Saturday 23rd January 2021

What’s The Story Behind These Images? 8/2021.

What’s The Story Behind These Images? 8/2021.

Quite some time ago, years in fact, I began buying images from Dreamstime for use on the blog. I accumulated many and have used few.

I guess I have not used them in more recent times because the focus of those images was for my education category which I blogged about with frequency in 2012-2015.

I was also an Education Specialist assisting families and educators who were part of a group of pre-schools in the northern and norwest suburbs of Sydney.

I was very careful to only use approved photos from the organisation so I tended to add some of these images where there was a correlation between my written messages and the images.

Today, I am using my imagination to write something as I might see as the story behind the images.

Image One.

Here are the students in Year 9 who were asked to look as if we are reading and be interested too. However, you can see that that two of them who were excluded from being seated. Huh? Stand against the shelves and look like they are reading? We can do that. Still not sure what we are reading though. Guess if the teacher is smiling it might be a funny book?

However, in all seriousness it is good to see reading AND being in a library of interest. Far too much these days, books from libraries and students being able to access a library within a school setting is being denied. Something, something, funding! Rubbish. I wrote a post about it here.

Does your child’s school have a library and a trained teacher librarian?

 

Image Two.

This one is a very familiar image. Boy, in image, gets what they are supposed to be doing, as requested by the teacher, leaning over another student at a computer in rear of image. This is how it does happen in many schools. There is a computer lab or bank of them set up. Truly, it can be quite the challenge to keep this kind of lesson under control in terms of the students’ searches. Fortunately there are security set ups via the schools’ systems.

With a whole class of 30 this kind of lesson is exhausting! Back when I reckon this was the kind of way teachers may have “ticked” the boxes of computer education. This is less likely to be the kind of work done by students now as each classroom has a range of set ups for technology including interactive white boards. High school students have laptops and ipads too, as do many primary schools.

Do you remember this kind of lesson?

 

Image Three.

Taking the hand of an older and trust adult to be safe in terms of being outside, in a crowd, approaching the road, or even starting school. It is both reassuring and kind to the child as he or she makes changes that need some parental or adult support. However, of course, there can be hand-holding refusers and with those little ones, there needs to be a firmer grip…a kind one.

Did you know children need adult supervision to cross a road up to around the ages of 8-10. It is something to do with developing peripheral vision.

 

Image Four.

This is quite an homogenous group of four. Interestingly for me as I reviewed some of my images, I realised back when I was selecting them my unconscious bias took me to the familiar for me. White and anglo in appearance. I am quite surprised now that I look back and know that even acknowledging it is better than continuing this.

Do you think play and children’s ability to let off steam outdoors is allowed enough for these days?

 

Image Five.

I loved the connection of these two children as I imagined in this image. They seem comfortable with each other, and are moving along a bridge-like structure to another area. The simple parts of childhood can be forgotten in the hustle and bustle can’t they?

How much do children really get to play and explore within a relatively safe space. Food for thought.

 

 

And now for my images….I think I am missing return to school time in some ways but agree it is not something I could do practically nor emotionally but I still have the love of teaching in me.

My M.Ed. Graduation from CSU Wagga Wagga in 1991. My daughter used ‘the same cloak’ for her Masters of Education (Teacher Librarian) when she graduated in 2017.

 

Images Six, Seven & Eight.

Image Nine.

My Education Collage: Where two teachers met, our trip back to the area, farewelled by the Deputy Secretary of NSW Dept of Education, My Service Medal

Image Ten.

On 27 January 1970 this is where I began teaching. The classroom in background was mine, teaching a K/1 group. My image here: 50 years later we re-visited Barraba Central School.

That’s my  post about the stories and the images. It was thought-filled and a bit of fun as well as a trip down memory lane!

Did you enjoy being at school?

Tell me more.

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky here on Thursdays.

And here too for Natalie’s Link Up: Weekend Coffee Share

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Back To. 3/51 #LifeThisWeek. 7/2021.

Back To. 3/51 #LifeThisWeek. 7/2021.

Around this time of year, mid January for over 50 years,  this was it for me:

Back To School time.

With my principal’s hat back on and teacher one too, in case it’s helpful I have a post about going back to school and starting school here and believe this is still relevant. I always like to share this graphic too: courtesy of Kelly Exeter and me.

 

Not the actual ‘back to school’ but getting ready for being a school student, staff member, teacher, assistant principal, parent or principal.

This video link to a timely post about starting school is helpful.

It’s a reminder from the calendar here in my southern hemisphere that mid-Summer school holidays is also:

‘Back to’ …time.

 

Back to Normal.

Here’s something we have heard a LOT in COVID times.

  • “When can we be back to normal?”
  • “Is it possible to be back to normal once the pandemic has taken over?”
  • “What might normal be like?”

Did we take ‘normal’ for granted pre-COVID?

I am guessing if you are thinking a bit like most of us, and I am one, that there is no ‘back to pre-covid’ times which means, of course, what we took for granted as ‘normal’ is not happening.

I met my daughter for brunch recently. We both had masks on before sitting down to eat. We both needed to check in via the Service NSW app. We were in a restaurant that is part of a book store. In fact, I had a small morning tea here for my 70th birthday. This time round, the seating was different and more spaced out. No long table.

I think, as many are, that the term ‘new normal’ whether we like it or not is here to stay.

Back to Work.

