October 20 2017

< Insert resilience here >

Resilience is not my natural state of being. In fact, I’ve always considered it to be my antonym. There are people in the world who can deal with adversity with good grace, and who persevere through trials and tribulations. I haven’t ever really counted myself amongst their number.

I’m realising more and more, though, that perhaps that’s not quite true. I’ve endured much – in my life, in my career, in the cesspool that is my own twisted thoughts. And I’m still surviving. I told a student once, when she was struggling with some serious issues in her life, that she wasn’t the best judge of her own ability to handle things around her, and that maybe she should take cues from the people who know her best. So I’m doing that today.

I found out yesterday I didn’t get the position I interviewed for earlier in the week. I was a mess yesterday. What I heard coming through loud and clear from the panel convener was “you’re not good enough” “you were good on paper, but lousy in person” “you’re not good enough” “you did a terrible job at addressing the questions, what on earth were you thinking?” “you’re not good enough” “you’re not good enough” “you’re not good enough” … sensing a theme?

As I’m thinking back on it now, though, that’s not what she said at all. That’s what I wanted to hear. What she really said was that she was disappointed I didn’t hit the mark on a couple of the questions, because my application and references were amazing. That she thought I could be amazing in a TL position, or even in a leadership role like Head Teacher Teaching and Learning, because my passion for what I do shines through. That I just need to work on interview skills so that I do myself justice in that highly stressful situation. That I’m good enough, but that the other guy sold himself a bit better this time. That’s all. And her individual item feedback? Totally made sense. Totally stuff I can fix for next time. Totally doable. But it still hurts.

I cried a lot yesterday – especially when one of my favourite ratbags asked me when I was going to be back in the library as I was the best librarian ever. I cried a lot last night. I’ll probably cry more today. Because I really wanted this position. A friend reassured me yesterday that something will come along – “those weren’t your people”. And I argued with her, because they WERE my people. I’d have been amazing at the school, and we could have done some great stuff together. But if working in education for 15 years has taught me something, it’s that there are so many amazing schools out there. This one wasn’t my only hope. The next one might not be either. But there’s one out there. And if nothing else, this is helping develop those resilience skills I so undervalue in myself.

So, I’m continuing to try and maintain a stranglehold on my anxiety, and not let it get in the way of me doing a great application for the next position, and doing a better interview next time round. Maybe that’s my resilience. I face difficult shit. I cry. I carry the scars around. I continue on to the next challenge, and the next one. And I don’t let them make me hard, because that’s not the kind of person I want to be. When I say “I’ve got this”, it’s not because I believe I’m all over everything I’m going to face, but because the thought of giving up is not an option. It matters. I matter. And I am enough, no matter what I tell myself when I’m firmly entrenched in the pit of despair. I’ve got this.

October 17 2016

Who me? No, I’m just a worm!

Just a worm

Just a worm

Over the past 18 months, I’ve spoken at a few conferences. Last year, I was approached to do the keynote address at the University of Queensland Cyberschool Seminar. The organisers had heard the amazing Megan Townes speak about social media at a different conference, and she wasn’t able to do theirs, but recommended they contact me to see if I’d be interested. Just over a month ago, I delivered the keynote address at WATL’s annual conference, after being asked to fill in because their original speaker had to cancel. I’ve always made excuses for these …  along the lines of “oh, I wasn’t their first choice, they only asked me because they couldn’t find anyone better” … you know, imposter syndrome. And it’s been easy to get away with that, in my own head at least. Because I’m just a worm, right? A passionate worm, admittedly, and one who loves to share the story of her library and her ventures in social media, but a worm nonetheless.

Today, though, I lost the whole “oh, they couldn’t get anyone else” excuse. Because today, I spoke at the NSW Public Schools Libraries for Future Learners (#L4FL16) conference, and this was one I had to submit an EOI for.

