A couple of years ago the captain of my school started “The Gratitude Project”. Her goal was to encourage all of the people in the school community to take time to notice and remember things they are grateful for. Each classroom had Gratitude Jars and students and teachers were encouraged to write on a slip of paper something they were grateful for, to put in the jar. The project was as successful as those kinds of things are. Some teachers got on board and some classes did some cool things. Two years on the jars make appearances from time to time in various guises. I guess there were about forty of them kicking around. One can’t blame the chaplain for recycling right?
Humans are a strange bunch. On a company and nation/ state level our culture is driven by growth. GDP must constantly increase, productivity must constantly improve. We must keep biggering and Biggering and BIGGERING!
But on a personal level we are seemingly compelled to take everyone, including ourselves down. I read a beautiful poem today, written by Nananoyz at Praying for Eyebrows about her mother who was never told she was beautiful. It made me think about the way we always assume people know that we think they are beautiful, strong, amazing and fabulous and so we never tell them. Often until it is too late.
I have recently been feeling a bit unappreciated. It is a long story and I am afraid if I write it in words it will sound peevish and just plain self centred so I won’t. I will simply say that as the end of the school year is upon us I didn’t feel that some students were showing as much appreciation for my efforts as they should. I wallowed in my self pity for a while until I kicked myself in the arse, reminded myself that part of the charm of teenagers is that they are inherently selfish and got on with it.
Then as I was sitting in my daughter’s graduation (she attended the school where I teach) a parent of a student who I had taught in her first two years of high school was sitting next to me. This particular student has learning difficulties. Unlike most she just gets on with it. She never asks for extra time, extra attention, or for someone to make allowances for her. She just asks for clarification, a lot. Even though we aren’t supposed to have favourites, she is a stand out in my memory bank.
Out of the blue the mum of this student says “Thank you for being so patient with my daughter, you helped her so much,” I was stunned. It has been four years since I had a class with her. But her mother remembered me and took the time to thank me. In all honesty I should be thanking her. Thanking her for allowing me to be part of the life of such an amazing student. But mostly for reminding me that we should not be focussing on who is thanking US but rather who in our lives needs our gratitude.
This post is part of this week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt, “Giving Thanks”. Although it is not as sexy as you guys are used to I felt moved to share my thoughts. Please click on the link below and see who else is being wicked this week.
The school that I work at has introduced a class called “Stretch” that is compulsory for all students. The idea behind this class is to cover all of the life skills stuff that is not covered in regular academic classes. Although it could be argued that much of it is covered in day to day dealings with students. But of course that doesn’t count. It could also be argued that many of the things that are covered in Stretch; things like, how to choose a good first car, how to apply for a credit card, how to travel overseas safely, how to study effectively are things that should be perhaps taught by parents but that is a topic for another time and probably another place.
I have volunteered to prepare and deliver lessons about consent and relationship stuff for a couple of different age groups. The first lesson was for 16 – 17 year olds and is focussing around the idea of consent and avoiding unwanted sexual situations including how bad mannered sending dick pics is. Especially considering that capturing and distributing sexual images of a person under the age of 18 is illegal in Australia and can land you in jail. Even if they are pictures of YOUR penis. This lesson is fairly stock standard. A lot, but not all, of the students in this group are sexually active at some level. Many have had serious (to them) relationships and so are almost adults.
The second group are 13 – 14. Slightly younger in years but so much younger when it comes to relationships. They have dabbled in dating in a childish pre-teen way and I am assuming that there are some who are sexually active at some level. I am pretty sure penetrative sex at this age is the exception rather than the rule but sex is not just about penis in vagina. Whatever the case it has been identified that these guys are not very good at dealing with situations where someone is getting rejected or when someone has an opinion that is different from the loudest (not necessarily the most popular) person in the group.
