Sunday 18th August 2019

Telling My Story. Chapter Ten. 1980-1982. 28/2019.

Telling My Story. Chapter Ten. 1980-1982. 28/2019.

To read all of Telling My Story to date: here is the link to the page. Thanks for your interest!

I mentioned at the end of Chapter Nine that telling my story for 1980 would be significant. And indeed it was.

Education Professional Matters. 1980.

I realised more of my professional goals via the fact of healthy competition in the school where I was a teacher. Coming back in May 1979 to a full-time role (no such thing as part-time maternity leave then) I was immediately interested in proving my professional worth.

In the system of public education back then (and for almost the whole time till it ended in the 1990s) a female teacher who wished to gain promotion to the next level to become, in my case : a deputy mistress or  a head mistress of an Infants Department. These were grades Kindergarten to Year Two.

Virtually no men taught in the Infants Departments so their promotions were to deputy master or head master. Sigh. Sorry, more to come!

To gain promotion was to show your readiness via classroom teaching skills, programming, supervision of some other teachers, understanding of the curriculum, providing leaderships skills, being well-read in the latest of education theory and…..being observed in your classroom for a whole day by the local District Inspector. That person observed you, asked you many questions through the day, looked at the children’s workbooks, spoke to the children and read through everything you’d been asked to provide.

Nerve-wracking?

Yes but in some ways gratifying. I recall enjoying the challenge of being ready for this a few months into 1980 having seen others on staff go through it and achieve List One…so I was onto it.

List One meaning? Literally a LIST of people who had been shown and observed in their work to have met the requirements fo List One and on the date of that achievement your name was added to the List. Someone whose List One had been achieved earlier than me, would be “more senior” to me by chronology and so, if we wanted to apply for the same promotion position at a school, SHE would get it before me but I would continue to wait on that list.

Taking a move to a less desirable area might be a faster way to gain the first promotion, pay rise and new role but as I was in north-western Sydney, had an unwell spouse, a child at school and a now toddler in family day care, then I remained on First List within the same school. More to come.

Family Matters. 1980 – 1982.

My clever and very education-focussed husband who had his second list and was a Deputy Master in a large Sydney Primary School was very unwell. His problems related to his spine (cervical initially) and from the time we had returned to Sydney he sought various treatments including awful disc removal and replacement with parts of his hip in 1978. This stabilised his spine somewhat but pain was never far away.

Instead of success in his career as he had so much promise, in 1979 and into 1980 his days were more and more challenging in terms of even getting to school. In a sad time for us both, he reluctantly accepted the NSW Department of Education’s offer of medical retirement at age 30. Such a loss to education and the beginning of a very painful and hard time in his life.

Our children brought him joy and love of course, but he wasn’t able to interact physically as he might have liked and the kids understood but it was hard. He supported my venture into the professional realms of education promotion but it was hard on me and for me to balance home and school life.

My parents offered physical support from time to time, having the kids come to stay in the school holidays and also preparing meals for us and tending to our yard as my previously very fit husband just could not.

It is still sad for both of us to recall this period and even more to consider that some of the medications that he was using under doctors’ instructions were actually making him sicker. Next chapter will tell more.

In the usual way of things, we still had some small family holidays even if it was just for a few nights. Our income had reduced but we could scrape by and our children brought us fun and laughter especially at birthdays and Christmas. Christmas remained a special time and memory for sure!

Onto More In My Career. 1981.

School in many ways offered a great distraction from some of the hard parts of what was happening for my husband. I could not prevent anything for him and it was hard to be an observer of someone in pain. He had good support from local medical professionals and did seek to help himself physically by continuing to drive and help with the children after school time where he could.

I admit that the competitive drive educationally was very strong in me and so with a very helpful set of leaders in our Infants Department which had over 24 classes, there was always room for someone like me who was on a promotion trail. I took the initiative of developing a pre-Spelling program which matched what was currently ‘the’ Spelling program called Quota Spelling.

Do you remember it? Our son in Year Two (getting ahead of myself) was an amazing speller and was on the maximum of 30 words each week to learn. As he always got them right, I did ask his teacher “why does he have to write them out 5 x each night?” I was not appreciated even though I was correct! 

