If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. JD Salinger ‘Catcher in the Rye’

At the start of each team meeting somebody shares a few things to get to know each other a little more. Here are some notes relating to my contribution …


It is easy to get caught up in autobiographical stuff, such as why I am not really Aaron Davis or how I was born behind a bank, but like Holden Caulfield, in A Catcher in the Rye, I don’t feel like going into it. Instead, I would prefer to share ten characteristics and the situations that influenced them.

Service

Although there is no doubt about my mother’s influence on my life, it can be hard to think about what I inherited from her. I think it would probably by her commitment to service. I seem to find myself doing the work that needs to be done, rather than the work that I might want to be doing.

Context

So often we discuss the practicalities of education. It can therefore be easy to question the value of a Bachelor of Arts. However, I think that my study inadvertently influences a lot of what I do. In particular, the power and potential of context. As I continue to collaboratively develop different strategies and solutions, empathising with other situations is so important.

Perseverance

In my first teaching position, I was the fifth teacher in the role and wrote my first set of reports after five weeks of teaching. I could understand why others had left, double Year Nine English to end each Friday never helped. However, sometimes what is most powerful thing is persisting through and looking back at the lessons learned.

Inequality

I spent a year at an indigenous school in country Victoria. The experience gave me insight into the inequality often inherent within systems and an insight into my own privilege.

Difference

Although originally trained as a secondary English and History teacher, I have managed to balance my time between both the primary and secondary classrooms. I was lucky enough to teach at a P-9 school for quite a few years and it really emphasised the difference in practice and thinking. The biggest challenge I found was agreeing on some sort of shared vision of learning and teaching that allowed both sides to have a voice.

Solid Foundation

For quite a few years I balanced life between the classroom and administration. It taught me that successful schools are build upon a solid foundation. Whether it be the way people are made to feel as they enter a school or having clear processes in place. Often it is said that the business manager rules the school. Maybe a different way of putting this is that the administration team often lays the groundwork for success.

Meaning of Success

Ask many about the Ultranet and they will mention dancing girls and the misuse of funds. I was a lead user and am always disappointed when people are unwilling to look beyond the failures. Although the platform itself failed, I feel the Ultranet itself brought about a lot of positives, especially in regards to collection of data and students. What the project therefore taught me was that success is sometimes in how you consider something.

Compromise

I have been married for ten years. In that time I have learnt about the importance of compromise. Sometimes it is for peace, other times it is for sanity. The fact of the matter is that nothing moves forward if there is not a little bit of give and take.

Chaos

There are some who argue that having children has made them a better teacher. I am not sure that this is true, but it has definitely provided perspective and taught me to live with the unexpected. I think Austin Kleon captures this situation best in his discussion of the complexities of families.

Team

My current work has taught me about the importance of team. It is the first place job I have worked in where I am truly dependent on the collaboration with others to solve problems. Although I have always worked in teams, it always felt that if you worked hard then it was possible to get things done. This is not possible when you are part of the complex system.


So what about you? What would you constitute as the ten influences which led to now? As always, comments welcome.


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