My lesson is structured in this way;
Students will be able to deal with an unwanted advance tactfully and kindly
Students will be able to handle a rejection with grace and walk away knowing it is not the end of the world
I am able to be honest and kind with a person who likes me who I don’t like me back
I will be able to be understanding and sensible when someone doesn’t like me back and not engage in any kind of childish, stupid or aggressive behaviour.
Ok so when I write those on the board I may use different words but you get the idea.
What scared me the most was the amount of material I found, while doing some research, that encouraged a level of game playing. This included videos and articles with titles like “How to get her to like you”, “What she REALLY means when she says no” and “How to keep him interested.” Now most of this is produced by and for young “adults” but I am certain that my students will be watching this. The amount of material that I could find that was a) produced for younger teenagers and b) relaying positive messages was miniscule.
I found all of this terrifying. What are we teaching our young people? Where is the honesty? Where is the acceptance that not everyone I am attracted to is going to like me back? Adding to that the idea that being rejected is not a sign that you are worth less? As a parent I have striven to imprint on my children the importance of being as honest as possible with people and avoiding games. It is not an easy path when your peers are not using the same value set. But good relationships are a long game and the gratification is not always instant.
Based on the junk I have uncovered on the internet and my observation of student behaviour, game playing seems to be pretty much the norm. Conversations about “being left on read” and what he really meant, and how to turn her opinion around are rife. The idea that a boy should “fight” for a relationship by persisting with his attention after being told no is particularly frightening.
It is a great boost to the ego when someone demonstrates their undying love consistently even in the face of adversity but the danger of encouraging persistence after the initial no is that people don’t know when no actually does mean no and this can ultimately lead to rape.
There are two sides to no. The first is the telling. Women are conditioned to be compliant and pleasant to suitors, even those they don’t like so much. On top of this humans are wired to avoid conflict. So if we get into a situation that requires rejecting someone we will avoid rather than standing up and saying how we feel. Enter the behaviour of ghosting and “leaving on read”. I am guilty of doing both of these. It is hard to say no. Especially if you have indicated interest early in the conversation. If me, a mature, strong woman finds it hard how hard must it be for a 13 year old feeling the extreme of peer pressure?
The second side is hearing no. It hurts. As an adult it is a knock back. To a teenager striving to be accepted it is of course devastating. Young boys in particular often struggle to contain tempers and express themselves in a non-violent way. Young girls resort to emotional “bitchy” behaviour when they don’t have the tools to deal with this. While the junk that I have described above floats around on the internet the idea that No doesn’t really mean No is going to persist and these young people are not going go through the painful growth of learning how to take a rejection with grace and maturity.
As an educator I am passionate about educating in a holistic way. This means teaching students life skills and encouraging them to grow into decent humans that treat each other with respect. Which is why I am passionate about making sure that this Stretch lesson happens. What concerns me is that many teachers are unaware of the rubbish that students are exposed to and how dating has changed in the last 10 -20 years. What concerns me even more is that parents are even less aware of what is going on in their children’s lives and are not equipping their children with the confidence and skills to deal with this stuff. Schools can only do so much and one or two lessons is like one person trying to stop an ocean.
I am sure I have written about this before but reading through some of the posts in the recent 4ThoughtsorFiction posts I came across some stories that are genuinely shocking. In particular one shared by Jenna at Rasperry Ripples. In her post she shares a recollection about a male teacher who made sexual remarks about her body during her time at high school.
As a teacher I was genuinely appalled at his behaviour. While the rules about professional conduct vary slightly from country to country I don’t believe at any time or in any place a teacher making sexual advances or even engaging in innuendos with a student has been acceptable, AT ALL, EVER.
There is a slight grey area here. In the situation I am talking about; the student was a female and the teacher was a male. This kind of situation is very much taboo but the reverse seems to carry less offense. This probably ties back to the general idea that we seem to have that men have more power than women. Even when they are significantly younger.
But it is no less offensive. The problem when a teacher makes an advance on a student is not the gender but the age of the student. It is about the power imbalance. A young inexperienced person, even if they are legally above the age of consent cannot give fully informed consent to someone who has been in a position of power over them. Hence even if an 18 year old student tried to hook up with a teacher or vice versa the situation is not seen as consensual on the part of the student.
