Day 17 – UBC – Follow That Blog!

I don’t care that today is the twenty-third day of the Ultimate Blog Challenge (July) and I’m officially six days behind – I’m persevering, right to the end. The challenge for Day 17 is to make a list of blogs that I follow. So, rather than giving you a list of my favourites, I’m going to explain why you should follow that blog you’ve been reading.

We all have favourite authors – I know I have – but are we as loyal to bloggers? My favourite author is Bryce Courtenay, and before he sadly passed from his earthly existence a few years ago, he was publishing a book every year. I read almost every one of them. He was my favourite author because I had come to expect a certain style in his writing and I trusted that every book would hold my attention.

An E-Book Gathers No Dust

Before technology took such a formidable hold on our lives, bookshelves bulged at the seams with our favourite books. Most of us collected the works of a few authors, but we probably had a smattering of non-descript interest books as well. I know my shelves had their fair share of DIY projects;  recipe books; self-help books; and anything else that held my interest long enough to read about it.

Gradually, my bookshelves gave way to a Kindle e-Reader. Technology had opened up a world of reading. I could search the Internet for e-books (electronic books) and download them to my Kindle with just one click. But the best thing was, e-books cost a whole lot less than hard-copy books and I didn’t need a lot of shelves to hold them. E-books gather no dust!

There’s An App For That!

The Kindle eventually gave way to a Kindle App on my iPad and iPhone. My i-devices are just as portable as the Kindle, but much more versatile. I can choose any book from my e-book library, wherever I am; I always have at least one of my i-devices with me. Another advantage is, whichever device I am using, the reader automatically opens the book at the page I was up to on the other device. Alas, I now have a box full of redundant bookmarks that I have collected over the years. But, that’s a small price to pay for convenience.

Technology is marching on, and we now have Bloggers – and God Bless every one of them. We no longer have to search for and buy books on every subject from Arthropod to Zephyr. All we need to do is find a blogger whose expertise matches our interest, and Voila!, we have an endless supply of reading material.

Not only can we read about our favourite subject, we can interact with it. Bloggers usually provide a section somewhere on the page that allows you to ask questions and/or make comments.

And the best news is…

Bloggers usually have a wealth of information up their sleeve. Their blogs might provide an overview, or a sample of a much longer discourse on the subject. And they often write e-books. By reading their blogs, you can get a feel for their knowledge and expertise, and make an informed decision about buying their e-book. It’s kind of a try-before-you-buy offer.

So, rather than just read a blog that you like, FOLLOW the blog. That way, you’ll keep up with current information; get to know the writer’s style and level of expertise; and, buy their e-book with confidence, if they have written one. Perhaps the Comment Section on their blog site would be a good place to suggest an e-book, if they don’t already have one. An e-book would be everything you wanted to know about the subject, in one handy format, rather than wait for the daily/weekly/monthly instalment in blog form.

Follow That Blog!

All you have to do is search for blogs on your favourite subject, read a few, decide which one meets your needs, then Follow That Blog!


Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Writing, 4 comments

Day 16 – UBC – Is There a Cure for Earworms?

Earworms! Yuk!! What is it about a song that can make it go in one ear, and not come out the other? Where does it get stuck, and why? And who thought up the name – Earworms!?

Those songs that get trapped inside your head and keep on playing, long after you’ve turned off the radio, are called Earworms.

Wikipedia describes earworms as:

An earworm, sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, stuck song syndrome, or Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI) is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing. … The word earworm is possibly a calque from the German Ohrwurm.

The problem is, most of the time I don’t even like the song. And it doesn’t have to start with actually hearing the song; it could be that someone mentions the name of a song, or says a word that triggers the mechanism in my brain that turns the mental-music on. Regardless of how it starts, trying to stop it is futile.

Who Let the Dogs Out? has named twenty-one songs that are guaranteed to get stuck in your head. Well, I hadn’t even heard of some of those songs, so I doubt they are going to get stuck between my ears. There is one, however, that is sure to be an earworm. Say the words “Who Let the Dogs Out?”?

Now try getting THAT song to stop playing in your head. Pretty tough, hey?