Why was this a big deal? Because I hate speaking in public. Not like I hate Vegemite (which is in Amanda Palmer proportions, in case you’re wondering), but detest it with every fiber of my being. In the lead up to having to present something, I get stomach pains and nausea, so much so that at 6am before my keynote in Dubbo, I was seriously contemplating whether I needed to go to hospital because I decided this couldn’t JUST be nerves, I had to be getting really sick. When I’m actually presenting, it rarely gets better. My legs shake. My voice wavers, my face flushes, and I get increasingly tense as the time goes on. The slightest mis-step in my presentation throws me, and I mentally abuse myself for the rest of the session, and those three seconds are my takeaway – not the many comments of praise from participants afterwards. I remember the missed paragraph, the poorly described slide, the stumble over the statistics.

I could easily have not submitted the EOI for #L4FL16, and just gone along as a participant. There were some fantastic sessions on offer – many of which I couldn’t attend as I was running my own. But I’ve always said, to my students, and to my daughters, that it’s ok to do the scary thing. Whenever my students complain about having to do a speech task, I empathise with them, and tell them about my own experiences. Whenever my daughters start stressing out about needing to deliver a presentation at school, I remind them that I know exactly how they feel, and that I’ve survived every single speech I’ve had to deliver. And whenever I start to think that I need to go to hospital because I must be being consumed by some vicious new alien superbug, I remind myself that this is just your anxiety, Rodgers, and it’s not going to kill you, just keep breathing!

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Will Kostakis, fellow WATL keynote and allround great guy.

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Ngaire Booth, WATL friend find.

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Presenting at WATL, featuring the coolest skirt ever.

 

So, today was a big deal for me. I presented, through nerves of jello. I got some great feedback – not only from the people who I knew in the room, but from strangers who weren’t compelled to say nice things to me, but who came out of their way to find me during our post-conference drinks, and chat with me about my presentation. Their thoughtful and inspired reactions made me realise that I do, in fact, do a great job – through my stress and my nerves, my passion for our library story comes through. I’m incredibly proud of that. I’m really grateful to the wonderful people who’ve given me the opportunity to share my story, and to those who have taken my story and ideas on board. There’s nothing quite like hearing from someone later on who has sat through one of your presentations, who lets you know how they’ve applied some of the stuff you have talked about. Or when someone gets inspired by something small in your presentation, and it turns into a fantastic collaboration of ideas.

Mostly, though, above all of that, I’m immensely thankful for my wonderful friends and family, who can tell when I’m about to do something scary, and who love and support me through all of that stress. To the people who mentor me, and who remind me that I’ll be fine. To the ones who listen to me hypothesise about what could go wrong, and dwell on how crappy I’m going to feel, and who just gently love me through all that. I’m reminded, at times like this, that I -have- anxiety, I -deal with- anxiety. It’s not who I am, it’s just a little part of me that is NOT going to win, or stop me from doing what I’m passionate about. It’s getting easier to come to terms with that, and to accept that yes, I am just a worm, but that doesn’t mean I’m insignificant. I’ve got awesome stories to share, and those stories matter.

 

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Deb Hogg, longtime edufriend

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Townesy – my rockstar.

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Marianne Grasso – uni colleague, online sympathiser, and IRL friend

August 8 2016

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life …

My life has changed dramatically in the past few years.  I’m 75% of the way through my Masters in Education, Teacher Librarianship. I’m 2.5 years into working in the coolest school library known to humankind. I’m negotiating shared custody of my wonderful children, and getting to know myself a bit better. And I am, in many ways, a very different person to the one who started this blog, way back in June 2011. Today, as I’ve been exporting my blog posts from my uni sanctioned blogsite to this one, I’ve been scrolling back through some old posts, and recognising a common theme. I’m constantly apologising for not posting more regularly, or trying to give myself permission to embrace the fact that “done is better than perfect.” It’s an ongoing struggle for me, and one that I think I’m resigning myself to the fact that I will never fully conquer.

I’ve been feeling a bit blah about uni at the moment. This semester’s subjects, and my final 2, are both quite challenging – one academically, the other in terms of time commitments. I had been struggling with the fact that I have just been passing my subjects, and trying to be ok with it, when a wise woman and dear mentor sent me a message telling me that I was HD’ing life, and to give myself a break. It’s good advice, and probably something I would say to those in my position, because, you know, us welfare types are way better at the giving of the good advice than the applying it to ourselves. So, thanks Kay, you’re a rockstar, and I’m glad to have you in my corner.