Many times when I am talking to men who would like to be a sexual partner and I reveal my profession they reply with; “I wish I had a teacher like you.” Of course they probably did have a mid 40’s, slightly overweight maths teacher who liked to stick to the rules and dressed like a teacher. I certainly don’t look like the fantasy girl when I am at work. The fantasy these men are tapping in to is the fantasy that an unattainable person suddenly and unexpectedly becomes sexually available to them.
I am sexually available. To the right people. Those people don’t include; my students, other teachers I work with (despite some being of passing interest to me) and men who want to teacher role play. I have been known to tell men who are getting a bit out of hand “Don’t make me get the teacher voice out!” Sometimes this causes a bit of hilarity, but generally when the teacher voice happens in a sexually open environment I get what I want. Sometimes because obedience to that kind of voice is ingrained in us and sometimes because it touches a chord in a man’s sexual fantasy realm and he wants more. Either way it is not going to result in me donning a pair of thick rimmed glasses and engaging in a full classroom role play.
I would not say that I have not been on the receiving end of some “attention” from male students. But never anything serious. Most of it is very, very inexperienced young men awkwardly trying to come to terms with unfamiliar stuff happening in their bodies. A woman with few scruples could easily take advantage of the situation if she was so inclined. And when she was exposed it would be the end of her career as well as a bunch of negative publicity.
Consequently for me the teacher thing is off limits. I may make the occasional joke but as I said I am not interested in a teacher role play situation and I am DEFINITELY not interested in any after hours stuff in an actual classroom. Don’t laugh I was actually asked if that was a possibility once.
I don’t talk to that man any more.
Of course there are always stories about teachers hooking up with ex students or teachers that start relationships with students and keep it on the down low until they are of age. I am certain things like that happen but they are VERY rare and the participants are VERY close mouthed about it. I am not here to judge and every case is slightly different. The thing to remember is that some teachers are quite young when they start out. My daughter literally has her ex school captain as one of her teachers in the last year of her schooling. He is actually friends with my son. In the right situation they could end up dating. As a parent I would not be against that situation.
I guess the fallout from all of this is that we have a fascination with the power play and taboo nature of teacher – student interaction. For the most part this interaction has no place in real life. Teachers who take advantage of the power their position affords them are low lifes who should not be teachers. But as always there are exceptions.
I posted recently about my appreciation for a good dick pic. I absolutely stand by my appreciation for cock. That doesn’t mean I want to have images of cocks shoved in my face when I am not expecting them. Fortunately for me I associate with adults in most of the places I hang out, even online. Most of my followers seem to be fairly adult and understand the concept of asking for consent before launching a shot of their genitals at me.
During a conversation with a student, and subsequently my own daughter who is almost 18 it came to my attention that boys in that age bracket are not so adult. My daughter is not one of the “popular” girls. She is in fact a rather unique individual who very steadfastly walks to the beat of her own drum and tolerates only those who are willing to accept her the way she is. Consequently her Social Media presence and usage are quite different from the average teenager.
But this post is not about her. It is about the experiences of more ‘average’ 14 – 18 year old girls. Typically these girls are very much involved in Social Media. Most of them use Instagram and Snapchat and a large number of them also use Tick Tock. For many of these girls their social lives are lived through their stories, check ins and posts. A lot of their real world conversations are about what they saw on social media. Although these services have the capability to lock down privacy most of these girls don’t bother with keeping their content private. How can one generate attention when your privacy is locked down?
Clearly this behaviour can become a problem. If you are interested in finding out about the biology behind it you can read this article here. Something that a lot of people aren’t aware of is the way young men use open unprotected social media accounts to seek out girls. Boys find girls they haven’t met by searching contact, follower and friend lists of their friends or followers. When they identify a female name they introduce themselves in a way that whole heartedly confirms that we are descended from apes. They drop their pants, take out their phones and send a photo of their penis.
