A Teacher’s Life on the Road

Copyright Free image via unsplash.com
Copyright Free image via unsplash.com

I once promised a friend that I’d write this post, and it is written for those who have never experienced what it is like to teach ‘on the road’.

I have been relief (substitute) teaching for four and half years, far longer than most, and to be fair it certainly has had its ups and downs. Waking up every morning waiting for the phone to ring (or not, as the case has been this year), being subject to the whims of often tired, stressed relief coordinators who just need to fill the day’s vacancies, turning up to a school not sure if you have a day’s schedule or not … it is not an easy road.

In the past, I have been criticised, and sometimes openly attacked, because I’m a relief teacher.

The idea, once quite openly expressed on Twitter, was that there must be something wrong with me, or that I couldn’t possibly be interested in working full-time – “The jobs are there if you wanted one” … The truth is that they are wrong, on both counts.

While those people are thankfully few and far between, I have some news for them …  I was a relief teacher by choice. Despite the stress and the complexity, I was free to teach, learn, and grow. Unlike some new teachers I know, I came through the hell of my first few years with my teaching spirit intact, and I know I am a better teacher for it.

Tomorrow, I will be visiting a new school. 

This time; however, I will be there for a different reason.  I have finally found a school which shares and values my vision for teaching and learning with the world through ICT. I knew it existed, but I’m still a little shocked as to where I found it.  I don’t mind that its a temporary part-time position, the very fact that I’ve won it is a personal vindication. It is the next step in my teaching journey, and as I hope to start my Masters degree next year, I’m quite happy with how I’m travelling. Everything happens for a reason, even if I don’t know what that reason is just yet!

Most teachers appreciate the work that relief teachers do.

Indeed, the best relief coordinators and Deputy Principals are those who have done relief teaching themselves in the past. But for those who dare to judge us without walking a mile in our shoes, assuming that we are lesser teachers, please re-consider. Our job is far from easy, and every relief teacher has a story. Just remember, … a welcoming smile, a friendly word of advice or teaching tips, a detailed daily work pad, directions to the staffroom … are appreciated far more than you will ever know.

Relief teachers talk to each-other. Schools where the teachers and admin are friendly and supportive are more likely to keep their experienced relief contacts. Those that show they don’t care, through their words and actions, are avoided – and others are warned to stay away.

We repay your kindness and care through our words and actions, and your students, and your school, stand to benefit. After all, we are all in this together.

Returning to #RSCON4 – A Journey Continues

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On Saturday night, I returned to where it all began, presenting at the fourth Reform Symposium eConference. Considering my global journey started with attending #RSCON11, and presenting for the very first time at #RSCON3, this was a very special occasion, and I was truly taken aback by the response and interest in my session.

With 35 attendees from 6 continents, this is a presentation I will remember for some time to come 🙂 Thankyou to everyone who attended, and thank you to all those wonderful people who’ve sent me feedback on the session. It is greatly appreciated.

Returning to Where it All Began: #RSCON4 (Oct 11-13)

Reform Symposium

Next weekend will be a special moment on my teaching journey, when I present at the Reform Symposium eConference, the online conference which kick-started my global journey over two and a half years ago.

In 2011, I was a troubled first year relief (substitute) teacher who’d been going through all kinds of first-year hell, just starting to explore the potential of online connections as a professional learning resource. I was experimenting with Twitter, building this blog, and writing about Personal Learning Networks. With the quiet assistance of my dear friend @clivesir, I found myself sharing my learning and experiences at a global conference for the very first time …

2013 Reform Symposium E-Conference (RSCON)

Now, I’m returning to where it all began, presenting “Working in the Global Classroom – A Teacher’s Journey“, on Saturday Oct 1 (13:00 GMT) at #RSCON4. This is on the weekend in the Americas and Europe, so I hope you’ll drop in and say hi 🙂

You can find out the exact time, and details on the other (amazing) #RSCON4 sessions, using the official schedule here.

Reform Symposium eConference #4 – October 2013

Teachers now have access to free quality professional development via current online technologies. Experience this live with thousands of educators from around the globe by attending the 4th annual Reform Symposium Online Conference, RSCON, which takes place October 11th to 13th in conjunction with Connected Educator Month. Attend this free online conference from anywhere that has Internet access.

View the schedule online here.