Last year many of us (OK not us retirees) learned that there was a different way to work. That is if our job could be done from home. Working from home became the ‘normal’ and now, here in Australia, in our 10th month of living with the different states’ and territories’ rules about travel, transportation and working face to face who knows what “back to work” in 2021 looks like.

Back to Having Visitors In the House.

At the time of writing and publication N.S.W. rules under COVID health restrictions are that “we” the household of two, can only have 5 visitors to our home on one day. We live on the Central Coast, counted as part of the greater Sydney area. Governed by this, and with a hefty fine for non-compliance ($1000 each) we now have to hold our much-longed for Golden Wedding Anniversary lunch for our family over 2 days: one group on Friday 22 Jan, the other on the actual date the Saturday. It will be done according to the rules but still won’t feel as celebratory without each of our family being present. But…you do what you have to do.

Our Wedding Day. 1971

 

The last word on ‘Back to’ is that we can never recapture what was.

Just as we might long for it, time and circumstances along with we humans all change over time.

I hope your week, whatever it contains, goes well.

Stay safe, everyone.

Denyse.

Link Up 223.

Life This Week. Link Up #223

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* 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: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

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School Education Advice From Denyse. Retired K- 6 Principal. 99/2020.

School Education Advice From Denyse. Retired K- 6 Principal. 99/2020.

Back in 2016 I published this post after questions from other bloggers.

Given we are at the end of the school and pre-school year 2020…a most extraordinary year thanks to COVID19 and many challenging experiences for children at pre-school and school, along with the parents and carers, I decided to re-fresh this post…and it may just go some way to helping as Christmas holidays beckon.

 

How you can best help develop your kids social skills and confidence?

  • The socialisation of school is such a rich part of the journey of learning and the new separation from the family once starting school. It is a HUGE leap forward in terms of change and we can recall what it is like to start a new job, or a new course or even…maybe school..so we have more than an inkling!

 

  • I believe that children will be, in many instances, influenced by their genes, their parents’ and siblings’ modelling and their age of readiness for school’s more formal learning and socialising ways. This influence can be one of encouragement, maybe of ‘fake it till you make it’ and of over-empathising too. Children will often mirror the emotional resilience in many ways of what & who they know and what they have been like since they were born.

 

  • Before starting school is the place to begin to build the social skills and confidence with encouraging extended time away from parents. By this I mean things like play dates at others’ houses, staying overnight with trusted people such as grandparents and joining in activities such as at playgroup, pre-school, sport/gymnastics/dancing. I do not recommend it all and certainly not at once. This can start occurring at around 3 years I believe if the children have not been used to out of home care at any time.

 

  • Look to yourself with the confidence about this too. I see that kids can take on board parents’ emotions so very easily and we, the adults, need to be extra careful of our words and non-verbal actions.

 

  • I have to add one of the things I like to ‘ban’ parents saying to their children when they start school is “I will miss you so much”. Why? I have known kids who would have settled well be unable to do so because they were worried about Mummy/Daddy/Grandma is  missing them!

 

Kids in the early days and terms of school will, ideally, know how to:

  • separate from their parent(s) with relative ease after starting school.
  • look after their own physical needs – toileting, caring for belongings, getting lunch and recess food out and being able to eat independently
  • know how to listen to and respond to an adult who is not familiar to them but in a position of respect at the school
  • be able to accept some disappointments and learn how to wait for attention
  • be a confident responder to questions posed by other children and teachers
  • make eye contact ( as culturally relevant, it is not always deemed respectful) and to ensure they can engage in a conversation at an age-appropriate level
  • join in with peer and group activities at the level at which they feel confident. Not everyone is a leader but some are very quiet and active participants!

Once they are at school it is great if parents can link up with like-minded families for more socialising after school, for birthdays and more as when the parents begin to engage socially with the peers’ parents this becomes a win/win in ideal cases. Much of this has changed with COVID restrictions in force and some states are different to others.

I do not say it always works..so pick your groups or friends with care but I do know that for some families, those friendships started when their kids started school have continued!

dreamstime_l_1262950-little-scared-one-100x100

Moving from being a bit concerned, worried and little shy….

 

dreamstime_l_3437894-1st-day-sch-boy-150x150

to becoming more confident over time…

How have you managed your children’s social skills as they started school and now they are at school?

What has worked for you and the children?

Denyse.

Interesting to read the comments from 2016. I have left them there. And, opened comments for this post.

Linking up here with Leanne and friends. Probably the last Thursday link up for 2020?

 

 

 

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Exams. 46/51. #LifeThisWeek. 92/2020.

Exams. 46/51. #LifeThisWeek. 92/2020.

Exams!

Exams, examinations, tests, testing, assessments, checking, observing …..all are seemingly similar in purpose:

to assess a student’s learning. 

But are they? And do they?

This post is actually not about that…because:

  1. I have no time for the pages of writing I might need to do
  2. I have been part of an education setting for over 65 years: student, teacher, assessor and I am done!

Memories of Exams.

Let me count the memories as a student of high school and tertiary years!

Before:

  1. A fluttery tummy at the prospect
  2. Sleeplessness the night before
  3. Concerned I have not read  nor studied enough
  4. Getting to the venue safely and surely
  5. Trying NOT to engage in conversations with others also waiting to get into the venue for the exam
  6. Making sure I had the requisite pens, pencils, eraser, water bottle (unsure if we could take this in, but I know I would have had one)
  7. Actually making sure I WAS at the right rooms, buildings
  8. Looking around the room, convinced everyone there looked much better prepared than I was
  9. Watching the supervisor/invigelator (weird word) as they set out the rules for the session and noting the clock.
  10. Seeing the papers handed out, and one landing in front of me.

