The Michael Leunig cartoons over the last week have definitely captured my mood about returning to work after school holidays, so I’m going to share a few goodies.
The juxtaposition between the self (the things I enjoy, things that give meaning…) and the role (responsibilities, obligations…). Where’s the middle path and how do I get on it?
The inevitable ups and downs of a term.
Dealing with your own (and everyone else’s) emotions. Hopefully we only have to deal with people at irritability stage and not further down the end of the hopscotch.
A comment on the end of last term (and probably every end of term). Got to throw some Growth Mindset and brain plasticity in there right??
Sometimes my brain is just too full and there is too much going on to absorb much else.
And a bit of hope for what could be. It’s not all sarcasm and negativity - just got to focus on the good stuff and the stuff that matters and filter out all the other stuff.
Here’s to a good start to the school year!
AGTA Conference 2022
The Australian Geography Teachers Association held the AGTA Conference this week in Hobart. The AGTA Conference is usually held every two years, and was meant to take place last year, but was delayed due to COVID.
Jason Byrne is a Professor of Human Geography and Planning at the University of Tasmania. His presentation focused on urban nature and ecology and ecological sustainability. Specifically, he addressed heatwaves, urban tree canopy mapping using machine learning and satellite imagery. and correlations with ABS data on population characteristics. You can read about visionary cities and sustainability in the Asia Pacific Network's - APAC Network - It starts with Cities
You can follow Prof Jason Byrne on Twitter at @CityByrne
Lorraine Chaffer's presentation on The Great Southern Reef was a highlight for me. If you want to access her really detailed case study on the topic, her GTA NSW & ACT Bulletin edition on the topic is amazing. For NSW schools this is a great option for Environmental Change and Management, or Ecosystems At Risk because it provides the opportunity for fieldwork that is relatively local. As always, her presentation was detailed and comprehensive, but also included lots of practical ideas to use in the classroom.
You can view the case study here: Australia's Great Southern Reef Kelp Forests
You can follow Lorraine Chaffer at @lorrainegae
Mick Law from Contour Education presented on spatial tools. These were a selection of easy to use options to provide student access to geospatial tools and activities. Some of his suggestions were: Scribble Maps, Global Forest Watch, Atlas ID and Earth Nullschool.
You can follow Mick Law at @Contour_Ed
Visit the website at Contour Education.
The theme of this year's conference was "The Active Geographer", and the conference included multiple field trip options. These field trips provide an opportunity for learning and inspiration outside of the usual lecture-style conference and were a great way to see some of the sites of Tasmania.
I attended the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies for an afternoon. We heard a presentation from Cayne Layton about the ecology and restoration of kelp forests and related fieldwork undertaken by the team at IMAS. We were also taken on a tour of the facilities used in IMAS' Ice Core Project, and heard about drilling and handling ice cores, and were able to enter the freezer facility (minus 18 degrees) to handle an ice core.
Follow the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies on twitter at @IMASUTAS
Follow Cayne Layton at @CayneLayton
One of the whole day field trip options was a visit to the Mt Field National Park. This involved lots of windy, dirt roads and beautiful views as we ascended the mountains. This is one of Tasmania's oldest national parks and is home to glaciated landscapes, lovely waterfalls like Russell Falls and giant eucalypts and tree ferns.
It can be difficult to attend a national conference like this due to the cost and time needed for release (I pay for it myself so that I don't need to negotiate whether I can attend, because I think it is really valuable and want to make sure I can go). However, it is well worth advocating for yourself or one of your faculty to attend. It is a great way of staying up-to-date with geographical research, hearing what other geography teachers are doing in their classroom, and getting inspired to think about things a little differently. It is also a great way to build relationships beyond your school, region or state and develop your professional network. The next AGTA Conference in 2024 will be in Darwin - start planning now.
Action Research is an inquiry process which examines a particular problem or issue, puts a series of actions in place and reflects upon the implementation of the action to determine success or failure.
Action Research allows us to engage current research, but is mostly focused on improving practice in our own local setting. According to DEC Action Research guidelines the process is made up of four main stages: planning, acting, observing and reflecting. Planning involves identifying an issue, examining similar projects and secondary sources, developing questions and methods. Acting involves trialing a change in practice, collecting evidence and adjusting the project if required. Observing involves analyzing the evidence, disseminating information and writing a report. Reflecting involves evaluating the process, implementing the findings and revisiting the process.
