identity, Teacher Indentity, Women and Leadership

Re-reading the Data

I spent the morning with four of my interviewees. Not in real time, face to face but by reviewing and reading the transcripts of our interview and listening to their voices.

I read these transcripts as new. I heard new words and the nuances that had been buried in the rush of data collection and transcription.

As I read my journal reflections I was surprised that I had recorded detail, as writers do.

The space where we met, the size and outlook. The smell, the feel of the meeting.

I also recorded what each interview wore, how she sat and interacted with me, as I asked questions and she spoke. Sometimes words came freely and at other times, there were pauses, silences.

Collete Werden is a personal brand image expert. She believes that your success and purpose can be directed with the right outfit. Werden is about authentic self packaging. I know many women who are uncomfortable with their package. The physical self, the corporeal reality of who they are and who they long to be.

I reflected on several participants. On occasion I was aware that their outfit said practical, functional. For others it said feminine, thoughtful.

Whilst I don’t think Werden has academic research as the basis of her personal branding business, she does have living proof that the right input and encouragement can shape and transform a woman’s image, identity and self confidence.

Do women leaders in education need encouragement? Yes.

If a new dress, style of jacket or lipstick colour made a difference to a woman’s confidence, should she embrace it? Yes.

I like the idea that as women in leadership we can dress for a future moment and not be defined by our past.

coaching, Women and Leadership



 “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw.

Change is hard. It challenges us. It threatens our existence as we know it.

Sometimes it is easier to hold onto what we know then to be open to a new way, a new life, a new way of being. Change requires us to know who we are.

As teachers this requires an honest reflection on the personal and the professional. It requires an understanding of the professional context in which we operate and the personal demands of our situation.

If we want to grow and develop in our role as educator and leader, if we want to progress as husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend we need to change. We need to reflect. Coaching can unlock these changes and it can support that journey of change.

As George Bernard Shaw says progress is dependent upon change. What are you going to change this term? #growth #coaching #changeispossible


Rural Women Educators, Women and Leadership

The 9 Letter Word

Screenshot 2016-07-19 14.56.17

What words can you see in this word target? I am too lazy to find as many words as  I can. I prefer to find the 9 letter word. But it has been years since I looked at these crazy language games. Why? My story has been a mixture of the unfinished business of raising a family, plus a bit of education consulting, some research, coaching and now serious PhD study. It has been some time since I have been exclusively in the classroom.

This term I have returned to the English classroom. That is right, I have entered into that fabulous space where I play teacher and a group of students come along to learn. Together we enter into this journey to learn about our subject, about the world and about ourselves. I had forgotten how amazing this job is, how complex, multifaceted and demanding. My head is spinning with stories, ideas and experiences. And somehow I have come alive, again.

And daily I am realizing how the teaching and learning is informing my research as I imagine what the professional and personal life is like for the women in leadership in education, who I have interviewed.

I am thankful for work that challenges and energizes me. Grateful for challenging educational experiences in this rural space I call home. Privileged to be working with young people and delighted that my own little people have risen to the challenge of the new school routine with their Mumma around. Life is busy. Life is good.

If you have been reading this but secretly also calculating what the 9 letter word is, it is wallpaper. Enjoy. x

Context, identity

Context is Key



Context influences and shapes teacher identity and continues to be reflected in the literature (Beijaard, Meijer, & Verloop, 2004; Goodson & Cole, 1994).

Professional teacher identity is formed and mediated by a range of social, cultural, historical, political and environmental factors. In education, the local school context is key to identity formation. It is an amalgam of physical space, institutional culture, the language of discourse and the personal experience of the place that work together as a catalyst for identity construction (Geijsel, & Meijers, 2005).

So I invite you to reflect on  your local school context and see it with fresh eyes. Revisit the physical space, the grounds, the building, individual classrooms, offices, the furniture, the ‘feel’ of each space and decide how the space connects with you. Does it engage you? Uplift you or oppress you? Maybe it leaves you feeling lost, too exposed. Or perhaps it energizes you.

Now consider if you dare, the culture of your workplace. The ideas and values, the vision and the practices that shape and define the organizations. The combination of the people, the words that are spoken, the tone of the everyday and examine how this impacts you, now. Culture can be a tricky thing to deconstruct as we rarely allow ourselves time to reflect on the minutiae of the everyday, of our work environment.