During:

  1. Reading the paper as best I could and ensuring I could do at least one of the questions
  2. Taking my time to consider this without losing time
  3. Hating the multiple choices because TWO always seem right
  4. Preferring an essay style
  5. Keeping an eye on the clock
  6. Nervous glancing right and left at fellow examinees
  7. Hand hurting from writing so give it a stretch
  8. Encouraging myself to keep on going and F I N I S H
  9. Listening to time left warning
  10. Head down again and…..”Pens down”. Breathe again.

After:

  1. Out into the warmth of the November day
  2. Checking with others, if I know anyone there, about how they thought it was
  3. Not engaging in any post-mortems for long
  4. Home but first lunch or a snack
  5. Approach my desk and move the papers relating to today’s exams away
  6. Getting out the next exam’s papers and notes
  7. But first….a chat with a friend, a drive to see someone
  8. Go to the beach to relax – it IS almost Summer
  9. Count the ways in which I will spend my days once the exams are over
  10. Return to the study area and ready to repeat processes again!

 

But what did I do as exams?

As told here in Telling My Story Chapter I was in the first cohort in New South Wales to be part of the Wyndham Scheme (6 years of high school replacing the 5 years) where the previous high school years of attendance were 3 and 5.

After Third Year (Year 9 now)  was the Intermediate Certificate and most students left then to pursue trade and other training type careers. Only those, including teachers-to-be, went on to Fifth Year ( Years 10 and 11 now). My husband was one of those.

My high school education started in 1962 and in 1965 I did the first School Certificate at the end of Year 10. It was formal, gruelling and quite stressful.

I then did the Higher School Certificate in 1967. Being guinea pigs was not all fun and we were put through some very heavy testing/examination times.

At Teacher’s College we did all the subjects we would need to teach in Primary Schools and I recall with great stress, the onerous task of 18 examinations to graduate as a qualified teacher. I actually failed Science but was allowed to graduate and re-sit the examination in my 3rd year. I still hated it but scraped through.

I was exam-free until I was encouraged to do my Bachelor of Education, and then after that my Master of Education. There were many assignments but only a few in-examination room exams as I was doing my degrees as a distance education student and I could sit an examination at a church hall in Parramatta.

I did a TAFE course in sign making and ticket writing back in the early 1970s and did an at-home test which I think my husband supervised as he was a teacher.

Then there is this sign…about exams in Australia.

It is said, that by the time you see the jacaranda trees bloom, if you have not started your study, it’s too late. Examinations are ON..now!

 

Let me add, as a teacher, mum and grandmother, it’s hard to do exams for many.

In fact there can be so many reasons why an external examination  is not helpful for many students who may have a number of factors affecting learning. That said, so far, not much has been touted as fully replacing them. It seems, even at the highest level of tertiary study and beyond for specialist doctors there are huge pressures around both oral and written examinations.

I am also aware there are many practical examinations too. For example, music, drama and dance.

So, how do you remember exams?

Denyse.

Link Up 215

Life This Week. Link Up #215

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* 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: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt: 47/51 Taking Stock #5 23.11.2020

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Inside. 43/51. #LifeThisWeek. 86/2020.

Inside. 43/51. #LifeThisWeek. 86/2020.

Having some fun with the word I N S I D E via some photos and memories. Enjoy!

Denyse, aged around 5, off to her first class at school.

There was no official uniform for the seasons but I recall this was the tunic, and I see my mum’s influence there with the bow…the smart blouse…and what was I N S I D E that carry bag of mine was likely to be playlunch and maybe a cardi. I came home for lunch as we lived in the same street as Gwynneville P.S., Wollongong.

 

 

Denyse, aged around 63, decided as part of her retirement from K-6 education to become an independent consultant to pre-schools and teachers.

This is I N S I D E her part of the front room of our former home in Glenwood which we made into two office areas for us. Sadly I gave away or sold off most of my resources but the move to further places was already on the cards, and I admit, seeing my resources go to grandkids, schools and pre-service teachers was a good thing.

 

 

Denyse’s two grandchildren who were cared for by both grandparents in 2008-2014.

This photo, taken by me, is a firm favourite in our family. In fact, the enlarged version sits behind me right now, As to what was going on  I N S I D E   H’s mind as R placed her hand on him, we will never know. He too loves the pic now, as does she.

 

 

Denyse is/was a HUGE Christmas fan.

When the grandkids came into our lives, then much fun, planning, shopping, spending and hanging up of Christmas bags from us was the BEST. What was I N S I D E…no-one knew till Christmas Day. Sometimes Grandma forgot too. 

 

 

Denyse had her one and only OS trip to the US west coast and Hawaii.

Here’s she is I N S I D E Alcatraz. A highlight of her trip, and booked before leaving Sydney. This was freezing cold San Fran early January 2006.

 

 

Denyse with her 2nd youngest granddaughter.

She was, until a few days later, the youngest granddaughter, looking I N S I D E our then Sydney based GP’s fishtank. She is holding the Teddy we gave her on the day she was born. This child is now in Year One! 

 

 

Denyse. looking to smile and do her best to be well, cheerful and all.

