Have you ever told yourself that your goal was simply to “have fun?” Well, over the weekend we hosted a Smashing Stereotypes event at the gym and the presenter said something that really struck me. The presenter was Raeanne Pemberton, and she is a Strongwoman Competitor in the USA. She has a lot to say about the mindset of women for strength training, and in general, and I always find her inspiring. This time around, the thing she said that struck me was: “If you’re telling yourself that you’re there to have fun, you’re lying to yourself.” That hit hard.
We were talking about competing in strength sports and how a lot of women seem to tell themselves before a competition that they “don’t really care how well I do, I just want to have fun.” I myself have said this. Raeanne says that this is a lie, and I now agree. We absolutely, 100% do care how well we do! You may not realise it, but every time you sign up to compete you have certain numbers in the back of your mind that you want to hit, and you’ll either be disappointed when you miss them, or elated when you smash them. I realised that we don’t publicly acknowledge these numbers as our official competition goals because we likely don’t want to risk failing. We don’t want to put ourselves out there, and then not achieve. We want to protect ourselves from feeling failure by setting our goals low. It’s easy to turn around and say, “I may not have gotten any PRs today, but I had fun and that was my goal.”
Maybe I’m being a little too doom-and-gloom about it all, but let me try explaining it like this. We are predisposed towards being hard on ourselves, we are conditioned to have low expectations of our abilities, and we are raised to fear failing. To protect ourselves from all of this, we set the bar low in terms of our achievements. There is a difference between “I just want to have fun today” and “I want to hit certain numbers or reps today, but I also want to have fun.” Every time we sign up to compete, we have certain expectations and hopes for what we will achieve. After hearing Raeanne speak, I have made a conscious decision to really acknowledge what I want to achieve from the competition, and to not settle for “I just want to have fun.” Remember, it’s ok to have fun while competing, but you will achieve and progress so much more if you truly acknowledge why you’re doing what you’re doing, and you’ll probably have more fun along the way as well.
Educating Young Women:
Earlier in the week, I had an opportunity to discuss this phenomenon of “just having fun” with the students in my home room. We were asked to watch the following video and then discuss:
We talked about goal setting and some examples:
Running – why do you run? Do you always want to run faster or further?
Music – why do you play? Do you want to share your music, play harder pieces, or sound better each time?
Writing – why do you write? Do you want to get better, share your work, or learn new styles?
As you can see, we talked a lot about our “calling” or our “why,” and I raised the question of whether a goal of “just having fun” is enough? It was interesting to hear these young women echo the same concerns about setting low goals that Raeanne raised. It gave me hope. Does this mean that this generation of young women are being empowered to think they can do more, be more, and therefore set themselves more challenging goals? I really hope so.
I came across a great teachable moment last night on Instagram, but this moment I woke up and felt that I needed to share it a little more widely… Templates on Instagram – are the innocent, or something more?
Firstly, here’s the post:
krystalgagen Can we talk about these templates for a minute? I’ve been noticing an increase in templates that you screen shot, fill in, and then post on your Instagram story. While most of them are harmless, there are some that ask for a LOT of personal information. For example, this one is asking for your age, your birth day and month – put those together and you’ve got your full birth date. Add in your height, birthplace, and descriptive features, like eye and hair colour, and all of a sudden that’s everything that you’d put on a driver’s licence/form of ID!
I’m not saying that everyone that creates one of these templates is out to collect your information, but in today’s world of selling information and identify theft, we need to be super careful! There are some of these templates that are harmless fun, and while the creator of this one probably didn’t mean any harm, the minute you put this amount of information into the world, you put yourself at risk.
Don’t let this stop you from engaging in the Instagram or general online community! Just be careful about what and how much you share. Be smart, stay safe 💪
When I first saw this template I thought, “aww, that’s a bit cute.” And then I read it through properly and my heart stopped. I’m not exaggerating. I actually felt that thrill of fear, and experienced a spike of adrenaline as I saw what this template was asking me for. As I said in my Instagram post, the creator of this template might have created this with innocent intentions – you know, maybe they hadn’t fully thought through the types of questions that they were asking? But the cynical side of me, the part of my brain that assesses risks, couldn’t help but think: “this is the type of information you’d put on a drivers licence, a form of ID, a missing person’s report!” Put together the birth date and birth place, and if your profile has your first (or even in my case, first and last) name in it, then BAM! They know enough about you to start stealing your identity. Call me paranoid, but in this day and age, with companies selling and buying your information daily, we need to be super careful.
