Cycling through life
Nineteen years ago, my life changed. In the aftermath of motherhood, I made life-changing decisions. These were decisions about my career, my marriage, and me. I was now a mother and so I was different. I reconciled to reinvented myself. This conscious change was motivated by unconscious choices as life ploughed forward.
I feel like that cycle of change came full circle recently. My nineteen-year-old daughter has left home and her sister is making plans to fly the nest as well. Once again, I am reinventing myself. I am making conscious changes that have been powered by seemingly unconscious change.
In the wake of all that excitement I was lucky to engaged with other seekers of financial freedom and wellbeing at The Wealth Masters Seminar in Sydney. Robert and Kim Kiyosakiare inspiring Australians to think and learn about money. This was a full day event hosted by a team of experts. This event was motivational. I am planning on reinventing again. They talked about infinite return on investment.
I attended this event with a friend of mine. We have been blessed with a friendship that has survived time and survived change. 19 years X 2 is approximately how long we have been friends. We have walked through life together, but on separate paths. We have had our own journey’s but have met along the way. We have mentored each other. We have supported each other. We have been critical. We have fallen down and we have picked ourselves up. We have had to. We have learnt the value of friendship, learning, coaching, mentorship, bravery and vulnerability. We have grown to feel the power in the infinite circle of support. Our infinite circle of support builds courage to be brave when we need to act.
I love learning about money. I have found this journey to be a journey of self-discovery. It is a journey of building tribe. It is a journey of being brave and being vulnerable. It is authentic. It is meaningful.
Infinite return is when your investments requires no money from you but provides a return. I am not trouble free, but I am happy. My life is very authentic and not worry free but to reflect with vulnerability enables me to see the infinite return I have gained on this journey of life.
My strength is in walking with people through life. As a teacher, a nurse and someone who lives an imperfect life, I support parents and professionals to realize opportunities to embrace life and navigate change. I am a REDinV8or. I am a collaborator. I am a seeker of the ‘Infinite Return’ as we journey. I am motivated.
There are not many people who have that perfect life. Some just hide it better.
Life is a journey – tacky I know – but it really is.
During my years as a nursing student I worked a Marsden Hospital in Sydney's West. I was paid as a nursing assistant for the care of children with cognitive and physical disabilities. It was hard work. It was physically tough, and emotionally draining. I learnt so much.
I cared for people with a wide range of afflictions. Autism, PKU, Anencephaly. Interesting and sad. My job was to assist ‘patients’ with activities of daily living – eating, drinking, showering, mobility, etc. I loved it.
This was during the 1980’s when big hair and bubble skirts were in. It was also the time of the Richmond Report which advocated for a decentralized, non-institutionalised care. Things were changing but I could not see how these children could be cared for at home. I felt that the high care needs of these children would surely be challenging to manage by parents and family.
Years later I began my career as a teacher. I am a ‘late comer’ to this profession. I was well into my 30’s by the time I qualified with a Bachelor’s Degree in teaching. My children were small at this stage, and my passion was high. I was going to make a difference.
As a new teacher I was given a mentor teacher, a class and other supports. My mentor teacher had worked at the school for a while and knew all the kids. She spent a lot of her time preparing me for these kids. I had spent a lot of time preparing for these kids. I was excited.
She told me I had a difficult class with some challenging kids. Fair enough. Not unusual.
She told me one child was high needs.
She told me I would need a lot of support.
She told me I needed a Teachers Aid full-time.
She told me I had an autistic child.
She wished me luck.
Remembering that my experience with working with children with autism was in an institution.
Remembering that my experience with caring for children with autism was attending to activities of daily living because they couldn’t talk, walk, feed themselves, clean themselves, express themselves.
Remembering how hard it was physically and emotionally, caring for children with austism.
Remembering how beautiful my children with austism were.
Remembering how brilliantly he played the piano.
I wasn’t sure what to expect.
ASD, Life and Learning
Life is hard. It wasn’t meant to be easy (according to Malcom Fraser in 1971).
Life is harder with ASD – (Autistic Spectrum Disorder). It is harder for the person with ASD as they navigate life, themselves and society.
It is also hard for their family – brothers, sisters, parents. ASD is hard on marriages. ASD is hard on the person, the family and extended social circle. It is just harder.
As teaching professionals, our job is not to fix or mend. Our job is to love and learn.
Relationships, rapport, relevance and reliable social environments are key pillars to Enabled Education. Relationships are vital to learning. Relationships and rapport become more heightened when providing care and education for learners with difficulties and disabilities. The teacher needs to nurture relationships with the learner, the class, and the family. These relationships are vital. A family in crisis impacts the child – the child with and the child without ASD.
Learning must be relevant. The learner must be able to feel its relevance, otherwise there will be no learning. This can be tricky. The teacher must be aware of the student’s needs and able to negotiate the learning contract, which must hold some meaning. This can be difficult.
Learning environments must be reliable. The teacher must show up for the learner to show up. The environment must support the learner. The environment should suit the learning style and support the social context of learning and autism. It can be a balancing act. It can be very changeable.
As a teaching professional, I love what I do. I love what I have done. I have loved my journey. I have learned about myself during this journey of life. AND I have learned about enabling education for every child. I am still learning. Enabled Education is about the four R’s – relationship and rapport, relevance and reliability.
I see the world differently. I have developed my own philosophy on education. It is shaped from my experiences as a learner, an educator, a nurse and a mum.
Enabled Education. It is a learning philosophy. It is a life philosophy.
