Category Archives: wellbeing

Anti-cool students in your classroom.


I really struggle to finish a book these days. But part of my #18for2018 was to read 11 books and record them on GoodReads, so now I’m accountable.

A few months ago I downloaded Rosie Waterland’s ‘The Anti-Cool Girl’ onto the Kindle app on my iPad. I started it in December and finally finished it today (I’m not proud of how long it took me!!). The following thoughts come from my own head – I wasn’t asked to review this book, I haven’t been paid…blah blah blah.¬†

It gets into the deep nitty-gritty of life. The trials and tribulations of a child, through to an adult. It’s crude and honest…and not usually the kind of book I’d read, despite me being a huge biography lover.

What it brought home to me most though, was the focus on the ‘anti-cool’ students in our classroom. Rosie Waterland talks about her school experience, not being accepted by friends, being pulled out of class by welfare officers and spending time and time again in foster homes. Having parents and de facto parents who drank and smoked and did drugs at all hours of a school night.

How many of our students come to school sleep deprived because their parents were arguing late into the night? Or have no food for school…or breakfast…or dinner?

How many of our students are wearing uniforms that they’ve washed themselves, or maybe haven’t been washed in weeks, or have been worn by three older siblings and are now falling apart at the seams? Or maybe they dread a casual clothes day because all of their clothes are faded hand-me-downs or from Vinnies and out of fashion.

How many of our students cannot focus because they’re worried about which house they’ll be sleeping at, or how many people they might have to share a bed with?

If I took nothing else away from reading this book, it was that compassion is important.

All those classroom rules we have about being on time to class and coming prepared? They might not need to apply for some kids…as just getting to school is an achievement for them.

Those posters and advertisements we put in the school newsletters about packing a healthy lunch for your child? Probably just important to have some of that nutritious food in the staffroom for those kids who don’t have anyone to pack theirs.

Sometimes the rules don’t apply. Who are the ‘anti-cool’ kids in your class or at your school? Show them some compassion.

You can do anything…

You can do anything…

Scrolling through Twitter this morning reading all of the updates from my teacher PLN who were heading back to work today to start the 2018 school year.

Today was the 29th of January – the first day of school for many, but at my school, our first official day was January 19th. In the last 10 days we’ve had:

  • 2 weekends
  • 1 public holiday
  • a return flight to Melbourne for a school conference
  • a collegial team-building Escape Room experience
  • a First Aid refresher course
  • meetings…timetable revisions…meetings…planning time…room set up time…meetings…more timetable revisions

As mentioned in this post, I’m teaching every student from Prep-10 this year across various Year Levels. I’m also the eSmart Coordinator & Digital Technology Mentor. I get asked by teachers to help with student iPads & passwords (luckily I’m the second-in-line for this task, thanks to our official IT guy), asked by office staff to help them develop a Google Form to collect data on this, that and the other, or to help update the school website…plus I run the school Facebook page.

This year, I have to learn to say NO.

  • No, I wish I could help, but I don’t have the time.
  • No, I don’t know how to do that.
  • No, that’s not a priority for me.

Or….can I just say ‘No’, without needing to justify it?

As I scrolled through my Twitter feed, I saw this tweet from Pip Cleaves:

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 10.01.58 pm

I saw this, saved it to my desktop and printed it. I walked straight to the photocopier, picked it up…and pinned it to the wall at my desk.


Thanks Pip.

18 for 2018


Inspired by the ‘Happier with Gretchen Rubin’ podcast, (Episode 147, here) I have developed my own list of 18 things that I want to try during 2018 – #18for2018.
The invisible task on my list is to focus on my work-life balance, so you may notice that the majority of these are based around my personal life, not my work/school life!

  1. Try a pottery class
  2. Start a compost bin/worm farm
  3. Go to the gym at least twice a week
  4. Ring my 2 best friends once a month (this should not even need to make it to the list, however I’ve been so SLACK!)
  5. Run 3km (not a huge achievement for most, but for this asthmatic, HUGE)
  6. Try one of the self-guided classes at my gym
  7. Read 12 books and document them on GoodReads
  8. Learn conversational French (as you may have read on my blog earlier, I’m teaching French from Year 1-8…oui oui!)
  9. Finalise all name changes from my wedding…
  10. Learn to make kombucha
  11. Run a DoTERRA oils class to teach others about the benefits of using essential oils
  12. Cull my old school supplies – at least the 4 boxes that I haven’t opened since leaving classroom teaching in 2015
  13. Send Christmas cards (in December of course)
  14. Commit to Meat-Free Monday, as much as possible
  15. Continue travelling
  16. Finish the Noah’s Ark quilt that I started while I was still at uni…at least 9 years ago
  17. Take time to appreciate the little things
  18. Walk Tess (my dog) at least once a week (setting the bar low, but aiming for more than once a week)

There you go! Now to place this list somewhere in my home so I see it often to remind me! If you feel like sharing your #18for2018, I’d love to see yours!