You might be thinking: “but Facebook asks me where I lived and for my birth date, how is that any different?” Well, yeah, sometimes we do give out that information willingly, I myself have done this. The difference being, Facebook is a company that I know the terms and conditions of. I’ve read their fine print (I know, nerd!) and I’ve made an informed decision. I am prepared to take that risk. The difference between that and these templates floating around on Instagram, and probably other platforms that I don’t use, is that there are no safe guards in place for my information. I don’t know who is on the receiving end of it and what they plan to do with it. That scares me.
All I ask is that you think before you post! That you open discussions with people you might think are at risk of answering these types of questions without fully thinking through the consequences. (By the way, I don’t just mean teenagers… I know plenty of adults, of any age, that don’t think things through before posting!) The more we talk about this type of thing in our families, or communities, the less likely we will be at risk of something horrible happening online. As I signed off last night: Be smart, stay safe.
In Role Models: Part One I wrote about the importance of Fictional Role Models. In Role Models: Part Two, I will discuss the importance of Real-Life Role Models and how everyone is a role model to someone in some way.
You may not realise it, but someone in your life might be looking to you for inspiration, advice, and direction. You might think that you are simply going through the motions to achieve your goals, but others might be marvelling at your ability to get the job done. I have recently become aware of how much power my actions have when it comes to interacting with people, and I wanted to share my experiences.
As a teacher, I have always known that what I do directly impacts how my students see me, how they interact with me, and how they might expect other adults in their lives to treat them, both now and into the future. Therefore, I try to always be a positive role model, and it’s not always easy, but I also know that by sharing some of my frustrations and difficulties (within reason of course) can also be a powerful learning tool for them. By seeing how I cope with stress, hearing me talk about my struggles, and celebrating the wins that I have, my students can constantly adjust their perception of what being an adult and or a well rounded person is like. I don’t get it right all the time, after all, I am human, but we all know that students learn certain skills from watching and observing the adults in their lives.
I was having a conversation with one of the women I know through the gym the other day, and I realised how much power a Personal Trainer or “coach” has over a client. I often wonder if these professionals realise just how much trust their clients put in them, and how much their actions and words impact their clients. I have learned from my own brief experience as a gym owner, that the women I interact with look to me and observe how I interact with our members, how I go about my training, and how I compose myself both in person and online. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it scared me at first, until I realised that my position as a role model in the gym was simply an extension of my position as a role model in the classroom.
And so, if what I’ve claimed is true and everyone is a role model to someone, I wonder if everyone realises this? I hope that by the end of reading my thoughts on Role Models, that you’ve had some time to think about who you might be a role model to, and who your role models are. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter!
Over the past two weeks I have spent some time at home recovering from an ankle reconstruction and I often found myself thinking about roles models. This came about because of the type of books I’ve been reading, the TV shows I’ve been watching, some of my interactions with our gym members, and what I wanted to say for International Women’s Day this year. In this blog post “Role Models: Part One” I want to talk about Fictional Role Models, and in “Role Models: Part Two” I’ll discuss Real-Life Role Models.
On International Women’s Day (IWD) this year I took my time thinking about the message that I wanted to share within my spheres of influence. I ended up sharing about the importance of role models for women. To that end, my Instagram post ended up being this:
krystalgagen: I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I wanted to post for International Women’s Day this year, and then it hit me: books by women, for women. I started going through my personal library for my favourite books and I realised just how many I had (this is not all of them…)
It’s so important to have great role models. Women NEED to see other women succeeding in a wide variety of positions so that they have the confidence to know they can do it too. Books are a great way to give girls confidence.
So, happy International Women’s Day. Celebrate the women in your life, recognise their achievements, and empower them to give anything they want a go.
Here’s to strong women.
May we know them. ❤️
May we raise them. ❤️
May we be them. ❤️
PS. Although Grant is not a female author, his characters were too good to leave out… Amazing role models regardless.
As I pointed out, fictional role models can often take the place of real-life role models, and I think they are equally as important. Here’s why…
I never had a lot of female role models during my teens and early twenties. My mum was my main role model, and my grandmas, but other than that I was limited to teachers. Our family is close and I didn’t get to watch my parents interact with many adult women who weren’t related to me and I certainly never got the opportunity to find a female mentor during my years of development. My favourite teachers in high school were often males and although they were awesome (so knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects), they were still men. I’m in my late 20s now and I’d say that I still don’t have a definitive role model – some of my friends are fantastic influences on me, but I often find myself searching for guidance. When I was growing up, books taught me all I needed to become the person I am today, and I still find inspiration in characters for self growth. Without these books, I would not have had the opportunity to develop my sense of self, and discover who I am today.
