Tag Archives: Inspiration

Teaching is about caring …

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There are many caring and absolutely respected jobs in this world. One profession I utterly respect is that of Nurses and Support workers who in my opinion, are wonderful, wonderful people. I also genuinely think up there with those caring, great jobs, has to be teaching.

I honestly believe the vital quality, the very essence of a good or great teacher is that they genuinely care. About lots of things.

You have to care about your children as people and individuals, and not just how they’ll get the grades you want or need them to achieve by certain days or the end of the year. You have to care about them as young people, young learners who are learning so much about the world every minute. Let’s face it, we live in a busy, rapidly changing world which moves frantically forward in society, technologies, science as each single day passes. And god bless them, by the time of those teen years there’s a ton else going on in their lives which can mean school is their only safe or happy refuge. Or a very unhappy place. Or a disinterest. What a loss. To lose interest in learning.

You have to care about helping them to learn, to help them learn to learn and to learn about themselves too. You have to care about understanding where they  are coming from sometimes and what’s happening in their lives, perhaps difficult circumstances at home which might be influencing them. Even down to kindergarteners, never mind teenagers or pre teens. If one of my student’s parents is away for work often or just on certain days/ periods of time, I need to support that child. If they have a new brother or sister, there’s careful consideration there necessary from the eyes of the teacher to help them with that. Children and young learners need nuturing  and we, the teachers, who students spend half of their day with and are constant figures in their path to adulthood should nurture them. Help them in the professional and caring way we need to be to help them strive to be the best they can be.

Loving Learning! Grade 6 - Issan, Thailand, 2009

Loving Learning! Grade 6 – Issan, Thailand, 2009

You should care that you inspire your students. That they’re preparing for the tough world of work and adulthood which ultimately comes at the end of the whole timely process. whichever age you teach. Kindergarteners are just starting to learn how to make sense of a seemingly and often complex busy world in a beautifully innocent naivety that very young children have. First, second, third graders, all of them upwards are learning really complex stuff as well as facing and feeling an increasingly heavy pressure to progress, achieve and succeed – honest I’ve seen some of their work in class and it’s amazing what they’re learning and doing. They’re only like 7 or 8. Achieving wonderful things. All in a complex community of learners, involving a huge myriad of people and learning situations with;  peers, elders, youngers, teachers, family, people they meet from other schools, learners they learn from and engage with on the internet, television, the media -in fact everywhere. The work produced by middle/ high school students should be applauded.

I went to the Grade 5 exhibition a while back and was stunned at this whole array of personal projects these students had worked so hard at and done such a great job with. And each passionately following their own questions and interests to create a personal project and such amazing art, drama and musical representations to support their work. Amazing. I wondered what I had been doing in Grade 5 back in my past life  when I saw their work, and I don’t recall anything of such complexity and maturity. How much education changes, all the time, (even in my short life so far) and how a good curriculum ( I love the IB inquiry method) and good teachers can make those sometimes relentless changes to be positive ones. To be part of that evolution of teaching and learning, how amazing. From students being an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge as was such in the not so distant past, to be inspiring them to create their own path of learning and follow their own rigour and hard work in doing so, following a path that interests them. To be a learner helping a learner. Not a teacher helping a learner. Isn’t that how we should be helping our students learn in both their school work and also their understanding of learning itself, how they best learn, what they want to learn about, so they can be inspired and engaged in meaningful learning,  relevant to them, their studies and life in an intrinsically curious way?

Happy classes

Happy classes

We all experience and learn every day. In addition to caring, every good teacher should be humble. Accept that they are in fact still themselves a learner and can and will make mistakes. It’s definitely okay to make mistakes but a hundred percent better if we accept and learn from them, especially when that knowledge and growth stops us making it a second or third time in the future? In fact if we admitted to our students more often that we’ve made or do make mistakes, they’d feel much more comfortable with making mistakes themselves. Being open to the process of learning.

Who ever got long division the first time?! Seriously? Some of us still struggle with it or other concepts like percentages now as an adult. Who can remember Pythagoras Therorum clearly now all these years later? (unless you’re a maths teacher!) How many things have we had to learn in our own lives, and more importantly, just how much more do we have to learn, and will learn in our future. Embrace it, I think, for a much more open and less complex life. A healthier life.

