Maths and English classes. French was OK and German was boring. But then again, it could have been the young teacher who was, now I think about it, only 3 years older than us. She actually sent me out of class for talking in Year 12. Imagine. Ha!

Musical in Year 11.

Around the early Year 12 time I realised, with great shock and surprise, that my life to now, pretending to study ( I was nagged but I got away with not studying by having a room on a different level to my parents), and getting a new boyfriend who was in his first year at Uni. was NOT going to get me into teachers college if I still wanted to be a teacher.

I DID.

The motivation of having a study competition between me and the bf helped as did the realisation that I actually had to do more than write notes to my friends and pretend I was studying at home. I also liked the social side of school and kept up some of my fun by helping organise the Year 12 formal and edit the school magazine. My friendship group of 3 were not interested in tertiary study and I had to move away from them at times just to ensure I was beginning to learn how to catch up and pass the Higher School Certificate.

The girlfriends. We went to each others’ weddings but lost contact after we went to the country teaching.

Once it was over, I got pretty good marks – even though they were not marks then they were levels like 1, 2 and 3. I got 2 Level 2s and 3 Level 3s. By January the next year I had matriculated and earned a Commonwealth scholarship to the new Macquarie University to do a BA Dip Ed. but I did not want to do that. Sadly when the first round of offers came for teachers’ college scholarships my name was not there. But, later I did score what I wanted. My scholarship to Balmain Teachers College to train as a K-2 Teacher (later K-6). I was one very relieved new teacher-t0-be!

Mrs Whelan. K-6 Principal.

I will let you into a secret. I know what kids get up to in class…and whilst I was not ‘bad’ bad…I could be over-talkative and bit naughty. It is said that those who are like this make good teachers…and look where I ended up. School Principal!

So, how was your last year(s) at High School?

When did you leave?

Did you have any idea what you wanted to do after school?

Tell me more in the comments.

Denyse.

Linking every Monday with Alicia here and Kell here.

Thank you for linking up today.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today! Next Week: Final Taking Stock in 2017.


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15 Years Ago & Now. 2017.104.

15 Years Ago & Now. 2017.104.

Fifteen Years Ago.

As I have written before, and is part of my bio, I was a K-6 School Principal in a N.S.W. Public School from 1999-2003. Before then I had been a relieving principal in two schools from 1994-1998. In 1999 I was appointed, by merit selection, to this school. The brief, once I was appointed, from my boss, the District Superintendent was “Denyse, I want you to bring this school into the 21st Century.” He was correct in that. It certainly was stuck back in probably an era two decades earlier. When I began in January 1999, replacing the former principal who died in the September school holidays earlier, I literally had to start the school’s organisation and planning from scratch. Why? Because the person I replaced trusted no-one and kept all leadership matters to himself,  and died with all the school passwords and information for getting things up and running. I took over a mess.

But I love a challenge and there were some good people who wanted to come along on this journey into the century we were on the cusp of entering. The school executive team was keen and wanted to learn more and  I could definitely help them with this and we formed a good group. Until the end of that first year. It really was a change that I could not stop and is part of what happens in school systems anyway but it made my job more challenging for sure. The school was unique in the area at that time with: mainstream classes, a special education unit of 3 classes, 2 O.C. (gifted and talented) classes and an Autism Satellite Class. Two of the people who were part of the executive team sought and got promotions elsewhere. Yes. I would encourage that of course. However, it left a hole for a bit which I was able to carry myself until I could get some new staff appointed.

Over the next 2 years however, this plan started to waiver. I had appointed a person to an executive role who was not up to the role. I take responsibility for that but it was a most unpleasant time as his continued absence from school due to ‘illness’ meant I had parents (and some teachers) calling for action. In the end, my district superintendent moved this person on and I could fill the role internally. I was relieved for a little while but then my best and most competent person in my team had to leave to have her first child. This was lovely for her and her husband and I wished her well. The remaining executive member who was my age decided to take Long Service Leave for the remainder of the year.

This meant I had NO fully qualified person holding an executive role in my very busy and varied school community.  But what did I do? I appointed people who were staff members who said they would like to learn more about the role and support the school  by taking on relieving roles for the remainder of 2002. This worked in some ways but I needed to take on more of their responsibilities myself or guide them step by step. It was as if I was doing multiple roles. I could sense how much I had taken on in June that year when I ended up writing a casual teacher’s class reports!