There were two series in particular that I feel really shaped who I am today: Harry Potter by JK Rowling, and Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce. Both written by women with strong female characters. Here’s what I learned from these two series:
Hermione in Harry Potter
Hermione taught me that it was ok to be smart. I didn’t need to pretend I wasn’t just to have friends in my corner. Her brains and her kindness are just two of the things I love about Hermione. I know that I personally, as 7 year old girl that was told she was “bossy,” needed Hermione to show me that I wasn’t bossy, but rather I was smart, had great leadership skills, and could still have friends.
Alanna in Song of the Lioness Alana taught me that girls didn’t have to do “girly” things. Alana wanted to be a knight and she worked hard to get there. She taught me that if I truly wanted something, I would need resilience, courage, and to know that even though some people might disagree with me, if I wanted something badly enough I could make it happen.
I don’t remember there being an abundance of novels available to me that had strong female characters as I grew up. These two series are the only two that really stand out in my mind. And so, this got me thinking about how amazing it is that these days there are a number of books with strong female characters, and what that means for the current generation and future generations.
The books pictured in my Instagram post for IWD 2018 have female characters that:
Specialise in technology and are often even better at it than the boys
Fight wars for their countries because they love their country
Make decisions about their futures based on what they want to do, not on what they are told to do – in fact, often these two things are opposites.
Show compassion and kindness, and have it seen as a strength, not a weakness
By reading books with strong female characters that exhibit these characteristics and more, girls, teens, young women, and women are exposed to a range of characters that show them what women are capable of. By having these fictional role models, we can see what women can do if given the chance.
I will continue to read books that have strong female characters, and I will continue to recommend these books to my students, both male and female! However, I will also continue to find and read books with strong male characters as well, because it’s a two way street. Overall, the power of fictional role models is something that I truly believe in. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
It’s no secret that 2017 was a massive year, but what I didn’t realise was how much stress this year has brought into my life. It wasn’t until I had left the country for my honeymoon that I realised just how much stress I had been carrying around with me all year. A very good friend of mine and I were having a chat a couple of weeks before my wedding and we were discussing that elusive “work life balance” thing everyone goes on about, and how neither of us has been very good at it this year. My friend was ordered to go on a holiday from her doctor, and I had truly adopted the mantra of “one day at a time.” At what point did my friend and I need to learn that telling everyone that “I’m fine” will not actually make it so? Well, apparently it was running away to New Zealand for both of us (on separate holidays, maybe next time we’ll explore this beautiful country together) that made it sink in: in 2018, things need to change.
And so, I thought, what better way to start fresh than to share what I have learned about stress and its impact on our lives. Read on only if you are into personal development…
About a week before my wedding day, I decided to visit my hairdresser and have a dramatic change from middle of the back-length hair to shoulder-length (most brides would never dream of making such a change, but it definitely felt like the right thing to do and I do not regret it!) While I was there, my hairdresser told me that I NEEDED to find a way to reduce stress in my life, otherwise I would end up losing all my hair. This was the beginning of operation reduce stress, but first, wedding.
My wedding went so smoothly; I was not stressed at all and the day was absolutely beautiful and everything I could have hoped for. Even the last-minute change in plans because of a storm was not enough to ruin the day. It wasn’t until the following day though, that I learned just how much headspace a wedding takes up.
Side note: It’s amazing how much headspace certain things take up. Perhaps I should explain what I call headspace before I go on though. For me, headspace refers to how many things you are keeping in your head, all those projects, thoughts, worries, and jobs that you are constantly thinking about. Tertiary study is a really good example. After 3 degrees, 7 years of study (with one year off in there for working full time), I finally finished at the end of 2015. 2016 rolled around and I started my current job. I promised myself that 2016 would be the year of doing things for me, like getting my full teaching registration and reading anything I wanted. Although I loved having freedom and not having to worry about what I should be doing rather than what I wanted to be doing, I did find myself starting to think about studying again, to fill that empty space I had in my head. I very nearly signed up to start a second Masters in 2017, and in hindsight, I’m so glad I didn’t, because it turns out that opening a gym and planning a wedding are more than enough to fill that empty space!