 

I make mistakes all the time with my kids, and I feel lucky that in Kindergarten, it’s easy to accept it and let my students know a) I’ve done so and b)  know it’s okay to be wrong because ‘Miss Kielly’s just made a very silly mistake!!’ … cue a gaggle of loud giggling children, potentially actually rolling on the floor with silly laughter! But it’s important to do it wherever you work in a school and with every student. To feel safe in fact is in the knowing of safely of being able to make a mistake/s and know it’s okay, nothing bad is going to happen. School should be a safe place. Let’s encourage it more. Who wants students to be so scared of being wrong that they necessarily limit themselves. How sad.

Helping each other - Grade 5 students Issan, Thailand, 2009

Helping each other – Grade 5 students Issan, Thailand, 2009

Collaboration - Grade 5 Students, Issan - Thailand. 2009

Collaboration – Grade 5 Students, Issan – Thailand. 2009

Don’t limit yourself just because you’re an adult and supposedly know everything! Accept mistakes when you make them,  acknowledge them,  grow from them, and show your students your own personal learning curve.

Teaching is a great profession. Enjoy it! Help your students enjoy it! Listen, think, reflect, act, reflect and learn. Remember to care.

Orangutans … a special place …

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So Sinead and I decided we needed to get out of the city and feel the love of nature. We flew to Medan and then travelled by car to Bukit Lawang, which is about a 4 hour drive in good weather. I was feeling pretty sick but perked up enough by the next day. We stayed at a wonderful place right on the river side organised by a homestay called ‘Green Hill Guest House’. It was lovely. Our room looked right over the river which made a tremendous sound. We were looking directly over the river to the jungle and I mean the jungle. We could hear the cicadas even from where we were. People said if you were lucky you might see orangutans, the wildlife Bukit Lawang is most famous for, from the river but we didn’t. We did see lots on our trip though which was so special.

This was the view of the river and jungle on the day we arrived. The sound of the river gushing was tremendous. People often travel down the river with inflatable hoops, they call it tubing and you could often hear the shrieks and laughter of groups doing exactly that.

The view of the river and jungle

The view of the river and jungle …

How stunning is that? Simply serene. It was the most beautiful place to go to escape the bustle of city life. Having wandered round the local area, all located by the river I captured this scene … this is just by the side of the river, so luscious and green, so many beautiful plants. if this doesn’t want to make you go there, I don’t know what will, except the orangutans 😀

Local area

Local area – Beautiful nature

Obviously we went to see the orangutans so next on our itinerary was to head to the feeding station which … was a LONG trek up what seemed like a zillion steps … it was tough work but worth it … we had to get on this rickety boat first to get over the river …

The rickety boat across to the jungle ...

The rickety boat across to the jungle …

It seemed a bit scary but it was quite fun. It works on a rig and pulley. And the man scoops out the water with a jug lol!. Still we got there and started the climb to the feeding station. I was a bit apprehensive about the feeding station but it was literally an area which they threw bananas onto a piece of wood. When I thought about it, the locals are doing a great service to nature. There is a great nature programme there and everybody who visits has to pay a nominal fee to help in this upkeep. If the orangutans didn’t go to the feeding station, they could be anywhere in the diminishing forest. The jungle here is protected but as we left Bukit Lawang, we saw miles and miles of Palm Oil plantations which were uncannily silent, devoid of any nature. At least in Bukit Lawang, they conserve the area, they observe and provide help to injured animals. They care. To be fair, as a westerner coming from a country which is relatively wealthy, I had to accept that in areas like this, locals must make the most of the resources they have and here it is tourism … who doesn’t want to see orangutans in the wild. I saw some in Taman Safari and it was sad. So after the long climb to the feeding station, we were lucky enough to see 3 orangutans including a mama and baby and a big male as well as many peter long tailed monkeys. We were so close it was unreal. Here are some shots of the big daddy orangutan and a mama and baby … I felt so lucky to be right there, right then.

Swinging through the trees

Swinging through the trees

Mama and baby ... :D

Mama and baby … 😀

Leisurely pace ...

