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Here’s to new years and new beginnings

Almost exactly one year ago I started my so-called “gap year” with my first day at Australian Red Cross working on the Educating the Educators Disaster Resilience Education (DRE) project. It was an interesting time to start at Red Cross in the Emergency Services program because they had just been activated for the Tasmanian Bushfires and shortly after were again activated for the Queensland floods following Cyclone Oswald. In an activation normal duties cease and everyone’s attention is turned to supporting relief and recovery programs; people wear those coloured aprons (tabards apparently) to denote their role – logistics, planning, operations and so on; they work long hours and staff from outside the area step in to assist. However, as an externally funded project officer I wasn’t expected to be involved so in amongst all this my manager and I worked through my introduction to Red Cross and just what the project was about. I found myself suffering severe information overload leading to absolute exhaustion and the need for a lie-down as soon as I got home from work. My children speculated that it was the blood bank’s fault (even though the Red Cross Blood Service is an almost completely separate organisation). After 20 years at the same school I certainly knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore!

Twelve months down the track the project is almost complete with a range of achievements of which I am very proud. A report mapping existing disaster resilience education resources to the Australian curriculum has been published (with a revised edition to be available shortly); a video competition for secondary students was held, with an outstanding winner:

and we have a fascinating case study of how disaster resilience education was integrated in an inquiry based learning program:

I had the opportunity to attend and present at a range of conferences including travelling to every state and territory of Australia except Canberra and Tasmania. Articles I wrote were published in Connections and the ABC Splash website with another due to appear in Ethos, the journal of Social Education Victoria, shortly. I’ve curated DRE resources on Scoop.it, created an app using Yapp, developed a website and established a Diigo group. I’ve connected with a fabulous array of people working in emergency services and disaster risk reduction. True, I had a lot to learn from them but I’ve also been able to give back with ICT expertise and perspectives on education. I hope to be able to maintain some of those connections in the future.

This job was an unexpected opportunity that just happened to come my way – I’m so glad I was brave enough to go for it instead of sticking with the safe and comfortable environment of school.

Another new year…

Another new beginning!

Yes, I will shortly be starting a new role at a new school. Not only that but after 26 years I’m resigning from DEECD in order to do so. My new position is Library & Information Services Manager at The King David School in Armadale. A hurried application two days before heading overseas for a month lead to an interview via Skype (at 9.30pm in Lisbon, Portugal) and subsequent negotiations via email. I certainly never expected to come home from a holiday with a new job!

I’m very excited about this new opportunity for a host of reasons, not least is just how different it will be to what I’m used to. For starters it will be my first ever experience working in the private system, something I never anticipated doing. It’s a much smaller school than Mill Park SC (somewhere between a third and half the number of students overall) but includes children from pre-kindergarten to year 12. I’m very excited about working with upper primary students particularly after the very positive experience with Essendon North PS for the DRE project. KDS is currently housed over five sites but a re-building and consolidation program over the next 5 years will see that reduce to three, no doubt all sorts of adventures will be in store for the library, might even take me back to the early years of MPSC.

Heading back into the library is one of the most attractive things about this position. Over the last few years at MPSC my focus was primarily on ICT coaching and IT teaching. The past year gave me some distance and perspective and I came to the conclusion that it’s through running an excellent library service that my skills in ICT coaching can be best utilised and targeted. Part of the new role is overseeing the roll-out of a 1-1 iPad program in the junior and middle schools – I’m still to have a strong focus on ICT capacity development for staff which suits me just fine!

Now I just have to make sure I update everything to reflect my new role and make sure I can still access various accounts. Some years ago I actively started using my gmail account for anything personal, and recently, increasingly for professional activities, but for many sites that “edu” element of the email address is essential to access educator accounts. Changing your email address across multiple sites is time-consuming and not always straightforward; neither is transferring contacts to Gmail, but hopefully I’ll have it all done before being “cut-off” from Edumail on January 28. I’m very excited that KDS are a Google apps school – I can finally fully exploit the power of Google for integration and keeping organised.

As part of this new beginning I plan to return to blogging to reflect and share, hence this post. Your thoughts, advice and suggestions for making the most of my new role will be much appreciated!

Heather

6 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this news with us. I think you are very brave and are showing us it definitely pays off.What a wonderful gap year you’ve had. I’m still in Kansas and wonder if I’ll ever move, sometimes I think yes but opportunities are rare in Bendigo. I wish you the best for your new beginning and hope you’ll feel welcome to ask for help regarding the iPads.

  2. Hi Heather

    I have been so impressed (but not at all surprised) with all that you have achieved in your work for the Australian Red Cross. Your ability to network and get things done as well as your TL and ICT skills have come to the fore over the year and you have created an amazing array of educational resources for schools.

    King David School is incredibly lucky to have you as their Library & Information Services Manager. I’m sure you will handle whatever challenges come your way in your new role with your unending enthusiasm, energy and love of learning in all of its forms.

    I look forward to following your new journey. Good luck Heather!

    Kim 🙂

  3. Thanks Jenny, I’m sure I’ll be calling on you regarding the iPads before too long. I’m hoping I’ll be able to bring a team to Slide2learn in Sydney.
    I know what you mean about limited opportunities in rural and regional areas, I have relatives in the same boat…however you just don’t know what you don’t know!!!
    Kim, you are very kind, thank you for the ego boost! I’m looking forward to some regular catch-ups and exercising our minds and bodies! I think Thursday walks will be the way we solve all the world’s problems…if not, at least some of our own dilemmas.

  4. Congratulations Heather on the new role! I look forward to reading about your journey through your blog and hearing your stories at future TeachMeets!

  5. Congratulations Heather! You’ll enjoy it, I’m sure. I know that many public school teachers think of the private sector as some sort of nemesis, but you’ll quickly realise that all sectors – public, catholic, independent – all want the same things. To give the best education possible to the kids in our care.

    Good luck in the new role. Sounds great. Being a GAFE school will be a growth of fresh air! Trust me. Let me know if I can help with anything as you make the transition.

    Chris

  6. Thanks Scott, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of stories to tell.
    Chris, I think what I’m most pleased about is that the people working together in a small private school have control over how everything is done, technology included – things aren’t imposed from above (I’m thinking of Victoria’s Ultranet debacle here). Thanks for your offer of assistance, no doubt I’ll be calling you up on it soon.

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