Archive for 2009|Yearly archive page

Bert’s ‘Art of Communication’

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Little Bert is the youngest in the school and has such a fiesty temper. He is such a loving and sensative boy, however if he thinks someone has wronged him he will be on then in a second with all fists and feet flying into his target.  This often results in him being  pryed off another child by an adult and put in time out to calm down. Much of Bert’s frustration results from his communication difficulties and not being able to find the correct words to express what he is thinking, feeling and needs. This is a common problem with children who have communication difficulties and is a key area for behavioural problems…it all comes down to being understood.

Bert has learnt a few choice words however. He is clever enough to have figured out that if he swears and gives rude gestures he will get the attention he wants from both children and adults and generally something will be done about it.

This particular day we were out on a school trip to an outdoor playground where there were many other school groups, teachers and adults around. Bert came up to me with a very angry look on his face. His forehead was crinkled, his lip out and I could see him stomping across the playground to tell me something has happened that he was not happy about at all!

 What happened next was just one of those moments where you don’t know where to look or how to react…especially in a public place.

Bert stomped over to me, arms crossed and yelled at the top of his lungs…’JELLY’ (that is the name he calls me as he can’t pronounce my real name) …BOY… F###ING…ME!!’ And procedes to stick up his two middle fingers at me sharply with a glare, waiting for me to respond.

So what do I do? Every adult within earshot is looking at me.  You can imagine what they are thinking? This gorgeous little boy has just been violated in some way, what are you going to do about it? 

Personally… I know what he is trying to say and am trying to hold back my laughter at this whole situation, I mean you either laugh or you cry with embarrassment. But neither reaction is socially appropriate at this time with all the adults glaring at me hanging onto my next few words and how I am going to manage this horrific incident?

So I take a deep breath and ask Bert …’Did a boy swear at you?’

‘YES’ he replied abruptly.

‘Did he stick up his middle finger at you?’


‘Do you want me to come and get angry at him?’


‘Ok, I will. But we need to use the word ‘RUDE’ from now on. The boy is being rude to me.’

And off I went to find the culprit before Bert took the law into his own hands.

And with that I could feel the relief in the air around me from all the lookers-on, and hear the muffled giggles as I went to deal with Bert’s ‘rude’ boy.

I’m just glad he came to me…imagine if he had approached a police officer nearby?

Communicaton… it can be our greatest asset or biggest liability!



‘Pandamonium’ at the museum

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2009 at 8:23 am

My classes name is Panda Class. Seven gorgeous children between 9-10 years old who have a wide range of special needs, including behaviour difficulties, developmental delays, learning difficulties, emotional trauma, autistsm, delayed social and language development. A real mixed bag of challenges…but I love them all dearly!

Today however, my love and patience was well and truly tested.

We had a school outing to the Airforce Museum. We had seven children and three staff members, most people would agree that that is a pretty good student:teacher ratio.

However, add to the mix a whole new and stimulating environment filled with REAL airplanes (that you weren’t allowed to touch) a wide open hanger just asking to be used as a runway for unruly children and only a small piece of rope 12 inches off the ground (perfect tripping height!) to separate the two.

Within seconds  the battle was well and truly on! One child running this way, one child running that way, one jumping over the rope and up onto the plane with a security guard in pursuit.

One staff member running this way hoping to cut off the two runners, myself running after the jumper heading toward the aircraft with a warning sign ‘This Aircraft is Armed’ and one staff member corralling all the others into a confined area to minimise a full on ‘copycat stampede’!

Needless to say the rest of the day didn’t get much better. Multiple time-outs, physical restraints, kicking and screaming fits and general ‘pandamonium’  with all staff in ‘battle station mode’ trying to contain chaos for te next 4 hours, ending with First Aid being administerd  for one child who tripped on the ropes (although it wasn’t too serious thank goodness!)

After carrying most of the children back to the bus, and finally getting them on their buses to go home…we heading to the pub with my ‘shell shocked’ staff for a defrief of todays carnage.

So what did we learn from today?

1. We need more staff for outings, thats for sure!

2. We should have done a reconiscance of the situation to prepare the children and give them the ground rules before entering the building in a safe and contained area.

3. Big open spaces filled with exciting objects can over-excite and overwhelm some children. They need to know how to handle this situation and we need to be able to manage it and teach them how BEFORE hand.

