Why am I here?

Heather Bailie, newly minted Masters of Education student here. Until fairly recently I was a TL, ICT Coach and IT teacher at a large 2 campus government secondary school in the northern suburbs of Melbourne (and swore black and blue that I’d never go to the dark side/private system). It wasn’t my first school but I’d been there since it was established in 1992.

Last year I took what I called my gap year, on Leave Without Pay from DEECD, and worked as a senior project officer at Australian Red Cross on a National Emergency Management Project on Disaster Resilience Education. No, it wasn’t a particular interest of mine before I started, I just seized an opportunity that happened my way (long story) and went for it.

Truth was I’d been looking for something different for some time and having done it, I highly recommend grabbing any unexpected opportunity when you see it.

I had a fabulous time, travelling to every state and territory capital (except Hobart, darn ASLA weren’t interested in a presentation), learning about the world of emergency management, dealing with bureaucracy even more convoluted than education, playing with the grown-ups in the real world.

Unrelated to my job I took the opportunity to take time off during school term to go to Singapore to the Learning 2.013 conference. What a fantastic experience! The passion and drive of the largely international school teachers was outstanding. The format of the conference was fantastic, very much by teachers for teachers and yes, they had excellent wifi and a hashtag. If you have the opportunity to attend one of these conferences then go for it – next one is in Bangkok in October (in the Victorian school holidays I believe).

Around this time I heard about and applied to study this course. And I knew from the outset that there was no way I could go back to my old school with my old load (and family responsibilities) and manage. I applied for a time-fraction reduction but was knocked back…so I started looking further afield. The job I’m in now, 0.8 Library and Information Services Manager at a smallish independent school (about 800 children from 9 months to year 12) came up through seek.com a couple of days before I left for Europe for a month (the reward part of my gap year!). The ad didn’t even specify which school but what the hell, I might as well apply, the four day week being the biggest motivating factor. About three weeks later I did an interview via Skype from a dimly lit Lisbon hotel room. I had some soul-searching to do, being ideologically opposed to the private system as I am; and after nearly 25 years I had a lot (of sick leave mostly) to give up. I did give my previous principal the opportunity to reconsider her decision against my time-fraction reduction…but that was never going to happen. The rest, as they say, is history, and I started at my new school in January this year.

So far it has been overwhelming and exciting with only the occasional “what have I done” moment – you can read more on my other blog but the bottom line is I will have one day each week that I can devote to this Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) and that can only be a good thing.

What do I hope to get from this course? A way of formalising/legitimising the reading, connecting, curating, commenting, learning I already do. Skills in interrogating and articulating my thoughts about the mass of information I come in contact with each day. More and better connection with outstanding educators. Another career change in a few years?

This is the start of a journey. I may not be sure about where I’m going but I plan to expand my thinking, learn heaps and have a lot of fun finding out.

Oh, and why is this blog called Learn, do teach…? Well, I have a reputation in my family and amongst people I’ve worked with for being a bit of a geek. Every geeky thing I’ve learned to do I’ve mastered through the process of finding out how (learn), trying it out (do) and then showing someone else (teach). It was my motto as an ICT Coach and an IT teacher and it seems even more appropriate now I’m the student.