Tuesday 11th August 2020

Australia. School Days. 4/51. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2020.

Australia. School Days. 4/51. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2020.

In years past I may have written about Australia Day.  This link I found very helpful about reconciliation.

I now write of my love for this country and all its people. Particularly those of the first nations as I pay my respect on the home page of my blog.

Love seeing these flags fly together. Thank you NSW Public School.

School’s Back. Almost.

In Australia schools return for first term of the year around the end of the summer holidays: late January or early February. It is not a great time of year weather-wise as it is often hotter in the coming months that any other time. However, after almost 6 weeks of school holidays. parents are practically willing schools to be open…and they are! Mind you, I know that schools have been occupied in recent weeks (before school returned) getting classrooms ready, holding meetings, having open days for new families…and in some of the worst affected areas, trying to establish some school buildings where they have been destroyed by recent bushfires.

It about now that in many Australian homes, there are parents doing this:- approaching child’s bedroom. Knocking on the door. It’s the first day of school. No answer. Open the door, go to the window, draw the curtains, and say “come on, it’s time to get to school.” “nnnnnooo, do I have to?” says occupant of bed. “yes you do”. But “whyyyyy?” “Because you’re the principal and that’s why.”

Wishing this favourite school of mine…North Kellyville P.S, a great second year! #IBelongatNK What a year ahead..and this photo is from the beginning of 2019.

27th January. A day of note in my life.

On 27.1.1970 I commenced my role a permanent teacher with N.S.W. Department of Education at Barraba Central School. It was (still is) K-12 school in north-western N.S.W. My parents drove me up there with all my teaching resources and clothes and whatever else 20 year old me would have needed. After meeting the school’s Deputy, he recommended if I was looking for a place to stay, the share house with 3 other teachers was just opposite the school. That is where I was accepted and lived for my first year of teaching. More about that here in Telling My Story.

 

Where I lived as a first year teacher in Barraba, N.S.W.

Memories of Reading. At School.

I love(d) reading and cannot remember learning to read other than sitting in front of charts with the consonants and vowels listed and we had to chant them…

a (a, not the letter name) is for apple b is for boat  c is for car  d is for duck….you get the idea. I also add that some 15 years after learning from these, I had them to teach from in my 1970s classrooms.

One reading idea which took off in the 1980s was Drop Everything And Read. D.E.A.R. In the K-6 schools where I was a teacher and school executive these were allocated times in each day 0 usually straight after lunch break for EVERYONE in the school to read in silence. Kids could bring in their own books or magazines. It was about a period of sharing the love for reading and need to read..in an enjoyable and relaxed way. Some kids in my year 2 classes had ‘chapter books’ (that was such a landmark for many!) and some could use the class readers, or picture books or bring in their own.

An important part of this Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading (U.S.S.R. was another acronym) was the quiet, the time to be with the book/magazine and to be immersed. Of course not every child could do this but there were more that could. I, the teacher, also read. So did the office staff. BUT…sadly, and I cannot tell you when, this idea as a whole school program discontinued in many place.

BUT…the good news! 

Individual schools and teachers are continuing the practice individually or as a school program and it is mostly in High Schools. Big yay for that. Here’s some screen shots of twitter conversations and a poll I carried out.

This one was of special interest as I know how hard teachers are working in schools to comply with marking, testing, and so much more…sadly even their own reading for interest or enjoyment is being compromised…..

I am glad to see this practice happening in many high schools. I know it’s a challenge to find time in any school day for sustained reading. However, if you can find time at home, even better. There are of course, reluctant and non-readers and my friend and teacher-librarian Megan Daley (see her details here from when she was featured as a Woman of Courage) has many categories to help families choose titles and stories to engage all readers.

Quite a few years ago, I too wrote the topic of reading…and here’s my advice: from K-2 teacher, K-6 principal and mother and grandmother!

 

My suggestions for 10 Ways to Raise a Reader.

  1. Before you have your child(ren) enjoy reading yourself.
  2. Find a wide range of reading interests as reading does not have to be restricted to books and fiction.
  3. Think: reading is around us! Signs, newspapers, magazines, on-line, captions, instructions, comics, picture books and more.
  4. Talk about reading with your child(ren)’s other parent. Do you both have a way of viewing reading as important?
  5. Child is in utero….read to said child! It can be an instruction manual if you like, but a picture book read in your voice will be remembered by your child once he or she is born. It is true!
  6. Make a habit of reading a story from a picture book (showing the pictures too) every night at a similar time to create a habit of this ‘wonder of words and images’ in your child’s life from BIRTH.
  7. Continue above..not as an oral reading practice session  (please!) at bedtime until you and your child cannot fit together for the closeness of story time (this is part of the wonderful way to raise a reader!).
  8. Be seen to read yourself.
  9. Make reading a natural part of your child’s day by having books around, on benches, in the car, by the bedside and near the media which can be swtiched off for “silent reading time” or “D.rop E.verything A.nd R.ead” time at home.
  10. Encourage library membership, books and book vouchers as gifts and do not forget the enjoyment of being read to by an adult. Kids reading to adults can be reserved for the after-school reader practice.