A student told me recently that should receives somewhere around 3 – 4 unsolicited dick pics from boys that she doesn’t know per week!!!!
From boys she doesn’t know or has spoken to.
So she is 16 – 17 years old and definitely prone to exaggeration but even if she has inflated the number by doubling it that is still a lot of dicks.
Both the genitalia and the owners.
A colleague told me today that his daughter who is approximately 14 received an unsolicited dick pic from a boy at her school.
The school he also teaches at. Meaning this boy thought it was perfectly OK to expose himself and send a picture to an unsuspecting girl knowing that he would have to face her father at some time during his school day and every school day until he leaves that school.
I don’t get it. I mean these boys wouldn’t walk around the school yard with their dick hanging out so why send pictures to all and sundry without an invitation? It is the same thing.
During the course of the conversation with my daughter we tossed around the idea that part of the problem is girls who don’t push back because they don’t want to discourage the cute boy who might be interested in them. While girls may feel pressured to accept the behaviour so they can get the attention of the cute boys none of this is OK.
As part of my job I am preparing a lesson or series of lessons discussing consent and trying to give teenagers, boys and girls, some tools to enter into the world of sexual activity with a level of confidence and control. A big part of this process is teaching about the idea of consent. In all honesty, for at least part of my audience, these lessons will be shutting the gate after the horse has well and truly bolted.
Although I feel passionate about equipping young men and women with some factual information and hopefully introducing to some young brains the idea that asking for permission before throwing anything sexual at an unsuspecting person is the decent human thing to do. I am also realistic enough to know that one lesson is not enough. It is tempting for parents to avoid the icky uncomfortable topics like sex and relax in the knowledge that school has it covered.
Behaving like a decent human doesn’t come from one lesson. It comes from a lifetime of seeing your family and significant people in your life behaving like decent humans. It comes from your father and your mother and any other significant adults telling you what is expected over and over. The person who learns from being told once is very rare. Most people, especially teenagers, need to be told many, many times.
Mothers of boys know that teaching their sons about appropriate penis use is a large part of raising a boy. First you have to teach him to aim at the toilet, then you have to teach your toddler to put their pants on before they go out in public. Then comes lessons about not walking around with their hand in their pants. After that comes the really important part, taking pictures of their penis and sending it to girls is also not OK. Neither is expecting that they have the right to shove their dick into whatever orifice takes their fancy. As tired as you are of talking to your boy about his dick and as stupid as it feels, it is necessary if any of this is going to get better. I have a 20 year old son and recently I found myself re-iterating some lessons about appropriate use of his penis.
Fortunately the conversation was just a confirmation he had the situation well in hand; rather than an intervention to prevent an unintentional pregnancy as a result of a less than satisfactory relationship. But the point remains. Parents, you are never going to stop talking to your sons about their penis. Probably ever. Unless you want a phone call from a school about them sending dick shots to all the girls in the netball team.
This post is part of this week’s Wicked Wednesday Roundup. If you want to check out who else is being wicked click the icon below.
I have also linked this post to 4 Thoughts or Fiction #157 Teachers. For some thought provoking erotica or just thought provoking ideas head on over and check it out.
This week was the first week of term 3 for me. I have a new timetable, I don’t like it, I am struggling to be positive. I don’t know why it is affecting me so much but for the first time in a long time my depression is getting physical with me. However in the spirit of fake it until you make it I am determined not to let everything go to hell in a handbasket, even if it means posting a little bit later than I would like.
1. Money or Fame? Why?
In this world of Tick Tick, Youtubers and social media influencers fame has become everyday and cheap. It has lost its influence and its power. Anyone with a phone can become famous. It sometimes comes without any real effort.
Money still has power. With money a person can effect great change in the world. Sure they can be like Jeffery Epstein and use their money to cause great pain and sadness in some people’s lives but there are many in the world who use their money to really influence the world around them.