Researchers have put time and money into investigating how earworms get inside your head, and why they can be hard to eradicate, once they’re tucked up, nice and snug, between your ears. Apparently, over 90% of the population suffer from earworms. That means there is a lucky 1-9% of the population enjoying an earworm free existence (how do they do that?).

Stickability of a song is dependent on things like: popularity; melodic variation; and of course, the obvious – how much time you spend listening to music.

What’s in a Name?

According to Merriam-Webster, the name, Earworm, comes from the German word, Ohrwurm. That sounds feasible. And it seems that earworms are contagious. Apparently, if you wake up in the morning with an earworm in your head, and then go about your day giving voice to the song that is haunting you, you will pass the dreaded worm on to others. I wonder if, sometime in the future, there will be a vaccine to prevent earworms? It seems there is a vaccine for everything else – why not earworms?

So, what is the cure for earworms?

Dr Kelly Jakubowski (Durham University) has spent a lot of research hours trying to figure out the how and why of earworms.

According to Durham University, and based on Dr Jakubowski’s research, there are a few things you can do to eradicate earworms. The University suggests:

  • distraction – by thinking of another song: I can see the danger in this one. In my case, the replacement song will simply kick the original earworm out and elect itself as King Earworm. Durham University actually cites ‘God Save the Queen’ as a safe replacement. I have to admit, I haven’t tried this, but I think it has merit.
  • engaging with the song – sing along with it; listen to it; whatever it takes to get up-close-and-personal with the earworm that has taken up residence in your head. I’m not sure how this works, but who am I to question the research?
  • leaving it alone – not engaging with it – thinking of something else. My guess is the earworm will feel very lonely and go off in search of someone else’s head to live in – someone who might at least pay them some attention.

It seems that for most of us, earworms are inevitable, so I hope the information I have shared with you today makes them a little easier to live with.

Have an earworm-free day!, or, if you have to have them, may they be songs you love – or at least like!

What’s Your Earworm?

What songs get stuck in your head?

Are your earworms – songs that you like – or not?

How do you get rid of those annoying earworms that just won’t shut up!?

Share your thoughts in the Comments box below

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 2 comments

Day 15 – UBC – Distraction, and the Janitor’s Hammer

Could the ‘Gentle Art of Distraction’ save the janitor’s hammer from crashing down on the frail fence, or worse still, on me? There was only one way to find out.

Justin’s teacher called me during class-time to report that Justin (not his real name), had left the classroom. After checking the usual hiding spots, I found Justin, with a hammer poised menacingly in his right hand, within striking distance of the back fence. And he was angry!

A million thoughts flashed through my mind, as they usually did, when I was faced with a crisis like this. Working out the best solution was always tricky, but luckily, an example given by Tom Willis from the Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis, took precedence. I was lucky enough to attend the lecture Tom had given a few years earlier, and had never forgotten the example he gave about using distraction to diffuse situations.

“Oh my goodness! Who put that boat there?”.

Luckily, someone had parked a boat on the easement behind the fence, thus providing the perfect prop for testing my ‘art of distraction’ theory. Justin stood there, hammer poised in the striking position, and said, ‘What?”.

“How did that boat get there? Was there a flood and then the water went down, leaving the boat sitting there”, I asked? With the hammer still poised, Justin replied “No, it’s always been there”. I kept the momentum going with questions and comments, and noticed Justin’s grip on the hammer relaxing, just a little. The more questions I asked, the more relaxed he became. The arm holding the hammer slowly started moving down, towards the ground. I kept the banter going a little longer, just to be sure the anger was gone. When I felt the moment was right, I suggested that we go into my office and have a chat. We had played out the ‘chat-in-the-office’ routine often enough for Justin to know that it was a positive, not a negative, process.

Step Into My Office…

As we walked, I casually asked Justin what his plans were for the hammer in his hand, and he just as casually explained he was going to put it in the janitor’s shed. I agreed, and we handed the hammer over to a very grateful janitor.