From Parents To Their Child’s First Educator/Teacher.

And, finally but not last…My time-honoured message from parents to their children’s educators. Made by me and made beautiful by Kelly Exeter. You may definitely share this. I made it to be shared.

Whatever you are up to on 27 January 2020 I hope it goes well. From the website here. 

Our First Peoples are the traditional custodians of our beautiful lands and waterways and have a fundamental role in the great Australian story. 

We aspire to an Australia Day that can increasingly include a recognition and celebration by all Australians of the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to our nation.

Thank you for being part of Life This Week’s community.

I always appreciate your blog posts and comments.

Denyse.

Link Up #173

 

Link Up #173. Life This 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, or on your sidebar.

*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 weekly optional prompt is: 5/51 Share Your Snaps #1. 3.2.2020.

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My Best Birthday Cake. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 65/2019.

Beyond Five.

 

Denyse Whelan Head and Neck Cancer Patientnow Ambassador.

Consider a donation of $5 or more to my Virtual Event

For Head and Neck cancer patients, family and friends. This is a website and offers lots to help. It continues to grow and change but with no government funding, some donations by companies in related fields and one part-time business manager, a fund-raiser was initiated in 2018 called Soup for the Soul. Soup is often a food that patients with head and neck cancer can manage and it is comforting.

Soup for the Soul is already live and I have a Virtual Soup for the Soul page here. More about that as we get closer to World Head and Neck Cancer Day on 27 July.

 

My Best Birthday Cake. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 64/2019.

I cannot think of a ‘best’ birthday cake so I am going on a trip down birthday cake lane!

I think any birthday cake made for me by my Mum was a great one.

Mum might not have liked eating cake much but she sure enjoyed making them for us kids, and then her grandkids and I do think she even contributed to a great-grandchild’s birthday cake way back.

I use many of Mum’s strategies in cake making as I have her basic cake recipe in her handwriting in my recipe collection. She did not have electric beaters until the late 1950s so making by hand was even harder. Mum never had a ‘proper mixmaster’ and neither have I. We both preferred the electric hand held mixers.

My First Birthday.

Made by Mum I am sure!

My 65th Birthday.

Made by my daughter. A favourite of my late Mum’s that my daughter and I often made. Orange cake. This was a special but somewhat sad occasion as it would be the last birthday celebrated in Sydney with our children and their children. We have not celebrated any birthdays with all of the  family since. For reasons that are about distance and changes in lives of those concerned. It happens, right?

My 67th Birthday.

One little cake made by me. My husband joined me when he came home from Lifeline counselling. I remember this day well. Making an effort with my appearance because my ill-effects from IBS and anxiety (grief-like) were getting a hold. We were not to know, that within 6 months I would be diagnosed with oral cancer. And, I also did not know this would be the last time I could blow out the candle!!

And, for my 69th Birthday!

My chosen celebration was morning tea out with my lovely husband and then at home I said “we’d better have a cake and a candle”. Of course, I always have little cakes in the freezer….and here was when I found out what small limitations my mouth now had. It does not seal properly either. But no matter, the cancer is gone.

How about you?

What are your memories of birthday cakes?

I should add, I like all Mums (and possibly Dads and grandparents) got a copy of the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake Book. My daughter now has my original. I made the “one” for our son’s 1st birthday and he is now 40. Mum took to this book well. Over the years she made the racing car track, the number that was all lamingtons, a tennis racquet cake and later on…much later, our daughter made the Thomas the Tank for her then boyfriend’s 21st.

Denyse.

Kell also has a Monday linkup here. Join in!

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!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Next week’s optional prompt 24/51 Thank You to Me. 17/6/19

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Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

The best gift ever has given me food for thought.

I have had some great gifts in my life including these:

  • parents who gave me life, shelter, education, care and loveand who were wed for over 60 years.
  • a man I met and married within 3 months who has loved me for over 48 years now as I have him. This is on our wedding day, 23 January 1971.

  • the first gift of a child: our daughter (story is here) and then much later, our son (story soon!) and even though we did not know much about parenting, both are doing well in their adult lives.
  • a career in K-6 education in New South Wales schools which took me from probationary teacher to school principal thanks to the gifts of others who saw the potential in me, degree courses I completed with loving support from my family, and the children, teachers and parents of the many schools. Latterly I enjoyed teaching and supervising pre-service Masters’ students at University. On many occasions I was glad I could help these people and share what had been shared to me as gifts in my career.
  • the gift of meeting people and socialising is one I enjoy and to this end am doing it in a new area and loving making new connections socially: on-line and in real life, as they say!
  • I love the gift I have been given as someone who notices nature, enjoys solitude from time to time, and has learned so much about herself during some times of turbulence in recent years.
  • The gift I have been given of enjoying art and especially making mandalas has also seen me make 100s of bookmarks to help a charity called The Big Hug Box.
  • How good is it to give back! My story was also in a book that was published. What a gift that was.

