littlecolourfulteacher

littlecolourfulteacher

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gratitude

October 14, 2018

Thank you for these holidays. 😊

While I always work through these ones, they have been absolutely FILLED with playfulness, connection, energy, reflection, love and joy. They’ve been silly, raucous and poignant, with unexpected moments to reconnect, speak, cook, create, explore, and replenish the stores that make me WANT to walk into school each day and do what I do.

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so glad + grateful, with a new appreciation for the tiny, silly, special moments. 🌟

Everything becomes more present and interesting, rather than just a conveyor belt of “nexts”.

It’s in these very ordinary daily moments of pure joy or stillness that I get glimpses of the untapped courage, clarity and drive I didn’t realise I possessed. I have been loved into realness + life again, which makes me more daring to make that first connection, stand in the wilderness, and speak my truth in whatever way I need. 🦋

To those of you who have been in struggle, I hope that you will be picked up and carried by friends and colleagues as you lay down whatever has been challenging. I’m thinking of you. 😘

❤️🧡💛💚💙

I’m all about that book life!

October 6, 2018

In Dymocks and a group of excited + noisy “tweens” exploded into the store, went all still, inhaled deeply and said happily to each other: “Oh, it smells so GOOD!”

There’s hope in the world.

the truth about report writing

September 9, 2018

Let me break down report writing:

Depending on the term, it’s writing a 5000 to 10000 word essay under EXTREME pressure, when you are completely and utterly exhausted from the term of teaching and are hating life anyway.

You have a critical audience of approximately 250 students and (even more alarmingly) 500-ish parents who are all deeply interested in DIFFERENT 200-300 word increments of said academic essay. So you can’t even throw in a random half-page quote to haze your audience. You have to write at absolute premium quality for the WHOLE DAMN ESSAY.

If you don’t utilise that thesaurus of “student-focused + encouraging” words, you can be damn sure you’ll be fielding a phone call from an irate parent as to why you described their precious darling as “conscientious” rather than “dedicated”.

YOU CAN’T EVEN WRITE WHAT YOU WANT. You have to spend your time scrupulously veiling your true thoughts into positively-bent, passive-aggressive pointers of “forward-thinking encouragement”.

The final report is like white bread: refined as all hell with all the good stuff processed out, leaving only the fluffy white stuff.

Happy report writing!

One of my pieces, “Festival Yubilate”, made it to the 2018 Llangollen Eisteddfod in Wales!

Performed by the Brisbane Grammar School Grammarphones, conducted by the always excellent Peter Ingram, where they placed 2nd in the Open Youth Section.

SUCH a thrill for me to hear the TTBB version performed so well!

AND by a choir who is amazingly our namesake!

#composerthrill

#composerthrill

August 19, 2018

when you realise you’ve “raised” good year 12s…!

August 12, 2018

One of those days where I was totally up against it in terms of navigating, negotiating, and behaviour-managing, with my poor Year 12s walking into class after lunch with me in full-behavour-management-flight with a student.

Very quietly and respectfully did they all sneak in, dotted themselves around the classroom and quickly got to work.

After 2 minutes, a cup of tea appeared on my desk in a mug inscribed with “BADASS.”

Then, when my back was turned, a muesli bar + a handful of Minties appeared alongside it.

All of a sudden, I realised my camera was fully set-up and ready to roll for performance masterclass.

While I was looking over some Composing + Arranging issues, a message appeared on the whiteboard, “Kwokkie: Tiny Awesome Teacher! 😊

And walking to Year 8 Music, I found the downstairs classroom door covered in post-it notes with various encouraging messages of, “GO KWOKKIE!” + “SMASH IT!” + “HANG IN THERE!” + “YOU CAN DO IT!”

My Year 12 kiddies. NINJAS of little acts of kindness today. You guys totally got me over the line!

Accurate representation of how Year 12s navigate Year 12.

I’m using this to open my Year 12 presentation lecture this year. 🤣

The first time I watched this, I was in total agony. The music! The drama + suspense! The tragic music at the end! 😳 But it DOES have a happy ending. 😅

And the parallels are just too good:

“The perfect drop. And a controlled launch!”

“This is as good a descent as is possible to make.”

“It’s parents are there to meet it. A little dazed, perhaps, but all in one piece.” 😂

Plus that fact that is David Attenborough commentating just MAKES it.

#datvoice

accurate representation of year 12

August 12, 2018

uncomfortably comfortable with discomfort

August 5, 2018 1 Comment

 

Comfortable with Discomfort

How do people get comfortable with discomfort?

How do people engage mindfully with challenging discourse, differences of opinions, aggressive interactions, and high emotions whilst maintaining a joyful, resilient and open heart, but a strong backbone?