4. What was management thinking about putting a small insignificant tripable barrier to try and protect ARMED aircrafts?!

5. Never underestimate children!

That pint of beer honestly never tasted so good!


Little Sam’s ‘gut instinct’

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2009 at 7:06 pm

I love Sam…honestly I think I could adopt this little cherub with his cheeky grin and button nose…however he is one of  THE most stubborn children I have ever taught! When he sticks his heels in and says ‘No!’ It really can become extremely frustrating and takes forever to get through to him and for him to come around.

 However until today I have been able to snap him out of it with some playful ‘coochycoo’ language to make him smile. Once he smiles I know I have him and then the world is a happy place once again.

However today the ‘coochycoo’ just wasn’t going to cut it for darling Little Sam.

After almost 20 mins of trying to get him off the computer to go to his music lesson…I was getting nowhere and my frustration levels were rising, and I could feel myself wanting to yell at him. But ofcourse I knew this would just make matters worse as poor Sam comes from a home where he is yelled at alot and often physically abused by his father (who also has special needs)…so that strategy was well and truly off the cards and my ‘teacher bag of tricks’ was totally and utterly bare!!

What to do? If I give up and just let him stay this will quite possibly create a new pattern of behaviour. Everytime he doesn’t want to go somewhere he can sit on the computer, say ‘No’ and will get to have some fun. My only other option would be to phycially remove him…which would create a struggle, end in anger, time-out and unhappiness all round for us both.

Out of pure desperation to try and get through to him I started to talk to his tummy… ‘excuse me Mr Tum, are you feeling a bit sad today?’

To my surprise…the tummy talked back to me and said ‘Yes’ (through Sam) Hallejulah! At least I was getting something other than ‘NO’.

I continued talking to the tum. ‘Why are you sad Mr Tum?’

‘Because Sam is making bad choices’ was the reply.

‘Do you think that Sam might be able to make a good choice and go to music?’

‘Yes’ was the reply…and then the smile came…PHEW!!

‘Would Mr Tum like a cuddle?’

‘Yes.’ so I gave him a cuddle and he held my hand and we went to music. On the way Mr Tum then proceeded to say ‘Hello’ to everyone we met. We were met with a strange look by staff but once I told then that ‘his tummy  is talking to them as we seem to be having more of a chance of getting through to the tum than the head today’, they all went along with it and said ‘hello’ back.

I guess this was a perfect example of  using your ‘gut instinct’.

Children, especially special needs children really do amaze me everyday…and are constantly pushing me to think outside the box and re-evaluate my personal reactions to being frustrated…next time I feel this way, I might just sit down and have a good long talk with my own tum and see what happens? (I will try and do this in the privacy of my own home though).


Easing the guilt while helping the planet

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Sometimes Ifeel like I just don’t know what to do.

There is just so much going on in this world with all the climate change and current economic crisis and everyone feeling scared and not knowing about what is going to happen next. I feel extremely guilty for leaving such a total mess for the future generations and horrified at the legacy that I have been part of for the children that I teach and for the children of all my wonderful friends.

How are they going to remember us? As those guys who really didn’t give a toss and used and abused everything they could? I’m glad I’m not going to be here to read the history books about these times that for sure!
So this just leaves me in a quandary…part of me feels depressed and just wants to go, ‘well there is nothing I can do and it wasn’t just me it was the bankers and the politians!’ But then if I think a little deeper…it was people like me that voted (or didn’t in my case) for these politians and who put my money in the banks and used all the credit that they gave me (which I clearly didn’t deserve) that got us into this mess in the first place. So I guess I actually DO have a part to play in how this mess came about after all…although I don’t like to admit it.

Actually I think I am going to take this moment to heartfully apologise the the planet for my screw-ups and selfish behaviour.
So what can I do to repent for my personal sins towards the planet…turning into a greener and more planet friendly consumer is surely what I would ideally like to become, but it sounds so very difficult and completely foreign to me (and selfishly, I don’t want to change my lifestyle completely).
So I have decided to at least do something that wasn’t too completely off the wall and I signed up for the tcktcktck campaign that I saw on the Intrepid travel blog. 
I guess by at least putting my name forward for the UN Convention for Climate Change is a start and if enough people support and get their voice heard, world leaders should listen..Imean we do pay their wages after all!
So at least my guilt is reduced for one day…not sure what  gesture I will do next, but it is a start at least I guess?