I’m hoping to be blogging a bit more here, but I’m not making any promises, apart from to myself … it’s ok to just post some interesting links, Tamara. It’s ok to just share a paragraph and a picture. And, go back and see if that app posting thing still works, because that rocked, and it’ll help you be able to post on the go. So, maybe this isn’t really a new dawn/day/life, but I’ll still lay claim to Michael Buble’s other line … “I’m feeling good.” I love my job. I love my school. I love my family, my friends, and my life. And I’m learning to love myself a bit more too. That’s really something to feel good about, right?

So, if you’re reading this, say hi, and tell me, what are you feeling good about today?

 

xoxo

Tamara

July 16 2014

Welcome to the inside …

Hi there! Welcome to my Thinkspace blog, set up to support my study of the Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship).

I’m a High School English teacher thrust (very willingly!) into the world of teacher librarianship this year. I was completely unprepared for the steepness of the learning curve, and caught off guard by how quickly I would be infected by this wonderful new career path. I work at a wonderful public school in Western Sydney. I have a husband who has put up with me for almost 20 years now, a 20 year old military history nut son, a 14 year old fangirl and book nerd, and an 11 year old dancer who has just discovered her first literary crush. I’m so proud. I also have a 1 year old grand daughter, an obsession with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, an unhealthy disrespect for my own sleep needs, and a somewhat related coffee addiction. Oh, and I like books. A lot.

I blog somewhat sporadically about my work at www.tamararodgers.edublogs.org, and tweet about a whole bunch of things, some of them even educational!! @tamararodgers74. I’m a Regional Coordinator for the Global Education Project in my spare time, and am passionate about a whole raft of things educational … social media, engagement, literacy, community involvement, welfare, ICT, and books. Did I mention I like the books? I did? Ok.

So, that’s my late night intro to me. I’m assuming if you are reading this you are either (a) studying with me, or (b) assessing me, so (a) commiserations to you, I’m sure we’ll get through it, and (b) you are looking quite lovely tonight. Hi. 🙂

December 15 2012

On leaving school.

My reflections on leaving school. It is the moment that society expects all students look forward to, right? And it’s the moment that kids routinely talk about as their goal, their desire … “I can’t wait till school is finished.” “I can’t wait to get out of this place.” How often, though, do we hear people talk about how they didn’t realise how good it was at school until they left?

I had to sign one student out yesterday, and another came to tell me he’s leaving too, will be visiting me with his paperwork on Monday. I’m thrilled for them – they are both heading into apprenticeships that they are really interested in. Neither of them are particularly keen students, highly motivated academic types … They’ve both had their fair share of issues throughout the years. The first is in my yr10 boys class – a group of fantastic, entertaining, enthusiastic and highly engaging young men, who just don’t happen to be entertained or engaged much by schoolwork. It’s been a struggle to build connections with them, but I have persevered, and tried different things, because I believe these kids are the ones who really need good, connected and relevant teaching more so than all the so-called “good kids”. He has always struck me as the kind of kid who has amazing potential, but he was more comfortable being a clown. He’s grown so much this year, really taking on board a lot of what people have invested in him, and whilst I was thrilled he’s got the job he wants, part of me mourns the loss of him in my class. Part of me would love to see where he could be if he started to believe in his own mind, and really committed to seeing how he could go at school. Not that I think his apprenticeship isn’t of extraordinary value, you know … It’s just bittersweet. I would have loved to see him sink his teeth into some of the texts we’d have looked at next year. But kudos to him.

The other one has me crying, and I don’t know how I’m going to cope when I sign his leavers form on Monday. He is in my year group, and I don’t know how many times people have come to me tearing their hair out in frustration. He has such an engaging personality, and I’ve worried about him so much, but this year, again, he’s really grown into the leader I saw in him the very first time I met him. For the first time since he’s been at our school, he attended presentation night this week, not only to receive an academic award for first place in a course, but to help with a presentation from one of our community partners. The look of pride on his face was hard to miss. He has been wanting this job for a while now, and has been working towards it all year, and I’m glad it came after this week, so he’s leaving on a high note, with a sense of achievement, and the culmination of an increasingly positive experience of school this year. I’m beyond proud of him, and was busting with excitement when he told me he had his job, but I can’t imagine my year group without him. He has just stepped up so much this year, and has been a joy to work with, both at school and on our camp. I’m not wearing mascara to school on Monday.