New year, new apps


I download so many apps onto my iPad and only use a small percentage of them. I don’t download all of them for my personal use – I like to be able to recommend apps for others to use, that they may find helpful or interesting for them or their students.
By recommending apps to others, many people in return have given me recommendations of their own. Many of them I have used but not really made the most of it, so I’ve decided to write a list of apps that I want to give a red-hot go in 2017.

  1. Smiling Mind
  2. Buncee
  3. Seesaw
  4. Adobe Spark.

Not a huge list, but these are apps that I’ve had other teachers tell me about, or found out about through my fantastic Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter.

Stay tuned for updates on how I’m using these apps in the school setting…not just the classroom, as my 2017 role is going to be broader than a classroom!

In memory of Carly – the importance of online safety.


Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of true crime podcasts, which isn’t the most uplifting of choices, but I love a good mystery.
The latest series I’ve been listening to is called ‘Felon True Crime Podcast’ and the other night, this episode grabbed my attention, as it focused on social media, which is part of what I have been researching at school, through the Digital Citizenship program I’ve been helping develop. 

It features the story of Carly Ryan, who was the first girl in Australia murdered by an Internet predator. Back in the days of the social media platform MySpace, it details elements of teenage romance and rebellion, which ultimately lead to tragedy. This story took place in 2007 – I was in my second year of uni…and a prolific MySpace user. If someone had told me to stop using it, I wouldn’t have. But it’s a situation reliant on positive digital citizenship, which is impacted by peer pressure, social norms and seemingly important communication. 

Since Carly’s death, her mother has started the Carly Ryan Foundation to educate young people on the potential dangers of online interactions and has released an app called Thread, which can be found in the iTunes App Store. 

Given that there are so many more social media platforms available these days, just 9 years since Carly’s death, I urge you to listen to the podcast and talk to your teenagers about online safety & digital citizenship.

Being ESmart


Part of my current role is to coordinate our school’s journey to become an ESmart accredited school, through the Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

Today I ran a staff induction to bring them up to speed on what the program is about, what we have already accomplished and where we need to go from here.

I’ve been doing hours and hours of research to find videos and resources for students to view to make them aware of the positives and negatives of digital technology, mainly around the concept of a’digital footprint’. I thought I’d share some of the fabulous videos that I’ve come across – some are suitable to show students, others are probably not…use your discretion and common sense. If you have any other gems to share, I’d love to hear your list!

I began today’s staff session by showing Jigsaw, by Think You Know (UK).

As part of our curriculum for 2017, certain year levels will be viewing and analysing the short film, #GameOn, from the ESafety Office. Here it is below.

Smashing apart my comfort zone.




Photo credit: Donncha O Caoimh

48 weeks ago, I was ready to jump off the nearest educational bridge (metaphorically speaking), never wanting to enter a classroom setting again. I was broken and had no desire to teach another human being as long as I lived. I resigned from my position effective from the last day of the school year.

But money is a necessary evil and I accepted a position 2 days a week at a local independent school providing extra release periods for their staff. Over the course of 2 days, I teach every single child from Prep to Year 6. I also spent time mentoring their first & second year graduate and I’m currently working on writing some curriculum documents.

And you know what? I absolutely love it. I cannot imagine what was going through my head last year.

So what has changed in the last 48 weeks? A lot. My comfort zone has had a major transformation, almost to the point of not being able to be defined as a zone.

Aside from teaching, I started a new direct sales business which involved public speaking. Not just public speaking, but going into other people’s homes and speaking to their friends…who were to me, strangers. For someone who refused to speak, let alone answer, the home phone until I was around 10…this was huge. That being said, I still hate calling people – email is my best friend.

I began tutoring students in their own homes after school. Dealing with a lot of special needs throughout my time I’ve come to appreciate the hard work that goes in to assisting those students who need it (when you don’t have 22 other students in the room crying out for attention too!!). I tutor 5 students per week, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Do I enjoy it all the time? No. It’s hard. But it’s probably harder for them.

I taught some secondary classes! Yes, the students were taller than me and yes, I survived. Phewf.