And finally, imagine your work space and join the dots if you will to the bigger picture, the bigger contexts – do your work in the inner city or outer suburbs? Are you based in a regional or rural space? Where are you located in terms of state and country? And are you connected to schools and colleagues further away, overseas?

For some of us this experience of context is now blurred. You may sit in a dreary office and pace the floor of a classroom that has seen better days, but you have energy and ideas that come from a context that is beyond four walls. A Cyber world of online exchanges of tweets and updates and snaps. This digital world intersects the real world and shapes our context.

Context influences each one of us. Take the time to revisit what your context really looks like and how it is shaping who you are and who you could be.

Your. Identity.



identity, leadership, Women and Leadership

Here’s to you, Mrs Robinson


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We all have a story to share about that one teacher who inspired us to be great. For me it is Mrs Robinson. As a new graduate teacher, I did not fully understand what was taking place in my world and how influential she would become to my future.

Mrs Robinson appeared to be a walking disaster. She would come to school with her hair askew or a smudge of make up in the wrong place, papers everywhere. She spoke in hushed tones and at times her expression was stony as she tried hard not to reveal what was going on in her head. She did not look corporate or polished.

But she was an amazing educator. She led the Senior English department with a flurry of activity, questions and unorthodox innovations. She was a little awkward socially and it took me weeks to know how to approach her professionally. But to my surprise she always said ‘yes’. New idea, yes do that. More resources, yes we will find them for you. Problem solve this issue, yes absolutely.

I was empowered by hearing the word yes. I was encouraged  by the word yes. I was challenged by the word yes. Just like Anne Bancroft’s Mrs Robinson in film The Graduate, she seduced me with the power of one word, yes.

Her story is an interesting one. She came to education after a career as a psychiatric nurse and her entry into teaching and leadership coincided with  juggling a young family.It was this rich life experience that made her astute when it came to decision making and people management; something I had little knowledge of at the time. What I witnessed working with Mrs Robinson was an educational leader whose commitment to  active  learning continually pushed me to see new possibilities in my students and in myself. Her leadership inspired many people and I knew that I was a part of something special being in her team. However, it is only now decades later that I know more clearly what made her special.

This educational leader  was authentic and she had integrity. She understood  that being a teacher was about developing self knowledge and building capacity for self reflection; it was about greater engagement with the internal and external mechanisms of the  profession and it was about continually changing to achieve best practice. (Mockler, 2011).

Creative women who lead and inspire, empower and transform will always make us feel a little uncomfortable because they force us to ask ourselves,‘ can I do that? ‘The answer is yes.  Here’s to you, Mrs Robinson.


 *This blog post first appeared on staffrm as a part of  International Women’s Day #IWD16 #womened. Many thanks to @misswilsey for an incredible job coordinating international bloggers around the clock.


Women and Leadership

Women Leaders in Education Matter



We all know the stats, the education sector is dominated by women and yet they are largely underrepresented in the area of educational leadership. According the to Fulger’s Huffington post article:

Put simply, women are doing the work while men are making the decisions.

This situation matters because education is integral to shaping the future of the next generation. Women need to be seen as shakers and movers, as leading and managing, as casting the vision for the future. Women need to be shaping the decisions that are made about teaching and learning, growing the education profession, influencing policy and keeping the government accountable.

This issue matters because women have so much to offer.

Women don’t want to just talk about ‘kids and casseroles’ or work life balance. Women want to enjoy their family but they want equal pay, equal opportunity and an acknowledgement that they contribute to so much of the conversation about teaching and learning and the future of education.

So I urge you to take a look around at your school or local education space and ask the question: where are all the female leaders? What are the women doing in your school? Who is doing the teaching? Who is doing the leading? Women leaders in education matter.


Creativity, Uncategorized

Research, Reading and Relaxation


The life of the PhD student does not grind to a halt when the rest of the world takes a vacation. In the midst of Christmas and New Year celebrations, time at the beach and basking in the Australian Summer sun there is still that thread of ideas that keeps surfacing, begging for attention.

For me the struggle to spend time with the family and relax versus  reading and writing is a real one. At best I am reading a chapter here or there, making notes in Evernote, engaging in some brief Twitter dialogue and writing – well writing in my head. The new year will be about me collecting data – moving out from behind my desk/book/journal and meeting people. I am just a little bit excited ( actually a lot) about re-entering the real world and mixing with Rural women leaders in education.

A grand story is about to unfold and I am very excited about that. For now I am learning how to relax, kinda, sorta….maybe. Enjoy your sunshine. x