However, she actually knew something was very awry I N S I D E that mouth, behind that top set of false teeth. What I see in this photo more than anything, however, is courage. It was the first time I had driven to see Dad after a long absence because of being anxious about driving on the M1. Thanks to my inner resources learned from my psychologist via exposure therapy I DID this. I was not, however, to know that it would be a long time before I drove to see my Dad again. Within 3 weeks of this photo my cancer had been diagnosed.

 

 

Denyse’s memories of the grandchildren care at Glenwood is aided by so many photos and little videos.

The photo of the two above, much older, is of them I N S I D E the kitchen eating the fruit kebabs they had made. 

 

 

Denyse’s Dad turned 90 in January 2014 and he wanted to celebrate.

Along with my brother, daughter and more, we made sure his celebration was indeed one to remember. Looking to decorate the tables for the lunch with a little thank-you, I made these….with little chocolates I N S I D E.

 

 

 

Denyse now lives about 20 minutes drive from Norah Head Lighthouse.

I totally love visiting and have been I N S I D E the building but not up top. I am pretty sure COVID has stopped tours. The glass and the light have saved many ships over the years. Our weather forecast and conditions comes from the weather station in the grounds. 

 

 

Denyse has a mammogram every even year birthday.

I am pretty sure this is my one from last year. Stepping up I N S I D E the pink van reminds me that it is a privilege to have this service and usually I am treated with respect. However, and I will mention it next time, the radiographer was pretty rough in her handling of one of my breasts, resulting in an abrasion underneath. It hurt on that thin skin. 

 

 

Denyse loved being part of an on-line Secret Santa one year.

I knew the recipient well, and that she has a very very busy life raising her challenging kids (yes, she would admit that too) so I N S I D E this I made it like a pass the parcel of presents and I know from her response, she loved it. The kids did too, apparently!!

 

 

Denyse is I N S I D E the lift at her Dad’s building after a visit with lots of food and goodies and spending some time with him. He talks. I listen. Mostly!

It’s a regular thing to visit like this but during COVID happened a lot less. I just went recently (not this pic)  and will be back in November I am sure. All being well.

 

 

Denyse is a very grateful head and neck cancer patient.

Here, from over a year ago, is a photo taken by my prosthodontist (his hand there) explaining how the I N S I D E of my upper prosthesis and the skin near it (my under top lip which is part skin graft from my leg and part what was there)  is progressing in terms on health and stability. I saw him in mid October 2020 and all is very well indeed. 

 

 

Denyse’s Sunday treat and nectar!

Getting one of these coffees by Randa I N S I D E me is so good.

 

I hope you enjoyed my little journey of memories based on I N S I D E

Thank you for visiting, reading, commenting and I always hope, linking up!

Denyse.

Link Up 212

Life This Week. Link Up #212

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* 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: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt: 44/51 Outside 2.11.2020

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26/51#LifeThisWeek.Telling My Story. Chapter Sixteen. 2004-06.52/2020.

26/51#LifeThisWeek.Telling My Story.2004-2006.Chapter Sixteen.52/2020.

So, about a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author (her story is here) that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed. Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at…drum roll… Chapter Sixteen.

With yet another photo of me because I keep changing my appearance…thanks to head and neck cancer, then cataract surgeries.

The most recent chapter, finalised how my first and significant career in New South Wales Department of Education ended. Sadly but there was a need for my health to improve and that it did.

L: NSW Teachers’ Federation Badge. R: N.S.W. Primary Principals Ass. Membership Badge.

Why was 2004 memorable?

I went back to school! As a teacher. But first, there is MORE!

I spent quite a bit of summer 2004 recovering from the broken right leg and receiving physiotherapy to get me walking again. We were a two-person household as our adult son had moved in with a friend. I had S P A C E to call mine, and claimed his old room for an art-craft one for me. It also doubled as a grandchild-sleepover space where we installed double bunks and these were in regular use.

My husband, whilst not in the best of health, started to enjoy his music and had a space in the house for that and part  all of the garage eventually morphed into a workshop. We had two vehicles but we were soon to add some home improvements but wait, I am getting ahead of myself.

Around the middle of what would be Term One in schools, I started to feel a restlessness within and to be honest a NEED to do something related to teaching. Having over a year away from schools to try my hand at volunteering and to get better health-wise, the thoughts grew that I probably needed to get my casual teaching availability sorted and out there to my principal friends.

“Would You Like Two Days a Week From Next Term?”

We lived in Glenwood, a suburb on former dairy land in Sydney’s northwest. My friend, D, and I had been colleagues for many years and I heard that the brand new school at a brand new suburb just 10 minutes drive away was where she was the foundation principal. I rang and she said ” come over and have a look at it, love to see you”. I did, with a version of a casual teacher resume in my bag.

After a tour in a modern, private/public built school we sat in her office and I began speaking about wanting to come back to teaching. She knew of what had happened to me at R.P.S. and in fact was one who stayed in touch initially. Before I could say much more, I received an offer, to start Term 2, doing 2 days a week Release From Face To Face Teaching for all of the SEVEN classes (K-6) the school then comprised. By the time I left the school in 2010 the student population had exploded from our original 156 to around 700…and since went close to 1000…if you know the now-densely populated North West area of Sydney, this will not surprise you.

Yes, thank you…that would be great. I asked what I should teach in that time. Her reply was ‘up to me’ and in a complete switch for me, I chose Creative Arts: art, drama and music.

Back to School. As a teacher.

