Thursday, 29 October 2015

A piece of music or art that inspired me

Earlier this month the Connected Educator Challenge gave us a task to blog about a piece of music or art or poem that inspired me for teaching. Although this isn't directly about a piece of art or music, the task made me think more about the students that inspire me by their work.

The first thing that came to mind was the work of a student who I had in our full time School of Music course. This student was an interesting lad as he had struggled hugely in year 9 and 10, spending most of his time outside the Principal's office or being stood down. He struggled to write and he had dyslexia. He hated any form of authority and frequently told teachers where to go. He was frustrated, disengaged and didn't want to do anything for anyone. One day, one of our music staff suggested he learn the bass guitar. His eyes lit up and he became motivated to do music. After a struggle in Year 11, we took him into the School of Music (I will do another post on this amazing course). This seriously changed his life, but that's another story.

While he was in the School of Music he had to complete a research project on a topic of his own choosing. His research question was "Why and how are Mark Rothko's paintings so similar to the music of Joy Division?" He wanted to compare the art of Rothko with the music of Joy Division and see if there was a relationship between how art and music can affect people. He felt there was a strong link between the Rothko Chapel painting with Joy Division's song Decades.
He did a survey which presented people with a range of different paintings by different artists and they picked which painting suited the song. Interestingly, almost all of the survey answers chose the Rothko painting out of the 6 they were presented with.

It was the most amazing piece of work for two reasons:
  • It was a research project written by a student who could hardly write a sentence just a few years before.
  • To look at the relationship between art and music is such an interesting topic for a modern day student to pick and he really did a lot of in depth research about this.
This inspired me to really encourage students to pursue areas of interest to them. It showed me how much could be accomplished by someone who is interested in a topic and is prepared to find out more. The passion he had for this really shone through.

The other thing that came to mind was a group of musicians I had the pleasure of working with this year. These year 13 students have shown me what amazing musicians can do - without me. Just by being given an opportunity to work together, these young lads reached a very high standard. They entered Smokefree Rock Quest as the band Forlorn Bloom and got through to second place in the Regional Final. This was outstanding because they didn't have a vocalist. I think it was the first time I have seen an instrumental group get so far through the Rock Quest process. They managed to make it to the top 20 bands in New Zealand with their original music.

My students always inspire me, and I am lucky enough to teach music which is inspiration itself.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The interview process

This week I had an interview for a new job. I haven't done that for a while, and certainly haven't gone for a job like this before. The process was one that I realised we never get any training for. This also led me to thinking about our students. I was talking with students (and my own children) who are now applying for jobs and University and realised that we don't prepare them very well for filling out forms, knowing what to write in their CV or what to say at an interview. I know our careers department do this well when they see students, but they don't always see them all. What are we doing to educate them on these life skills?

The application was straight forward. I did some background work on the role and what sort of things they would be expecting. Got my CV up to date - that took some time - and got it in with a letter I was happy with.

My interview required a 20 minute presentation about the job and what skills and expertise I could bring to it. I did a bit of a panic - I don't talk for 20 minutes in front of my class so how was I going to do this in front of a panel! The presentation took me hours to prepare, much longer than I thought it would. Making sure I included all of my skills, finding some quotes I wanted to back up my thoughts, thinking of some more light-hearted moments, making it look professional (and pretty) all took time, and more than I thought it would! Running it through in front of other colleagues and getting feedback was the most beneficial. They could see the gaps I had and gave valuable advice on how I could improve. I am very grateful to Carmen Kenton and Natalie Collier for their insight. Making sure I included everything I wanted to say was vital. I really didn't want to come out of my interview thinking "I wish I had mentioned that". I am pleased I spent the time on it. It will be a good base for any other job I might want to apply for.

So the day came yesterday and the decision of what to wear was huge! I am not a clothes person, in the sense that I just have a work wardrobe and very few dresses! I came to work with a few choices, depending on the howling nor'west and the forecast 23 degrees, the flowing skirt might not be the best option by the afternoon. Luckily I was teaching all morning so the time went quickly. The bright dress option won and the makeup went on (I don't wear that except for special occasions). It felt good to be well-dressed and it gave me confidence. The nerves hit for a bit, but I was pleased that I had done the preparation.

