Looking for Positive Blogs

Don’t you just love the photo of the needle in the haystack? Thanks Pixabay! Sometimes it feels like finding blogs worth following is like looking for a needle in a haystack – I know that there are good blogs out there… I’ve been searching around in my WordPress reader trying to find a few new blogs to follow. The truth is at times I don’t know where to start looking.

WordPress used to have a daily post where different blogs were promoted and bloggers could get exposure. For me, this meant I could get a ‘taste’ of different types of blogs without having to do all the hard work. I got to see things that I wouldn’t have thought of looking for on my own.

I find many blogs have a ‘It’s all about me!’ mentality. Whilst charisma is good, there needs to be something more. Some of the blogs that I have been looking at recently include:

Writing to Freedom

I stumbled across the blog ‘Writing to Freedom’ which featured an interesting post about the plethora of blogs and posts out there. He was interested in authenticity in blog posts and wished for people to save the trite and trivial for social media. He makes an interesting point in that the purpose of blogging is quite different to the purpose of social media and we have limited time and resources in how we use these resources. His other posts contain fabulous photos and thoughts on different topics.

beetleypete

Another blogger discussing positive blogging is beetleypete at beetleypete.com. I have fallen in love with his photographs of London pubs and parks along with his approach to writing and blogging. Some of his posts are stirring wanderlust. I would love to return to England one day.

K.M. Allan

I have been following this blog for a little while. K.M. Allan provides insights to her writing process and gives tips and technical advice as to how she has improved her writing. I actually got to meet K.M. Allan at a conference this year and discovered that she is a lovely person who lives in my neck of the woods! I also consider her a ‘leading learner’ in that she is a few steps on from where I am and where I would one day like to be. It has been great to see how K.M Allan has grown over the course of her blog.

Learning to Write – Thematically Meandering

I’m not sure how to head up this blog. In my feed it comes up with ‘Learning to Write’ yet the address is thematicallymeandering.com

Still, what’s not to love about a university student discovering his place in the world and musing about his studies and growing awareness of writing and blogging skills? This blog is a lot of fun to follow in part because the blogger doesn’t take himself or life too seriously. He knows how to work and have fun.

I am all for positive blogging. I do follow other blogs not listed here but would love some inspiration for other blogs to discover. Hit me with your ideas and suggestions! Who do you follow and why?

Have a great week everyone!

Share and connect!

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A Love/Hate relationship…

One of my kids asked me the other day ‘How is your blog going Mum?’ Dah-dah-dah! Cue the dramatic music. The truth is that I have a love/hate relationship with my blog.

I began my blog as part of my writing course just over two years ago. It was meant to be a tool to showcase my writing and develop an online presence. I think the course may have been a little dated in that aspect. Since doing the course, I seem to have found that many writers/authors tend to hang out more on social media. Many writers/authors have websites but may choose for a variety of reasons that blogging is not for them. I have also discovered that there is a huge difference between blogging for business and blogging as an author.

So in the meantime, I keep turning up and maintaining the discipline of writing that is blogging. But blogging is a monster that demands to be fed…

… and so does teaching.

This past week I have struggled with anxiety with the return to school and work. The requirements that are placed on teachers continue to grow. No one actually ever seems to acknowledge us as human and that we cannot go at 100% capacity 100% of the time. Our students can’t perform at 100% capacity 100% of the time either.

I also found with returning to school that I have reacted quite badly to the actual environment. I haven’t written much about it, but I have a mould gene and a mould allergy. I wrote about having our house tested last year. I am convinced that the buildings that I work in are quite possibly very mouldy too. I can smell it and practically ‘feel’ it when I walk into different parts of the school.

To this end, I have begun thinking about changing jobs which could be a challenge as many work environments are not the healthiest. I am also looking towards upgrading my blog and moving towards more of an author website as well as finding time to unravel my writing and begin reconstructing my novel into a better story.

But first things first, our study is finally getting painted and should be finished by the end of this week. We are finally getting towards the end of our two years of renovations. It’s been a long time of living and dealing with piles of ‘mess’. After the painting is done, I should then be able to find where all my writing things are.

Have a great week everyone!

And it’s holiday time!

Show me a photo of what your ‘To Be Read‘ pile looks like or at least comment on what you are currently reading in the comments. I can’t quite believe that I have ten books on my ‘To Be Read’ list.

So, we are now mid-way through our school year and my brain feels absolutely scrambled. I am tired and the little people I teach have been incredibly tired this last week too. We had parent-teacher interviews on Tuesday which is always an interesting event. We have the additional requirements of conducting interviews with the assistance of interpreters. I organised Tabloid Sports on Wednesday morning with the help of a secondary class and then on Thursday all the Primary classes put on a drama performance of a Fairy Tale. Lots of fun. Lots of hard work and energy output required. My class did ‘The Enormous Turnip.’ They were so funny in ways which only the youngest group of students in a school can be.

For the holidays, I will be reading, writing, crocheting and cleaning up different areas of the house. We have been in a state of chaos for two years with ongoing renovations and now painting works. I am also planning a research trip to Adelaide based on the feedback I received a few weeks ago at the KidLitVic conference that I attended. I am looking forward to changing gears and using different parts of my brain. And also catching up on some much needed sleep!