So, I had more responsibilities willingly and loved them. The school was changing in terms of the huge numbers as the new school up the road was finally ready to accept new students and our HUGE class numbers reduced and we all went back to being on the same site. So much better for cohesiveness AND getting to know who was on the same staff as you.

Our daughter came to school with me each morning but many afternoons her dad was able to pick her up as I would be back for meetings and classroom preparation. Our son was in a very happy Family Day Care setting and I could take him and then pick him up later. We were so blessed having him there for the 5 years until his school start. In the two years before school he attended a long day care setting in a pre-school. More on that later.

I was readying myself for a ‘go at List Two’ in 1982. It was a more rigorous inspection and more leadership skills needed to be shown. Even though I did not hold a position at the school, our forward thinking Head Mistress gave people like me curriculum leadership responsibilities so I could hold meetings and help guide the work of others.

Promotions and More. 1982.

A very big two days in my life were those when Mr Inspector J.E. turned up and spent two days with me and my Year Two class asking them and me questions along the way and referring to the many documents I had written and he read through as I continued teaching. He also visited my colleague next door to measure the influence of my leadership within the curriculum and the grade. It was gruelling but I was rewarded at the end with the words “I will be nominating you as suitable for placement on the Second List”. Wow. Then what, I thought?

Not long to wait. In a most unusual scenario I had my Head Mistress tell me that Mr J.E. needed to speak to me about taking on a Relieving Head Mistress role at a school quite a few suburbs away….and I am adding, into a different socio-economic realm from the one where I was teaching.

I took some time to consider it as I needed to speak to my husband first to see if it could work logistically AND then I accepted the acting position. From classroom teacher, up not one list but two, to Relieving Head Mistress (on a class!) with a Deputy Mistress and 6 teachers to supervise.

I met the person who was taking two terms off school due to illness and it was her view that the school needed a new person in (moi!) as there was no-one on the staff who could replace her. This left me wondering even more. However, I was gracious and professional and took on board the class I would be teaching ….and some of those kids…let’s just say, I learned a lot!

From 1982 Staff Photo

Relieving Head Mistress.

I admit it, it was a job I loved. It was very tough though, combining my full-time teaching with the administration of the Infants Department. However, I formed a good relationship with those staff members and I believe they found me refreshing. I was nevertheless thrown in the deep end of leadership and I mostly swam. The community was a different one to get to know. There were families from other countries, and those from Aboriginal backgrounds. In fact some children were, sadly, already known to social services. Interesting to say the least. I did get some teaching time off (there was no such thing as Release from Face to Face teaching then) which was when a specialist teacher would teach the class. Did I mention they were a challenge? Yes, I did.

I missed the staff and the kids in fourth term when it was time to return to my classroom duties a few kilometres (and socio-economic circumstances) away. I was actually restless and that was when the Lists of Vacant Positions was published and there was a school even further west in Sydney needing a Deputy Mistress. It was a List One position and I was on List Two but it did not matter, I was on my way to my first substantive role.

First a telegram came with promotions or transfer offer, which required a visit to Post Office to send back response (YES!). Then a letter confirming all would be sent by mail.

Next time: Chapter Eleven and 1983-1984. Busy times! In the family and school life.

I do hope you are enjoying Telling My Story. I admit I am liking stretching the brain and recalling the memories.

Tell me what you think about “life back then” as I have outlined it. Some of you would have been kids yourselves!!

Denyse.

Joining with Sue and Leanne for MidLife Share The Love link up here on Wednesdays.

Here I add my post to Leanne and friends Lovin’ Life Link up on Thursdays.

And…in Friday I am adding this post to Alicia’s link up called Open Slather, here.

 

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Comments

  1. You’ve had an illustrious and productive career – even in the beginning! I admire public educators. I think it’s a disgrace the way we (parents and government) treat them in this county. And yet talented and dedicated people still persist there. On a different note, that sounds dreadful about your husband’s medications making him sicker. Terrible.

    • Thanks so much Lydia, I know you are a champion of public education.

      I really do think most of the time we are in teaching for the love of it even though some days you have to wonder.

      We have just returned from a wonderful morning at the brand new school where our daughter is teacher-librarian. Amazing facilities. I will blog about it.

      And as for my husband’s health, those meds caused more issues over decades and he had to have three types of stomach surgery to both repair and make parts of the area OK to manage food. He has lifelong challenges based on the meds from that time.