And so, after the wedding was all finished with and we returned to our normal lives before heading off on our honeymoon, I had a moment of panic where I couldn’t help but think: what now?
I’m glad to say that I made it through that interim week without doing anything stupid, like signing up for another Masters (although the urge was strong), and I got on the plane with my husband with way too much luggage and that feeling of holiday excitement.
When we arrived in Wellington all I wanted to do was see everything. We were there for 4 whole days and I wanted to see it all. It took a spa visit on my third day in Wellington for me to realise that I was on my honeymoon, I didn’t need to be going flat out to see everything – I mean, we were in New Zealand, basically a part of Australia and not so far away that I wouldn’t be back any time soon – and that I needed to relax. It took some time and effort to stop my brain from going a million miles an hour, but from that point on, I found my holiday to be MUCH more enjoyable.
So, I’m writing this blog post on my 2nd last day here in New Zealand. We have been here for a total of 12 days and we have travelled from Wellington to Auckland, with a one night stop in Rotorua. Here’s what I have learned about myself:
I need more sleep than I have been getting. 5-6 hours of sleep a night is not cutting it for me, I’m much more pleasant when I get 8-10 hours.
Food is really important! I know it sounds silly but existing on caffeine, sugar, pizza, and the occasional bowl of cereal is not good enough.
My job as a teacher is always in the back of my mind, and that’s ok, but I have found that writing my thoughts/ideas down on paper and then walking away from them is enough to give myself a proper break from that particular headspace.
Friends that are ok with not hearing from you for weeks/months on end and then are willing to catch up when you’re free are the holy grail, and I am so lucky to have a few of these wonderful people in my life but, I need to try and make a bit more of an effort to reach out to those people more frequently because I always feel better after catching up/checking in.
I need to actually schedule in time for myself, so that it becomes a priority and not an afterthought.
Basically, I need to take all those pieces of advice that we give to our students and apply them in my own life.
I also have really taken to heart something that another friend of mine once told me: “There’s no such thing as balance. Stop trying to find it, because it’ll drive you mad.” She was essentially saying that there is no balance between work life and home life, that there are times where a certain part of your life needs more focus than the other and that can make those of us whom are chasing that perfect balance feel like we are failing. We need to be ok with things being slated towards specific priorities from time to time, but we also need to know when to let things go and get ourselves back on track.
Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, everything we do can cause stress. The trick is knowing when your body has taken on too much and knowing how to help reduce it. This year has pushed my body and my brain to accept more stress than it should, and it’s taken time away from my crazy lifestyle for me to realise this. Thankfully, I have an amazing husband, a supportive family, and some wonderful friends that have helped me to see the error of my ways in 2017, and are willing to help me focus on living my best life in 2018 and beyond.
Ps. When stressed, I often find the beach relaxing, and I have thoroughly enjoyed being close to the water for so much of this holiday. Below are some panoramic photos of the places we have been. These places have really helped me to relax and enjoy the now, I hope you find them as beautiful as I do.
As we come to the end of 2017, I thought I’d look back on all that I’ve done. The following would not have been possible without the support of my amazing husband, family, colleagues, and gym family. I’m listing my achievements so that I have a record of my busiest year yet.
In 2017, I have:
Opened a gym with my husband
Read 61 books – only 9 more than my Goodreads Reading Challenge of 52 books
Mackay, North Queensland
North Island New Zealand
Been nominated for a Queensland College of Teachers Award
Started Geek Girls
Hosted a 24 hour Geek-A-Thon event at school
Been part of the Read Like A Girl team:
Organised the Launch of Draekora, Lynette Noni’s 3rd Book in The Medoran Chronicles
Assisted with the International Women’s Day Breakfast in the iCentre with Rebecca Sparrow as guest
Been on 3 school camps:
FCIP Music Camp
Attended a variety of school functions, including:
Year 11 Semiformal
Year 12 Hospitality Buffet Dinner
Year 8 Dance with Padua
Been involved in reading programs:
Joint Mount Alvernia College and Padua College Junior (9/10) and Senior (11/12) Book Clubs
Mount Alvernia Crazy Book Club (MTACBC)
Critique read for Lynette Noni (and somehow managed to hold my tongue!)