These reflections on leaving school have prompted me to think about my own experiences this year. My own feelings about this place I spend so much of my life, and which consumes so much more of my time when I’m not there! It’s difficult sometimes, what we do as teachers. The politics. The bureaucracy. The stress. The pressure. But all of that is worth it, if we can be a part of these kinds of “leaving school” experiences for our most disenfranchised, our most at-risk. I’m more proud of that than any Band 6. I love my job.

December 9 2012

I can see it …

Can you see it? The end, I mean. The end of what has been, for me, one of the most difficult terms of my teaching career. For many reasons, I’m struggling right now. Some personal, some professional, but really all of these reasons are impacting the way I feel about my job.

I love teaching. LOVE it. It is really what defines me, more than almost anything else in my life. And I always said that when I stopped loving it, it would probably be time to think about doing something else. For most of this term, though, I’ve been feeling sick about going to work. I’ve spent more time on the verge of tears (if not actually IN tears) than I have feeling positive and happy about what I’m doing. So, is it time to move on? Is it time to pull the plug, and say enough is enough?

I’ve asked myself that question more than a few times – and my husband has raised it too! It has kept me up at nights, and I think the thought of pulling the plug has made me feel even more nauseous. So I’ve been reevaluating my roles. My role as teacher at my school. My other roles – year advisor, school promotions officer, technology team member, 2IC of my faculty, and others that are not so easy to define but still take up a significant amount of time. My role as a role model, and a colleague, and a friend, and a wife and mother. And I’ve been a bit blown away.

Sometimes you are so much in the middle of something, that you can’t really see the significance of it. There are so many metaphors about that – can’t see the forest for the trees, etc etc – and they sound cliched for a reason. I’ve been trying to stand back from this and taken in the bigger picture, to try and learn something from what I’m going through right now, rather than just trying to ride it out. And I think I’m starting to get my head around it.

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So much of what has been stressing me has been out of my control. Actions of other people, mostly … Their thoughts and opinions about me, and about what I do. Their judgements about my roles. Their perception that I’m not good enough, skilled enough, worthy enough. If I was one of my students, I’d offer them some wonderful advice right now. I’d tell them that if these negatives were coming from someone they admire and respect, it might be worth listening to, but if they aren’t, then they’re not. I’d tell them that people who try and bring other people down are often doing so because they feel badly about themselves, and they are trying to attack what is bright, and beautiful, and successful around them. I’d tell them that they are amazing, and they are so much more than their fears and uncertainties. I’d tell them that these challenges are what test you so that you can figure out what is really important. I’d tell them all this and more. So why can’t I tell it to myself?

Luckily, it doesn’t matter that I wasn’t able to tell myself all those things. After holding my hand, and lending me a thoughtful ear, or comforting shoulder, I’ve heard all these wonderful pieces of advice and more from the wonderful people around me. I’m starting to listen to them … After all, they are the people I respect, both personally and professionally, and their opinions matter to me. My principal. My head teacher. My wonderful colleagues and friends from my own faculty, as well as others. My husband, and my very wise kids. These people rock – the best PLN a girl could ask for!

So what does all that mean for me? I love teaching. Have I mentioned that already? If so, it’s worth mentioning again. And I love what I’m involved in at my school at the moment. There are so many things that I’m working on, both in my classroom and out of it, and I believe passionately in the value and importance every one of them. I think it’s really time, though, that I started evaluating what I can realistically do myself, and get my head around the whole “it’s ok to say no” thing. I also need to get a handle on what is my job, and what isn’t … Delegation is NOT the enemy, apparently!! (Not sure if I actually believe that one yet, but we are working on the “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy on this one!) And I’m definitely working on letting go of the bitterness over being treated unfairly. Sometimes people won’t like me. Sometimes they will say things that are unkind and untrue. I can’t control that, but I CAN control my reactions to it. I’m not going to let my involvement in things that I love, and believe in, be impacted by that. What I do matters. As teachers, what WE do matters. I believe in it, and I believe in my ability to do it well, to make a difference, and to impact the lives of others. I can see it now … still a little hazy, still hurting, but slowly healing. They may not read this post, but there are some wonderful people who are responsible for helping me through the past few weeks, and you should know who you are. Thankyou!!