 

I did not know what this was doing to my mental health although I probably should have read the signs. I sought time out from the school to attend meetings and to meet with colleagues but at NO TIME did I actually tell my boss what it was like for me. In fact, I had said farewell to the District Superintendent who’d appointed me at his retirement and he was replaced by someone in an acting position. And, it still is the same now, a principal is meant to handle anything and everything that comes up. Well. Maybe in 2017 there might be greater awareness of principals’ mental health but not when I was becoming unwell. Even though I did not know it. I can look back now and see I was quick to anger and showed my displeasure when people did not comply because of their own incompetencies or my ‘view’ of how they should behave in the role. This led to….the following:

On a September evening in 2002 I received a telephone call at home from one of my relieving executive staff. She told me that there would be a delegation of staff coming to me the next day to make a complaint about my manner and behaviour. She said they had contacted our union and that person would be at the school. She also said that there was a rumour it was because of me that the school population was declining and that as that would mean at least one staff member would have to be transferred then I needed to step up. I could and did dispute this as the reason as schools’ populations change for a variety of reasons but instead I reacted personally.

This sure was a bolt out of the blue. But then again, I actually could see how my behaviour had changed and recognised that I was fast losing my grip on being a leader. Within moments of the conversation ending, and letting my husband know what had occurred I broke down. In tears and physical distress I knew I had to protect my health/self and I could NOT face such a meeting. I could not reach my boss and had to wait till the next day. I did not sleep and went to my G.P. as soon as I could that morning. It was very unlike me not to continue to be at work.

That day, 4th September 2002, she declared that I was suffering from anxiety and depression  due to work overload and that she would start the process of a work cover application.

I never went back to that school, that role or saw anyone other than my boss and the local district HR staff again. It was final and I NEVER  could have seen me, a competent and dedicated teacher, finishing my career JUST.LIKE.THAT.

Now.

So much time has passed and yet this time of 15 years ago remains very clear. It is imprinted upon my mind as ‘the time when I failed to do the job I was appointed for‘. Then again  as was  the culture of the time it meant I could not share how I was managing with anyone. Mental health management  in the workplace is hopefully becoming more recognised but there is still a huge stigma attached and shame as well. My shame is decreasing each time I tell my story. It did take courage for me to start to tell my story a few years ago because I did not want to admit my so-called ‘failings‘ as a school principal. I am the one who labelled these, no-0ne else.

The upshot of what happened to me impacts me still in some ways. I did have the claim for workcover met and was paid accordingly. However, as in all workcover matters many steps need to be followed as the recipient and these include ‘return to work’ plans. I simply could not do that. My GP was adamant that I NEVER return to that school nor to the role of principal. Interestingly when I was first on leave I could not even attend my grandchild’s school without a great deal of fear and anxiety.

I was treated by more than my GP. I had to attend meetings with my employer and work cover and to see a psychiatrist and psychologist but what they all wanted me to do I could not. I could not even drive on the road that would lead me to my old school. I was scared!

If I knew what I know now about myself I think I may have been prepared to expose myself to the experience of coming to work at the local district office instead of refusing (avoiding) because I felt such fear and shame. I also think with the knowledge I have now about my mental toughness and resilience that I could have stayed employed.

But no, as I found in early 2003, I HAD to resign my role and give up any rights so that I could, hopefully gain my superannuation lump sum. I was in a scheme which did not medically retire (sadly I had taken myself out of that scheme when we were first married) so the action was to leave under circumstances that were never envisaged by me. Then came an even tougher time when the Superannuation people interrogated me and tested me and declared I was fit and able to return to work. This was disputed by my medical team and it took the lawyers from my union (free for me) to gain my benefit.

For all of 2003 I took time out to explore my creative side, I volunteered at the Smith Family and I met with friends for coffee. I had many appointments to continue my self-styled rehabilitation after I declined to take part in any more of the WorkCover requirements. In early 2004 I needed more. I needed to be with people again and to teach!

There was much more that was good to happen to me from May 2004 onwards which I did for myself by returning to a teaching role in friend’s school and having no executive responsibilities. I was happily engaged in that work from 2004-2009 and had to be careful to not take on too much as I was only to work part-time. But I got my sense of being a teacher again.

So why tell this story?

The stories relating to stress, work overload and anxiety in the workplace need to be shared widely. I now know my personality  type and management style is that I need to be sure of things and want things to be done well and correctly. This was not happening in 2002 but I also held onto the notion that a principal deals with everything without telling the boss how it actually is. I have wondered how it may have worked if I had had the courage to tell someone. I did not even tell my husband.  I became unwell mentally and emotionally because I did not reach out to others and when I was finally diagnosed I was not to return to the workplace. I wonder now, if maybe things could have worked out better for me if I had the resilience I have today.

But we shall never know. I hope that by telling this story I could encourage others to speak up and share if the workload is too much. Tell someone. I know I should have.

Does anything here ring true for you or someone you know?

Denyse.

Joining in with Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Leanne here for her Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursdays.