Tomorrow¬†I take my biggest leap outside my comfort zone – presenting at an Educational Conference – EdTechSA at Immanuel College in Adelaide. There are over 200 people at the conference, but luckily for me the workshop numbers are capped at 25…so 25 will be the maximum number of educators I’ll be talking to. Well talking, but showing and teaching them some hands-on activities that they can try themselves in their classrooms! I’m actually going to be encouraging other teachers to teach – something I never thought I’d be doing 48 weeks ago. (In fact, I resigned the very day after my pre-service teacher finished her final placement, as I didn’t want to put her off teaching by doing it while she was still there!!) I’m going to be public speaking, to a room of people I don’t know, in a city I’m not from, in a state I don’t live in – here I go!

A comfort zone is something that everybody has. But everybody has the chance to leave it…or smash it apart!


How well do you know your students?


Last week I spoke to @alice_eliza on the phone and she was telling me about the activity she did with her Year 5 students. I’d heard of the activity, but hadn’t jumped on the bandwagon yet.

She simply asked the students write on a piece of paper to finish this sentence,

“I wish my teacher knew…”

I’d seen lots of photos that teachers had posted using the #iwishmyteacherknew hashtag and after speaking to @alice_eliza, I decided to give it a go on Monday with the Year 4/5 class I taught. I teach this class once a fortnight, so I do have a relationship with them but I thought it would be a good insight for their classroom teacher. I promised them that I wouldn’t look at their pieces of paper…and I would keep them face down until I handed them to their teacher.

So how well do you know your students? As I handed over the stack of papers to their teacher, she was gobsmacked with some of the things she found out – some sad, some concerning, some hilarious and some interesting facts.

She verbally shared a few of them with me (I’d promised I wouldn’t look at them)…and there are two that stood out to me – and her!

#1. I wish my teacher knew…I am afraid of NAPLAN.

#2. I wish my teacher knew…I’m not really a fan of minions. (This teacher has a theme in her classroom – minions! Minion money as a classroom reward system, minion posters, minion pictures…you name it, she’s minion-ed it!)

But you know what? This teacher read every single one – and then proceeded to write a note back to every single student, acknowledging that she now knows something that they chose to tell her.

Personally, if I were in that class, I’d feel that my teacher knows me so much better. Not because I wrote a note to tell her something…but that she wrote back to me and made me feel important.

How well do you know your students?

Do they feel like you do?


Offline inspiration – can it be done?


This post may seem contrary to the title of this blog,but it’s ok. Life goes on.

When Christmas shopping in November, I bought a copy of this book for my friend.

Then I added another copy to my basket…for me. (Thanks kikki.k)

It’s as simple as the title suggests – go offline and be inspired. It features 135 ideas to inspire you to go offline and experience the world around you. It also has a book cover which doubled as a 30-day challenge poster. The idea is that you do it to completing a set activity each day for a month.

While I could probably do each daily challenge,I’ve decided to select 8 in particular that I’d like to achieve by the end of the school holidays:

#3 – instead of reading the news online,read a newspaper (goodbye,

#5 – rediscover an old cookbook and put a recipe to the test (goodbye

#8 – leave your phone at home & go for a walk outside (not recording it using Runkeeper)

#9 – decluttering your wardrobe and embrace the feeling of freedom it brings

#14 – meditate for 5 minutes (I’m guessing without a guided voice from an app telling me how to do it and what to think of…)

#17 – book in a time to catch up with an old friend (can I book in the time without using Facebook?…)

#25 – make something with your hands (without referring to the step by step instructions on Pinterest)

#27 – start the day with a walk around your neighbourhood,yoga or some simple stretching

So,wish me luck. 5 days of holidays done, 12 to go…



It doesn’t take much to appreciate what you have. But many of us don’t do it often enough. During the last week of term before Easter, staff were involved in a morning devotion focusing on gratitude – an attitude of gratitude goes a long way.

This year I appreciate so much more than I used to.

The fact that I am healthier than I was in 2015. I enjoy the variety that my job offers me. The new opportunities that I have had. The support I am offered. The love I am given. The friendships I have.

I was talking with my fiancee last week about being in the ‘now’. I feel that the constant integration of technology into our lives has suppressed our ability to appreciate what we already have. Now, when I’m the passenger on a road trip, I’m often looking at my phone…instead of looking out of the window. Instead of leafing through my countless recipe books and family recipes, I jump online to find a recipe quickly. Instead of having to wait days to have photo film develop, we upload them to social media…after we’ve deleted the first 4 attempts because someone wasn’t looking, or it was a ‘bad angle’ of mum.

Now we have apps on our phones and iPads to help us create to-do lists, with schedules and reminders. Thankfully…I have scaled back from this and have gone back to an old-fashioned diary this year. And on the table next to the couch are 3 pens and a pad of sticky notes.

Don’t forget to appreciate the little things! Like pens…and sticky notes.