Discovering a New Form

This blog post has ‘popped up’ as part of my writing course. I have just started my next study period. It happens to be ‘Write Short Stories’.  I have fallen in love with some stories and forms that until now, I did not realise existed but have been exposed to through my course.

The form that intrigues me the most is the micro-fiction. Micro-fiction is tight. It is punchy. There is very little, if any description just action and maybe some dialogue. There is so much that is not said but rather implied in these very short pieces of fiction. How micro-fiction is received depends very much on what the reader brings to the reading. The writer almost assumes that the reader will understand the context in which the piece of fiction is placed.

I loved reading through these Twitter narratives.

A particular favourite was Jeffery Archer’s narrative on Adolph Hitler. Fascinating.

I have also been listening to audio casts of different short stories. There is only room for one main character, one emotion and really only one main event. The context and setting of the stories is very briefly recounted but make for a richer story because of their addition. These stories work so well because they are about people and people are so fascinating. I was showing my husband the story of Rick Curtis where Curtis recounts a very embarrassing story. We both laughed so hard and I at least had tears running down my face. His story works because it was so easy to imagine and it is easy to relate to his embarrassment. It’s well worth a listen.

What have you been discovering in the world of literature and narrative?


7 Things to Blog About Right Now

Sometimes blogging is hard work. For me, it can feel like I am speaking into a void.

“Hello? Hello? Is anyone there?”

Coming up with new ideas to write about can be a challenge too.

So I’ve put together a list of seven things that I will blog about over the coming weeks. If one of these ideas appeals to you and you want to write about it, please send me a link to your post in my comments section. I’d love to read about what you write too.

7 Things to Blog About Right Now

  1. What do you procrastinate over? Why?
  2. What are you currently enjoying? Why?
  3. What has a student/patient/client/colleague or friend taught you recently?
  4. What is something that you’ve done recently that you’re proud of? Why?
  5. Where do you hope to be in five years time?
  6. If you weren’t in your current job, what would you be doing?
  7. What are some of the challenges that present themselves at your place of work? How have you overcome them?

I look forward to being introduced to your blogs! Happy writing!


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A Big Week to Kick off June

The start to June has been crazy, busy and fun.

Every two years in Victoria, we have a New Arrivals Program Conference (NAPCO). Usually it is held in May but this year it was on June 1. Teachers from all over Victoria descend onto the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre and have professional development from leaders in our field. It’s a fun day because we are so specialised in what we do, to be a part of something bigger and see where we all connect is really important. The big thing that I came away with from Melbourne University researcher, Russell Cross, is that the idea of English Language Learners paints our learners in a deficit model. We think about what they don’t have and how they will always be behind a ‘native speaker’. We need to start thinking about what they do have. If we think about our students as English users, then we think about what they already know about language and can bring to their learning.

Friday was also exciting because I had my article on ‘Why Victoria Should Change the Structure of its Terms’ accepted for publication by Education Review. It hasn’t been published yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing my name in print!

Straight after NAPCO, I flew up to Sydney with my husband for a weekend away. My big ‘4-Oh’ (Oh dear, how did that happen?) birthday was on June 4. I have come to the conclusion that I am not a big fan of lots of people, loud noises and big parties. The weekend away was perfect. Sydney was also doing its Vivid Sydney festival and the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera house looked amazing all lit up. I’m grateful to both sets of grandparents who were able to help look after our kids whilst we were away.

It’s now onto report writing and finishing off my writing course.

Until next time.

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I cracked it…

Yep, I feel like I have lost the plot. I just wanted my latest assignment task done. Tonight’s the night and near enough has just gotta be good enough, if you know what I mean.

I have been sitting on this article for about the last 10 weeks!!!! I have learnt that getting information out of government departments is like trying to get pigs to fly. It just ain’t gonna happen…

I went out for dinner last week with an ex-colleague who now works for the Department of Education. When I mentioned my dramas with trying to get information for my article, she just nodded her head, rather sagely. Then with different comments that she made over the course of the evening, I realised that this department, like just about every department (surely there’s one that’s different?) likes to sugar coat things and talk around things in circles. There’s a lot of show and ceremony and not much in the way of substance. No wonder my questions were relegated to the scrap heap.

I have two months to complete this course, so here it is – my final article for my journalism units of work. Here’s hoping that it passes.

Why Victoria Should Change the Structure of its Terms.

I’d love to know what your thoughts are on my article in terms of its quality, structure and content. What would you have done differently if you had to write an article? Let me know in the comments below.

On another note, even teachers get into doodling and become a little distracted during professional development sessions. We had to attend a session run by a Chinese psychologist as part of our PD hours on students with special needs. She had some sad stories and some interesting stories on how the economic growth of the last 30 or so years has impacted Chinese families. To Western ears, a lot of what she was talking about in terms of Chinese families seemed quite dysfunctional, but I’m sure that many Chinese families would see their life as normal – just the way things are.


doodling (1)

oops, what rule?

It’s been one of those weeks, except it has lasted for a few weeks.