While a formal action research project can be labour-intensive, and time consuming, most decision making and leadership of teams should incorporate most of these elements anyway, even if just informally.
Running your action research project
Designing roles and tasks for your team.
Explore the Professional Standards for Teachers. Use the standards to help you identify the tasks and roles for the group. Consider that while you may have some very experienced staff members on your team, there may also be beginning teachers, or those who are already overstretched. Create opportunities that cater for a range of staff.
Choose a standard that is relevant to your leadership opportunity, and explore it at each level.
Explore the standards here:
Use the standards and your responses to the questions above to plan out your team's activities over an extended period. Ensure that you provide opportunities for staff at different levels of the careers.
Action Research is a great way to undertake whole school projects to improve outcomes for students while also providing opportunities to build teacher capacity and provide opportunities for staff to address the standard at various levels.
You can read about some of the Action Research Projects I have been involved in here:
Finding your purpose
I had decided with absolute certainty that I was leaving teaching and education all together. I was tired, deflated, done. Overburdened by the struggles with the system, the structures, the administration, trying to do everything with nothing, and the politics. Just done. I have been contemplating this for a while, but the idea was cemented in the past 6 months. However, this last week was a revelation. I found a purpose again. I'm writing this for the many teachers that I have spoken to that are tired, that are thinking of leaving the profession, that have had enough. Hold on.
The last few years have seen all of us pushed to the absolute edge of what we can achieve, of what we are willing to put up with, how much criticism we can take in the media, or how much support we can provide for our students (which is gladly given, but can sometimes be hard). Teachers are taking huge numbers of extra lessons to keep schools running. While this is amazing that they are willing to do this, each extra that a teacher takes results in further fatigue. Executive staff have spent all their energy trying to keep their schools safe and operational. On top of this, the general population has found this period difficult - managing acute health issues with stretched services, supporting friends and extended family through COVID, and for those in rural areas - floods, fires and plagues. Literally biblical stuff. The cumulative burden of managing the last few years has seen huge numbers of teachers leave the profession, and morale at an all time low.
Finding your purpose
This week I attended an event with teachers across the state that was really inspiring, helped me to reset my thinking and find my purpose again. So much of my energy and thinking has been stuck in the day-to-day - the activities, the admin, the operational stuff. Drudgery. There really is so much of it that it can be hard to step away and maintain a view on the bigger picture - to see the forest for the trees - the purpose. And without purpose it can be hard to maintain momentum.
Your purpose can't be just anything. Have a look at your system strategic goals, (for DoE teachers it can be found here - DoE Strategic Plan) and your school plan as a starting point. If you're lucky there might be something that immediately jumps out at you.
Think about the things that matter to you - what do you care about? What do you most value? Is there any relationship between this and what is already happening in your school or region? Or is there a link between this and the school plan?
What are your strengths and weaknesses? You can make a personal goal about improving yourself, but for actually finding a purpose, a reason for getting out of bed in the morning, it is probably easier to centre it around something you are already good at. Your purpose should involve applying what you are good at to bring about positive change for students and/or teachers.
I'm a pretty changeable person and for me I will usually have a purpose for a few years, achieve what I wanted and then do a reset. A purpose can be something long-term that will shape your career over a long period, or it can be something that is guiding you for a few years. If it is a short term goal, it might be better using this as a PDP goal for a year.
In short, find a reason to love your job. We spend a lot of time at work. If you don't love it, or at least something about it, you won't be able to continually meet the demands and keep your head above water.
Finding your purpose in Education
The next thing is finding time to fulfil your purpose...
Getting out of the weeds
We are all leaders - whether you lead a faculty, a subject, an extra-curricular activity or a school. One conversation I had this week stuck with me regarding the idea of getting out of the weeds. I love a good garden metaphor, but I am always very sceptical of "business speak" and some elements of leadership theory making its way onto the educational landscape. However, this has some merit. My philosophy of leadership has always incorporated a strong element of service - not in the customer service sense, but rather in the sense of service to others - helping, supporting, and meeting responsibilities. Of course, I'm a believer in having a vision and driving things forward. I also understand that I need to know the staff and read their cues, and know when to ease on the brakes for a while - pulling the work back to keep people in the game long-term. The risk of pulling work back off people is that the workload becomes overwhelming and sometimes I end up with jobs that should be delegated.