Leisurely pace …

Enjoying a banana ...

Enjoying a banana …

The feeding station was amazing, I couldn’t believe how close I was to these ‘people of the forest’, seriously at times I could have stretched out my hand and touched the big male. Whenever he moved towards us, we all stumbled back though! These are powerful animals. Orangutan quite literally means ‘People of the forest’.  ‘Orang’ in Indonesian means People and ‘Hutan’ means forest. After the feeding station, we started our trek which was, to say the least dangerous and tricky in parts. It was also blooming hard work. However, we had two great guides who kindly carried our bags and let us take our photos and the sounds and beauty of nature were simply breathtaking.

Now I’m going to post a few of the many simply gorgeous nature photographs I was lucky enough to take. it was amazing to be in the heart of such jungle and hear the loud sounds of the macaques, cicadas and everything else. I’ll remember this trip for a long time. I was lucky enough to have gone with Sinead, a great friend who appreciated it even more so than I did, if that’s possible. She is a true friend and a great companion. And she truly appreciates nature. I’m so glad she suggested this trip and I recommend it to anybody.

Look at these leaves….

Beautiful leaves

Beautiful leaves

Mushrooms on Wood

Mushrooms on Wood

I would add more photos but my internet is ludicrously slow and I cannot stand to watch the file uploader crash one more time whilst I add photos. So I will include the video I made on Imovie which includes photos of the earthy soil and the mossy trees. I think after this trip, those are my two favourite colours, mossy green and woody brown. In the jungle, these colours are simply breathtaking. I would go back just to see those colours. We continued to traverse the jungle for hours with the careful help of our guides seeing monkeys, cicadas, termites, enormous ants, trees, flowers and gorgeous leaves, lying trampled under our feet, ready to disintegrate and decompose back into the earth. The colours, the smells, the sounds.

The last night of our trip it poured, Hujan besar!  Jungle rain. I guess that’s why they call it the RainForest. We sought shelter at the guesthouse and enjoyed banana/ pineapple fritters and pancakes which were deliciously naughty. We read books, we chatted to locals and visitors alike. We enjoyed each others company. We slept late the next day and sat on our balcony treasuring our last views of the jungle on our visit.

I would recommend this trip to anybody. Especially if you live in the hustle and bustle of the city where it is easy to forget just how quick you can be out of it and somewhere as beautiful as this. Thank you Sinead for organising it and asking me to come. It was a trip to remember for sure.

The Serenity of Krakatoa

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I did it! Moment of pure exhilaration …

This photo, I think for me, epitomizes the exhilaration I felt at the top of Anak Krakatoa. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but being there, in the silent calm actually brought tears to my eyes. I was there, alone, staring at the beauty of Mother Nature, marvelling at her enormous power, and feeling quite simply on top of the world. It was a moment for me where I realised that all that has happened in my life is irrelevant now, that I made it, to here, to now and just feeling how wonderful that feeling is. It was so still up there, as soon as we stepped foot on the island, I felt the awe inside me staring at this volcano, the product of such devastation caused by a tremendous explosion in 1883. Anak Krakatoa means ‘Child of Krakatoa’ which is what was created from the collapse of Krakatoa 44 years after the enormous explosion in 1883.

How the islands changed after the enormous eruption in 1883

Wiki describes the event as follows;

”The best known eruption of Krakatoa culminated in a series of massive explosions on August 26–27, 1883, which was among the most violent volcanic events in modern and recorded history. With a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6,  the eruption was equivalent to 200 megatons of TNT (840 PJ) – about 13,000 times the nuclear yield of the Little boy bomb (13 to 16 kt) that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II and four times the yield of the Tsar Bomb (50 Mt), the largest ever detonated.nuclear device. The 1883 eruption ejected approximately 21 km3 (5.0 cu mi) of rock, ash, and pumice. The cataclysmic explosion was faintly heard as far away as Perth in Western Australia, about 1,930 miles (3,110 km) away, and the island of Rodrigues near Mauritius, about 3,000 miles (5,000 km) away. Near Krakatoa, according to official records, 165 villages and towns were destroyed and 132 seriously damaged, at least 21,007 (official toll) people died, and many thousands were injured by the eruption, mostly from the tsunamis that followed the explosion. The eruption destroyed two-thirds of the island of Krakatoa. Eruptions at the volcano since 1927 have built a new island in the same location, named Anak Krakatau (which is Indonesian for “Child of Krakatoa“). This island currently has a radius of roughly 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) and a high point around 324 metres (1,063 ft) above sea level,  growing 5 metres (16 ft) each year.‘ 

See this website for more information about Krakatoa and its infamous eruption in 1883.