Please feel free to join up also and pass it onto your friends and family


Peeing in the playground

In Uncategorized on July 14, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Ok…today was one of those days.

You know the ones where you have to go and have a meeting with person that you REALLY don’t like but you need them to help you out. So you have to swallow your pride and bite your tongue and find your personal and professional power to just ‘get through it’, without saying what is truly in your heart.

Anyway I made it… and then went to work with my lovely special needs children. It was an outing to the playground to celebrate our last week before the summer holidays.

While at the playground trying to supervise and keep the ‘terrorizing’ to a minimum (as there were dozens of other school groups there) another teacher came up to me and asked ‘is that little boy who peed himself with your group?’

I looked worringly to see if he was mine (as I had not bought any change of clothes with me today), but he was not.

She then went onto say that she had been watching him as he stood there happily peeing himself as it ran down his trousers. ‘I guess its lucky he wasn’t standing on the fort with anyone under him’ she added playfully. I stood there for a moment watching this little boy in the green pee stained trousers as he continued to play and no one seemed to come to his rescue or even notice his trousers.

It then occured to me that it was ME that seemed to have the problem, and he was quite content and happy. So I just let him go rather than intervene and seek help for him.

I must admit something, after reflecting on my terrible meeting this morning, upon arriving home I bought myself a bottle of coca cola and some Ben and Jerry’s chocolate macadia icecream (it was half price, how could I resist!) and preceeded to watch 3 episodes of trashy Australian soap operas. After this I seemed to feel a little better and happier…and then a little guilty and uncomfortable.

I started to think… how different is this from the little boy peeing in the playground?

I mean we all have our little vices that make us happy, many of them are socially unacceptable but they give us some immediate comfort and cheering up from time to time. We don’t need to beat ourselves up about them, as long as noone else is being effected.

I guess the Beatles and Bobby McFerrin knew about this little philosophy when they wrote their lyrics….

“Let it Pee” and “Don’t Worry, Pee happy”…I mean the jokes could be endless  really 😉 xx


In Uncategorized on July 13, 2009 at 7:14 pm

I love the old K.I.S.S method (Keep It Simple Stupid!) and was unaware that its origins came from the likes of  Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” ( you gotta love wikipedia don’t you?)

I also admire Edward De Bono’s view on simplicity and feel its worth sharing with others. If you ever get the opportunity to read his book ‘Simplicity’ I would recommend it.

I personally can relate many of these principles to the complexity of the worlds Educational Systems…but that is another blog (or series of blogs) altogther!

Simplicity Principles

  1. You need to put a high value on simplicity
    To get simplicity you have to want to get it. To want to get simplicity you have to put a high value on simplicity.
  2. You must be determined to seek simplicity
    People quite like simplicity if it does not cost anything but are usually unwilling to invest resources in making something more simple.
  3. You need to understand the matter very well
    If you do not seek to understand a situation or process, your efforts will be ’simplistic’ rather than simple. Simplicity before understanding is worthless.
  4. You need to design alternatives
    It is not a matter of designing the ‘one right way’. It is more a matter of designing alternatives and possibilities, and then selecting one of them.
  5. You need to challenge and discard existing elements
    Everything needs to justify its continued existence. If you wish to retain something for the sake of tradition let that be a conscious decision.
  6. You need to be prepared to start over again
    In the search for Simplicity, modify if you can – start afresh if you cannot.
  7. You need to use concepts
    Concepts are the human mind’s way of simplifying the world around. Warning: If you do not use concepts, then you are working with detail.
  8. You may need to break things down into smaller unitsThe organisation of a smaller unit is obviously simpler than the organisation of a large unit. The smaller units are themselves organised to serve the larger purpose.
  9. You need to be prepared to trade off other values for simplicity
    A system that seeks to be totally comprehensive may be very complex. You may need to trade off that comprehensiveness for simplicity.
  10. You need to know for whose sake the simplicity is being designed
    A shift of complexity may mean that a system is made easier for the customer but much more complicated for the operator.

How do these relate to you personally? And what areas of your life should you start to simplify?

To be honest…I chose this blog layout for its simplicity, it’s easy to read and not too confusing! xx

Story of The Humble Warrior

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2009 at 6:58 pm

This afternoon I googled ‘The Humble Warrior’ after having dreamt the title ‘Humble Warrior’ and written my debut blog. What I found was quite interesting.