The presentation went well. The technology worked, always a sigh of relief, and I felt confident and calm. 12 questions to answer. It was really nice to have them all written on a piece of paper in front of me. I could glance ahead, and reread anything I didn't quite grasp at first. I also felt the questions were a good indication of what they were looking for. I have been thinking about the questions and my answers a lot, and thinking about how I wish I had had an idea of what sort of questions they might ask - hence this blog. I want to be able to be well prepared in the future, as well as reflect on what some of the questions asked of me. These are some of the generic ones, which I wanted to reflect on and share. They are questions we should ask ourselves more often I think.

Why do I want to work there and why do I want the job? 
Simple and sensible question, but do we ask this of ourselves very often? I thought about it afterwards and realised it wasn't something I had really asked myself in a way that I could explain to others. I knew I wanted it, and I love the school, but how do you get that across without waffling?

Tell them about a mistake I had made and how I had learnt from it.
This is hard to think of on the fly. I think I'll write a list for future reference!!

Tell them about a conflict and how I had resolved it.
Same with this. Once I had a situation in my head it was easy, but just pulling one out made me think for a bit.

If I was in another staff member's shoes, what qualities would they say I had?
How do others see me? It was really useful having the sessions with Carmen and Natalie, as they had given me some qualities to add that they felt I had. This certainly made it easier to answer this. It's good to think about how others see me. I thought about this a lot last night.

Where do I see myself in 5-7 years?
Good question! Where do I see myself? What are my ambitions? Where am I heading? I know that I don't want to be a Principal. I know that I do want to work with students and staff. I know I want to make a difference. I know that I want this step up to the next level and I know that it will be a good fit for me if I get it, but where to from there?

Give 3 reasons why they should appoint me.
This just summed up what I had said during the interview. Hard to put into 3 short sentences, and I am sure I could have given them a lot more reasons, but 3 it was.

I felt good coming out from the interview. I did everything I could possibly do to show them my skills and tell them about me and what I could offer. I am happy that I did my best. If I don't get the job I know that I am not the right person for it and whoever does get it has the skills they are looking for. Happy with that.

Now I wait for the phone call.
Update... didn't get the job.  Obviously not the one for me.  Looking forward to the next interview!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

NCEA and Term 4

It is that time of the year when madness reigns. Students frantically dash to finish work, teachers are overloaded with marking and moderating results. We are trying to get students prepared for external exams. Term 4 is a busy one.
My reflection for this week - a Connected Educator Challenge - is about this assessment process and about learning.

One of the things I believe in, and our school supports, is assessing students when they are ready. I have seen many students miss out on gaining standards by not having the opportunity to be assessed when they are ready. Obviously there are some standards that you don't have a choice about when you do your assessment - a practical assessment in Science, a field trip or something that relies on external providers, but in general we work hard to give students plenty of opportunities to present their work.

In Music, we have a number of standards that rely on students making a portfolio of work. Performances can be collected during the year and compositions completed at various times. Along with having checkpoints for these to keep students on track, we have a number of students who finish them early, or struggle to finish them at all - hence the last minute rush in Term 4.

 I know of many staff and schools who would say "it's due this date and after that it won't be marked". I find this quite difficult to align myself with, as I believe that it's hard to push that creative process of composition, and also the physical performance skills. I know how difficult it is to write a piece and have it right, getting frustrated with a chord, or a passage that just doesn't work. Sometimes you have to be in the right head-space or it just won't happen. Perhaps you just haven't quite mastered the technical skill to enable you to play a piece until later in the year. For these reasons, I believe strongly in giving students as many opportunities as we can to get these standards finished. We have numerous concerts during the year that they can use for assessment, as well as performances they do outside of school with their own bands. This, however, leads to a busy Term 4! It's good that students have a focus and for some, it's probably the hardest they have worked all year, but it leads to busy marking and feedback sessions.
 My students at the moment are all very credit focused. What happened to the learning that I felt I had earlier in the year? In fact, I have just had a class where one of the students has copied his pie-chart of credits and made it into wallpaper for his desktop. He wanted to remind himself to get Excellence as much as possible. A nice idea, but I want him to learn as much as possible...