On the first day of Term Two 2004,  the day after our second granddaughter turned 5 (huge party with jumping castle and I did face painting) I presented myself to the school…and the first group I would be teaching. Year 6. Now, this was still a very small school and the teachers were incredibly welcoming and friendly. I remain friends with many today. However, Year 6, first up took some courage but I did it. The thing about a brand new school is that the kids in the upper grades have come from different schools with different expectations. I did have some kids who tried me (behavioural and attitude) but we managed. After that baptism, I had the rest of the day…and I think I returned on the Tuesday as my 2nd day. I do recall being on Cross Country duty too as the kids ran around the then spacious grounds.

When a new school opens in a new neighbourhood there are children presenting to enrol every week and over time, this position grew to 3 days a week. By the end of that year however, I got a different role and loved this one even more.

Before I move on. The school had its official opening and that was a privilege to be part of. Some of the work I had done as the R.F.F. teacher in Art and Craft also involved Aboriginal Education (I had some expertise from my previous schools) and the Year 6 group performed at the opening using clapping sticks made by my husband.

The principal now had someone on her staff who she could confide in and even offload on but she did not do this much at all. However from time to time she would ask me “how come you are always so happy?” My answer was, she had seen my need to be back teaching and I was loving it as well as being a mentor of sorts to some …but I no longer had the full responsibility which weighed heavily when I was a principal.

The English as A Second Language Teacher. Me! 2005 & 2006.

I was always a teacher of literacy at heart, and loved working with children at the entry level of school. It made sense then for me to turn what I loved to do into a role I could deepen for myself and the school when there was growing student population of students whose second language was English.

I was able to set up the program, a space for the students and to develop the school’s programs. This was an important part of my role and being a former principal something I knew a lot about. What I did need to learn more about was the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of teaching English to a range of learners. Some were literally just stepping ‘off the plane’ as we used to say, and others had been in Australia speaking and learning English at previous schools.

The ‘language’ of teaching in this field has changed in the past 5+ years so I will use what I remember. The students were assessed, if needed, by me upon enrolment in whichever year they were entering. For example a student coming into Kindergarten and one coming into Year 5 might still be classed as ‘new arrivals’ if they had no understanding of English and would need, at separate times to being in class, some one-on-one or very small group learning.

To that end, I enrolled in a Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Charles Sturt University. Part-time and on-line with lots of practical work I could do with the students. This was a great way for me to add to my qualifications and hopefully, as time passed, get appointed to the school in 2007 as the substantive E.S.L. teacher. In the next chapter, I will share what happened.

Flexibility and a program that helped teachers integrate the students into their classes was important and I did all I could on the 3 days allocated to the program – always by student numbers – that year. The school’s population grew and grew, in 2006 there was a need to employ another person like me on a temporary basis. I was not permanently appointed, even though, over time, I hoped that might occur. More on that in the next chapter. 2007 was a big year for me. In many ways.

Family Times, House with ‘New’Mortgage & My First Trip O.S.

Despite the fact that we were now mortgage-free, see chapter fifteen, we became tempted to use the house as collateral for home improvements. Yes, people, we not only were tempted, we went ahead. The house benefitted with the enclosure of the outdoor room and adding air conditioning to it so it was a useable space, a carport, added driveways and landscaping out the front and back. This all helped at the time for our enjoyment. Much later in terms of selling, we had added value but the outstanding mortgage was paid out at the time of sale in 2015, bought new cars (much needed, old ones were literally ‘dying’)  but we did not have enough after that to buy a house on the Central Coast. This has, as it turns out, not been too bad as we have found a couple of options where we may wish, one day, to buy a house. For now, we are, like many, more comfortable as renters in the lovely, modern house we are in now.

Family times in those years became busier in some ways as the first group of grandchildren were changing in terms of ‘growing up’ and starting school. We attended Open Days, School Assemblies, Musicals and other events when possible. We took our two eldest granddaughters on a family holiday to Ballina which was fun and they got to meet some of their extended family and see where Papa grew up and went to school.

We welcomed partners into the family and life continued getting to know extended family members, and share in occasions, as well as support new ventures such as a return to study for one of our kids, with eventually University degree completed and more to come. One adult child continued in teaching part-time and we offered weekend/evening/afternoon respite for the kids in her busy times of responsibilities at school and beyond.

For some time I guess I did consider travelling overseas but never really got the chance. Then my plan was hatched and by crikey, I love a plan. To organise, the research and to find out more..blah blah. It was always going to be a solo trip. The plane ride for my husband of just on 3 hours in 2003 was the deal breaker for him as I wrote last chapter. He couldn’t accompany me. However, I was actually OK to give solo travel a go in a bigger way. I had already done some shorter trips and small breaks away within Australia so I looked at what I thought I could manage flight time wise, and where I was interested in visiting. It was to the U.S.of A.’s west coast but mainly the state of Hawaii I wanted to see. Dad and Mum had been there many times following Dad’s first visit when he was part of Harvard Business Summer School for 6 weeks in 1966.

With meticulous care and with the help of Flight Centre I booked 15 days away from 1 January 2006 to 15 January. Flights on Hawaiian Air, were marvellous and I joined their Premier Club to get preferential seating, extra luggage allowance and use of Lounges at LAX and Oahu. Brilliant. But, I almost went home from Mascot (our airport) before I left.