      Your concern is appreciated too.

      Denyse x

  2. #MLSTL

  3. Hi Denyce I enjoy reading about your professional life. You have so many life experiences to write about. It’s really great that you’re recording and sharing your story

    • Thanks so much Jennifer. Yes, I am glad to have started and around each month or so I will do a new chapter. It is good to recall as much as I can while I can!!

      Denyse x

  4. Hi Denyse, my prompt yesterday for #MAKINGMARCHMEANINGFUL was Write your Story and I it is great to see that you are. It is important for us to record our story,maybe just for ourselves or to share. I think it is a great way to see what we have done in our life and how we have coped with different challenges. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and have a great week. xx

    • A great idea for everyone to tell their story, otherwise who would know. I have my husband who has been part of much of my story, my Dad is still around for other parts but if I do not get much of it written down as I am now, then it will be lost.

      I actually do not care who in the family reads it even though it would be nice to think they might be interested. But I want to mark as much of my life as I can in a tangible form for this reason.

      The blog is helpful that way. I print out various posts and keep them in folders.

      Denyse x

  5. You’ve led such a full and engaging career life Denyse – it’s easy to see how dedicated you were and how much teaching meant to you. It’s also lovely seeing the recognition you received along the way and how choosing to take on challenges paid off for you.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

    • Thank you Leanne, for your kind and caring words.

      Today we have come back from Sydney after spending the morning in a brand new school where our daughter is teacher librarian. We were made very welcome by her principal and assistant principal and had a chat over a cuppa about our careers.

      I will always ‘feel at home’ in a school. I love the places. Mind you, I might not like the longer day after being used to retirement and choosing how to spend my day!!

      Denyse x

  6. Well that was an enjoyable read Denyse! It is so good to stretch your memory back to those days and write it all out and have a record of your past. I am so sad your husband was so sick back then and so young to have to give up his career and to be in so much pain. I hope things improve for him in the next instalment of your story! xo #TeamLovinLife

    • Thank you so much Min. Yes, good to do that and it is helpful that I tend to remember my life in schools and years I was there!

      It was sad for my husband to have to leave teaching. He does very well indeed managing his life and is an endless support for me thanks to his patience, wisdom and in some instances, his training as a counsellor.

      Denyse x

  7. I love that you’re doing this and your story is so interesting and will be a wonderful keepsake for your family as well!!!

    • Thanks Deb. I would love to add more details but as they are ‘trouble’ for some people who prefer privacy I do not. In fact, I made a vow there would be no details about our kids and grandkids other than general references for that reason.

      Denyse x

  8. What a great way of capturing your story Denyse! I know all about the List system having seen my husband go through it, but I enjoyed reading of your rise through the ranks. What I didn’t know was that your husband had to retire at 30! That must have been dreadfully hard for both of you and your family. Thanks for sharing. #mlstl

    PS. I’d love to be added to your blog roll 🙂

    • Oh goodness, someone who knows about the List system! I was there for the changeover to Merit Selection too and that added sooooo much more. But, I got two positions as a result: Deputy Principal and then Principal after being a Relieving Principal.

      I am sorry about that overlook on the Blog Roll. You are there now. I added Blog Roll when some of the ‘old time bloggers’ I have known since 2011 wanted to get back to blogging but sadly, they are not as prolific as my newer to blogging friends such as you.

      Denyse x

  9. I didn’t know about the medical retirement – and so young. That must have been tough for you all. I know that I’ve said it before but I really hope that you bundle these up sometime and pop them into something printed to hand down to your kids. It’s invaluable. As for 1982…you’re going to hate me but I was in year 10 at Springwood High.

    • Thanks Jo. My husband does not want much attention drawn to him ever on the blog, but as I got permission from him for this, I did. It was a very tough time – for us both. But 48 years together, we are OK!

      Yesterday we went to North Kellyville (the suburb that did not exist when we were still in Sydney) to the new K-6 school where our daughter is Teacher Librarian and when I met her boss, I said “I wrote a blog post today about my life in 1982 and yes, I know, you were a baby then!” …so meh to you being in HS!!

      These posts are printed off, I also like the comments too. One day a grandchild might like to read. Our daughter knows most of the story but I am not sure whether anyone else will be interested but I know I AM glad to have started!

      Denyse x

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