Run 14 Powerlifting and Strongman Competitions at our gym
Assisted in 10 Powerlifting and Strongman Competitions run by our associated gyms
Returned to Competitive Powerlifting after 2 years off and smashed all my PBs
Dressed up 5 times throughout the school year for various events, including:
Literacy Week: Theme = Amazing Women (two days, two different costumes!)
Cultural Festival: Theme = Back to the Past
Geek Girls Launch: Theme = Geek!
It’s been an insanely busy year, and when I list everything that I have achieved I’m more than a little surprised. Somehow I have survived working two jobs and managed to do amazing things at school. I have not lost my passion for education, and I have put some big plans in place for 2018. I’m proud of my achievements for 2017, and I look forward to many more in 2018.
On Thursday 30th August and Friday 1st September I had the pleasure of attending the World of Drones Congress and I found it extremely valuable. Despite it being targeted mostly at those wanting to break into the drone industry, as an educator I found it highly relevant to what we are trying to navigate our way around in schools. I learned so much; it was an eyeopening experience and I am so thankful to my school for supporting my application to attend.
So, for those that couldn’t be there I thought I’d write down just some of my learnings and thoughts, particularly now that I’ve had a chance to process them!
My thoughts on Drones in general:
I walked out of the Congress absolutely blown away by the possibilities of drones. Basically, DRONES ARE COOL! The number of applications that the various speakers and presenters spoke about during the congress that they are already using drones for blew my mind. Here’s just a few:
Film and TV – there are film companies that solely work in filming with the use of drones and movie companies are slowly embracing the technology. Stephen Oh of XM2 Drones in Cinematography spoke about the boundaries between films using drones and how if the technology can be proved to work for TV, then they are more likely to take that technology on board in films. He told us about his work with the film crew on the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie and how it took a while for them to trust the technology. By the end of the shoot they were using the drones in ways they had originally never imagined because of the trust they had formed with the team of flyers.
Facebook – that’s right, Facebook is getting into the world of drones! They want to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together” but this isn’t possible if people cannot get connected through the internet. Therefore, their plan to fly a drone called Aquila above the height of commercial aeroplanes and have it beam mobile phone networks down to countries that currently do not have access to them is thought to be able to solve this conundrum. Issues that spokesperson Kathryn Cook spoke about included the fact that there are no global laws for drones, that each country has their own laws and regulations and if Facebook is to fly a drone around the world, they will need countries to work together to create laws that are able to be upheld and enforced on a global scale.
Flying Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) – James Dean from SenSat spoke about how his company is investigating the uses of drones in terms of digitally mapping locations. He spoke about the complications when it comes to needing to keep drones in sight and how this is often time consuming. He used the example of mapping London digitally – because they need to keep the drone in sight at all times, the process took a significantly long time. However, if they were able to fly BVLOS, then the project would have take half the time, if not even less. The advantage of having digital models of cities, construction sites, and other locations is slowly being realised and will allow different industries to use the data collected for a variety of applications.
Biosecurity – Felipe Gonzales of QUT spoke about how they are investigating the use of drones to monitor crop growth and health. He highlighted the importance of the industry working with potential buyers to ensure that the drone is easily useable and meets the needs of the buyer.
There was a lot of talk about Autonomous Vehicles and how they will change the way we think about car ownership. There was discussion around the complications involved in delivery drones, particularly with regards to how will the drone recognise the person/location and how will it drop off its delivery? It was clear to see that all of the applications they want to use drones for certainly came with limitations and big questions that would need answering first.
My thoughts on Laws and Regulations for Drones:
It was clear that the currents laws and regulations surrounding the use of drones are not up to the task of ensuring that people are using them safely. For example, I had no idea that there was an app called “Can I fly there?” designed by CASA to help people work out if they are legally allowed to fly a drone in a particular area. I downloaded the app and did a search on my house. I discovered that as long as I flew in one direction I would be fine, but if I flew in the opposite direction I would be breaking all sorts of laws and regulations because I am too close to an approach for an airport.
There were too many other issues discussed for me to list here, but I will share my takeaways in terms of what certain speakers presented as possible solutions to the issue:
Need to be proactive, not reactive – Dr Lisa Frye from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning suggested that we, as attendees of the World of Drone Congress 2017, have the potential to influence the laws and regulations that are created around drones. The industry needs to work WITH the government and education bodies to create the necessary laws and regulations that will govern the use of drones, and then be able to work with educators to teach these laws and regulations in schools (more on this further down).