It’s something I have been consciously practising this year, partly to develop my ability to stay in discomfort with a level head, but partly because I have had no choice. It’s been spirit-ruffling, enlightening, uncomfortable, and stretching. I always think I am doing crap and very often FEEL crap, when I also instinctively know that I am doing the best job possible.

The need to work with integrity drives this desire to engage with the challenging, but it doesn’t come easy. I am often caught at a crossroads when I find myself the only one standing with one side of the opinion, and the rest of the people around me swept up by the momentum of the argument, or a personality which bulldozes. I am not a bulldozer. Words have meaning and merit to me. What simply is “shooting the breeze” or “meaningless rubbish” and falls by the wayside for others affects me until I make peace with it and decide I am done. I am not a needless “hanger-on” person; words and feelings simply have purpose, merit and meaning to me. In fact, I am working hard to let go when conversations are done and expired. And the relief is immense. It’s healthy and wholehearted. But again, never done carelessly without necessary attention and thought.

How do I then learn to walk in integrity, connect with the challenge knowing that it will affect me deeply, and repair myself that I may walk into difference + disagreement with a calm and clear head?

Many of my friends, colleagues and family members think I can do this instinctively. But it doesn’t come naturally for me. If anything, it comes particularly unnaturally, with me having to sit in excruciating discomfort as I work through the framework of each problem and decide what action I need to take. Not what I WANT to take, not what would feel nice and comfortable for me. But what I NEED to do.

It’s times like this I HATE having a moral compass, because when you have stuck with this north-facing pin of integrity, you do not feel RIGHT until you’ve arrived at the course of action which you know is right. And often, the right decision affords personal peace, but it comes with an emotional mountain to climb first; a conversation which requires rehearsing, losing 3 hours sleep, spending the day before dipping in and out of worry, going back over ideas and ground until you are satisfied. There is no easy way to coexist with a moral compass and be a vulnerable, joyful person of integrity.

It WRINGS THE FUCKING LIFE out of you.

But there is no other way.

You need to do it.

So here’s the question: How does everyone else get comfortable with discomfort?

I’m not talking about deodorising a workplace or situation where everything is hunky-dory and annoyingly, superficially “fine”. I don’t buy in for that. I welcome safe discussion and discourse. I WANT accuracy for where I stand and what I do. But too often, pride and ego get in the way, and safe discussion without incidental power-over is impossible. And it breaks my heart, because I am no weakling. I just don’t want to be unnecessarily hurt by thoughtless, pride-driven conversation.

What I am talking about is when integrity does NOT win the day, and you watch as mud-slinging, bulldozer personalities and power-over get top spot? HOW do other people practise being resilient and courageous in this environment? How do you make peace with having to walk into battle, when you didn’t ask to walk into battle? How do you become more capable warriors in navigating shit-storms, without losing yourself? How do you keep your energy levels up? How do you learn to let things go after they are done? When do you know that they are done?

I don’t want total agreement. I want a safe place to put ideas on the table, the be deeply seen and valued, to not have my intrinsic work questioned when I am discussing difficult topics. It’s how we all want to feel.

Seen, valued, and heard, with worthiness which affords us the courage and audacity to have different opinions and creative ideas. 

I know that I have instinctively walked this more challenging path all my life, because that’s how I was raised, that is what I am made of to the very core. I am so LUCKY to be lifted in heart and spirit by family and friends, who know me, and know what I do. They know my humility, they know my faults. They know where a should be fighting harder, and they also know where I am gentle in my strength.

For me, I know the cost of this walk of integrity. And I am tired from the heaviness of responsibility. As you know, this comes as UNNATURALLY to me as possible, yet I must do it. How do the great leaders of the world do it? How did Barack + Michelle Obama walk through their presidential term and maintain warmth and humanity, whilst making the hard decisions to guide and shape a nation? How did Nelson Mandela make wisdom and peace from hardship, over and over? Not just for a mere day; but when he least felt like it?

I am asking for some momentum and wind beneath my wings, some advice + wisdom, on how to continue to sustainably walk into challenging situations and understand how to chart a course of action without apology, but without sacrifice.

the kwokkie diaries: day 17

July 13, 2018 1 Comment

A chance catch-up with a very special Brighton old scholar who is making waves of the best sort here in New York. Hilarious that Australians can never get their act together to catch up when they live in the same city, but can do it on the other side of the world.

Such a joy to hear of all your successes + adventures, Anthony Zatorski!

#proudmamakwokkie

the kwokkie diaries: day 10; a day of overwhelming gratitude

July 5, 2018

Day 10: Montreal

And I continue to digress from my little journalling formula, but I was inspired to write this post today.

The Gratitude In Travel

We are so lucky in life, the travellers. To be able to travel purely to reconnect, discover, or learn is such a privilege, the thought of which has overwhelmed me in unexpected moments over the last few days. We get on a plane, somehow we fly thousands of miles and we appear on the other side of the world because we have the means, the technology, and the inclination. Me, as a first generation Chinese-Vietnamese Australian living in “country Adelaide”; I have access to the whole world. I am allowed to see all of this. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel like a tiny star in a constellation, moving around in this extraordinary expanse of universe.