There are a number of reasons this situation ended well:

  • Trust – Justin knew I would treat him fairly, even if disciplinary measures had to be taken
  • No Grudges – what happened yesterday, belonged in yesterday. Each day was a new day
  • It wasn’t personal – no matter what happened – I didn’t take it personally
  • All behaviour is communicative – my job was to find the reason for the behaviour – and try to fix it
  • Explanation mode – is best served in a calm state. I never asked the ‘why’ or ‘what went wrong’ questions until Justin was completely calm. The eye-of-the-storm is never a good time for discussion
  • There is always a better way – once I understood the ‘why’ I could teach a better way of handling situations, or make other adjustments that might reduce the risk of a repeat performance

Distraction Works …

I’m not saying that distraction worked every time, but it certainly worked most of the time. Years of experience, and lots of training, gave me the skills I needed to know when to use distraction, and when to stand back and let it all happen. It was something I couldn’t explain to new teachers; you just learn it as you go.

Over the thirty-plus years of my teaching career, I attended as many lectures as I could by Tom Willis or Gary LaVigna – founders of the Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis, based in Los Angeles. They came to Australia every two years, and I waited anxiously for their lectures and workshops. In 2004, I spent the equivalent of two-weeks, spaced over the year, taking the intensive training that LaVigna and Willis normally provide in a two-week intensive training situation in Los Angeles. I loved every minute of it! Behaviour management was a lot easier, and a lot more successful, from then on.

As a result of the training, I could usually find a quirky way to deal with complex issues. In fact, thinking outside the box became the key to fixing a lot of problems.

The story of Justin, and the janitor’s hammer, ended well…

… thanks to the gentle art of distraction.

I’m not saying I’m an expert in behaviour management, but I managed a lot of tricky situations over the long span of my career, that could have ended badly, but didn’t.

If you have any questions about using distraction, or about managing quirky behaviour in general, type them into the Comments section below. If I don’t have the answer, I’m sure I could steer you in the right direction to find it.

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 5 comments

Day 14 – Putting the Social – in Social Media

Social Media – you either love it or you hate it. I’m not sure if there is a middle road, but if there is, I am travelling right along the centre line.

My first encounter with Facebook was in 2006, in San Francisco. Back then, Facebook was relatively new, having only been launched by Mark Zuckerberg and his Harvard friends in 2004. In fact, 2oo6 was when the group opened up their project to the world.

Are You Friend or Follower?

Since signing up for Facebook, all those years ago, my list of Friends has steadily grown. That is probably why it is called Social Media, right? I’ve even attracted some Followers, although I’m not sure what the difference is.

The Facebook that I connected with back in the early days has evolved into something very different. In the beginning, it was a ‘digital diary’, where people posted everything, from what they had for breakfast, to how complicated their relationship was. While we still see some diary entires on Facebook pages, there is now a more sophisticated approach. Social Media, including Facebook, is now widely used to highlight goods and services, and link to websites promoting someone’s blog (like mine…)

And this is where the Ultimate Blog Challenge (UBC) enters the picture. Through the UBC, I am able to have my humble blog posts read by a wider audience than my smattering of Facebook Friends and Followers.

Here is the Deal…

This is a test to see how many new friends I can gain from this humble blog post.

Oh, before we start, maybe I should clarify the ‘Friends’ label. I said the word ‘friend’ once in the hearing of my Bestie (Best Friend), who turned and said “Who died and left you a friend?”. Oh, and just for the record, she is still my Bestie.

It isn’t for the purpose of proving my Bestie wrong!

But it would help.

So, I thank my new-FB-Friends in advance, for joining my growing list of Facebook Friends. Or, you could become a Follower, and you would be joining a really elite group (all twelve of them!).

Just do whatever it is you do to be-Friend someone on Facebook. I’m guessing you need to start with the link below, but if that doesn’t work, I’ve added the name and photo you will see if you land on the right Facebook page.

I’m not sure if the link will work, so just in case it doesn’t, this is the photo you will be looking for when you search my name on Facebook:

I look forward to a long and lasting friendship, and I am excited about how many places across the world my new friends will come from. Perhaps we will share travel stories? I could post more stories about my homeland, and would love reading about yours.

See you on Facebook!


Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 2 comments

Day 13 – Number Thirteen – Lucky or Not?

Of all the numbers that make up our world, number thirteen probably has the worst reputation of them all. Whether you are superstitious or not, you more than likely avoid walking under ladders, or crossing paths with a black cat on any Friday that has the number thirteen (13) attached to it. I know I do.

