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.


Education, Teaching

Clouds Three Ways

img_8520There is not just one way. One way to see, read, view.

One of the goals of teaching and learning is to help each other identify different ways of viewing the world around us, developing our skills of critical thinking and being able to share ideas in a meaningful, clear and relevant way.

As a researcher who has immersed herself in the classroom this semester, I am acutely aware that there is more than one way to see, read and view.

The English classroom is a special place. We discuss big issues, heart issues, personal issues. This term it has been about growing up, racism, discrimination, self discovery.

As the academic year draws to an end and I farewell students I hope they can see things at least three ways. How about you?

Censorship, Education, English teaching, literature, Writing

Plastic Processed White Bread Text List



Why do we teach texts? Stories? Narratives? Because they are powerful, important snapshots of life. Each story reminds us of something in our own experience that we can affirm or counter, extend or reflect upon.

What would we do without great stories? Stories that exalt and offend, render us speechless and heartbroken.

According to The Age, the Education Minister James Merlino has urged the VCAA to review the selection process for all  VCE Literature, English, Drama and Theatre Studies texts lists  and “extend” the guidelines to “ensure that the views and sensitivities of cultural and religious groups are considered”.

I understand the concerns. But the richness and beauty of reading and teaching literature is that it is about ‘real’ life. And real life can be ugly and reveal acts of evil, jealously and corruption. Good writers explore all of this and more and don’t shy away from telling a story, just because it might be hard or sensitive.
As an English and Literature teacher I want to engage students and develop curiosity, support them to think critically and be articulate. Narratives help to do that.
I don’t want to teach from a  ‘plastic  processed white bread’ text list. Do you?
Education, research

Research Ed Melbourne

Screenshot 2016-05-22 15.31.11This quote attributed to Robert John Meehan was tweeted yesterday as a part of #rEdMEL

I heard about about Research Ed a few months ago when some of the key educators I follow on Twitter began retweeting #rEdMEL and ‘spruiking’ this one day conference for teachers, academics, researchers.

I was interested in the target audience – education practitioners and leaders, as well as researchers and academics all in one space to start new conversations, to collaborate ideas and to debate the state of play in education today? It just sounded too good to be true.

And this is one aspect of Research Ed that I want to follow up on. UK educator Tom Bennett (@tombennet71)led Research Ed in Melbourne, Australia. I was unable to attend in person, but thanks to my Professional Learning Network on Twitter I was able to dive into the live stream (yes it did trend on Twitter at one point) and follow some interesting conversations throughout the day.



Sometimes it is a succinct quote, an idea questioned or slide shared that is a little bit of gold that gets your brain thinking in a new way. (Left to Right: @CmunroOZ and @debsnet) I love that about the online world of learning.  Others like Greg Ashman and Deborah Netolicky have reflected more deeply in blogposts and I suspect there will be more of these as the week unfolds.

As a researcher and educator who lives 300kms from Melbourne, #rEdMEL via my PLN has been rewarding. But one of the most powerful outcomes I observed from afar was that many of these people who have been part of a Professional on line community for years, were able to meet up and talk together, some of them even working together and presenting as a team for the first time. The face to face connection and collaboration, the incidental chats over coffee, at the basin in the restroom or over dinner. These were all powerful encounters capable of long lasting transformation. A new Australian-centric research and education network was being grown.

I am reminded that we all have little ‘research eds’ in our work spaces, our schools and universities. The powerful conversations and collaborations, the active learning research and the reflective practice is all happening, but sometimes going unnoticed, without fanfare or celebration. This week the challenge for me is to connect the dots, with those powerful teaching practices I observe, a great student outcome, a small win for a colleague struggling, a coaching goal met or a  research deadline finished. There is a great life in research ed when we work together.



Education, gender, Women and Leadership

Is the future equal?


Australian film director Jane Campion has partnered with ANZ to produce this short film that highlights the need for more systems to support women.

A girl’s brain develops faster than boys but this is not sustained through the course of life. The aim of this campaign is to bring attention to the need for organizations around the world to support women as they learn, develop and grow. Women need access to education, opportunities to create, share their ideas, develop their voice and lead. Here is some of the data:


  • women earn up to 36 per cent less than men1
  • women represent more than 40 per cent of the world’s labour force but only control a quarter of the world’s wealth2
  • worldwide, women make up less than 20 per cent of government3
  • less than 25 per cent of senior management roles are held by women4
  • 31 million girls worldwide are still denied a primary education.5

In Australia:

  • the average weekly shortfall in wages of $295 per week, extended over a typical 40-year career, equates to a gender pay gap of about $700,0006
  • women returning to work after 12 months’ parental leave are subject to an average 7 per cent wage penalty (known as the “motherhood penalty”), increasing to 12 per cent over the subsequent year7
  • about 90 per cent of Australian women will retire with inadequate savings to fund a comfortable lifestyle in retirement8
  • women spend almost twice as much time on unpaid work as men.9

The film is aesthetically beautiful and the young girls and women portrayed are a glimpse of our future. For me, as I reflect on the role of women leaders in education these issues are more important than ever. We need strong women educators who will inspire and support younger women as they learn and work and engage with the world; who will address the issues raised here.  We need women educators who are honest about life as a working woman, balancing career and family, negotiating conditions and pay, taking on board the challenge and reward of leadership. We need women and men who will rally for an #equalfuture.


Education, Qualitative Research, Strategies, Writing for Research




it’s me

I was wondering if after all these years

You’d like to meet,

to go over


If you had asked me a year ago I would have not believed that I  would be staring at the data, that wildly exciting, challenging, heart searing data and wanting to meet.

Here is the thing. Research is mostly messy. I have been balancing hundreds of new ideas daily, great input from my online Professional Learning Network (PLN), I have found new ways of thinking and have been reading some great new literature that is helping me make sense of everything.

But I need to meet the data and say HELLO. Going over the data and making connections, identifying themes, coding, memos, links….ahh well that there my friend is a messy thing. I am like a deer caught in headlights. Stunned. Paralyzed. Scared.

So I am …meeting with my data, making friends, going over it all. Slowly.

Debating whether I use some software to support that meeting, a segue between the raw data and my brain.

I would love to hear your encounter with data and that messy place of research.

So, as Adele says so well……HELLO…..I am hoping to tell you more from the other side.