Let me know – what are you reading or what do you to unwind on holidays?

Developing your author platform through social media.

In a post from about a month ago, I mentioned that I was doing the Australian Writer’s Centre course ‘Build you Author Platform.’ The main idea being presented is that your website is your home or ‘office’ on the internet.

I am now at the part of the course where they are talking about the branches of the ‘office’ ie. Social media through Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads and Google+. It’s been a fascinating learning process as whilst I am on some parts of social media, I have yet to bring them together strategically and use them effectively in developing my author brand and persona. That will come.

As a bonus for me, I am now following a few new people on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. To learn how to do it, you have to see how others do it. It’s been good shaking things up. I am thinking about setting up a Twitter account but also know that becoming established in any of these social media platforms takes time, so I’m not going to rush there just yet. The other thing I learnt (which I had never realised before) is that it is possible to follow people and then ‘unfollow’ them if their posts don’t align with what you are interested in. Well, duh, I hear you saying. Loyalty is not what it once was.

So on Facebook I am now following:

  • Natasha Lester – Author
  • Rachael Johns
  • Allison Tait
  • Allen & Unwin

On Pinterest I am now following:

  • Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Writer’s Sandbox

On Instagram I am now following:

  • Jude Rossell (she’s a cat lover!)
  • Hardie Grant books
  • Walker Books Australia
  • Penguin Books Australia
  • text_publishing

Who are some new people you are following on social media? What social media platform do you feel works the best for you? I’d love to know.

New Arrivals Program Conference 2019

I teach in the New Arrivals Program in Victoria. My students are refugees or migrants coming to Melbourne to start a new life. Every second year the Language Schools and Centres across Victoria get together for a big professional learning day. Because we work in specialist settings, it can be quite isolating until we get together and realise we have the same issues and needs as other specialist language schools.

This year, we didn’t have the big professional learning gurus come out and teach us. This year we had to think about our challenges of practice and then go to a mix and meet style conference where we were supposed to share our challenges and gain tips and strategies from colleagues from other schools. Sounds good in theory right?

Challenge of Practice #1 – Student Well-being – Trauma

This is my first year of teaching predominantly refugee students. I have mainly taught migrants who have completely different needs and issues.

In my class of 5-7 year olds, I have students who have obviously never been to school before. They have been born in refugee camps and their parents quite possibly have low levels of literacy as well. Being in refugee camps increases the likelihood of some of these little people having health issues (physical or trauma) and so my challenge of practice was

How do I identify and cater for the needs of students affected by trauma?

When I have a student who is not making progress is it a health issue? Learning issue? Trauma issue? The fact that he’s only 6-years-old and just wants to play issue? A mixture of all of these issues?

My strategy so far has been to try and give my students more time to play, although as one colleague said, ‘You’d better call it developmental play, Sarah!’ A session of ‘play’ does calm my little people down. It probably takes an enormous cognitive load off them and enables them to relax. I have also tried to incorporate more ‘play’ into other subject lessons such as maths and our integrated topic lessons.

My colleagues at my table for this session were all secondary teachers. They had completely different issues and no new strategies for me to incorporate into my practice. Fair enough. It was interesting to hear from them that their challenges are more related to student behaviour. A lot of students who are dealing with trauma react impulsively and often with a lot of anger. These teachers are trying to build a common language for their students to talk about emotions and then give them strategies to self-soothe when they get upset.

Challenge of Practice #2 – Teacher Well-being

The second challenge of practice session was again me with a whole lot of secondary teachers. Primary teachers get a lot less planning time than their Secondary counterparts but I guess they feel stress and under the pump too.

My challenge of practice was

How can I use my time effectively?

I always feel like I am running on the spot just to keep up or like a duck furiously paddling below the water.

Some teachers in this session’s group swore by doing meditative apps such as Smiling Mind. I get why they might suggest such a relaxation tool but I don’t think that it is going to change much in terms of teacher workload or stress. There will always be more and more to do in the world of teaching and you are not really allowed to ‘drop any balls’.

Another teacher suggested that it was time to be serious about teacher well-being in that we encourage students to be open and upfront about their mental health and let us know when they are struggling. There is still so much stigma related to teacher mental health. If you are not coping, you are really not ‘good enough’. Her suggestion was that change needs to start at the grass roots level.

It was a nice chat but it didn’t really offer anything useful to take away.

If you’re a teacher, what challenges of practice do you face?

Or when have you been to a professional learning day and thought, ‘Nice, but not useful’?

Yay for the long weekend.

I have to thank Queen Elizabeth II for celebrating her birthday twice. It means that here in Victoria, this weekend is a long weekend as Monday is a public holiday and I am so excited.

What to do? What to do?

Well, it’s winter here so I will be slipping on some slippers and definitely doing some of the following…

  • Writing Term 2 reports
  • Sleeping in
  • Reading ‘Into the Night’ – Sarah Bailey
  • Hoping that the fire gets lit
  • Watching a movie a movie or two on the couch with my family

How do you like to relax on long weekends?