New Year’s Day in Sydney 2006 the temperature was 45deg. There was no air con working at the airport. My flight was not leaving till 10 pm. I was dropped off at the airport by my daughter…allowing plenty of time and it was actually ‘too much’ time. I was SO hot and over it..but stayed until check in could start…and when as a priority boarder I got to my window seat (then the aeroplane was 2,3,2 in economy)and sat, the aloha music and air con working….I sighed with relief. I probably need to expand this story separately but it went like this: Syd:Oahu, 3 nights. Oahu to Kona 2 nights. Kona to Oahu & onto LAX 2 nights, LAX to Las Vegas 2 nights, LV to SanFran 2 nights. SF to LAX back to Oahu 3 nights…and H O M E.

My Parents. 

In the latter part of 2006 my parents celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary (60 years wed) with a couple of small at-home celebrations with friends, and a family lunch in a local restaurant with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren on the following weekend.

I went to their house on the actual day with 60 yellow roses from the local Dural Rose Growers, and Dad already had the cards I had organised from Queen Elizabeth II, the Governor-General, the Premier of N.S.W. and…for Mum especially, my brother organised a ‘congratulations to long time listeners, N & A,’ message on 2GB from Alan Jones. Mum loved it. And he was kind.

Mum had not been well for a couple of years and with an aversion to doctors and investigations, Dad did the best he could to keep her health under check. Mum had some symptoms that appeared to be Parkinson’s related and also a lot of pain in some areas that was put down to be ‘post shingles’ neuralgia.

Mum had a great smile. And she made a lot of effort to do the best she could to look well and co-ordinated, with hairdresser appointments weekly and a pretty regular wardrobe updates. She started to not want to go out much in a lot of 2006 and it became harder to convince her to do so.

Previously Mum had been quite social, independent with her own car and social groups and interests including tennis and cards. But no more. Even their much enjoyed June-July winter stays on the Gold Coast stopped in 2005. But, there were reasons which would not be evident until next chapter: a big one. 2007.

Mum and Dad, taken by me, at the family celebrations for their 60th Wedding Anniversary. November 2006.

 

That is all…that I remember and CAN write about…with confidence of telling my story without giving away too much. It does get tricky with privacy but I have permissions and try to stay within boundaries set by myself and what is reasonable.

For all of the stories to date, please visit this part of the blog. Telling My Story.

I print each post out and have it stored in a folder for family if they wish to read it.

Thanks for reading.

Denyse.

List of Optional Prompts: July & August 2020. On home page too.

27/51 Taking Stock #3 6.7.2020

28/51 Self-Care Stories. #4. 13.7.2020

29/51 Your Choice. Mine is: World Head & Neck Cancer Day. 20.7.2020

30/51 Share Your Snaps #6 27.7.2020

31/51 Food. 3.8.2020

32/51 Why Did I? 10.8.2020

33/51 I Want. 17.8.2020

34/51 Self-Care Stories. #5. 24.8.2020

35/51 Share Your Snaps #7 31.8.2020

Link Up #195.

Life This Week. Link Up #195.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* 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: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt.27/51 Taking Stock #3 6.7.2020

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Women Of Courage Series. #45. Laurie. 51/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #45. Laurie. 51/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

 

I ‘met’  Laurie, who’s in her early 60s and  from USA, here…from the blogging world we inhabit. Firstly via a link up with another blogging group called Mid Life Share The Love found here….and then. over time, as Laurie began linking up for my Monday’s link up Life This Week. Both of us are teachers who are retired and grandmothers…but there is more for me (and you, dear readers) to learn from Laurie and she shares her story generously with us today. Thank you!

 

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

When I went to college, I already had a toddler at home. My mother, who was retired, babysat for me while I attended classes. I paid for my own tuition, books,  lab fees, etc. from money I made from a part-time waitressing job. I studied to become a teacher.

I graduated after struggling through four years of a very tough and time-consuming chemistry education major, got my first teaching job…and hated it.

I was not a very good teacher that first year. I was at odds with the kids, didn’t feel grounded or appreciated and dreaded getting up and going to school each morning.

I got pregnant with our second son at the end of my first year. In those days, pregnant women did not teach, so I didn’t go back to school. I stayed home with my two young sons and worked part time as a waitress again.

A few years later, we had another son.

I enjoyed staying home with my three boys but one day the local high school (not the same school I taught in before) called and asked if I would be interested in substitute teaching in a chemistry classroom.

We needed the money, so I said “OK”.

I absolutely loved it!

I matured during my time at home with the boys and developed more patience and appreciation for my students.

I went back to teaching after one year of substituting and stayed for another 31 years, loving every minute of it.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

I learned patience, perseverance, and that things happen on God’s timeline, not mine.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

I learned to be patient, to trust myself to make the right decisions, and to trust God to be there with me in difficult situations.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

I believe that courage, like trust, is accumulated a little bit at a time. When we have been courageous in the past, we can lean into that knowledge if we need to summon our courage. We know we have been brave before, we can do it again.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

I would tell others to relax, find some good mentors or friends who will stand by you and offer encouragement, trust yourself, and pray.

Laurie eventually found the role in her life she loved and I know that must have come as both a great relief and a joy. However, as now retired teachers, I know both of us are glad to be away from the classroom but relishing the life time of memories, joys, highs and lows that come with the privilege of the title ‘teacher’.

Thank you so much for sharing your story of courage. 

Denyse

 

Social Media:

Blog/Website:  http://meditationsinmotion.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MeditationsinMo

Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/meditationsinmotion/

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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8/51 #LifeThisWeek. Telling My Story. Chapter Fourteen. 2001-2002. 16/2020.

Dear Bloggers: I have made some changes to the link-up rules based on some recent experiences. For most of my regular linkers, this is not an issue but as I am getting some newer people come on board, I have added some rules. Thank you. Denyse Whelan.