Drones and planes – Gary Pohlner of Virgin Australia scared us all with some terrifying facts about drone encounters and the Virgin Australia fleet. These encounters clearly happen because the general population is not aware of where they are allowed to fly drones and how high they can fly them. Gary also spoke about how the colour of a drone can be a real problem. He used the example of a blue drone on a day with day with clear blue skies, the flight crew did not see the drone until it passed directly across the windscreen of the plane on approach to the airport. Gary suggested that if it were possible to tag drones with some sort of tracker then they could be displayed on aircraft instruments that would allow them to make adjustments to their flight paths in stead of forcing flight crews to react quickly to keep their passengers safe.
Public acceptance of rules and responsibilities – Paddy Goodall from Airservices spoke about the importance of working with the regular consumer to create laws and regulations that are easily understood and enforced, otherwise there is no point to them. He highlighted the fact that there are current laws and regulations in place, but because law enforcement agencies currently do not have the capabilities of enforcing these laws, people are getting away with things because they either don’t know they are breaking the rules, or know but don’t care because no one is currently doing anything about it.
An interesting point was made by an audience member about how best to educate the general public on the use of commercial and recreational drones. He suggested that when someone purchases a drone for personal use, that it becomes the retailers job to give a quick overview of the laws and regulations surrounding that particular drone and how to access the information on where they will be able to fly it. The purchaser would then sign a contract stating that they had received this information. The audience member said that he’s modelled this off what happens when a customer purchases a mobile phone.
My thoughts on Drones and Education:
The whole reason I went to the World of Drones Congress 2017 was to investigate what drones will mean for education and I was not disappointed. Here’s my top 5 learnings in terms of the implication of drones on education:
I am pleased to report that every speaker reinforced the fact that educators are not the only ones responsible for teaching the next generation of drone users. The best recipe for success in terms of educating the next generation will happen if Government + Industry + Education work together to inform best practice.
The drone is just the tool, we still need to teach the skills that allows them to do something with the data the drone has collected.
Drones are a problem based solution, not a solution looking for a problem
Drones and STEAM go hand in hand. Once you’ve found a problem, ask the students to create a solution using their imagination (the Art of STEAM), and then use the other components of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to then refine and make the design.
The younger we challenge our students with problem based learning, the more likely they will be able to take on bigger and bigger challenges as they get older, thus preparing them for a future that we are not 100% sure on what they will need to do, what skills they will need to have, and what problems they will need to solve.
Since attending the World of Drones Congress 2017, I have already issued a quick “design your own drone” challenge and was blown away by the designs that my students created. The students of now and of the future will be the ones that embrace this technology and do amazing things with it.
The opening key note for the World of Drones Congress 2017 was presented by Thomas Frey, a man that is well known for the quote:
“2 billion jobs to disappear by 2030.”
When he spoke about this quote he highlighted the fact that it wasn’t supposed to be a doom and gloom statement, but rather a wake up call. If there are 2 billion jobs in the next 13 years that are able to be replaced by robots or drones or some other piece of technology, then we must look at this as there being 2 billion jobs worth of people with free time. Frey said:
“We’re not automating jobs out of existence, only tasks… One way to look at it is that we’re eliminating jobs but freeing up human capital… Just because there are no jobs doesn’t mean there isn’t any work to be done.”
He spoke so passionately about the possibilities of drones and technology and ended his presentation with a quote that had a massive impact on me and how I now look at the way that I teach and challenge my students:
“We are limited only by our imagination.”
A selection of photos from the exhibition room at the World of Drones Congress 2017
This year the iCentre team decided to base our theme for Literacy Week on Goodnight Stories for Rebels Girls, we dubbed our theme: “Amazing Women – in Life and Literature” In the days leading up to deciding on a theme, I was thinking rather a lot about who I am, and what I give to my family, friends, colleagues, and students. Here’s what I realised:
It’s the people you surround yourself with that influence who you become.
I am very fortunate to know some amazing women, and these women are partially responsible for who I am today. I have friends that are incredible role models, with experiences in all sorts of different fields. I have family members that are not afraid to say and do what is right, even though it might be difficult. I have colleagues that are forever broadening my horizons, teaching me, and challenging me every day. Because of these amazing women in my life, I am constantly trying to make them proud by growing and learning to be the best version of myself.
As Rebecca Sparrow (another amazing woman) said, it’s all about finding your tribe:
“Your tribe is made up of people who you click with. People you can trust. People who see the world the way you see it. People who like the same things as you…” (Sparrow, 2010, p.6).