Look forward to being inspired by the following:

  • Plenaries- Sugata Mitra, 2013 Ted prize winner and instigator of the Hole-in-the Wall experiment and Salome Thomas-EL, Principal EL of the Dr. Oz Show.

  • Steve Bingham, electric violinist, and Laura Oldham, the Book Supplier, will play live.

  • 3 Panel discussions featuring Dr. Alec Couros, Ozge Karaoglu, Nicholas Provenzano, Jackie Gerstein, Steven Anderson, Silvia Tolisano, Joe Dale, Tom Whitby, Pam Moran, Lisa Dabbs, Erin Klein, and Tom Murray.

  • 100+ sessions. Topics include genius hour, the flipped classroom, global projects, mobile learning, game based learning, web 2.0 tools, integrating iPads, e-portfolios, and more. The activities meet Common Core objectives and cover all subjects and age groups.

  • Nominate an educator to receive an EdInspire Award. Takes 5 minutes.

  • Keynotes include Angela Maiers (US), Mark Moran (US), Steve Wheeler (UK), Chuck Sandy (Japan), Rafael Parente (Brazil), John Spencer (US), Chris Lehmann (US), Sue Waters (Australia), Jose Vilson (US), Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto (Japan), Mark Barnes (US), Josh Stumpenhorst (US), Nicky Hockly (Sp), German Doin (Argentina), and 13 year-old humanitarian Mallory Fundora (founder of Project Yesu)

Connect with over 10,000 educators from 100+ countries and receive conference updates via the FutureofEducation.com community,  Twitter (@RSCON4), Facebook, or Pinterest.

 

Two Weeks in Qatar (#RoadtoDoha Part 4)

How can I put into words the experiences of the past few weeks? … The sights, sounds, smells, landscapes, and diverse people of Doha … The excitement, the passion, the learning, and emerging friendships of the iEARN conference?

The truth is, I can’t … I was told this trip would change me, and perhaps, it has … in ways I’d never dreamt possible.

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Going Global

I am a global educator, committed to learning with the world, not just about it … Yet, this was the first time I found myself practicing what I preach. Coming here to #iearn13 was a huge risk, but a positive one … and I have loved every minute.

In what follows, I am going to try to reflect on my experiences of the past few weeks, as I sit here in the hotel lobby farewelling friends, old and new, as we slowly return to our respective corners of the globe.

#RoadtoDoha Part 4: Exploring Doha, a city of hidden beauty.
Yes, it was often above 45C, and this place is NOT pedestrian friendly by any stretch of the imagination, but my walks through the souqs and old Doha provided a fascinating glimpse into the life beyond the hotel and conference walls.

My feet were killing me, true, but walking enabled me to see Doha in a way which most tourists don’t. It’s the little things …

Walking past the local mosque, listening to the call to prayer …

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Discovering the little local supermarkets and general stores, frequented by the expat labourers and local Qataris …

And, let us not forget the (insane) traffic. Having never been to India or China, Doha traffic was an experience in itself.

As I tweeted early in the trip, the national musical instrument of Qatar is the car horn, and the national pastime is attempting to swerve one’s way through traffic jams – aka driving like a lunatic.

Cars drive on the left side of the road here, which was unusual for the Aussie, who forgot this critical fact on occasion! I swear my guardian angel worked overtime, because despite the occasional close scrape, I survived my 2km walking radius for a whole 6 days!

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Exploring Doha

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I was lucky that my first hotel was in the centre of old Doha. It meant that I could explored the local souqs, corniche, and Islamic Art Museum at my own pace, taking the time to immerse myself in the local environment, food, and culture. I was also blessed to find an honest private taxi driver, who took me on a guided tour of Doha, and helped make the trip so special.

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What surprised me was, quite simply, was the friendliness of the people. Yes, I was in a foreign country, half a world away from home, but I always felt safe, welcome, and accepted – even while out amongst the late night crowds enjoying the relative coolness of the Corniche (seaside promenade). Perhaps that comes from the rather unique situation in Qatar, where about 90% of the population are foreign nationals.

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Documenting another world

Here in Doha, there are certain social rules and government regulation regarding photography; however, I have quite simply had the time of my life here – documenting my first international journey. All I can do is provide a glimpse into what I’ve captured … You will have to wait until I get home to delve into the full portfolio.

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