But on the 13th August, 2013, I didn’t have time to think about superstition. My day started, as it usually did, at 7.30am. That’s the time I would put my cafe-bought coffee down on my desk, unpack my laptop, and start sifting through the hundreds of emails that greeted me each day. From then on, it was full-on. Classes to visit, students to attend to, paperwork to handle, and if I was lucky, it wasn’t a day that I had to drive an hour to another school. I was lucky that day.

And then it went pear-shaped, in a BIG way!

The bell had rung to signal the end of learning. I frantically put the finishing touches to a report that had to be written, and started gathering up the information I needed to take to the Staff Meeting. The one that usually started at about 3.10pm and finished anywhere between 4.45 and 5.00pm (if we were lucky).

Without warning, one of my favourite students came rushing in. He was obviously upset about something, and proceeded to unleash his pent-up frustrations on my office. It looked like a bomb had exploded, well, it sort of had, by the time he was finished. I managed to calm him down enough to get him onto his bus, headed for home, when the second attack arrived.

Strike Two!

Another student, also having had a bad day, unleashed a verbal barrage in my direction, then stormed off. I could only hope that he had settled down by the time he walked home.

The first thing I had to do was phone the mother of the first student, and warn her that she may be collecting a tornado from the bus that afternoon. Given that the bus ride was an hour long, she may be lucky enough to have him arrive in a calm state – but I doubted it.

I made the call, gathered up my staff-meeting documents, and arrived late. What could I do? Some things take priority over meetings, and warning a parent of impending trouble was one of them.

The Paper Trail

At the end of the meeting, I trudged wearily back to my office. It was now time to face the paperwork that goes with any kind of student melt-down. Oh, and before I could sit down to do that, I had to put my office back together.

By the time the paperwork was done, reports written, parents called and plans put in place for the next day, it was after 7pm. And it was dark! I put my jacket and briefcase over my left shoulder, turned off the lights, and locked the office door.

Wow, it was dark!

It wasn’t the first time I had left school that late, but it just seemed darker than usual. As I turned the corner near the Administration office, I noticed that the sprinklers were still on. As I was wondering why Barb (our Groundsperson) had left them on, my foot stumbled across a hole in the cement. It all happened so fast, I can’t tell you much about the next bit, except that the weight of my briefcase and jacket, slung over my left shoulder, pushed me faster and more heavily towards the cement path. I put my right hand out to stop my fall and felt the weight of everything on my left side come crashing down on me.

There I was, sprawled out across the path, grateful that anyone with any sense was already home. My not-so-elegant departure had not been witnessed by anyone, therefore my dignity (what was left of it) was reasonably intact.

But First, a Milkshake…

Somehow, I managed to get myself back into a vertical position, gather up all my belongings, and wonder if my laptop had survived the fall. Everything seemed fine – except for my right wrist. I hadn’t ever had a broken bone before so I had no way of knowing if my wrist was broken, or just severely sprained. It looked odd, felt odd, and it hurt.

I managed to drive with my left hand only – very grateful for the automatic transmission – and made it to the local cafe that was still open. As you do in any crisis, you stop for a milkshake. But my right wrist was not ‘right’. Luckily, home was not far away, and I made it there with everything intact – with the exception of a bone in my wrist that was making its fractured state well-and-truly felt.

The Emergency Department

Figuring that I would have to sit in the emergency department at the local hospital for a few hours, I managed to put on some warmer clothes, and drive myself the short distance to our very small hospital. The first question that was asked, of course, was how did it happen? As I recounted the story of falling over in the dark as I was leaving school, the bewildered look on the faces of the medical team prompted another question. “Why were you leaving school in the dark?”. That question didn’t warrant a legitimate answer. It was too complicated. A simple ‘Paperwork’ sufficed.

And to this day, I remember the date that I broke my right wrist. It was 13th August, 2013. Am I superstitious? Nah. It just happened.

Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments

Day 12 – UBC – What Question?

In today’s blog post I’m supposed to answer a question that comes up often in my comments. I don’t have the answer. In fact, I don’t even have the question. But what I do have is a question of my own. It’s a question that I ask myself constantly.

How the heck do you work out the Comments section on a blog site?