But what about cancer? Is THAT a gift? 

I cannot finish this post without mentioning my fairly recent brush with the big C and what a gift that has been.

  • Life is a matter of how it’s viewed by the individual.
  • I do not like having had cancer because of many of the ramifications in my life, yet I know its presence has been a present. Let me explain more!
  • I was in a major life transition which had, in its own way, strangled my confidence and demeanour because of the grief involved. Yet I had some ideas of how to help myself.
  • That series of ideas was supplemented by the gift of amazing professional support, amazing and unending personal support and many hours of time to both learn and absorb.
  • When it was found that I had cancer, up from within me, emerged what had been hidden for almost 3 years and over time, my personal qualities of determination, belief in my surgical and oral health teams and in my capacity to heal and that I could share my story with others as I have and do.

The Best Gift is:

  • A return to “Denyse”. She had been long gone and I am so glad she is back.
  • This is my best gift: I am back. It does not matter I am ageing – that’s a privilege, nor that I have some physical scars I cannot overcome – they’re part of my history now and I am so glad to be here and look at my image in the mirror to say:

Hello, looking OK for someone who’s been through so much.

Well-done, you!

 

What is your best gift?

Denyse.

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!

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

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 4/51. What Is Hope? 28/1/19.


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September Stories. #3. 2018.95.

September Stories. #3. 2018.95.

This is the third story telling some aspects of what it was like for me as a K-6 School Principal in a medium-sized New South Wales public school from 1999 until the beginning of 2003.

The first story is here and the second here for those who want to understand “how I got to the day I never went back as principal in September 2002.”

What was different in the beginning of the 2002 school year?

It was my fourth year as principal. Naturally much changes within the education system 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.

And, Everyone Who Was An Executive Member of the School Went on Leave.

Not at all related to the above in two instances: one was to have a baby and the other because of longevity of service took her rightful allocation of leave…both for the remainder of 2002. But wait, there was one more. Yes, this person ‘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 but then, as it was expected of me that 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 sometime. 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 suppotive 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 I Was Told.

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. By one of my relieving Executive who I always thought was both compassionate and brave 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 16 years later.

It’s been hard to learn THIS….

Next and last story will be about, sadly, how poorly my then employer treated me, but how my own return to wellness was all because of my inner capacity aided by a loving husband, a supportive family and friends network along with..some years later, an inclusive blogging community.

Thank you for your kind words having read these stories. I have not told them in as much detail for many years but I am glad I could have the chance again.

It really helps to write our stories! That is why I blog!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky here on Thursdays.

 

 

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Back To Routines. #LifeThisWeek 5/52. 2017.17.

Back To Routines. #LifeThisWeek 5/52. 2017.17.

Yawn!

Str- e- tch!

Oh, here we go, back to routines!

Is this how it is for you right now?

I chose this prompt for this week as it is, for most of us, back to whatever routines form our lives.

We have, in many cases, had some time off from the usual routines and now it’s back to real life!

In our case, it’s actually been interesting NOT to have to get back to real life because we are retired from paid work, family responsibilities now our kids have well and truly left home and needing to be anywhere, somewhere by a certain time.

However there are days where we need to attend appointments and in my husband’s case perform his volunteer roles but we can take our day at a more leisurely pace. I know I needed routine in my life as a mother and a professional and it was via lists, preparation of meals and clothes ready to wear and generally having a running diary both in my head and on the fridge calendar.

Now, there are some routines I need to follow: eating meals, going for a walk, doing the blog and so on but it is less-timetabled and more free. It has taken me some time to become used to it all but now…love life with fewer routines!!

This sums up me in quite a few ways! The old me really.

I am someone who enjoys helping others and I also did some on-line research about the value of routines and agree that they are good for consistency and a smoothly operating family life…as best as can happen! I love this site that is Australian based and has many, many more helpful ideas for families.

Why routines are good for parents
Routines take some effort to create. But once established, they have lots of benefits:
* They free up time for you to think about other things while you work.
* Regular and consistent routines can help you feel like you’re doing a good job as a parent.
* When things are hectic, routines can help you feel more organised, which lowers stress.
* A routine will help you complete your daily tasks efficiently.
* As children get better at following a routine by themselves, you can give fewer instructions and nag less.
* Routines free you from having to constantly resolve disputes and make decisions. If Sunday night is pizza night, no-one needs to argue about what’s for dinner. Source: here.

What does “Back To Routine” mean for you?

Have you had a break from routine?

Do you find you can keep to a routine most days?

Can you give yourself permission to vary the routine and have some extra fun?

Denyse.

 

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!
* THANK you for linking up today! Do come back next week. Next week’s prompt is “What’s Enough Money?”.


I link up here with Alicia on Mondays and here with Kell too! Pop over and link up too!

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