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

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Storytelling, Women and Leadership

Shake it off

So here is the thing. Even when I am not actively researching and writing my PhD is playing itself out in other ways in my life. Last school holidays I had the pleasure of watching Sing with my little (and not so little) people. I have been doing the ‘family movie’ thing for close to two decades and after awhile the G rated, play school, Wigglesque moving image loses appeal.

So ….here I was snuggled up on the couch watching Sing. A musical with animated animals. I did not hold my hopes too high. But I confess, I must eat humble pie. Sing pulled at my heart strings, I sang along, I rooted for the performers, the shy young girl and the mother of 25 little ones. Rosita is a pig, a wife and mother. She works relentlessly but secretly harbours a passion for singing and performing. Her husband Norman is the provider and he comes home each day and fails to see ‘her’. Rosita longs to pursue her teenage dream of being a performer and she decides one day that she will enter a singing competition.

It is at this moment that Rosita stumbles across something of her young self, an earlier version of a woman with hopes and dreams. Her musical number in the film is Shake it Off performed by Reese Switherspoon. It was as I watched her sing  this song that I realised that whilst Taylor Swift had originally been singing about the men in her life, Rosita was performing about her life as a wife, mother and homemaker. Rosita is time poor, overworked, underpaid and has become silent, a shadow of her former self. But she finds the courage to pursue her passion for singing and to be brave.

These bold words struck me anew.

I stay out (up) too late, got nothing in my brain
That’s what people say, that’s what people say
I go on too many dates, but I can’t make them stay
At least that’s what people say, that’s what people say
But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music in my mind
Saying it’s gonna be alright
Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off.
This was the soundtrack for many of the women I had interviewed for my PhD research. Each had a heart for leadership and education but at times they had listened to the notion that they were ‘nothing’. Hearing these women narrate their lives and share tales of determination, to keep moving, striving and stepping out in faith, to take the plunge into leadership when the players and haters were not on their side, was inspirational.
These women were able to shake it off.
The thing is they are gonna shake, shake, shake it off for a long time. The journey into leadership is challenging and for women in education in a rural context there is a whole unique set of challenges. But oh the rewards if you can shake it off.
#womenEd #womenEdAus # ruralED
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leadership, Storytelling

The Stories we tell

 

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“We become the stories we tell ourselves.”
– Michael Cunningham

Often the stories we tell ourselves are born out of fear, anxiety and feelings of failure. We see the data, we know it and can hear it but our brain quickly infers meaning that can be unhelpful. We make fast judgments and decisions without thinking clearly.

Stories are powerful. We need to work to ensure we give ourselves reflection time, so that we can slow down and share our stories in a meaningful, engaging manner. Reflection is the key. Journal regularly. Being accountable to a colleague, mentor or coach. All of these simple practices help to safeguard making assumptions and encourage us to craft real, relevant stories that tell the story of us.

 

 

 

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research, Storytelling, Writing

Justification

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image:pexels.com

Many of us seek justification, to explain and support our decision making. Some good and some not so good.How do I justify the fact that I make time for this blog when there is so much to do? When teaching and learning demands overwhelm, when research deadlines loom?

Naomi Barnes has articulated my concerns in her blog post on EduResearch Matters for AARE. Her blog post was a breath of fresh air, a reminder of writing for writing’s sake. Barnes argues that writing is an important part of her scholarship and research.

I would suggest that I write to refine my ideas. I am constantly surprised how much I discover about my own thinking as I write. It is a space to reflect, to connect the dots, to question and highlight. My inspiration may be academic, it may be data but more often than not it is a random encounter with an image, a tweet, a piece of music, something I saw on my walk, something a student has said. It is this beautiful connection between the personal and the professional, the very identity that my research is interrogating.

So thank you Naomi Barnes. May many more PhD students come to revel in the pure delight of blogging and unearthing new ideas.

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Storytelling, Writing

A story life….

‘Do stories grow? Pretty obviously – anybody who has ever heard a joke being passed on from one person to another knows that they can grow, they can change. Can stories reproduce? Well, yes. Not spontaneously, obviously – they tend to need people as vectors. We are the media in which they reproduce; we are their petri dishes… Stories grow, sometimes they shrink. And they reproduce – they inspire other stories. And, of course, if they do not change, stories die.’

Neil Gaiman on How Stories Last

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