These people, or your tribe, will be the people that you are most influenced by, so be careful who you choose to spend time with! Another way of thinking about it is to keep in mind what Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker, said:
“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with” (Rohn, 2017).
It’s important to realise that you have the power to choose who you are influenced by. I am fortunate enough to have a wide range of amazing women as role models, and every one of them is generous with their time. I am constantly aware that I have the potential to be just as powerful a role model for the students that I teach and so…
Being a teacher in a girls school has placed me in a unique position.
As part of our Literacy Week celebrations, one of my colleagues created a movie that celebrated “Amazing Revolutionaries.” Today in my home room lesson, I asked my students to watch the 15 minute film. At first they were sceptical, but by the end of the film they walked out with wide eyes and stunned faces. The film focussed on:
The Mothers of the Disappeared, also known as Madres de Plazo de Mayo
Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese Freedom Fighter
Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Activist
After watching the film we discussed what made these women amazing, how their lives were so different from ours, how lucky we are to live in Australia and go to school where we do. I know that a lot of teachers and educators will say that you are able to have these conversations in co-ed schools, but in my experience (I admit that as a teacher of almost 5 years it is limited) I have never had a group of girls speak so openly about women’s rights, the struggles that we have faced and still face, and how they are often unaware of these amazing women in history. It’s a powerful thing, to see these young women that I teach realise that they too can be part of global change. Therefore, we need to keep in mind that…
It’s about awareness, recognition, and celebration. It’s about “sharing stories.”
“[It tells the story of r]eal women of the the past and the present who have achieved incredible results, despite all odds. Rebel girls whose actions have changed the course of history. Painters, scientists, dancers, chefs, astronauts, jazz singers, pharaohs, boxers, writers, political leaders… from every corner of the globe!
It’s a collection of bedtime stories that will inspire young girls (and their mothers, their aunts, their cousins…) to be confident, to dream big, to cultivate their strength” (Rebel Girls, 2017, para 6.)
I am fortunate enough to have found a tribe filled with amazing women that are my role models. Until our young women have had the opportunity to discover their tribes for themselves, we need to provide them with current and relevant role models. Therefore, it’s important that we raise awareness among our students about the amazing women in history and it’s vital that we celebrate the amazing women of today.
I hope that our students have enjoyed our Literacy Week Celebrations. I hope that we have played our small part in raising awareness of amazing women and have inspired the next generation.
Staff morning tea dressup
Last day – celebrating reading!
Book display: Books featuring Amazing Women
Student morning tea dressup
Book display: “Nancy Drew” covered in words associated with Amazing Women
Yesterday I had a moment of self-doubt and I felt very overwhelmed. I felt like there was too much being asked of me, that I couldn’t do it all, and that I would drop one of the many juggling balls I’ve got going on. However! I spoke to my loving partner (through tears), reached out to an amazing friend who has a wealth of experience in business, life, relationships, and basically kicking butt, and they both helped me realise that even though I’m feeling overwhelmed and completely inadequate, I’ll be ok!
So, some context…
I’ve taken on a project at school and whilst at the moment it’s manageable, I look at what I want it to become and I just can’t help feeling terrified of how big and AMAZING it’ll be (no spoilers here until I have something more concrete to share with you all), and that terrifies me! I’m only in my 5th year of teaching, I’m still learning my craft – not that I think that teachers shouldn’t always be learning their craft, but I still feel like I’m learning the big stuff – and I’m being asked to make decisions that I have no clue about, as well as being asked to write proposals and rationales and budgets… it’s huge! It completely freaked me out yesterday afternoon.
On top of my school life, I’m constantly having to make decisions for the gym. Every day our employees and my partner ask me to make a decision about something, and these are more often than not situations that I have no experience in. I’m having to make my own judgements about what’s best, as well as educating and empowering my employees to be able to make their own decisions with confidence so that I can eventually step back a little. Ultimately, I would like our business to run under the guidance of my partner and our employees so that I can go back to focussing on my education career. I know that to get to this point I need to put in the work to make sure that everyone is comfortable within their roles and can do things independently with confidence – the perfectionist in me finds this really difficult!
The thing about making decisions all the time is that it’s exhausting. It takes everything out of you. There is plenty of research out there that says that teaching is already a mentally taxing job because of the amount of willpower you need to exercise daily, and the number of decisions you need to make, so to add another lot of big questions on the end of my day has really started to run me down.