Getting out of the weeds basically means maintaining focus on the parts of the job that add value, reducing micromanaging, maintaining staff energy, and trusting and leveraging existing leadership in the faculty, team, school, etc.
How can you do this as a teacher, faculty head teacher or team leader?
- prioritise big-picture thinking to drive decisions
- hold working meetings. Meetings where everyone sits around and listens to one person talk, or even where everyone is talking are often not productive at all. Set an agenda, and use meeting times to actually get something done. A quick meeting is a good meeting.
- Lock in time on your calendar to do tasks. Prioritise the important items at the beginning of the week and leave the to do list for brain-dead time at the end of the week
- Find something that inspires you and your team to keep the momentum going.
- Find your tribe - surround yourself with people with a similar vision or purpose.
5 strategies leaders can use to stay out of the weeds
Get out of the Weeds
Ashbury - Responses to change
Peace Park development
A community protest was held on 30 May 2022 to protest the development of a parcel of land adjacent to Peace Park. The event included guest speakers and was attended by local politicians.
30 Trevenar Street Ashbury is a rectangular parcel of land, of 6,688 sq metres located in the bottom south-west section of Peace Park. The parcel of land was originally owned by the state government, but was given to Ausgrid. When Ausgrid decided to sell the parcel of land Canterbury Council made recommendations that the land be rezoned to open space.
The land is currently zoned R2 Residential, but both the former owners and real estate agent had been informed that the local council intended to rezone it to RE1 Public Recreation.
The land was sold to a property developer.
Click to view the Protect Our Peace Park website
Canterbury racecourse redevelopment
A number of community groups have emerged to communicate community concerns regarding the development of Canterbury Racecourse. These include:
Canterbury Racecourse Action Group
Canterbury Racecourse Action Group - submission to Parliament
SydbankAlliance - The battle to save Canterbury Racecourse as open space
Canterbury Park Racecourse - Jo Haylen MP
Chubb and Tyres4U redevelopment
The Ashbury Community Group was formed in 2015 as a way for local residents to engage with council regarding the Chubb and Tyres4U site rezoning. The group conducted door knocking, hosted regular community meetings, met with council and disseminated information to the community.
Click to view the Ashbury Community Group website.
The following changes are currently taking place, or have been proposed or discussed in the past 12 months or so:
- the development of the Canterbury Racecourse Masterplan
- the moratorium on development of the racecourse has recently expired, the existing racecourse car park is likely to be decommissioned,
- heritage restrictions of Ashbury are being reviewed,
- the intersection of Milton street and Georges River road is being upgraded,
- the Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor is being developed.
- substantial high-rise housing development along Canterbury road
1. Deindustrialisation and development - Chubb and Tyre4U
A large area of land that was formerly light industrial on 149-163 Milton street Ashbury has been demolished and rezoned for six-storey apartments, The site was the former location of Chubb Security and Tyres4U.
Read about the basic facts of the development here:
Ashbury Community Group
View the Planning Proposal here:
Canterbury-Bankstown Planning Proposal 149-163 Milton St, Ashbury
View how the site was advertised here:
Prestigious Inner West development sites hit the market.
2. Sale of Sydney Water land and development
Housing development has been proposed for a section of the land owned by Sydney Water as part of the Ashfield Reservoir.
Access the Planning Proposal here:
Canterbury-Bankstown Council Planning Proposals 165-169 Holden St, Ashbury
Read the Heritage Impact statement here:
Ashfield Reservoir Heritage Impact
3. Sale of Ausgrid land and development along fringe of Peace Park - 30 Trevenar st, Ashbury
A strip of land previously owned by Ausgrid has recently been sold to a property developer. The land abuts Peace Park and has been open space for an extended period of time.
