holidays

Walking in nature

I’m back from my leave, and thinking back already to some wonderful walking in England and Scotland, especially in the Lake District and on Skye.

I needed the break, and the restorative and recuperative power that walking in nature can give me. There’s something meditative about walking, especially in a beautiful place, that helps things connect somehow.

Now, I’m looking forward to getting back to work, re-connecting with colleagues and students, and firing up Outlook and surveying the damage there! I also intend to re-start the posting and thinking process here about issues and inter-connections in teaching, learning and technology.

Meanwhile, enjoy this view of Skye.  (Photo:me!)
Skye, Scotland

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Winter sunset

Windy sunset

No, I don’t intend wandering off into the sunset, but I am on leave from now through term 3 in my first break like this in over twenty years. So, I won’t be blogging much about education in that time. Instead, I’ll be doing some of my own poetry and textbook writing, taking some photos like the one above, last night at Mornington Pier, riding the bike and getting stuck into some of those jobs around the house that have teased me for ages. And, I’ll be travelling to Europe at the end of July: to Holland, France, England and Scotland.

I hope to be blogging back here in Term 4. I  hope you all have a great term.

Thinking about community

The last staff day for the year. Farewell. Speeches. Long standing staff members with nearly one hundred and fifty years of teaching between them, leaving and taking all that experience with them, before we all went out to lunch together.

They all gave funny or moving retirement speeches, talked about teachers they’d worked with and the students they’d taught, often about getting the job and always about the teams they’d been involved in and the people that had made a difference. The retiring swimming teacher gave a dignified speech, the EAL teacher talked about what she’d learned from her students and the time-tabler read out her old reports from Year 9, to everyone’s amusement.

The Head of Music, who gets everyone to sing every year, introduced us to a new carol, “In the Bleak Midwinter”, a bleak and beautiful song that his father used to sing for him and we all sang it as well as we could, then “Joy to the World”, which we all knew better. There was a tangible sense of community.

I thought of my wife, who works in business, mostly by herself or at bi-annual conferences where they all get together and where the bottom line is everything and where respect and loyalty don’t count for much, and was sorry that she didn’t share in this.

Not all business is like that I know, but there’s something in good schools that is inherently different from that; that creates an sustains community and that makes a big difference for the students and teachers who work there.

Best wishes to everyone for the holiday season.

Below: the carol we tried to learn; sounding a bit better than we managed!

Happy Holidays

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Teaching is an odd profession in some ways isn’t it? I think I’ve said this before! The timetabled unstoppability of it, the emotional investment (and roller-coaster) that’s part’s of working closely with young people who come to you at all stages of their learning journey. The four-term (I could graph this) rises and lows of energy, workload and feedback. And, at the end you say goodbye and start again. Some keep in touch. Others you never see again.

Last week I went into work and picked up my Lit class results and sat and thought for a little while about all the stories in those scores. Every year some students delight and surprise you, others don’t go as well as you hoped or expected. How can you predict that? What can you do better? Every year I ask myself if there’s something I could (should?) have done for that student who was just off the radar a little, or who didn’t know how to ask you the right questions or didn’t how how to think differently.

So, the ‘down-time’, the summer holidays is a place to start again, to think again, to walk down to the beach and plunge yourself into a different world. After a week of holidays I’m already sleeping better and feeling fitter. And, I’m starting to think about next year, and what to do different.

To all those teachers (and students) who have followed these musings this year, and maybe even have responded, thanks. And enjoy the holiday season.

The Restorative Power of being Outside

Wilsons Promontory

Well, we got rained on, really more ‘stormed’ upon and the surf was terrible. And it was cold, and more like winter than summer and we looked for patches of blue sky like sailors on a deserted island looking out for rescue boats.

BUT, there were lovely moments too, like walking along Tidal River after the rain, and looking up the mountains and the granite.

AND, there is still something fundamentally restorative and healthful about being a little bit in the outdoors, in a national park that is something like the landscape would have been thousands of years ago. And I do feel better after being there!

Happy holiday season everyone!