2. Fish or Chicken?
I don’t feel particularly strongly about either of these choices. If I had to take one out of my life completely it would be fish. Chickens are a huge part of my life at the moment. We currently have about 20 chickens living with us and by the end of the year that number will be higher. We use these birds to create eggs and also for meat. The rule of thumb is “don’t name the ones we are going to eat.” It has worked pretty well.
3. Sleeping at night–too warm or too cold?
I am a child of the sun. I was born and have lived my entire life in a sub-tropical climate. Consequently I don’t like being cold. Like most Queenslanders I get twitchy when the daytime temperature is below 20oC and downright panicky when the nighttime temperature drops below 10oC. So I like to be warm. I pull the blanket around my neck to make sure I get a good seal. Unfortunately the onset of menopause has meant that I frequently wake up feeling like I am roasting so my nights at the moment (during our winter) have been a long dance of “blanket off, get cold, blanket on, get warm, sleep a little, wake up hot, blanket off” repeat.
I can’t wait until summer.
4. Beard or Moustache? Why?
I am not a fan of facial hair. Mr Jones has never had a beard. Although recently he has had a couple of attempts at letting his whiskers grow out. I tolerate it, in the spirit of being a supportive wife but eventually it annoys even him and he shaves it off.
I wonder what will happen next year when we are living in a caravan for an extended period? Perhaps I should pack a beard trimmer when we leave for our odyssey.
5. Cars–classic or modern?
I have long been a fan of the muscle car. Toranas to be exact.
My current drive car varies, depending on the day, who is in the car with me and what is convenient in the driveway. Having two adult children, a set of grandparents and another adult tenant all living on our property has resulted in a LOT of cars to house and shuffle around. So I can find myself behind the wheel of a Mazda 3, An Isuzu Ute or a 2005 Commodore. Or, in a frightening twist, in the passenger seat supervising a learner driver.
6. Which holds more beauty–smile or eyes?
Normally I would say eyes. One of my classes is a bunch of 12 – 13 year olds. It is about a 60/40 split of boys to girls. During a class this week I made a quip about wanting to see their beautiful smiles in an attempt to get their eyes away from their laptop screens. I was rewarded with some very special little boy smiles. So now I am conflicted. Although I will say that a smile is not genuine if the eyes don’t match it.
7. Soothing the soul–hiking or shopping?
Absolutely 100% hiking. What is not soothing about hiking and seeing stuff like this?
As an aside my daughter looked over my shoulder as I was answering this and said that shopping was DEFINITELY not soothing to my soul. In her honest and unfiltered opinion it was the opposite of soothing for me.
She knows me well.
Bonus: What is your favorite type of foreplay?
Absolutely 100% having Johnny’s face between my legs.
This post is part of TMI Tuesday for 14 June. There are some awesome posts happening over there. You should check them out!.
I want to preface this post with a few statements about Covid-19. Firstly as I have said many times on these pages the Australian experience of Covid has been significantly different from the experience in some parts of The United States and the U.K. We have had a minimal lockdown for a minimal time in response to a relatively small number of cases.
So this afternoon I responded to a comment on Twitter regarding wearing of face masks in public. I feel very conflicted when discussing this topic. All of the information I have read and certainly the official government line in Australia is that wearing of masks will help stop droplet spread if the person wearing it is infected. But wearing a mask has limited effectiveness in protecting a non-infected person who is wearing it,
Stupidly I added my comments to the thread even though the intelligent rational part of my brain told me to stay out of the discussion. The response from one of the people in the discussion was a real blindside.
Someone with the description “Sex Goddess” in their bio should stay out of comments on posts like this
Apparently my postgraduate qualifications in microbiology does not qualify me to participate in a discussion on disease transmission. Neither does my profession as a high school science teacher which is dedicated to educating young people about questioning posts like the thread I was participating in.