Read about the Mayor's response to the sale of Ausgrid land
Canterbury-Bankstown Council - Save Our Park
Read about the sale of the site:
Real Commercial - Sale of 30 Trevenar st, Ashbury
4. Proposed rezoning of Canterbury Racecourse carpark
An application was made to have Area "6A" rezoned. This area of land is used as an overflow carpark when race meetings are on. The application for rezoning was later withdrawn, and it is likely to be considered as part of the Canterbury Racecourse Masterplan (see 5)
a5. Canterbury Racecourse Masterplan
Recent new indicates that Canterbury Racecourse is likely to be sold to make way for a large housing development.
Sydney's Canterbury racecourse could be the city's next major apartment development.
High-rise apartments on the cards for Canterbury racecourse.
Australian Turf Club confirms plans to redevelop parcel of land at Canterbury Racecourse, but racing to continue.
Canterbury racecourse rezoning a "one-off opportunity" turf club chairman says.
The future of Canterbury Racecourse - Turfmate
Mirvac wins right to develop Australian Turf Club's Canterbury Park racecourse land.
Sydney's Canterbury racecourse could be the city's next major apartment development.
"It's like a DMZ": Car park DA prompts development fears for Canterbury racecourse.
Fears as developers eye-up Canterbury Park racecourse.
High rise apartments on the cards for Canterbury Racecourse.
ATC forms development partnership with Canterbury Park
Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor
- inner west of Sydney
- part of City of Canterbury-Bankstown Local Government Area
- 10 km south-west of Sydney CBD
The suburb of Ashbury mostly developed from the 1870s to the 1840s. Over 200 items in this area are Heritage listed and most of the suburb, and part of Croydon Park are included in the Ashbury Heritage Conservation Area. It is thought that parts of Hurlstone Park will also be incorporated into the AHCA. An "item" could be a house, commercial site, factory, monument, etc. The suburb, including its streetscapes, layout and architecture is considered locally significant and was managed under a Canterbury Council Local Environment Plan No 138 (2012), but since the amalgamation for Canterbury and Bankstown Councils it is now covered under a more general Heritage Guide which is still in draft form.
Ashbury developed over time through the sale and development of different "estates". Some of these are: Queen Grove's Estate (1913), Wattle Hill (1914-1916), Goodlet Estate (1919-1925), Ashfield Heights Estate (1880 - 1920), Trevenar Estate (1922), Hill Top Estate (1924).
Sometimes a gem just falls into your lap. While cleaning out my parents house to move we came across this picture book in amongst some family memorabilia. My grandfather was born in the early 1920s, so we think it must have belonged to one of his older brothers or sisters.
This book is part of the Father Tuck's "Patriotic Series" and appears to have been published in 1917. It provides descriptions of various roles within the British Army with beautiful illustrations accompanying it.
- Outline the evidence there is to indicate a rough date of publication.
- Identify the demographic group ( this might be age, gender, ethnicity, etc) this book is targeted at.
- What do you think of the illustrations? Describe the purpose of the illustrations.
- This picture book could have a number of different purposes. Discuss the purposes of the picture book and provide examples/phrases in the book that provide evidence of these purposes.
- Identify any words, phrases or concepts that are out-dated or no longer in use.
As a family we are lucky that my Pop audio recorded some of his life story including his experiences in PNG during WWII. The video below is an excerpt of these recordings with some photographs taken at the time of him, some of his fellow soldiers and family members.
In the lead up to ANZAC Day this year, a number of organisations have shared some great resources. The Poppy Field Project has released an interactive infographic which shows war fatalities in the 20th century using different sized poppies. Information can be interrogated by continent, by sorting by size of conflict, and by displaying particular time periods.
Click to view the Poppy Field Interactive
SBS OnDemand is airing "From paradise to Hell": First Nations ANZACs and the fight to honour them. You can read more about it here:
'From paradise to hell': First Nations ANZACs and the fight to honour them
View the show on SBS OnDemand
Some other places to look for some great resources:
Teachstarter have a great collection of Thoughtful ANZAC Day activities and resources.
The ANZAC Portal from the Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Resources from the Australian War Memorial
The NSW Department of Education ANZAC resources
Deputy Principal at a Sydney high school. Coordinating author of the Geoactive text book series.