First glimpse of Krakatoa from the boat
First glimpse of Krakatoa from the boat

Saturday morning, at a very early hour, we headed to Carita with some good friends, Sinead, Kim and Chuck. Sinead had scared me half to death with tales of her last stay there where she said there were literally about 20 cockroaches in her room, scuttling all over the place. I was determined we would find somewhere much nicer where I wouldn’t spend the night in terror! After arriving in Carita, we drove in search of a hotel and the first one we stopped at was so eerie, it reminded us of ‘The Shining’. It freaked us out and I was starting to think maybe the cockroaches were inevitable …  We kept looking. Linz was about to turn around after travelling the long coastal road when Kim spotted a place just a little further and thank goodness she did, it was wonderful! A real gem. Gorgeous little chalets, 2  lovely swimming pools and nice, helpful staff. We got a 3 bedroom room for one million between all of us! Total bargain! We had already decided since it was 11am we would head to Krakatoa the next day so we chilled out at the pool, napped (it had been an early start and a long day of driving) and played poker in the evening which was tremendous fun. Without poker chips, we had nothing to bet with so we collected rocks from the path and each of us had 20 rocks as ‘betting chips!’. The Indonesian people in the chalets nearby must have thought we were mad, collecting the rocks from outside! Still it worked and it was so fun. I haven’t played poker in a long time and I really love the game.

The next morning we set off to the boat excited for the day ahead. I had forgotten with it being rainy season that the boat ride might be choppy. Heck, it turned out to be an enduring ride… At first it was okay, but as the time went on, I got whiter and whiter in the face and all I could think about was getting onto dry land. Chuck also felt the same which comforted me, I wasn’t being a total wimp. Sinead loved the boat ride telling us she loved the sea. As you can see from this picture, she was feeling slightly brighter than me!

Sinead looking gorgeous … X

A prize of 5 rocks was decided for the person who saw Krakatoa first. Linz won that one. Pointing out the smoke plumes, we stared at the distant scene. As we got closer, we could see the magnitude of the islands. Vegetation was growing all over one of them, a testament to the wonder of Mother Nature after such a natural disaster which must have destroyed everything that was there with hot, fiery power. We were getting closer and closer to Anak Krakatoa and the water was azure blue. We finally arrived at the beach and we all got off. The sand was black and velvety smooth. Pumice lay all over the sand. There was a calm serenity to the place which we all felt. The only sounds as we walked through the jungle to the trodden path up the volcano was that of nature. It’s something I never hear in my urban life. Calm, quiet peace, buzzing insects, the wind blowing through the green luscious trees.

Disembarking from the boat
First steps on Anak Krakatoa

We explored the landscape of sandy, layered formations with huge rocks which must have been thrown from the caldera. It was so interesting to see how the very land we were standing on had been created.

The rivulets cut into the sand by water on the island

Then we started the long, steep climb up the bottom half of the steaming volcano. Boy was it dusty! Flip flops are probably not the best shoes to wear to climb this, be warned. To be fair, we weren’t actually going to go on the island due to the 3 KM exclusion zone set by Indonesian Law due to the Volcano’s recent volatility. However, we risked it after deciding it was a chance of a lifetime. I’m so glad we did. The climb up seemed to go on forever, and eventually some of the group decided to head back down. Kim was striding ahead to the top and I was following, wondering what I would see at the top.

Sinead on the climb up .. striking a pose!
Climbing up the dusty path ..

I finally reached the top, as far as we could go and it was spectacular … The view of the surrounding islands beneath us was breathtaking, the sulphur lay in crystallised patches over the dry foreboding land. There were rocks lying shattered following their crash landing after being spat out from the burning caldera.