8/51 #LifeThisWeek. Telling My Story. Chapter Fourteen. 2001-2002.  16/2020.

The story behind Telling My Story is this: I began in May 2017 and then was diagnosed with cancer. I had a lengthy break and returned to the plan to keep on documenting my life, one blog post at a time. Here is the link to the page where they all are now. This too, like the post 2 weeks ago has been a mix of what I wrote back in 2018 over 4 weeks about the challenges and more of being a principal from 1998 – 2003. Today’s post has much of the second two years in it, and the next one, in a few weeks, will outline how challenging (read: hard and stressful) it was to leave the role I had loved. I also shared this as My Woman of Courage story here.

Onward: New Decade and Century. 2001.

This year started in a wonderful way. After one of the hottest, awful January days in Sydney in 2001 this young man became our 3rd grandchild and our first grandson. I wrote something about his birth here and this is a recent photo of US.

My year as a grandmother was very full-on and combined with my role as a principal somewhat precariously – only because I wanted to do both well. Sometime into 2001 I took leave every Wednesday to do a “grandma-daycare” at our place for this young man and his older sister because “I” felt like I needed to help with this kind of care as I had with granddaughter number one. I was trying “not to let school” into my life on those days but it was inevitable with phone calls and catching up the next day with the assistant principal that I acknowledged I could not do both well. Lucky for me my family understood and as already explained they had a great family day care setting to go to.

We were living at Glenwood. My husband was reasonably well but still faced health challenges after his second neck surgery to fuse his spine. He was now working in a high school full-time. Our adult son was living at home. Life was BUSY and my life was full-on. I do recall some minor socialisation happened for me when I might meet a friend for coffee. My educational leadership role was, for a conscientious and practical person like me, all consuming. Very hard to switch off.

We did try, when we could to attend events at school or pre-school for our grandchildren. I recall, taking a day’s half long service leave to attend this young one’s first Athletics Carnival.

My Day as a Principal Started and Ended Like This. Mostly.

I attempted to have a relaxed morning at home, eating my breakfast along with reading the front page of the paper before setting off for school. It was about 30-40 minutes drive and I had a ‘cut off’ point where I could ‘leave home’ behind and the reverse happened on my way home! I was usually the 2nd to arrive at school and generally the last to leave. I did try to leave before the cleaners locked up at 5.30 as much as I could.

I admit I did not self-care well. Sometimes because of the day itself I would not have eaten anything until on my way home. That is the way to ill-health so I took myself in hand, and with the office staff, we had lunch before the school lunch times and that ensured I “ate” better.

I cannot recall specifics of this year at the school as I guess one change lead to another. I do know I dealt with some major difficulties in terms of one parent who berated and threatened me because (I found out later) he hated women and teachers. He was going through a difficult separation from his teacher wife. Sadly my office and the school became the butt of his anger and I had to get an order for him not to enter school grounds. These things are not great for anyone.

As the only non-teaching executive staff member I often had to do much alone in terms of policy making and decisions based on the current school’s needs and demands. This does not mean I was not a team player! However, I was conscious of the fact that teaching executive had dual roles. Therefore I made fewer meeting times and hoped that would suffice for my care of their needs. It did not always play out that way and by the time I got to 2002 the challenges I faced to lead the school well increased.

What Was Different in 2002 School Year?

It was my fourth year as principal. There were many changes within the education system, via the NSW government policies of the day, and in schools themselves. Families may move on due to work changes, sometimes those families are not replaced by new ones so a school population can begin heading downwards.

School staff (teacher and executive staff) may need to take leave for reasons of: family needs, maternity and long service leave as well as sick leave.

The other change heralding 2002 was the need to upgrades of maintenance (big cost jobs) to the school as it was one that was first occupied in the 1940s. Back in 2002 it was up to the principal to make the contacts with contracted companies to get in suppliers who could quote for major works. Then the principal, with enough funds in the school account, could give a project a green light.

I was trained to teach but there I was, like all principals still, being a site manager and a financial manager as well as HR manager. Sigh.

Systemic Changes.

More and more, I noted, as did my principal colleagues that schools were being expected (rightly too) to ensure that Codes of Conduct for staff were not only understood and agreed upon by them but if behavioural issues arose, then the principal would be the first person to begin making an action plan when the code was violated.

There always had been the mandatory notification to the Department back then called Family and Community Services where if a child was deemed by a mandatory reporter (all school staff are) to be ‘at risk’ then a first notification was to be made by telephone. This saw me, often waiting for a person to answer, locked into a phone call because of issues which may look trivial on the outside but may be clues to more.

One such event could be repeatedly coming to school with no food. Other times it could be the child letting her/his teacher know that a parent may be unwell or even violent and it was never our role to investigate but we did need to reassure the child, then make the reports. Over the years I have sat in with a child in my role as a support person (if the child requested that from me) and it is heart-aching to be witness.

Our system, the N.S.W. Department of Education, was updating its role in terms of staff compliance and behaviour. This was nothing new and in fact teachers have had annual reviews in a conversation form for decades. Since I left teaching, this has become a joint venture between the schools and the overseeing body of school governance.

Returning to my principal days.

IF there was a reported incident told to me by a student, parent or staff member where a staff member’s behaviour (spoken, actions or in written form) was not within the Code of Conduct (signed off annually as part of mandatory training) then the principal had to act upon it.