 

 

 

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How I Learn Best. #LifeThisWeek 21/52. 2017.71.

How I Learn Best. #LifeThisWeek 21/52. 2017.71.

I am revisiting this post today here with Sammie  for her weekend linky The Ultimate Rabbit Hole on 17.6.2017.

There are some people who like to learn in particular ways and I have always found that fascinating. When I was teaching University students doing their Masters of Teaching I would ask them if they knew their preferred learning style. Some would not until I asked questions such as: “do you want to see everything written to absorb your learning?” (V)

“do you like to talk something through?” (A)

“are you someone who likes to move about, play with the pen and chew it as you are learning?” (K)

Now I understand these are very basic examples of: Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic learning styles. Recently there has been some debunking of the theory but as an experienced teacher and parent I still maintain it is important we know our learning styles and therefore get to know the styles of our  family members, class members, colleagues and so on. But why?

C O M M U N I C A T I O N      and   C O N N E C T I O N   with our fellow humans!

Often we use some of each of the 3 learning styles but there is usually a preference for one. My quiz results (from the link below) confirmed what has always been the case for me: I am V.K.A. Visual is waaaay ahead with a score here of 17, Kinaesthetric scored 10 and Auditory was….1. So, I need to see, read, note and often write as a learn. That way I am using my visual style, and adding in the writing I am using the need to move. I have so many notes that are illegible but by writing I have been using two styles to remember and learn. I am also a picture person. I see scenes, words and stories all the time in my head. Visual.

What I learned a long time ago is “not everyone learns or even thinks like I do” this was a shock but actually it showed my ignorance and I have never made that mistake since. I was in a meeting with my office secretary and staff and we were planning and I asked about imagining some scenario that would help our planning move forward. My secretary looked at me blankly and with some gentle probing I was astounded when she told me she had no idea about visualising anything and she was, apparently, a  kinaesthetic and auditory learner.

I never assumed anyone’s learning style from that day! I also know that I am visually oriented first by my love of photography, reading, creating art and so on. I don’t mind music but I cannot listen when I want to concentrate. My husband is more auditory and kinaesthetic with visual last. He always has music on when studying.

This is a link to a quiz from Swinburne University which you (or anyone) can take but it needs to be printed out first. There is also an explanation about the meanings of the learning styles.

VAK Learning Styles Explanation

The VAK learning styles model suggests that most people can be divided into one of three preferred styles of learning. These three styles are as follows, (and there is no right or wrong learning style):

  •  Someone with a Visual learning style has a preference for seen or observed things, including pictures, diagrams, demonstrations, displays, handouts, films, flip-chart, etc. These people will use phrases such as ‘show me’, ‘let’s have a look at that’ and will be best able to perform a new task after reading the instructions or watching someone else do it first. These are the people who will work from lists and written directions and instructions.
  •  Someone with an Auditory learning style has a preference for the transfer of information through listening: to the spoken word, of self or others, of sounds and noises. These people will use phrases such as ‘tell me’, ‘let’s talk it over’ and will be best able to perform a new task after listening to instructions from an expert. These are the people who are happy being given spoken instructions over the telephone, and can remember all the words to songs that they hear!
  •  Someone with a Kinaesthetic learning style has a preference for physical experience – touching, feeling, holding, doing, practical hands-on experiences. These people will use phrases such as ‘let me try’, ‘how do you feel?’ and will be best able to perform a new task by going ahead and trying it out, learning as they go. These are the people who like to experiment, hands-on, and never look at the instructions first!People commonly have a main preferred learning style, but this will be part of a blend of all three. Some people have a very strong preference; other people have a more even mixture of two or less commonly, three styles.When you know your preferred learning style(s) you understand the type of learning that best suits you. This enables you to choose the types of learning that work best for you.There is no right or wrong learning style. The point is that there are types of learning that are right for your own preferred learning style.Please note that this is not a scientifically validated testing instrument – it is a free assessment tool designed to give a broad indication of preferred learning style(s).More information about learning styles, personality, and personal development is at www.businessballs.com.With acknowledgements to Victoria Chislett for developing this assessment.  Swinburne University.

I chose this prompt today because it is relevant for us all.

It is good to know what your preferred learning style is for any given situation, even cooking!
And if you are a parent it is important to realise that your learning style may not be your children’s and then that can maximise understanding and minimise conflict!
So, do you know ‘how you learn best?’
I hope this has been a helpful post!
Denyse.

Thank you for being part of Life This Week.

Joining with Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Here are the rules for the link-up “Life This Week” is a link up that runs every Monday and remains live for until Thursday at 5 p.m.during that week. * You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today! Do come back next week. Next week’s prompt is “Hobbies”.

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