06 Jun

Victorian Rural/Regional Youth Conference

Quantum Support Services successfully hosted the Victorian Rural/Regional Youth Conference yesterday at Kernot Hall in Morwell. I was very inspired by the workshops I attended. Sophie Weldon from the Foundation for Young Australians(FYA) gave an inspiring keynote to launch into the day. I have been following the FYA online and Sophie represented well the passion and innovation that I have seen.

My first session was with Paul Turton who talked about Coaching Inspiration and Effective Engagement. Paul shared the experience of the Detour Innovation Action Project with Melbourne City Mission.  I liked the strength based approach and I believe that the use of coaches who draw on  optimism and working with responsibility and peer coaching would be effective and sustaining for all involved.

The Oxygen Project  induced a little envy in me – especially when I heard they got their building up in such a short period. I’m oversimplifying because a lot went into the consultation with youth and partnership with council. It’s a very inspiring model and I enjoyed seeing the results of connection and participation in the City of Moreland.

The panel presentation with Crystal Goertz from Mirabel Foundation, Adam Pulford who was Australian Youth Representative to United Nations in 2013 and two members of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition provided some great insight into how participation and leadership is being redefined by these youth leaders.

They all spoke of the traditional superstar leader archetype as outmoded and even disempowering to many young people who have passion and want to take action yet don’t see themselves in that way. They were inclusive and saw the value in empowering the voices and passion of the less extroverted, those that wouldn’t be interested in standing out yet have much to offer. They expressed how the ability to speak up and represent can be developed in young people when offered a chance.

Adam became involved in youth affairs through the ‘Make Poverty History’ road trips.  When I hear young people like these four talk about their journey to leadership and the way they seek to empower others I can’t help to feel our future is safe in their hands. Crystal opened the discussion powerfully when she spoke about the passion and voice of young people and the importance of being heard. I had to reflect on my past practice a few times during their talk. They spoke about teachers who present the ‘Make Poverty History’ and ‘Climate Change’ discussions in ways that don’t empower young people to take action and I know I have at times been prescriptive about these issues and have bored rather than empowered students.

My final session was  with Jon Staley, who shared his experience with Youthworx. He was engaging and shared his story of working with disadvantaged young people to educate and empower expression and creativity to give them education in an alternative setting. His organisation is a media production training,  social enterprise that employs graduates of the training provided. He spoke about creating the right space and using the best tools and resources and his work is achieving great results.

I couldn’t attend the last session as prior commitments called, but I have to say thank you to Quantum Support Services for providing a great day of learning for me.

27 Aug

Student Made

The Digital Shed students made this clip in a couple of days. When I mentioned we needed a clip and I had ran out of time to make one, they happily brought their equipment in from home. Home made green screen sheets, microphones and laptops were used to convert the Co-ordinators office into a little recording studio. They were excited to get to use their equipment for something.

I have to remember to ask for help. Sometimes I get so busy trying to get everything done that I forget I am surrounded by people who are often more talented than I am and can do things with more ease, if I only asked. When I remember to do that, I am usually delighted with the results, like this:

These year 9 and 10 students have so much potential and it’s fun to give them the opportunity to use what they know for a great purpose.

We are getting support from a lot of people and I feel gratitude for it all.

25 Aug

We have 34 days to go

Yesterday we launched the crowdfunding project on Pozible. The students worked relentlessly to get a video made after we realised videos were important. I think they have done a great job. They have put so much into this and success with this will make a real difference. It’s really just the beginning of  another mission. We now have 34 days to promote the project. You can see all about it here:


or by clicking here: Pozible Project: VRI Hall.

Please look at it. We are all watching the stats. We can do so much with this place. We have had approaches from people in the community who have great skills and we need this space so they can share them with others. It would be ideal if everyone in our community had enough paid employment to sustain them, but until that happens, this shed will provide a great resource.

I am going to be on about this for just over a month. Bear with me if you can:). I promise only every second post will be about this project. Thanks!

30 Jun

School Holidays

Classes are finished, reports are written, parent – teacher interviews are complete. I get to experience the pause to restore that comes after the hectic pace of teaching. It is different being on the timetable and teaching in normal mainstream classes to the kind of work I have been doing.