Bomb blasts .. shattered rocks … the power of nature …

Having made it to the top, Kim and I took the chance to reflect. I waited for Kim to start her trek back down so I could just sit by myself (and a guide who I wished would do the same instead of pacing loudly over the crunchy gravel whilst he waited) to appreciate the silence and the moment. It was beautiful. The guide finally sat down and I was able to sit in wonder. How wonderful it was. I felt so lucky to be there, right then in that moment. To feel alive in such a breath taking place.

Quiet reflection …

Foreboding and ominous ...

Kim and I celebrating reaching the top 😀

Finally I set back down the mountain which was considerable quicker than going up. We found Sinead, Chuck and Linz at the bottom and off we set for the next adventure, snorkelling in the azure blue waters surrounding the islands.

Kim and I heading to the snorkelling spot ..
Smiles all round!

The snorkelling was lovely! We had saved some of the very dry and tasteless bread from breakfast to feed the fish and it’s safe to say they liked it a lot more than we did. There were so many fish swimming around us, diving forward to snatch a bite before retreating to savour it in safety. The reef was healthy and beautiful. Kim spotted a cuttlefish, one of my favourite things to see and we all watched as it hovered below us. We saw trumpet fish and one very sad looking black spotted pufferfish with its morose black eyes. We also spotted some weird jelly blobs which we worked out must be jellyfish. Guess who ended up stung on the lip by one?

Angelina Jolie Impersonation!

 With lunch finished (which was surprisingly tasty) we headed home on a slightly calmer sea which both Chuck and I felt thankful for. We waved goodbye to Krakatoa grateful for such a wonderful and thankfully safe day on an active volcano!

All aboard!

One final swim in the hotel swimming pool and it was time to head home. Huge Kudos to Linz for navigating the way home, especially over roads which were potholed to the extreme. There could be a whole TV show, perhaps called ‘EXTREME POTHOLES” filmed on these kinds of roads in Indonesia. At times, it appeared that the road had simply disintegrated! Passing trucks belching with black fumes, we were happy to finally hit a real road on the Tollway from Merak to Jakarta.

Potholes the size of ….
Eco friendly trucks …

What an amazing trip. I am so glad we went and it was a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Amazing friends, good company, beautiful sights and adventures. If you have the chance to go, do! I’ve been inspired to explore more in Indonesia. No more sitting around on the weekends …

The Happiness Project – I am inspired!

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Okay, apologies for the length of time between the last post and this one, we had our Christmas Holidays and I was all over the place and without decent internet connection. I will post all about my holidays shortly but firstly wanted to talk about this amazing book I read during my holidays!

It’s called ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. I’d actually seen this in bookshops here in Indonesia and debated whether to buy it but without being able to take off the plastic cover, I couldn’t flick through it and I am one of those people who need to do this to figure out if a book is for me.

I saw it again in a bookshop in the Gili Islands and having flicked through it, I convinced myself this book could be okay. After beginning it, I realised this book is AMAZING! I am genuinely inspired. So I guess a quick summary of it would be that a woman decides although she is happy, she’s not appreciating her life enough. She decides to create resolutions for each month of the year such as ‘get more sleep’, ‘stop nagging’, ‘stop expecting praise and recognition’, ‘laugh more’, ‘start the day singing’ and ‘clean out my closet’. Each month she has 4 resolutions and every month she adds her 4 new resolutions to her previous. Gretchin Rubin writes very well with really thoughtful and insightful comments and it really made me consider the things I could be doing in my life to make each day a little happier.

There’s actually a great website about it … http://www.happiness-project.com/ which I’m fairly sure started out life as a blog … that was one of her resolutions .. on there is some great great links and all kinds of cool articles that I’ve started going through and I’m sure it’ll provide me with tons of interesting reads over the next few months.

SO I’ve totally been inspired and I created a LONG list of  things I’d like to do in these next few months. Not sure how I’ll organise them yet, it’s been a bit hectic returning from holiday and straight back into the swing of things at school but I’ll list them here as I’m sure having then in digital cyberspace will help ‘cement them’ into reality and help me stick to them once I begin.

Okay so the long list goes something like this.