Interestingly my Twitter bio lists teacher before it lists Sex Goddess but apparently my critic didn’t consider that one outbalances the other. It saddens me to be confronted with the opinion that being a sexual person means I can’t be intelligent. Displaying my body and being proud of my sexuality apparently takes away from my intelligence.
My Twitter account is primarily to interact with people who read my blog and a space for me to post semi nude pictures of myself. It is a place where I express my sexuality but I am not a one dimensional person. No-one is. Of course all of us are multi-dimensional. Of course everyone is entitled to have an opinion about things happening in the world around them.
Had the critic said my opinion was not valid because I don’t live in a country that has been affected as much as others I could have accepted this. Being told I am too much of a bimbo to participate in discussion is just nasty. In all honesty I think my critic was not used to being challenged by an informed, intelligent person. They were only interested in participating in “discussions” that consist of opinions that agree with theirs.
In all the time I have had a social media presence as Gemma I have had very little call for blocking people. I have always expected that I would be attacked at some point by moralists but it has never happened. This is one of the only times I felt it was prudent to distance myself from the discussion and employ the block option. It makes me sad that people who pride themselves on being intelligent don’t seem to have an open mind.
I wrote the initial responses to the questions after an 11 hour work day. Teaching right now is very very challenging. I have not worked on preparing lessons so much since I was a first year teacher. Being older and wiser means I am even more conscious of the quality of my teaching. That just makes me push harder and, well, let’s just say I am tired.
Wisely I decided to review this after some sleep before I posted. So I will keep the original answers and add some “morning after” notes.
1. So, what’s your typical work uniform if you are working from home?
I wish I was working from home! Right now I would love to be home all day,
in my pyjamas,
At the time when I wrote this I was in my pyjamas eating chocolate. It was a great way to be. But honestly I have face to face time with my students every lesson so pyjamas is probably not a good idea.
2. Are you eating more _____ under coronavirus lock-down or self-quarantine? (choose all that apply)
a. prepared foods
b. fresh produce
c. frozen food (veggies, entrees, pizzas, etc.)
d. snacks foods (cookies, cakes, ice cream, chips, crackers, candy, etc.)
d. homemade soups, stews, casseroles
e. I’m just eating more…everything.
As I have kind of explained in my Food 4 Thought post last week I am not really in what the rest of the world knows as lockdown.
Having said that we have just had two weeks of Easter holidays during which I ate a lot of: b. Fresh produce and d. Home made soups, stews and casseroles.
This was followed by two weeks of introduction to online teaching during which I have eaten a bunch of d. Snack foods in particular, chocolate and cookies.
Being kinder to myself I am eating a bit of chocolate at the moment but it is actually Easter remains. I am not actively buying extra. But in a week or so when the Easter chocolate is gone? Hopefully then we will be back to regular classes.
3. What are you planning to do?
Tonight; finish this blog and then go to bed.
Today conquer the education world with spectacularly designed lessons.
4. Picked up any new hobbies lately?
Not really. I have revisited an old hobby that I haven’t had a lot of time to work on though. During the recent Easter break I made my daughter a brand new dress.
I also have a pending dress that is made from the same fabric. I had a calculation error and bought wayyyyyy too much.
5. Would you rather be compelled to high five everyone you meet or be compelled to give wedgies to anyone in a green shirt?
I am going to go with high fives. No one should ever be subjected to wedgies.
Bonus: Would you rather live in virtual reality where you are all powerful or live in the real world and be able to go anywhere but not be able to interact with anyone or anything? A god in the machine or a ghost in the real world.
I am already a goddess! So I am going with the virtual option. At least I get to control my environment,
Someone told me this week they thought my butt was the eighth wonder of the world. So behold the eighth wonder of the world
This post is part of TMI Tuesday. For more weirdness, sexiness and just plain excellence. Check it out here
When I was growing up a popular way that Australians liked to refer to their country was “The lucky country”. There are so many things about Australia that make it somewhere very special to live. Our climate, our freedom, the fact that we have never experienced wide-scale war or civil unrest and, more recently, we have one of the lowest rates of infection of Covid-19 in the world.