This is the one thing that has kept me up at night since the Blog Challenge started. I have ‘plugged-in’, tweaked, and deleted everything that isn’t nailed down in the back-end of my site, and still I haven’t worked it out. I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with my tech-guru on the weekend (thanks Ricky), who went straight to the source of the problem. He unchecked a box here, checked a box there, and Voila!, I was able to find the comments, under the heading of Comments. I walked away from the table, confident that I would now be able to see the comments people have been leaving, and know where to find them in future.

Problem solved – Except?

I still can’t get the comments to land on my actual blog page. I’m not complaining, just stating a fact. When I didn’t know much about my website, and my site was much more simple, comments used to just land at the bottom of the blog post. I would approve, or not approve them, and that would be it. But when I got a bit more technical and started adding more Plug-ins, the wheels started falling off the wagon. It seems that plug-ins, much like humans, have fall-outs with each other. And when they don’t get along, or stop talking to each other, it gets ugly.

And there, in a nutshell, is my problem.

How do I get the Comments to land at the bottom of a blog post on a WordPress Website?

All answers to this problem will be gratefully accepted, and I thank you in advance!

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments

Day 11 – UBC – Story of the Yellow School Bus

It was the night before Christmas Eve, the best part of the shopping was done, and all that was left was to make it home before the cold night air chilled us to the bone. But wait! Is that a yellow school bus? I have to take a photo!

And the rest, as they say, is history.

When you are a tourist in Seattle, and it is almost Christmas, the difference between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres is enormous. The air is seriously cold, and darkness descends on that part of the world when it is still late afternoon. And that is how it happened. It was a combination of yellow school bus and darkness. Oh, and a smattering of ‘the power of thought’, as well.

Take Some Vegemite With You!

My American travel-buddy decided it would be a good idea to buy me some Vegemite for Christmas. Have you ever tried buying Vegemite in Seattle? It wasn’t such a good idea then, and I doubt it ever will be again. After ‘store-hopping’ across town, from Rainier Beach to Bellevue, no Vegemite was to be found – anywhere.

Disheartened and disillusioned, we boarded the bus that would take us back to Rainier Beach – where the store-hopping venture had started. On the way to the store in Bellevue that should have had Vegemite – but didn’t, I had noticed a Best Buy (a bit like our Aussie JB Hi Fi ) store. And since it was still only afternoon on that cold day in December, it made sense, since we were going to be passing it anyway, to take a small detour. We would get off the bus, walk a few blocks back to the Best Buy store, then take the next bus home to Rainier Beach. Nothing could be easier.

Pick up the Sign!

As we walked along the path that would lead us to the Best Buy store, a wooden sign – sort of like a small billboard – had fallen across the path. Since it took up a considerable amount of the walkway, the thought crossed my mind that I should pick it up and stand it against the fence. The words ‘someone might fall over this’ actually formed in my mind, and hovered, as another more compelling thought swirled around and cancelled it out. For some obscure reason, I convinced myself that the simple act of picking up a fallen sign could have unpleasant ramifications – I wasn’t sure what they could be, but the thought of them won out over ‘pick up the sign!’.  So I didn’t. I stepped over the sign and continued walking towards the Best Buy store.

The words ‘Best Buy’ and ‘quick detour’ are not synonymous. I have a habit of gravitating to the technology section of the store and finding myself lost in a world of gadgets, and gadget cables. By the time we left the store, it was dark. No problem, we thought – just a short walk back to the bus.

Is That a Yellow School Bus?

But wait! Is that a yellow school bus? Wow! Just like the ones you see in the movies. I’ll have to take a photo. It was too dark to see whether I had captured the best angle of the bus, but at least I could adjust any short-comings with editing software. I put my iPhone (camera) safely inside my bag, turned around, and tripped over something in the dark. I landed with a thud, almost face down, on the cold, hard cement. Keeping very still for a few seconds, I mentally took stock of any possible injuries. When I was convinced that everything seemed to be intact, I slowly got up. But it didn’t take long to realise that all was not well. I was holding my left wrist in the palm of my right hand – for a good reason. It hurt! And somehow, it seemed to be more floppy than I remembered it being before the fall.

The thought of calling Uber for transport home, crossed my mind, but then I decided the bus would do, and continued walking to the bus stop. Since we had to go back into the city anyway, I decided to buy a brace for my now, very sore wrist. Optimistically, I had almost convinced myself that I was only sporting a sprain, and a brace would tide me over until it healed.

