Super women! Celebrating the women who inspire me

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!).

Suzie Boss:

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:

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.

Betsy Whalen:

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 πŸ˜‰ 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!

Shelley Wright:

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


23 thoughts on “Super women! Celebrating the women who inspire me

  1. Bianca,
    I am speechless (which never happens!) to be included in such fine company. Thanks so much, and thanks for continuing to share your journey as a teacher, thinker, and woman-who-rocks.
    Best wishes,

    • Well Suzie, I am humbled that you have replied on my blog because I truly see you as a role model from a distance! Thank you so much for the lovely words – it’s so great to live in a time where women can publicly share their admiration for each other!
      I look forward to keeping in touch and hopefully meet up when I’m back in the US – in June!!

  2. I’ll take crazy. thanks. πŸ˜€

    Seriously, this is such a moving post. And it’s not vain to align that which you have in common. This highlights things you value – English teaching, PBL, learning (including from mistakes), students – and such fine things to value, I must add! It’s making me think of what it is I really do value myself and apart from English teaching, we’re the same in all the rest – now, I know what you mean by feeling vain (haha).

    You rock!

      • ooh, I drink chai and make the best chai ice cream ever (I believe I’m the only one who makes it). As for cider, that’ll happen soon enough. I heard it’s trendy though and I have this ‘thing’ about trendy, ie. avoid them. We’ll see. πŸ˜‰

  3. So honoured to be included here Bianca! OMG! …. Thanks so much for sharing your work.. YOU are so inspiring! And thanks sharing your lovely boys with us @ Massively Minecraft… they are creative, funny, inspiring little miners and a joy to have in our little Miner’s PLN!

    Happy International Women’s Day!

    • Really Jo? You were always going to make a list of super-women I know! You honestly are one of the hardest workers I know … and really it’s not even ‘work’ for you, it’s your passion! Thanks for saying those things about my boys, they LOVE coming in to Massively. And thanks for saying that you find me inspiring, haha – maybe I might inspire others to ramble and whinge via a blog post once a week ;0)

  4. Bianca: I am not sure that my life has been that interesting — or that I’ve done much more in my career than shine a light on the incredible things that teachers are doing in the classroom every day — but I can’t tell you how touched I am by your kind words. Having been a teacher – I find it incredibly tiresome to see the demonization of teachers that has happened over the past few years — and any time i have a chance to shine a spotlight on the great things teachers are doing for our kids, I won’t pass it up. Over the past 10 years, the teachers I’ve met have been overwhelmingly inspiring, hard working, and insanely dedicated to their students. I am so proud to associate myself with people like you — who fight every day to make sure your students leave the classroom feeling inspired and excited not only about what their learning, but about their role in the world and their potential as human beings. We need more people in the world like you Bianca. You are truly one in a million. πŸ˜‰ xoxo

    • Betsy :o)
      I think this is the first time you have commented on my blog — so cool! Thanks for the taking the time to read my post, you really are a star in my little world, I know that is probably a super weird thing to hear/read, huh? πŸ˜›

      There really are some amazing teachers out there, but having you and edmodo means that they can connect and share their ideas globally!

      And seriously – thanks so much for saying that nice stuff about me, means the world!

      Every week I have that feeling of wanting to ‘give up’ and ‘get out’ and I know I’m not alone. We need a community to support us, and edmodo is like a family to a lot of use. It’s grown with us a people and as teachers. THANK YOU!

  5. Bianca, this is a very beautiful thing you have done – thank you so much for giving your time to energise us all with your kind words ❀ This post is a truly epic way to celebrate International Women’s Day and I can't tell you how many times I have been inspired by your words and your work to design bigger and better stuff, and to maintain the rage against our inequitable and flavourless education system.

    Thanks also for placing me in such great company. A growing "Emily's List" for the edu world…Bianca's List! The support we get from each other is an excellent antidote to the negativity that we can encounter when advocating for change. And knowing that other people out there believe in what we do is vital in those times when we face what seem like insurmountable odds.

    As my Mum would say, "bless your little cotton socks" B! You are a gem!

    • AWwww, thanks Kelli! We ladies do kick some arse and we need to support each other and make sure the world knows about what is we’re doing. Too often women are encouraged to compete with one another and I love that this is not part of the edu community. Thanks so much for saying nice things about me – saying that is what this whole IWD thing is about, just saying the gushy stuff that we feel even if we hate to accept the compliments and shrug it off. YOU thinking I am great just makes my heart SWELL with confidence in what I am doing … cos often I second guess myself and feel like I’m just crapping on for the sake of it.

      Bring on the Bianca List – let’s make it a annual thing … or even a bi-annual thing cos really there are some rockin’ edu chicks out there doing crazy amazing things to bring positive changes to edu.

      Love ya! xx

  6. Awww…how nice are you Miss Bianca!! Such an uplifting post – we need to celebrate more. I’m putting you on my list! πŸ™‚

  7. Aw, nice. Great way to celebrate International Women’s Day! Agree with the above comments – a very uplifting post. And I’m humbled to be mentioned in such great company by someone who inspires me constantly – thank you! Thank you also for constantly challenging me in my teaching and sharing all your ideas, failures and successes in the classroom – I know I’ve learnt tonnes from you πŸ™‚
    #warmfuzziesallround πŸ™‚ (can I hashtag a blog comment? I dunno. I decided that I could.)

  8. Hashtag away in any space you like – I even do it in text messages now, lolz! Thanks for being a genuine chick that just cares about being the best teacher she can be. You’re in it for the right reasons!

  9. Wow thanks! You’ve put me in a class of women (that includes yourself) that I hold in such high esteem. I admire what you do and what you say because you value what is important about teaching and learning. You walk the walk. You inspire others more than you could ever know! You care about students and your generosity and willingness to share so much of your experience (through your blog) really inspired me to start my blog. I feel truly humbled and am touched that you consider me in this way! Thank you!

    • Haha – you are doing great things for students! Don’t need to be in the classroom to make a difference to edu! How many other people in your role creating a PLN and sharing what they know?! You are super!!

    • Thanks Alice – I love seeing how many people have clicked on the twitter and blog links of you amazing women. It’s important that we celebrate women and work together to ensure more women get equal recognition for their contribution to education!

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