Enabled Education is a collaborative partnership designed for all students – adult, child, male, female, ADHD, dyslexic, ASD or neuro-typical. Enabled education supports wellbeing. It is person centred. It respects learning styles and teaching styles. It is not easy and it doesn’t mean that a lesson always goes to plan.
Enabled education is about the person, the classroom, the teacher and the curriculum. It is relationship based. It is love.
I have taught from this philosophy in all educational sectors– preschool, primary, secondary, VET (Vocational Education) and tertiary. Enabled education is grounded in collaboration and partnership with teacher, student, and community. It is holistic in nature and empathic in approach.
Enabled Education follows a plan – and if that doesn’t work, it switches to another plan, and if that doesn’t work it switches to another plan.
Enabled Education is about the teacher knowing the content that needs to be taught, but with a flexibility and willingness to be wrong and to learn with the learner. The student is the teacher and the teacher is the student. It is about acknowledging everyone’s vulnerability.
What do you do when someone just does not fit into the mould? What do teachers do when students switch off? How does a teacher find the light in that learner?
Step back. Observe. Be present.
I was anxious about an adult learner in my group who had significant barriers to learning. She had many diagnosis’ and disabilities. I wasn’t keen. I was fearful of the outcome. I was fearful of the work I would need to put in to support this student.
I was feeling rather shallow and rather lazy. This was not the teacher or the person I wanted to be. Wake up Lisa!!
The industry partner was supportive of this learner. She came to the interview with her mother. Her mother was her learning partner. There was passion, motivation and determination. These are key elements that sustenance an enabled education and readiness for learning.
The challenge was set.
The outcome was fantastic. This learner successfully completed the program. I developed extra resources and learnt new ways of planning and developing engaging lessons. Other students gained a great insight into their learning partners life and struggles. Stories were shared. Knowledge was shared. Lessons were learnt.
She is still employed and is still valued as an employed team member.
This learning journey has not been easy. It is not easy for this student with learning disabilities and difficulties. It is not easy for her family. It is not easy for the employer. It is not easy for the Training Provider.
This learning journey has been successful. It has provided extra insight and lessons for the entire learning team – the student, the industry partner, the trainer, the training organisation, the family and the people who work with the learner.
In this business, teachers become learners and learners become teachers. The journey is a partnership.
Enable Education is inclusive. Expectations are specific. Relationships are built. Vulnerability is embraced – and is freeing.
Enabled Education is about finding ways to support those who see the world differently. It is about the education team reflecting on the lessons that we can all learn from teaching. Enabled Education is about love.
Love what you do. Love your passion. Share your passion. Know that your passion is not everyone’s passion.
Learn to love seeing the world differently. You may be surprised with what you learn.
I thought I was having a mid-life crisis, but I wasn’t. I was too young. I was just being real - discovering my authentic self. Myself, as a brave adventurer. My marriage was in trouble and I had two young children. My career needed to change as my life was changing.
I am an avid adventurer – I love foreign lands. I love people, places and culture. I travelled through the Middle East and Egypt as a young woman, learning from the land and the people. This is RE (or Ra) the Egyptian God of Sun. (above)
As a mature aged learner at University, I met the most incredible lecturer. He was compassionate and wise. He made me feel compassionate and wise.
I had spent the first year of my teaching career learning behavior management, planning, time management, negotiation, reporting, delivery and assessment. My teaching mentor was a powerful and experienced woman. She knew her stuff. I felt like I had leeched so much of her expert knowledge and skill. How do I do this, what would you do in this situation? – That sort of constant leeching/questioning.
She gifted me with many lessons. The most precious one I still have hanging in my office today. It says:
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.
The point is that today I can’t even remember my University lecturer’s name, but I remember how he inspired me. I cannot remember all the expert tips my mentors have shared with me, but I remember them walking with me.
I remember being loved, in spite of my imperfect life and my imperfect self. This is powerful leadership.
During my nursing career I have cared for autistic kids. My nursing career began during the late 1980’s. This was a time before the reforms into disability and community care. The kids I cared for where severely autistic. I was shocked. As a young nursing student working as a nursing assistant, Autism and how it manifested in people was frightening. This fear was accentuated by my lack of insight and relationship with these people, as well as the environment in which they were cared for. It was tough for a very young and very sheltered nursing assistant.
Anyway, I got a job. I moved my family. We were starting anew. Life was going to get better for me and my family.
My preconceived ideas and expectations came to the fore front during my first few years as a mature aged, new entrant teacher. I was told I had a severely autistic child in my class.
My anxiety hit the roof. OMG! I am not going to survive! I am not going to be able to help.
All the children could talk. All the children sat when asked to sit. My previous experience with “extremely autistic” was different. I decided that I could no longer listen to labels. I found that labels got me into trouble. I decided to become more people focused and more person centered. That is how I nursed so that is how I would teach.
My revelation came as I discovered that being a teacher is not about me. It is not about what I do but it is about the people I work with and work for.
It is about the people I serve.
Teaching is leadership, relationship and respect. This applies to all vocations, and all industries. We need leaders who lead with love.
Leadership is not about the leader. Leadership is about how people feel about the leader. Leadership cannot be about power alone. Leadership is about power that comes from love, and respect and relationship.
Be an authentic and meaningful leader. BAM leader. BAM teacher. BAM care -er. Be different - Be authentic and meaningful. Lead from the heart. Teach from the heart. Care from the heart – (regardless of where you work or what you do).