I dealt with the Officers from the Conduct Unit first who listened to what had been reported to me and then I was given advice that it could be managed at school level (guess by whom?) or it could be escalated, with the staff member’s knowledge to a higher authority.

I had to do this on one occasion and the fallout for me came later. The temporary staff member who brought along a permanent staff member as a support person as the complaint was told to her from my account given to me was aghast at the inference.

In fact, there was nothing I had done wrong at all….but remember way back “your role will be to bring this school into the next century” comment by MY boss…this matter was a prime example of how staff thought they could still behave but it was not compliant with the Code of Conduct.

Executive Members of Staff  Were All On Leave.

Not at all related to the above in were two instances where my school staff allocation of experienced executive became diminished’. Apart from me, there were 3 other executive staff at the school by 2002: 2 Assistant Principals and 1 Executive Teacher. They all taught classes too.

The executive teacher was to have a baby and so went on maternity leave, the other, an assistant principal took extended long service leave both for the remainder of 2002 from early in the year.

But wait, there was one more. Yes, this one person who was an assistant principal ‘broke me’ in so many subtle then obvious ways.

And whilst I cannot say much, the continued leave based on medical certificates over and over did cause alarm for the parents of that class as it did me because the year had started well. As it was expected of him by me, this Assistant Principal would perform other executive duties (as do all teaching executive) this person refused and did not return after many months.

Oh, yes, one day there was a return, after hours to access my office and computer telling the only person on site, the cleaner, that “I” had given him permission. Following that, he was disciplined and placed in a different school.

How Did That Affect Me?

In some ways it was a relief but in many more, as we geared up for the mid-year reports, parent-teacher interviews and then Education  Week along with concerts and fund raisers, it was the beginning of my end.

Sadly I did not see it for some time.

I kept on working even harder.

Yes. I was doing the roles of the appointed executive who were on leave.

I know that I did have three teachers put their hands up to do the relieving roles but without the experience and knowledge beyond their classroom teaching, I was giving more and more of myself to duties that were not mine.

I was even writing reports for a class teacher with little experience. I will say now that I know I was over-doing things but I could see no way out. I was under pressure to perform well for the school’s sake and also to answer to my ‘bosses.’

My lovely boss actually retired at the end of Term One (sadly) and he was replaced by someone I knew well but was nothing like the people-person my old boss was.

 

Schools have a culture of their own.

I can now walk into a school and get a feeling of how things are. In my school, as Winter took hold I know that my mood was also one of worry and concern. That was for the school and its staffing into the next year.

When school populations decrease in the NSW public system, the principal will be asked to nominate a teacher to leave. In the majority of cases, teachers are very comfortable in their current school and rarely does anyone volunteer. So then it becomes a matter of ‘asking’ and ‘hoping’.

The staff were getting the idea that with the school’s drop in population, which occurred when the Special Needs unit was disbanded and there was a reduction of families moving to the area, that “I” had something to do with the reduction.

I was told this by telephone on the night (4th September 2002) I heard staff were arranging a delegation to my office the next day. They were going to tell me it was my manner with parents that was the cause.

This may have had one essence of truth after I was threatened by a violent father who I had to get removed from the grounds, but generally I had a supportive P&C and was a principal who was active and even did playground duty. But people like someone to blame. Of course, and that was me.

The Night Which Wounded My Career.

Before I go on, I was feeling emotions of overwhelm from the role. I remember with clarity coming back from yet another principals’ meeting where they was MORE that we needed to take responsibility for. I wondered how I could possibly manage more.

In the meantime, I became probably hyper vigilant after another meeting about my responsibilities for Work Health and Safety.

The school was OLD in many parts and I knew that there was much that did not comply, so I contacted my properties’ manager (the centralised one, not a personal one!) and for a fee, he came out and condemned or ok-ed parts I was concerned about. One such area was deemed so risky I had to tape it off before demolition and in doing so, incurred the wrath of the teachers who had been there forever. I could not take a trick.

I stood for what was right because that is who I am. I knew I needed to have a timeout but it happened to be an official one to attend a meeting for a day and then a personal one to accompany my husband to a vital medical appointment.

Schools: I love them. But I Could Not Return To Mine.

Two days away from school…..then I was rung the night before I was to return. Wednesday 4th September. One of my relieving Executive who I always thought was both compassionate and brave to rang to tell me that some staff were getting a delegation ready along with a Teachers Federation Organiser to meet with me to discuss their issues.

Initially I listened with interest and then with surprise/shock at what was apparently my fault: declining numbers, meaning one of them would be asked to transfer. Once I had talked (and been upset a bit) with her, I had successive phone calls from the remaining two relieving executive and it was then I said “I will be speaking to…(my boss) in the morning and will not be returning to school until I have”. They implored me not to but I had the sense not to act upon a threat like this.

I broke.

I broke down. I was ill. I couldn’t contact my boss: left a message that I would be going to my GP in the morning.

That would be the start of pretty horrible days but also some days of relief and release. Yet, nothing ever has helped me get over the fact that I loved being a principal but one day I never went back.

There was so much shame in me for that and it has almost all faded now some 17 years later. Lifeline: 13 11 14

It’s been hard to learn THIS….

Thank you for reading. At least I hope you did.

Denyse.

 

Next Chapter Will Be About The Outcome for Me Personally and Us Financially.

Life This Week #177

Link Up #177. Life This Week.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* 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: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week’s weekly optional prompt is: 9/51 D: Day for Taking Stock #1. 2.3.2020

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