So I can see it. The holidays. The importance of taking care of me tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. The value of making the most of what I have, and where I am. And the fact that I do enough, feel enough, AM ENOUGH, no matter what anyone else thinks about me. I hope you know that about you too!!

August 19 2012

Testing app posting!

So, today I have a pile of stuff to do. I have marking, planning, housework, washing, and shopping to get through. What am I doing instead, you ask? (or you would ask if anyone was reading this??) I’m app shopping. I just downloaded iview – Doctor Who on my phone? Yes please!!! – and after a post on yammer from a colleague, thought I’d check out the edublogs app. That’s what I’m posting from, just to check it out!!

January 23 2012

Run Like A Mother …

How cool is that book title? I’m hunting the book down at the moment, in the hope that it might give me some support in making my new venture stick past my first few forays. Yep, I’m taking up running. Well, to be honest, I don’t know that you could call what I did last night “running” … it was more an energetic walk, with spurts of jogging as the voice in my head told me to “start running now”. My beautiful friend Tracey has recently started to do the C25K program. I’ve always secretly wanted to run …. something about the idea of just me, and the road, and my thoughts, seems appealing. But when you are unfit, and overweight, how do you get to that? Yeah, I didn’t know either – and it was easier to just sit at home and dream about it, but not actually do anything to get me there. Procrastinator, anyone? Last night, I decided it was time to do something about it. Rather than wait until the weather was good, or the stars were in alignment, or we could afford to join a gym, I pulled out the joggers. I searched for some pants – and found them, thanks to my husband’s suggestion (how is it he knows so much about my wardrobe? scary!) And I left the house, iphone in hand, and went for a walk/ jog. How did it go? Much better than I expected, actually! The first session on the C25K app program gets you to walk for a 5 minute warmup, then alternate 60 seconds running with 90 seconds walking for 20 minutes, followed by a 5 minute cooldown walk. I felt better in the running phase than I expected – I really liked it, truth be told, even though I couldn’t breathe particularly well. I also didn’t manage to run for a full 60 seconds at a time, which was a bit of a disappointment, but I’m going to go again tonight, and try and push it a bit more. I’m hoping that before I move on the second day of the program (it gives your 3 days per week of training) I’ll be able to do the first one properly! After I got home, looking like I don’t know what, I felt exhausted. Sore. Tired. Beetroot red. But, I also felt really good. It reminded me of when I used to do karate, and how satisfying it felt after a good training session. And also, how good it felt to do something for me. So I’m on a mission to make this a habit. It’s certainly better than some of my other ones!! I’ll keep you posted about how I go. The scary thing? I was searching on ebay last night for a bike. I secretly harbour the dream to do a triathalon. Yeah, I laugh at me too …. but I’m still keeping an eye out for a bike, for me and for Kelsey, who wants to go exercising with mum!! Till next time …. take care of you! Love Tamara