What is it about us humans that makes us long to discover? Where does this need to find out, to follow, to figure out, and to be free come from? It’s so much easier to be safe and small. But left to our own devices, we rarely choose it. We keep wanting more. And once we find out “more”, we keep longing for a “new type of more”.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my health, because to travel you need to be healthy. To be able to be tired and sore at the end of the day, smelly and sweaty with blisters and aching body is a sign that you have embraced all that a city or place has to offer. That your body and health have afforded you the strength and mobility to see all that you wanted is a blessing. That you had a chance to choose where you went during a day, and how much time you wanted to spend there. And for no other reason other than to experience it. No escape, no pain, no hunger, no war. This gives me pangs of both overwhelming gratitude and compassion for those who do not have what I am allowed to have.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my work, which gives me a daily mirror and moral compass to be the best person that I am able. When you’re a teacher of teenagers, you have a mirror held up to you EVERY DAY. Good or bad, it’s all right in your face. You will KNOW if you’re working with integrity, because teenagers live for the smell of it, even if they don’t know how to “do integrity” fluently themselves yet. Teenagers don’t take shit, and they have crap detectors that are the world’s most finely tuned, non-electronic sensory devices. And then, to be able to take this moral compass out into the world and test it out for real, with people of other nationalities, countries, ideas, cultures + experience and figure out a different city? Truly amazing, soul-changing, shaking, affirming, and life-giving. The learning and shaping of yourself and your values doesn’t get better than that. How rich you become when you have the means to travel.

My work also allows me the monetary means to travel. I have enough money to pay for food, the flights, insurance, postcards, shopping, souvenirs, presents, experiences, entry fees, and emergencies. I have access to a world outside my own, that my own life may be stretched and enriched by what I experience. In other words, I have money to spare beyond the essentials that I can travel for the sake of travelling.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the love of my friends and family, who hold me like a strong secure net in my adventures. Without their trust, love and support, I would not be able to venture out so joyfully and freely. Without my Dad’s encouragement as a teenager, and quite against the usual Asian-stereotypes + thinking, I would not have begun to test my wings. Now, my wings and sense of adventure are strong and supple. And I cry tears of gratitude for the worry that both my parents must have endured in my earlier years of travel, when I made some stupid-arse choices for lack of experience and money, and that they still let me take flight.

I cry for joy at my freedom.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the chance to learn. Travel, as they say, changes you. And it does. How it changes you depends on what inside you needs changing, and what is vulnerable and malleable to the world at that point in time.

So, here, many thousands of kilometres away from home I say…

T H A N K Y O U.

the kwokkie diaries: day 7

July 2, 2018

Day 7: Toronto

My last day full in Toronto, and it’s a family day! I am catching up with my other sister-in-law, the energetic + gregarious Steph and finally meeting her partner Sam. Who is like an instant sunshade for me when I finally meet him!

Steps taken: 15,982, which is surprising since I feeling like I spent more time outdoors today than yesterday.

One memorable meal or food item: The Nanaimo bar, a Canadian speciality. The bottom layer is a biscuit + coconut crumb base, the second is custard-flavoured butter icing, and the top layer is chocolate ganache.

One special photograph: The group photo of my extended family, all miraculously in one place. It felt like we were the Weasley family from Harry Potter, all safely marked as “AT HOME”.

One decent coffee: The delicious and refreshing cold-brew at Boxcar Social along the glorious Toronto waterfront.

Off the beaten track: Today began with a struggle. I had to get my head back into school-mode and draw on my courage and integrity to deal with some decision-making I didn’t agree with. While I’m diligent, it’s so hard to make these decisions where you are away on holiday and wanting to be present here, and you find yourself drawn back into work-mode against your will, despite having put a firm boundary down before leaving. I feel like I am being pulled into a decision I absolutely don’t agree with, and I am missing family, friends, and colleagues back home to talk it through. Luckily, I had my brother and sister-in-law, Robs + Em, to help get me back into equilibrium. I had to work through the issue, step-by-step, all the while anxious and frustrated I wasn’t there in person to be able to give voice to my opinions. I HAVE to trust that my judgment is right and that my decisions, always based in integrity, will have merit.

An unsettling start to the day, which made me so very grateful for the joy of being able to spend it with family, new and old.

And thank you also, wider universe and everyone who loves me, that I work from a place of love, courage, and integrity. It’s such a hard path to walk sometimes, but it’s the only way I know how to be. And this is the case because I have learnt this example from all the people who have played a part in shaping me.

Please let me be at peace with all that I have done, and let me know that my true worth will shine through. Let me trust in this and continue to take joy and delight in my travels.

Because I absolutely must!