I enjoyed being back on the team there. The people I worked with for so many years are like family to me. They were so forgiving and helpful as I became a newcomer again in many ways, adapting to three years of change at that campus. A lot has changed in the structure and organisation.

The students all have devices now, there are data projectors in every classroom and the curriculum has responded to that in some ways. I noticed some interesting things in regard to that. I have to admit I felt some frustration that a lot of the time students are not using it as well as they could. I have been working with students at the Digital Shed project and had some enlightening conversations about how they view their technology at school.

These conversations are really helpful for my planning for projects with young people. Next term I hope to continue working CRT at both Lavalla and Traralgon College, so that my work at the Neighbourhood House remains relevant. The Hands on Learning students from Traralgon College have made this clip about their work at the TNLH over the term. I love what they have achieved.


18 Dec

A Walk in the Park

Just got back from a walk through Victory Park. It’s one of the things I most love about living where I do, I’m almost just across the road from a great space. It was perfect weather for a stroll. It always amazes me how empty it is. There is a part with kids play equipment that can get pretty packed, and the soundshell part can attract a crowd when there is an event, but generally there are few there. We passed a total of six people and one dog this evening.

There are carols there tomorrow night, so I imagine it will be a totally different space.

I have solved the keyboard problem by getting another keyboard not replacing the laptop. It’s such a waste to get a new one when everything else is working well. It doesn’t need to be portable now that I have the little pad thingy.

I have three days left at the school. The kids have left so to be honest I’ve lost interest. I got a text from one of my students tonight saying he’s writing an article for a magazine. It made me smile because he’s been blogging this year and demonstrated he’s a good writer. I’m rapt for him.

I’m excited as anything for Christmas. The families are coming here and Tom will be home Christmas Eve…. CAN’T WAIT!!!!!

09 Nov

What week is this?

I’m not sure what week it is in the school calendar but it was a good one. Lots of students showed up this week and I enjoyed a sense of calm. They worked well together and we had many constructive conversations. This is the place I aim for when I start the year with a group of kids. The feeling that I could walk out of the room and they would all still get along and be kind to one another. This week they helped each other. They gave each other positive feedback. They have become a team in a safe learning space. Now we have till the rest of the year to get some work done. Fingers crossed:).

This week instead of not wanting to do anything, they are working. They have their individual missions. I have heard some satisfying things this week. Student’s who at the start of the year wouldn’t have looked at one another asking ‘What’s up?’. The response was the classic though, “Nothing I just want to get some work done!”.

Some of my kids know the children who died yesterday in that horrible accident. We talked about it this morning as I’m sure it was discussed around the state in classrooms. I didn’t have to say too much. They had done some reflecting. I mainly listened. I have to share a quote from the article though in case you can’t be bothered to click through.

“We need to make sure youth workers are around to connect with these kids and are not coming in and out of kids’ lives.

“For a whole range of reasons these kids find it difficult to trust adults and it takes a long time to build that trust and make a difference.

“There should be centres or programs not just in Melbourne but right across Victoria for children to engage in interesting activities so they feel like they belong and are accepted for who they are.”

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/three-crash-teens-had-been-in-state-care-20121109-291xv.html#ixzz2Bhqpi25M” (boldness was me!!)

I couldn’t agree more. I can’t tell you how many youth/support/counsellors/mentors/therapy workers my kids have ‘gone through’ this year. It has been a real eye-opener. It’s frustrating. It explains why the kids don’t pay much attention to new people and why it takes so long to prove yourself to them. Each time a person gets close to being trusted and leaves, just like with the rest of us, it becomes harder I think for them to trust. It’s difficult not to feel angry about it, even when you are safe and have a great life. I hear that there is high burnout and people who stay progress in these types of jobs, but really there has to be a better way.

28 Oct

What is School For? by Seth Godin

There has been enough talk about this kind of stuff.

During the week I met a new student and asked how school was for him. He told me he can’t read or write. I asked him if he had facebook. He said he did. I asked him what he did with that seeing that he couldn’t read or write. What was the value of it to him? He could read and write on his phone or on a computer, but he meant he couldn’t write on paper. He felt he was pretty stupid. I think this is sad. He has a lot of things he says he can’t do, and this week I’ve watched him do a few of those things.

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