Oh, did you guess that what I tripped over was the sign I should have picked up earlier?

Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

My glass half-full mentality didn’t live up to its usually high standard on that occasion. By the time Christmas was over, I wasn’t so optimistic, and decided to have an x-ray. The verdict? Broken. Well, more like ‘smashed’. Apparently it was a Smith’s Fracture – there was a much longer and more technical explanation but I can’t remember all of it, so Smith’s Fracure will do. At the appointment with the specialist, it was decided that surgery would be the probable next step, and it would be better to be had in the land of Oz than in the American medical system.

To their credit, my travel insurance kicked in, and despite a few long-winded discussions in the process, an earlier flight home was arranged. I was in a full-cast, from below the shoulder to below the wrist, with a quirky bend at the elbow. Travelling without insurance doesn’t make any sense. Not only did the insurance company cover the flight home, but the seats, or should I say, flat beds – were in Business Class. I have nothing but praise for the Aussie company that takes care of all my travel insurance needs, and I would never leave home without them.

To Have, or Not to Have? That is the Question

And as for the surgery? I managed to heal faster and better than expected and was able to avoid surgery. Should I have had the surgery? Probably. Will I have issues in the future because of that decision? Possibly. I’m not a good patient and rarely step inside any medical facility. So the prospect of an operation wasn’t something I wanted to give much thought to. Luckily, I found a way to deal with the initial pain after having the cast removed. As long as I applied Magnesium Oil to my wrist each morning, I was pain-free.

The yellow school bus photo stayed tucked away in the memory of my iPhone. I couldn’t look at it for a very long time. But it’s okay – I’ve passed through the denial and anger stages and I’m now comfortably resting in the acceptance phase. That is why I have written the story of the yellow school bus in this blog.

I’m okay with it, now.

But, I doubt I will ever look at a yellow school bus again, without flashbacks to that cold, dark, late-afternoon in December, in Seattle.

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 6 comments
Day 10 – UBC – 10 Shades of Winter

Day 10 – UBC – 10 Shades of Winter

Bears hibernate in winter, and so do I. At the end of Autumn I snuggle under a thick blanket, and I don’t peep out from under the covers until the first signs of Spring. While the 10 shades of winter are making their presence felt outside, I stay inside, where it is snug and warm.

The 10 Shades of Winter!

  1. cold!
  2. naked trees (barely a leaf in sight)
  3. frost on the ground
  4. ice, on any flat surface that bares itself to the elements
  5. drab, dreary colours
  6. so many layers of clothing –  you feel like the Michelin man
  7. days that are too short and nights that are too long
  8. hot (healthy) soup, instead of ice-cream (just kidding)
  9. hot chocolate instead of milkshakes
  10. cold!

Luckily, I live in the northern rivers area of New South Wales, where winters aren’t too bad. Yes, they can be cold, but this year the winter has been mild. So I have ventured out, a little, but usually late in the morning, and I make sure I’m home before dark, because that’s when the cold sets in.

And as for hibernation? While the 10 shades of winter are out there, I’m in here, snuggled under a blanket – or two.

Will someone wake me up when Spring arrives?

Only when the 10 shades of winter have disappeared, and Spring is here, will I be ready to come out.

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 4 comments
Day Nine – UBC – Inspiration

Day Nine – UBC – Inspiration

People move in and out of our lives. Some stay a long time, others drift in, and stay just long enough to get to know us, before drifting out again. But it is the people who inspire us, regardless of how long they stay, that make the biggest impact. It doesn’t matter how you define inspiration, it’s what it does for us that matters.

And speaking of definitions, Inspiration is defined as: “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative”. Or, it can be “a sudden brilliant or timely idea”. R Kay Green in the Huffington Post looks at inspiration in terms of: “… what inspires us most are ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. We appreciate when someone has the ability and willingness to be selfless, creative, innovative, or just dares to be different”.  I can think of a lot of public figures who could make it onto the list of people who inspire us, but that’s another story, for another time.

Who Inspires Me?

