I forgot that yesterday was International Women’s Day. I saw a few tweets earlier in the week about schools putting on morning tea or bringing in a guest speaker. How would I celebrate this day? I thought it might be a nice idea to use my blog as a way of celebrating the women in my life who inspire me as a teacher and as a person. This post hopes to showcase a little bit about these five women and explain why I find them so remarkable. I haven’t arranged them in any particular order, so if you’re at the bottom please don’t think you’re less important than the person at the top (a good life lesson too!).
I first ‘met’ Suzie Boss when she reblogged one of my posts about failing at PBL. It was another one of my posts where I lamented my failings in the classroom and doubted my abilility to engage my classes through meaningful learning experiences. Suzie’s response to my post was so generous, reassuring and sincere, I warmed to her immediately. Then I realised who she is! Suzie is an amazing intellectual who has dedicated her working life to improving education by supporting teachers as they experiment with different ways of teaching. When I decided to embark on post-graduate research into PBL, Suzie was one of the first people I told. Meeting her at ISTE last year was a super cool experience. The best thing about our meeting was being able to see her in action – leading a panel of teachers in their discussions about PBL. And that’s really one of the things I admire the most about Suzie – she cares about other people and doesn’t see herself as the centre of attention. It is never about Suzie, it is always about the teachers. Thanks Suzie. You continue to inspire me! (Read Suzie’s Edutopia blog, it’s brilliant!)
What can I say about the beautiful JoKay? Really, it’s more like what can’t I say? I first was introduced to Jo by my mate Dean Groom – in Second Life! Yup, the first time I ‘spoke’ with Jo was whilst I floated around as a bald avatar in a virtual world that I struggled to navigate. Jo gave me so much of her time that night – and the next weeks to follow. She took me shopping for new hair and punk clothes, how could I not love her? But really the true Jo came to life when she introduced me and my boys to Minecraft. If you don’t already know, Jo is the heart and soul of Massively Minecraft. She is one of the most amazingly dedicated educators I have ever met. She works tirelessly in Massively to ensure that all of the 250+ gamers/learners have the best possible in-world experiences. I have had the pleasure of listening to my boys chat with Jo (and a bunch of other mini-miners) via Skype – an absolute riot of yelling, screaming, laughing. I was lucky enough to hang out with Jo in person at Macquarie Uni last year and she is just as quick, focused, generous and dedicated in person. She just wows everyone she meets. What inspires me the most about Jo is that she does all of this work with Massively because she loves it. She doesn’t do it for money or glory. She does it for the kids. How cool is that? I genuinely believe that what she is doing will revolutionise how we view proximal learning and immersive practice. As always, Jo is one to watch!
Kelli McGraw is truly inspiring. She is the youngest doctor of education that I know. Really, she is a doctor of education – she completed her PhD whilst she was teaching fulltime. That’s a bit mental, but how inspiring? It is because of Kelli that I decided to have a crack at research. She is always there for me when I need her. She is a wealth of knowledge and sometimes that can be scary and intimidating. I have never met anyone so passionate about how digital technologies are changing how we tell stories. I don’t know if she’s ever said this, but I think she’s obsessed with narrative and she sees education, teaching, learning as a narrative process. She works tirelessly to ensure that her students (all pre-service English teachers at QUT) are engaged with real-world learning. She uses project-based learning at the university level for freaks sake! How cool is that? I love Kelli because she places her faith in my ideas and she never judges me or criticises me if I have a crazy idea about English teaching. That’s the most inspiring thing about Kelli – she trusts people and values their ideas. Read her blog. She inspires me to be a better team-player. You rock, chicka.
What can I say about Betsy? She is a lady that works behind the scenes. You may not know her name but you would know her work. Her work often doesn’t have her name on it, but you probably use a bunch of it in your classroom. She is a tireless innovator and supporter of innovators. She is one of my favourite people in the world because she loves to spring surprises on me and challenge how I view myself and education. Betsy works for edmodo. Or rather, edmodo works for Betsy 😉 I met her because as you all know, I’m an edmodo fan-grrrl. I can’t even tell you when we first met via email but it doesn’t really matter. It was because of Betsy’s faith in me that I travelled to ISTE last year. It really was a crazy idea to send a public-school English teacher from Australia (yep, all the way down at the bottom of the world!) to the world’s biggest technology in education conference – in Philadelphia! But she did it. It is because of Betsy that so many teachers have taken greater risks in their careers and started sharing what they do. Like I said, she is a tireless champion of innovators, and those innovators are always teachers. I love that Betsy is a risk-taker too. She’s done some pretty cool things in her life – if you ever get the chance, take her out for a cocktail (preferably a mojito or a Philadelphia) and ask her about her life. She can tell you an amazing story or too. Betsy, you inspire me to be better than I was yesterday. Oh, and I love your sense of humour and ‘can do’ attitude. You are awesome!
I haven’t met Shelley. We haven’t ever spoken via Skype or email. We’ve tweeted a couple of times to each other. So who is Shelley Wright? I reckon that for a lot of you reading this, you don’t need me to tell you. Shelley is a teacher. An English teacher. This year she’s doing something a little different, she’s out of the classroom for a bit doing some professional development stuff. Sounds a bit like me, huh? Well guess what else she does? She uses the PBL method to teach English … sounds familiar, yeah? I know it is me being self-indulgent and vain, but to be honest, Shelley and I have this crazy parallel teacher-life. She’s been teaching for the same amount of time as me and has had such a similar experience with trying to engage students by making learning authentic and meaningful. Last year we were both immersed in projects about human trafficking with Year 9 students at the same time – it was weird! She has run some of the most insane projects with her students. You really have to read her blog. Shelley shares her teaching journey in an honest and humble way, always championing her students and genuinely celebrating their achievements. With Shelley it’s always about the students and what they can do to make the world a better place. You know what else is amazing about Shelley? She is always positive. Her approach to life is inspiring. She sees the good in everyone and never judges. I hope one day we get to meet in person, Shelley. I always think, ‘I bet she is tall’ cos then we would be different, haha.
I hope you take the time to read further about each of these five inspiring women. They will rock your world, I think.
Oh, and I just wanted to let you know about some other crazy, amazing women – these are Aussie super women too:
@aliceleung @ellyconnolly @missjessm @Madiganda @sthcrft @pipcleaves @malynmawby @jobee_71 @shereej3 @7Mrsjames @1moniqued @EduSum @karlao_dtn @MissRMG @acoure @vivimat78 @Maurs_5 @townesy77 @clarindabrown