1. Rather aptly, Begin my Happiness project with a little research and lots of thinking!

2. Get more sleep. I don’t want to be as tired this term as I was last term. Getting up at 5.45am means I cannot be getting to bed at midnight anymore!

3. Sort out my clothes/ wardrobe. I have a ridiculous amount of clothes (and half I don’t like or they don’t even fit anymore)

4. Make my house here in Indonesia more inviting. i.e. BUY furniture. My house is ‘minimalistic’ (or empty). My sister is going to visit in March so that’s another good reason to get goin gon this .. PLUS I can go shopping!!

5. Personal Growth  – in this blog, in my Indonesian language lessons (which tailed off rather by the end of the extremely tiring last term) and Cooking (which is currently at total beginner level … I don’t even have a gas stove here, I literally have nothing to cook with, that’s how much I cook!)

6. Exercise more regularly. Increase my stamina. Get back to Muay Thai. Gym it.

7. Don’t put off tasks … persist with nagging ones, if I can do a task in 1 minute, do it now!

8. Try to stop gossiping so much. As much as I love it it’s pretty mean and not worth it. I’d like to try to give this up.

9. Strengthen friendships both back home and here. I’ve been a little lazy in replying to people and keeping in touch from home and overseas. NO MORE! And I got so tired last term, I ended up not doing a lot so I’m trying to cultivate and strengthen my new friendships in Jakarta.

10. Work on my novel. It’s pretty sci fi and pretty cool and I’m pretty convinced I have a good idea. I’ve written a good initial draft but need to review and revise. Exciting stuff.

11. Cut people slack. I’m pretty impatient. I expect things pretty much immediately and I need to start giving people time and cut them slack if things aren’t as I want.

12. Show love to those who deserve it more often. Explanatory.

13. Embrace opportunities. I live in Asia. I have the chance to do cool and new, exciting things. I will motivate myself to try to take advantage of these more often rather than work all the time!

14. Be more aware of the food I eat. Try to ensure I eat at least 3 of my 5 a day. Which I fail miserably to do so now.

15. Don’t do things just because I feel I should. I don’t really like alcohol and when I do drink, it’s embarrassing. I am coming to accept I’ll never be a person who enjoys a glass of wine with dinner. I just don’t like it. That’s me. I’m picky about food, especially meat so I’m not going to force myself to eat food just because I feel I should and that I’m being too picky. Why eat food I don’t like?

16. Be wiser with my money. Investment plan started. Check. Debts being paid off. Check. Frivolous spending … um … guess I didn’t really need that gorgeous BATIK shirt I bought at the airport yesterday. Hmm, this one could be tricky to keep up.

17. Take pride in my achievements. I’ve come through a lot to be where I am today. I have an amazing job. I live in Indonesia, Asia. I graduated with a first class honours degree in a subject I love. I am successful in my job and I learn everyday in my job as a kindergarten teacher. Remember the journey and take time to remember the successes in my life 😀

18. Be more grateful for what I have. Living here gives me that opportunity every day. Remember how lucky I am to be blessed with such wonderful family, friends, career and life.

19. Join groups. I don’t know what yet but I’m gonna expand my social scene more here in Jakarta. If anybody has any ideas of groups in Jakarta I could join, please comment and I’ll try to get to them. It’s hard to meet people beyond school here in the suburbs of BSD, Jakarta and joining sporting groups/ activities will help me do this.

20. Only fight battles that are worth fighting. I’ve been lucky enough to have some wise words of advice at times I’ve needed them here in my job and it’s been worthwhile remembering that not every battle is worth fighting.

21. Read more. I love reading. I read ridiculously quickly. I savour books. I will not however read books anymore that I don’t enjoy. I will use the library more to find good books.

22. Smile and laugh more. A positive attitude leads to positive results 😀

23. Don’t dwell on the past. Simple.

24. Spend less time browsing the internet needlessly. This links to getting more sleep! I’m up doing nothing for hours each night just to turn my mind off school and work which lasts well into each evening.

25. Be Kielly. Be proud of who I am and celebrate my individuality!

I’m so excited about beginning this and seeing how all of these little changes will help me. I’m thinking of starting a happiness project at school so watch this space. I’ll update more and tell you how it’s going soon.

Over and out. X