I inadvertently broke a rule at school, which I never knew existed, but certainly do now. It was the one where as a teacher, I am not to contact or be contacted by mainstream teachers. All contact needs to go through the co-ordinator or Student Welfare Co-ordinator. Mainstream teachers are not in the habit of ringing us to say, ‘Thank you for doing such a good job with my student whilst he was at your school…’

Anyway the upshot was, I called a teacher back who went on to complain that I had assessed my ex-student as a Year 3 student but he was in Year 2 at her school. The curriculum crosses over from lower Primary to upper Primary between Years 2 and 3. We get caught out when a student is a Year 3 age, but a school has placed them in Year 2. I let her know that all my paperwork had said he was Year 3. She then implied that I hadn’t done my job properly and that it had caused her too much work. Surely after four weeks, I should know where the student was on the continuum? I responded with an inappropriate tone which was exacerbated by lack of time as her lunch time and my lunch time did not correlate. I told her that she needed to assess the student and compare the A and B statements in the curriculum document and work out where he was. I hung up fuming.

I mentioned the episode to my assistant principal who said not to worry about it, only to have my principal come down on me hard the following week. The teacher had complained directly to him. Oops. I deserved the telling off but I think he understood that both parties were at fault. Then the poor Primary staff endured a sector meeting where we were grilled over the Year 2 and Year 3 swap over point and reminded that we need to know our students. Hopefully the teacher at the mainstream school realises that too.

On the writing front, I was cruising along nicely on my journalism unit. And then I hit a few bumps in the road, chiefly with trying to get responses out of the Victorian Education Department for my article and with the Northern Territory Education Department. I rang and I emailed. I sent a follow up email…

… and then I lost momentum. So, this afternoon whilst hubby took the kids out for an afternoon of tennis at his parents’ place, I picked up the threads of my interviews and began the task of plotting out my latest article for my assignment.

I have less than three months to finish my writing course.

(*Featured image is a Pinterest image that often pops up in my feed. Not sure which site it has come from.)

Holidays = Personal Maintenance Time

I had never considered myself a ‘mouldy’ person but have discovered these holidays that this is essentially what I am. (We spell it mould in Australia – it’s the same as mold and I might inadvertently use the spellings interchangeably.)

One of my colleagues says holidays for teachers means time for ‘personal maintenance’. It is possible to see the doctor, get a hair cut and your eyes checked during the term, but so much easier to do during the holidays.

So I found myself last Thursday visiting my naturopath. She was having an “I told you so” moment but was thankfully too professional to actually say the words. I received my mould report from my microbiologist whom I wrote about in an earlier post. Basically our ceiling cavity is horrendous. I have never been up there, but it is making me sick. My naturopath was fascinated by the reports. She kept saying “It just makes sense with your allergies, your gene code and now the news about your house. Everything fits together.” She then mixed up a whole stack of herbal potions for me, which keep me functioning during term time (and cost a fortune) and I went on my way.

The herbal tonics helped a lot even within the first 24 hours. It would be fabulous if the government was able to subsidize them the way they do pharmaceutical drugs. Generally they don’t have the same nasty side effects. I also went out and bought an air purifier for our bedroom, as it has the highest mould levels in the house. The brochure for the air purifier came with an endorsement from none other than the microbiologist who had been crawling around in our roof cavity only a few weeks ago. The air purifier kicked up a fuss as hubby dusted our bedroom, flashing green and red as it dealt with greater levels of particles. I am wondering whether  I can get one for my classroom at school. Just about everywhere at school makes me sneeze.

These holidays I have also been working on my latest assignment for my writing course. I have been learning that Government departments don’t like phone interviews, preferring me to email questions through to them. My hopes for my latest article seem to be changing by the minute. I’m still at the research stage, but just want it to be done.

So the plan for Term 2, which starts tomorrow is:

  • get onto remediating the ceiling cavity
  • getting rid of the mouldy carpet in our bedroom
  • finishing my writing course by the end of July (so I have to keep going)
  • try and stay healthy
  • break in a new class of students to my approach to teaching and learning
  • squeeze in some teaching
  • fit in some family time

And to top this off, Term 2 is also when I turn 40!


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Happy Easter!

Question: What do you do on the last day of term before the school holidays with your students?

Answer: Make Easter craft of course!

One of my colleagues (the one who’s leaving), laughed as she went past my room today. “You’re such an art teacher Sarah!” she said.

These Easter rabbits come from Teach Starter. My students had an absolute ball and were thoroughly engrossed – including the boys. Some students made their rabbits into ‘Alphabet Rabbits’. P7 have been a really lovely class this term and I will miss my students. Here’s hoping that next term, my students are just as good!


(Photo taken with my iPhone. Sorry it’s a little out of focus.)

Question: What do you do on the last day of term before the school holidays begin with your family?

Answer: Have McMummy’s of course!

This is a tradition that started about eight years ago. I saw it somewhere and thought ‘That sound’s like fun!’

We start our holidays with the kids getting into their PJ’s early, then eating take-away on a picnic rug on the living room floor. We then watch a movie whilst drinking hot chocolate and eating popcorn. It’s a fantastic little ritual and the kids really look forward to it. It really helps to mentally switch on the mentality of ‘Holidays have started!’ Tonight we’re doing fish and chips.

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it!