identity, Storytelling, Teacher Indentity, Women and Leadership, Writing, Storytelling

I don’t know how she does it

IMG_3311I am sure you have known that amazing, inspirational colleague. The teacher that seems to be on top of her game, shares her knowledge, builds confidence in the team and manages to push you that ‘little’ bit to achieve your best. Often we realize that impact that she had on individual teachers and students and the department as a whole after she has gone. And frankly, we really had no idea how she did it. She led, inspired and quietly challenged us all.

I have been reflecting on leadership and how we inhabit the role as leader, how we become that woman who inspires, challenges and encourages our colleagues. And I have been reminded to ask her before she moves on – ask her how she does it. Ask her how she entered the teaching profession, what drives her each day to make a difference, what she does to counter the challenges that inevitably come her way. Ask her who she looks up to, how she unwinds at the end of the week. Ask her to share her story.

Stories continue to shape and define us. One of the best ways to learn as an educator is to share stories. Invite others to tell their story and find ways to share your own. It is then you may be closer to understanding how she does it and perhaps why you too can do it.

PS. This post was first published on Staffrm a professional learning network and community for educators. I was sad to learn that this initiative is no longer viable and no crowdfunding or support can keep it alive. I hope I am wrong. Thanks for the introduction to Staffrm Hannah Wilson (@TheHopefulHT ) – a woman that inspired. #WomenEd #WomenEdAus

Context, Education, English teaching, identity, professional learning



Identity is a nuanced, complex, fluid notion. And yet, as an English teacher the temptation is to talk about identity, the key characteristics and traits of a character in a novel as though they are fixed and defined. Identity, who we are in a professional or personal setting is constantly being contested and challenged by our environment and context. For me, it might be an interaction with a family member, an assessment that is due, an interview, an emerging conflict with a colleague or some bad news. Each one of us enters our world aware, to some extent of the ways in which our private lives impact our professional selves. This area of identity, as it pertains to educators is an emerging area of study and one that has been linked to issues around professional learning and delivery.

For me, this Oscar Wilde quotation is a simple truth often forgotten. Today, it is a timely reminder that each one of us needs to be true to our own self, our values, and beliefs. As educators it is vital we have a sense of our own, emerging identity and know that our role is a vital one.

Education, English teaching, Teaching


“Learning is not attained by chance; it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”
– Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams, an American first lady (1797- 1801) and wife of John Adams the second president of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president, reminds us that learning is not a random act or accident. Rather it is something we must seek and act upon, with regular attention and focus.

How is your learning today? How do your students perceive learning in your classroom?

Attend to it with diligence.


leadership, research, Teaching



This week Education Leaders from across the country are meeting at Australia Council for Educational Leaders Conference 2017 #acelcon2017.

I am on term break, reading, writing, preparing for the final term of the school year and ‘attending’ the conference via my Twitter PLN. Online colleagues are sharing the key take aways from keynote addresses and workshops.

Rigour.This…..caught my attention today.  Barbara Blackburn inspiring and challenging educators to think about rigour. I realised that we often talk about rigour when we sense there is an absence or loss of rigour in our school, our classroom, our key learning. And yet it is somewhat of a buzz word that school’s include in all of their ‘information’. The question is do we really understand what rigour means?

Rigour is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels; each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels.

This slide from #acelcon2017 highlights for me that there are key questions that we need to ask about student learning.

Rigour. As it applies to student motivation, engagement, learning and staff leadership. Rigour.

research, Rural Women Educators, Teacher Indentity

Music as Metaphor



One of the questions I asked participants in the data gathering phase of my research project was to share a piece of music that best described the ‘soundtrack’ for their working week. The responses were enthuasistic. A piece of music to capture the mood and pace of the working life.

Amongst the responses, there was this one –  Helen Reddy’s I am woman. Whether it was a challenge to the world around her, a testimony to her true feelings about her working life and colleagues or a shared shout out to the sisterhood I am unsure. Whatever was intended it is a great song that roars with potential and possibility.

I am woman, hear me roar.

English teaching, Place, Professional Learning Networks, research

Reading? Listening ? Following?

b-newboyukWhy blog? Why keep a journal? Why tweet? Why subscribe to podcasts?Why read?

One of the features of my data gathering was asking participants what they were reading, who they were listening to and who they were following. The questions were posed as part of ongoing email exhcanges over the course of a school term. There were no restrictions or rules; no expectations. But the underlying idea was to uncover the extent to which individuals were able to negotiate their own professional learning and connect to a wider learning network, beyond their immediate school and a local community.

I wonder how you would respond. Do the words read, listen and follow resonate?

My research demonstrated that some participants were not in the habit of using social media or alternative forms of connecting with people and reaching out to them. Some participants interpreted the ‘listening’ component as quite literally what they hear in their everyday world – the family, friends, and colleagues that inhabit their space. Similarly, the nuanced meaning of following that reflects the broad world of social media was lost.

August 2017

  • I am reading New Boy by Tracey Chevalier. It is an adaptation of Othello and I am enjoying reading this alongside teaching the play to year 11 students.
  • I am listening to Hamilton, the Musical. Whilst I do subscribe to podcasts I don’t find I have long stretches of time in the car or on walks alone at the moment to take in a whole podcast. Music inspires me just the same.
  • I am following #educoachOC and #womenEd #womenEdAus. These groups on Twitter inspire and challenge my thinking every day. The ideas discussed via tweets, chats, blog posts and articles shared inform my teaching and learning, take my own research in new directions and consolidate an online PLN. I have great respect for some of my new ” colleagues” online. And my working week would not be the same without ‘hearing’ their voice and following their debates and discussions.

So why? Why read and listen and follow the world that is wider than the one I literally, physically occupy? Because it enables me to flourish. And at the end of the day, I am responsible for my own professional and personal development.

Tell me, what are you reading, listening to and who are you following?

PhD, Writing for Research

New Eyes


At each stage of the PhD experience there are new things to learn. A new connection, reading, theory, colleague – all help to reshape and mold my ideas and thinking. I like this Proust quote that suggests a large part of my role as researcher is to find ‘new eyes’ to view my data, my questions and my contention. So here is to new eyes, a new perspective and a new way of looking.DGhvBZ9VoAACMXa