It hasn’t meant that we aren’t restricted in our movements. Where I am living public gatherings of more than two people are illegal, schools for the most part are closed, non-essential retailers are closed, gyms and many health related services are also closed. In the supermarkets there have been shortages of flour, meat, pasta, rice and of course toilet paper. For a short while a visit to the supermarket was a little crazy. The “Stay home and save lives” message is in full swing. According to our health experts it is working. We have had a significant reduction in active cases across the country. For almost two weeks our daily increase in cases has been at one percent or less.
With all of this happening the news is now full of interviews with psuedo experts (because of course the real experts are a tad busy doing actual science right now) speculating on when we will be allowed out again. This question is not just around when we will be allowed to go to the pub or to parties with friends. This is also about people being allowed to return to work. Many people are unemployed right now because so many businesses were forced to close. Our government seems to have created a money pit somewhere judging by the number of programs that have been announced, to give financial support to newly unemployed, businesses affected, people who can’t pay loans, the list goes on and on.
In the background of this is school closures. Australian schools close for two weeks around Easter so in the last month schools have been inactive as they would normally. About five weeks ago (two weeks before holidays started) when cases were on the rise, we were seeing horrific images from Italy and the UK there was a lot of panic and discussion about the safety of schools. I work in a high school. It is impossible to socially distance teenagers in the classroom and the playground. I don’t even want to consider how difficult it would be in a primary school. Public opinion was that schools are breeding grounds to spread disease. A lot of the time they are. First year teachers will tell you they get sicker in that first year of being in front of kids than they ever have in their life. Why? About half of it is probably because stress has weakened their immune system but the other half is because kids are festy. (For those of you unfamiliar with this term Urban dictionary comes to the rescue!)
So parents started taking their kids out of school. As the numbers of students at school dwindled other students begged to be allowed to stay home sensing the opportunity to extend their impending holidays. Then, bowing to union and public pressure our state government caved and closed schools. There was a week of frantic preparation for online delivery and two weeks of time which was designated as holiday time. I don’t think there is a teacher alive who didn’t spend at least half of that time in front of a computer struggling with unfamiliar technology trying to put together meaningful learning experiences. The image featured above is of a doodle I did during this time to remind myself that my life is much better than many others.
The week just passed has been the first official week of “remote learning”. For different schools this looks different. For my niece and nephews it is hard. They don’t live close to a major city, their internet in a word is shit!. Remote delivery of lessons for them is problematic. For many schools Microsoft One Note was the go to. In the words of our school IT manager “One Note needs about two weeks in iso!” It failed and caused much hair pulling and frustration.
For the students, their anticipated extended holiday turned out to be a failure. No trips to the beach, camping cancelled, no shopping centers open, nothing to do except sit at home with video games and social media. The first week of remote learning was frustrating for many, and while it was a break from routine it wasn’t a substitute for interaction with actual humans.
In my own little corner of the world we are relatively blessed. We have an IT manager who deserves a sainthood. We have parents who have stepped up in their support and positivity. There have been social media posts about us. Flowers, chocolates and cakes delivered to school for us. It has been nothing short of empowering. But it has been hard. We are meeting online with our students, via Microsoft Teams for every one of their scheduled lessons. We are planning classes and material as if we are in our regular timetable but instead of delivering the way we normally would we are delivering online. It requires a HUGE amount of planning. Simple tasks like marking a roll would normally take five minutes are now taking 10 – 15 minutes.
Now the talk has turned to students returning to school. Our federal government has indicated that all of their information shows regular school is safe for most healthy children. These children will not pose a risk to their teachers. With exceptions of course. Older teachers and those with health conditions need to be cautious and removed. Despite this there are some political undercurrents that do not bode well. Unions are flexing their muscle; and our union funded state government, that controls schooling, is at odds with the federal government who sits on the other side of the political fence. As is often the case with education, teachers and students are at the mercy of decisions made by people who have no vested interest in benefiting either party.