How did I get over my little freak out? As I said earlier, I spoke to my very supportive partner and I reached out to a friend. Remembering that I had people in my corner that believed in me was really helpful. Talking to them about the next steps I’d need to take was also really good because they were able to help me work out a plan. My friend, who is an amazing woman that has risen through the male dominated world of management and technology, gave me some strategies to help me lead and to help me step back to give my employees the chance to take ownership of their responsibilities. My partner helped me with my school project just by getting me to verbalise the why of what I want to do, and reminded me that as long as I hold onto and start with my why, it’ll all work out.
The reason I’m sharing all of this with you is because I want my students, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, and visitors to this blog to know that everyone struggles, everyone feels fear, and everyone is able to take their goals by the horns and smash them. As long as you remember that you have people in your corner fighting for and supporting you, you’ll be ok.
It’s no secret around school that I adore everything Harry Potter. I…
Own multiple copies of all the books and DVDs
Own a copy of the audiobooks read by Stephen Fry and listen to them regularly
Am a proud Gryffindor, sorted through Pottermore
Have a large range of Harry Potter merchandise/clothing, including a cardigan and scarf from Harry Potter World Orlando that I wear to work regularly
Can discuss all cannon and fan theories in depth with fellow Potterheads
All of these things might seem crazy to those that live outside the Harry Potter Universe, but for me and, possibly more importantly, my students, it’s a way of connecting. So, how does Harry Potter connect us? Here is my list of 3 ways in which it does!
1. It’s worldwide!
For the 20th anniversary this year, Pottermore has started up a Wizarding World Book Club that fans all over the world can connect through. It’s being hosted on Twitter under the hashtag #WWBookClub and allows fans to respond to questions and replies across the globe. I love that the Harry Potter Universe is so big that they are able to have a worldwide book club! It’s blowing my mind! Some of the responses to the initial questions have really had me thinking deeply and appreciating being able to discuss my thoughts with other Potterheads.
2. It’s for all ages!
As I’ve already alluded to, I am able to have conversations with people of all ages about these characters. Whether they are students discovering the wizarding world for the first time, or adults that have been thumbing these pages for two decades now (how crazy is that?!), everyone is able to have and share their thoughts and opinions.
3. The themes are relatable!
Harry Potter is a boy that did not let his circumstances define who he would become. This in itself is inspiring, never mind the fact that Harry and his friends face issues of:
Starting a new school
Standing out for all the wrong reasons and dealing with it
Good vs. evil
Dark and light
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
And so many more… Every one of these themes are themes that people can easily relate to. They occur in almost everyone’s lift experience. Learning about these with Harry and his friends gives readers strength and hope.
What does Harry Potter mean to me?
Well, I was 6 when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published. I have very clear memories of my father reading it to me before bedtime, including begging him to read it to me during the day, or how he was unsure how to pronounce Hermione’s name!
When Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was published I was 7. I remember being on a family road trip with my mother reading it to me and my brother to pass the time. We arrived home and she wasn’t finished, so I grabbed the book, hid in my room and finished it – it was the very first proper book I’d ever read on my own. From then on, my parents had to buy two copies of the remaining books in the series to avoid arguments between my brother and I.
When I was in year 9, so 14 years old, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out. I remember lining up for ages to collect my preorder and then powering through the book over the weekend so that I wouldn’t have it spoiled for me when I got to school on Monday! Lucky I did too because just before the bell went for first period, someone shouted out the WORST possible spoiler (I won’t mention it here just in case but if you’ve read it then you just have to know what it was) and my entire year level of roughly 330 students groaned. 330 year 9 students were impacted by Harry Potter! That is insane.
I remember picking up my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and it not feeling real. “This can’t be the end,” I thought. It was surreal. My first read was so quick and such a blur that I had to reread it again straight away for all of it to sink it. It was done, I was lost, there was no more… and it was amazing.
JK Rowling will always be my favourite author. She is a phenomenal human being and such a talent. She inspired a generation through her work and continues to do so every time another reader picks up Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, whether it be for the first time or the millionth time.
I could continue to talk about Harry Potter for hours on end, so I’ll leave it there for now. I hope that if you’re one of those people that thinks Harry Potter is silly, that I may have changed your perspective or at least made you rethink your opinion. To my fellow Potterheads, I look forward to connecting with you through the Wizarding World Book Club on Twitter, and to hearing your own stories and thoughts!