Along with links to kickboxing and Evander Holyfield (the famous boxer)…I came across a Native American Indian story titled ‘A Story of The Humble Warrior’.

The story was about a young boy called Running Through Forest who was named so for his fast speed and running ability.

Running Through Forest was loved by his all his people and they would often give him gifts and gave him the honorary title of ‘warrior’, however he had never gone to war nor possessed any honorary ‘war feathers’ to his name.

Some younger warriors were overheard talking about him and the  fact that he had so much for doing what appeared to be so little.  Upon hearing this news Running Through Forest became concerned by what these young warriours had said as they were very brave fighters indeed.

The Shamen and Chief ordered a Pow Wow to sort this out. During the discussion it was discovered the reason ‘WHY’ everyone loved Running Through Forest. As a young boy he had saved the lives of the village children by leading them to safety through the forest while his father stayed and fought an ambush. All the warriors had been out fighting and it was just him and his father. His father was killed in the process. Running Through Forest was then given the job of watching over the children of the tribe while the warriors were away. For this service he was given many gifts  and loved by his people.

Running Through Forest vowed to give over all his possessions to the young warriors however he said he was not able to give them the love that was given with the gifts.

The warriors upon hearing the news changed their minds about Running Through Forest and decided not to take the gifts at all.

I guess there are many different morals  and themes to this story and how this can apply to our lives today.

  • That those who care for our children should be honoured and loved by the community. Unfortunately in our current society people who are responsible for money e.g. bankers are paid higher and get more professional prestige than those that care for our children e.g. teachers and care workers.
  • The importance of giving ‘gifts with love’. Love is not transerable. In our materialistic world we often feel that our self worth is defined by the possessions we own and the titles we have. Most people are not aware that it is the ’emotions’ and ‘memories’ that are of the most worth, and these are not transerable from person to person through any form of possession.
  • Being humble and not boasting about our past achievements is often the most respected form of courage and ‘warrior spirit’.
  • That often with any form of accolade there comes some sacrifice. Running Through Forest had to live a life without his beloved father, and I’m sure no amount of loving and good intentioned gifts could replace such an important person. We need to think before judging others as we are never sure of the sacrifices they have made to get where they are.

Isn’t it amazing how much you can get from such a short fable…I certainly can relate each of these points to my life and my personal beliefs. I guess the universe bought me this title and this story for a reason.

P.S . If you want to read the whole story –

Finding the courage

In Uncategorized on July 12, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I must admit something.

I secretly want to be heard…and I’m not exactly sure why? My best friend has encouraged me to set up a blog to share some of the stories that I tell her about my life, my work with children who have special needs, and the insights and things that I am constantly learning each day about myself and the world around me.

But honestly, I am quite scared about it all.

I’m scared that I might say the wrong thing. I’m scared that I might offend someone. I’m scared that I might get some hate mail or horrible comments. I’m scared that I’m not IT literate enough. But most of all I’m scared that I don’t have the right amount of confidence and self belief to pull it all off and do justice to the people and situations I want to help and talk about.
At times the world frustrates me. At times in liberates me. At times i want to scream at the top of my lungs ‘WHY?’ and at times I just want to smile and enjoy the moment for what it is.
I want to share my frustrations and things I see with other like minded people, but at the same time I don’t want to be seen as a ‘trouble maker’ or ‘moaner’. I guess I want to be seen as a ‘liberator’ for both myself and perhaps those that I see around me in the streets who are not as lucky as I am to be able to have a voice, to be able to communicate as articulately as I can, who do not grasp english as well as a native speaker and are therefore not heard by the mainstream internet community.

So I have decided to finally face my fears, to put myself out there into the big wide web and see where it takes me with put no emphasis on the outcome.

 The title ‘The Humble Warrior’ came to me in a dream last night so I have chosen to use it here. I looked up the definition of ‘warrior’ on wikipedia and it says “a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics” (although I’m certainly not planning to run for office nor the olympics!)…

 and ‘humble’ meaning “not proud or  arrogant, but modest“…so I think it fits with what I’m trying to be a ‘modestly courageous being’. So I guess I just have to embrace the moment and see where this humble warrior spirit will take me as I write this, my first ever blog.

Fingers crossed and wish me luck xx