The original date for return to regular classes was May 20. Five weeks into the term. One week of this type of schooling has felt like about five for most of us. If there was an announcement that regular school was starting back up on Monday (two days from now) there would be very few teachers that I know who would be unhappy about it. Sadly I don’t think this will be the case.
For those of you reading this and living in other, more affected parts of the world, my thoughts are with you, stay safe and take care of your wellbeing. Most importantly take care of your mental health.
I added my post to Food 4 Thought for the first time last week and I was so happy to be chosen by Floss for the Spotlight post. When I read the prompt for this week I was not sure if I would be able to contribute but below are my rambling thoughts.
As I write this I am on the eve of starting online delivery of high school classes. It is something that I, along with many teachers, have worried about, spent copious amounts of time trying to prepare for and probably a similar amount of time debating about the political reasons for being thrust into this very uncomfortable space. Something many people don’t realize is that, in Australia at least, becoming qualified to be a teacher takes four years of university study. During those four years all of our training is based around being in front of our students. Suddenly in the space of a few weeks we have been asked to turn that upside down and implement this new way of delivery. Yes some of the principles are the same but for many of us, myself included, technology is unfamiliar and frightening. Yet here we are being forced to use some fairly new tech in ways that it probably wasn’t really designed to be used.
Consider also that most teachers, the good ones especially, don’t choose to teach because they are full of knowledge that they feel compelled to impart to the world. We teach because we love kids. We want to nurture a young person and facilitate their growth into the best version of themselves. In the process of making that happen we form relationships and genuine, deep attachments to our students. To be suddenly forced to only see and interact with them through a screen cuts our souls.
So on this eve of remote learning my hopes are that I can still do my job well. That I don’t lose those little sheep that sit quietly in class confused and unsure of how to ask for help. The ones that really can only be helped when someone sits with them and says “Let’s do this together” while the rest of the class gets on with it. They are the ones that will suffer because if you ask them directly they will say they are OK. Only when you sit and talk with them do you see that they aren’t. How does remote learning work for them?
My dreams are similar. My youngest child is in her final year of high school. For her this is supposed to be the year of last sporting carnivals, reflective retreats, formals (prom) and savoring time with friends among the chaos that is assessment and final exams. Much of this will be taken away from her, and many others. It is not as dramatic as losing your parent to Covid-19 and not being able to be there as they take their last breath. But it is sad nonetheless.
I have spent seventeen years raising a unicorn. I dream that this setback will not stop her from being as fabulous as she has the potential to be.
This post is part of Food 4 Thought Friday. You can read other posts by clicking on the image below.
A couple of weeks ago I blogged about frustrations with people’s (mostly my student’s) reactions to Covid-19. You can read about them here and here. Two weeks it seems is s long time in a world inhabited by Covid-19. Since then speculations about schools closing and lockdown have become somewhat of a reality.
Pubs and clubs are closed, gyms are closed, restaurants are closed, theatres are closed. Airports both domestic and international are running at about 20% of their capacity.. Schools are closed.
Yes schools are closed.
The teaching fraternity is currently scrambling around getting ready to deliver lessons online. After the Easter holidays finish in about two and a half weeks everyone in Australia will be effectively learning by distance education.
Some teachers are truly embracing this approach and are all over the technology we are using. For my school it is Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft products such as Power Point and One Note. Some teachers are learning this week for the first time what these platforms look like.
Students were sent home last Friday, a week earlier than scheduled to give us time time do this learning. I feel like I have re-learned how to teach in the space of about a week. No small feat. For anyone.
Consequently my blogging brain is closed for business. The capacity is taken up by working out how to do what I do every day in person as Mrs Jones in a virtual environment. It is hard. I was end of term tired before this happened.
So I apologise for the very un-sexy post. But I hope that sexy content you are used to seeing and reading will be back very soon.
In the meantime here is a quick selfie I took yesterday.