January 15 2012

Inconsistently yours …

Yep, it’s been ages again. Are you surprised? Me either. I logged in today to discover that there were about half a dozen posts I’d started over the past year, but didn’t get around to finishing them – so I deleted them. Moving on. So, it’s 2012!! Did you have a great Christmas? I did – so relaxed. Christmas eve was spent with some wonderful friends who have become very important to us. Christmas day we went to Mum’s place, with all our family around, and it was very laid back – just the way I like it. Boxing day Dennis and I spent at home by ourselves, as the kids visited family (woo hoo!!) And then we started packing. Our usual 2 weeks at Colo over new years seemed even better this year … partly because I had Dennis there pretty much the whole time, and partly because we decided to just take advantage of the time to relax, and take the opportunity to spend with our wonderful kids. Plus, as always, there are friends and family there – with some new friends this year!! Some highlights for mw …. jet-skiing, which we all loved. Kayaking, which Tayla took to like some kind of waterbird to, well, water. Some of the best books I’ve read in a long time (partly because I haven’t had a chance to read ANYTHING in a long time!) And the realisation that, yes, all the hard work I’ve done on myself in the past year or so has paid off. I’m happy in my skin, and I’m happy in my head. I think taking this time out gave me the chance to reflect on it, which I haven’t had time to do over the past very hectic 12 months. This time last year I was in the middle of some serious work with my psychologist. It was tough. I didn’t want to go back for another appointment, but I knew I had to, or I’d just be living in the same kind of trauma I had been for years – coping, but kidding myself that everything was ok. So I went back, again and again, until it DID get easier. I’m so proud of what I’ve accomplished, both for myself, and for my family. We rock, collectively, and I adore who we are, and I don’t think that would be so easy for me to say without the work I’ve done, and in some ways am still doing, on myself, and how I feel about who I am. So, that’s how I’m starting this year. No resolutions, because they don’t often stick…. just some reflections, and lots of gratitude. How about you? What are you doing to kick off this new year? A couple of pictures to finish off – the first, my beautiful family, as we got ready to take Kelsey to her year 6 farewell. Yes, she’s heading off to high school this year. No, I’m not nearly ready for that!!

How grown up does she look? And no-one is allowed to mention how tall Kieran is either – sheesh. Who told these kids they were allowed to get so tall on me? The last picture I’ll leave you with broke my heart. It was a quick snap of my gorgeous girl, who looked at in the camera screen and said “Wow, I’m pretty”, with a tone of total shock in her voice. Yes, yes you are my princess … but you are SOOOO much more than that.

Every time I look at this pic now (which is often!!) I get a little tear – how can she not know she’s beautiful? I keep reminding her now – but also, that she’s soooo much more than just a gorgeous exterior! She’s sweet, and generous, and quirky, and dedicated …. one of the most amazing people I know, and I’m so proud to call her mine. No promises about what may or may not appear on here in the coming weeks or months – I might post some of the scrapping the girls and I have done in the next couple of weeks. I might not post until next January again!! We’ll see. Take care of you and yours!! Love, Tamara

June 18 2011

Saturday ….

Licenced under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/grandgrrl/5240360344/

Licenced under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 http://www.flickr.com/photos/grandgrrl/5240360344/

So, it’s been 2 days, and I’ve already failed my self-imposed “blog every day” mission. Quite frankly, I’m not surprised – I don’t know what I was thinking!! But I’m back today. It’s been a quiet Saturday at home. After some early morning mum’s taxi duties, taking my son to rehearsals for a school show, and my daughter to gymnastics, I’m been pretty much neglecting all other parental/ domestic duties today. Washing? Sorry, can’t do it, I need to find some CC pics for my wiki page. Vacuuming? Wish I could, but I’m looking for the most user-friendly (read: easy for me to set up without ruining anything!!) platform for my discussion group to use on monday. Eating? Why yes, pass the freddo frog!!

So, the scourge all all procrastinators has hit me today. Twitter is failing to play nice, both on my DER laptop and my beloved iPhone. My first attempt at creating a google doc has disappeeared into the ether somewhere (or the cloud, as the case may be). And I’ve realised that my way or organising my links? Yeah, it’s not really working for me. I can’t find anything I want.

So, I’m resorting to blogging, on the premise that at least while I’m typing something I’m feeling marginally productive. In the hope that someone other than me, and possibly Damian, will read this, I’m putting a call out for your ideas.
Digital devices in the English classroom. What works? What doesn’t? What don’t we know about, because no-one has tried it yet? If you could choose ONE thing you’d like to try in your classroom, but aren’t sure how, what would that be? I’m looking for the answers to questions I don’t know yet. Help a sister out!!

K, off to make a coffee, harrass another freddo (don’t you love fundraising chocolate boxes????) and try twitter again. If nothing else, today has shown my how much a part of my working life that little blue bird has become!!

Take care,
Tamara