If daring to be different defines a person as inspiring, then all of the students I taught, qualify. My students were different, and yet the same as any other child. Different, because each had a disability that might have made them look or act a little different. The same, because they, like all kids, wanted to learn, and enjoy life. They inspired me every time they achieved a goal that the rest of us take for granted. For them, most things required a lot more effort and perseverence. I was, and still am very proud of them all.

And if ordinary people, doing extraordinary things fits the definition of inspiration, then the teachers I worked with are my inspirational heroes. Anyone who says that teachers only work from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon, has never known a teacher. Just ask the family of a teacher – they’ll tell you. When most of us have settled down at night to watch our favourite show on television, teachers are marking papers from the day’s lessons. When we decide it’s time for bed, teachers are planning the next day’s lessons. And they do it because they love what they do – providing quality education for the next generation, to prepare them for life. They want the best for every child.

From Beach to Bush

Some of the hardest working teachers I know are the ones who gave up the comfort of city-life and headed to the country.

Teachers in schools in Central Queensland, and beyond, may have given up their city-living comforts, but they gained so much more in return. When teachers choose to teach in schools away from cities, they become part of a larger family, they endure, and give all they have to the community. And after three years, if they haven’t met the love of their life (a lot of them do), they return to the city, and are never the same again. They have a maturity and ‘can-do’ attitude that is hard to beat.

In that small country town, there was no office-supply store at the end of the street, or department store on the corner; resources were made out of whatever was available. Teachers shared what they had, and gave moral support at times when immediate family was needed, but was not there. They took care of each other. And they made friendships that would last a lifetime.

Some Teachers Never Went Back

Of course, there can be an added bonus for heading out west. Many of the single teachers who left the city – found love in the bush – usually in the form of a single farmer or fellow-teacher. They may have driven into the country town, unattached, but certainly didn’t return to city life, unattached. And for the ones who met and married farmers?, well, that country town adopted a new family, and they are still there, raising children of their own.

But most of all, teachers worked tirelessly for every student they taught. I’m not saying that city teachers don’t work hard, they do, but country teachers seem to do more because of the isolation and because they are so much a part of the community. Teachers become a central part of the town they choose to call home, even if only for a few years.

They are:

  • at the football game on Saturday afternoon cheering on the local team, especially the junior teams
  • training students for the Opti-minds competition during lunch breaks
  • driving students to the Opti-minds competition on a Sunday in August – leaving town before daylight for the two-hour drive
  • with the students all day at the Opti-minds competition – encouraging and supporting them
  • at the annual Coal Festival, manning the food stall –  or with the kids, on the back of the decorated truck (don’t even ask about Risk Assessment!; it’s all good – trust me)
  •  supervising Homework Club, and tutoring, after school
  • teaching photography classes after school, and supervising the Disco night
  • at the local campdraft or river festival – helping out and cheering on the participants
  • in front of the grocery store on Saturday morning, selling cakes they’ve baked, to raise money for a local cause or the Coal Festival Entrant
  • at every fundraising event held by the Parents & Citizens Association
  • communicating with parents
  • at school on weekends to prepare for the coming week, and planning lessons late at night
  • missing family and friends in the city, but still giving everything they have to their new community
  • busy making new friends, and being part of a much bigger family
  • learning from each other

And Inspiration Is?

The country-service teachers I worked with who immersed themselves in the community; gave so much of themselves; made the country their home for three years or more, and changed the lives of so many people.

When I think back over my long life, I can think of moments of inspiration. Sometimes, the inspiration was the student standing in front of me, who had just achieved what we didn’t think they would. But mostly, inspiration was reflected in the eyes of the teachers who called Central Queensland their home. They were the ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

Who, or What Inspires You?

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 0 comments

July UBC – Day 8 – Every Kid Needs This!

If you have an interest in Education at any level – I’m sure you will enjoy hearing Rita Pierson speak about why every kid needs a champion. I believe Rita is right, and every kid needs this – they need a champion; someone who believes in them; and someone to advocate for them. I had a teacher like Rita in the formative years of my formal education, and because I had a teacher like Rita, I became a teacher.

So, What Are Your Thoughts; Do All Kids Need This?

Does every kid need a champion?

Did you have a teacher who was your Champion?

What difference did, or would a teacher like Rita have made in your life?

Posted by Maureen in Blogging, 1 comment
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