One thing I implemented into my music classes this year was a listening exercise to try and encourage them to expand their listening and give them work that was NOT assessed, but still contributed to their learning. Student felt it helped with all aspects of music, expanding their knowledge. I really enjoyed teaching this, as there was less emphasis on assessment and more on learning new things just for the sake of gaining knowledge.

There was a great tweet by Sep 19

"If we called assessments "checks for understanding," our conversations would change drastically".

 I believe this is a really good idea - are we far too assessment obsessed? What are we trying to achieve?

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Connected Educator Challenge

The final week of the Connected Educator Challenge is here. I have started blogging this year as my main focus. It's been a great journey and one I really hope I can continue. It will be interesting to see if I will manage to get some blogs written while teaching full time, running a home and being a taxi service for my children!

The last three challenges are upon us and I am breathing a sigh of relief because I do No.3 all the time. My Feedly is my go to page and I have added a lot of blogs to this over the last two weeks. Getting time to read them all is the next challenge!

The challenges this week:

Absolute newbie

  1. Reflect on an event that occurred in your classroom during the week. Post it on your blog. Don’t forget to tag/label it with the appropriate Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC).
  2. Blog about your top three sources of inspiration during the three weeks of Connected Educators New Zealand.
  3. Sign up for an RSS reader (eg. Feedly or Inoreader) and add some blogs you want to follow.

I'll leave No.1 to the end of the week, so here is No.2:

My first source of inspiration has definitely been the #Edblognz blogs that so many staff have taken time to do. It has been great to read these and reflect on what I do in relation to their ideas. I have followed a range of people from these and also read articles, viewed clips and generally been inspired by others. So many amazing things going on out there!

My second source of inspiration has been Twitter. I have loved being able to browse through, find awesome articles and blogs to read and feel connected to the bigger picture. So many giving people out there, sharing and helping others.

My third source has been the reading I have been doing. Books, articles, blogs, it's been great to have the time to upskill and have more information at my fingertips. Thanks to all those people who have suggested things to read, the list is endless!

Being back at school has slowed me down, but I'm going to continue reading and blogging as much as I can!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Classroom Environments

So do you have an ILE (Interactive Learning Environment)? A FLS (Flexible Learning Space)? Or an MLE (Modern Learning Environment)? What ever you call it, there have been many discussions on whether they work or not.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend who has a daughter at school in a class that works in a MLE. She had some valid and interesting questions, some of which I could answer and some I couldn't. Her main concern is that her daughter would not learn how to sit at a desk for hours on end, because, as she rightly pointed out, the High School she was going to attend the next year does not have a MLE. Then she was concerned about University after that, having to sit in lecture theatres. She also wanted to know if it was actually making a difference to the learning. It's an interesting concern and one I decided to find out more about.

One of the things I thought about was how the space is used. I felt that it wasn't so much the environment, but the mindset and work of staff that made the difference. Much of the reading I have done since certainly backs this up. Mark Osborne from Core Ed says in his report from 2013 "Providing teachers with an open, flexible learning environment where inquiries are shared, interventions devised collaboratively and reflections based on both self and peer observations, can lead to the development of a robust, continuously improving community of practice." I think this is where a MLE can really make a difference.

Does a MLE raise student achievement? I found a good range of answers about this very question. Mark Wilson's Sabbatical Report from this year found that there was no research to directly link student achievement with a MLE. The Virtual Learning Network (VLN) had a discussion thread on this in 2014, where quite a few staff showed clearly that what they were doing had been making a difference in the classroom. It comes back to how the MLE is used and this was clearly stated in a Educause article focusing on the University of Minnesota and their New Learning Environment.  Their three key points were:
  • In the new technology-enhanced learning spaces at the University of Minnesota, students outperformed final grade expectations relative to their ACT scores.
  • When instructors adapted their pedagogical approach to the new space by intentionally incorporating more active, student-centered teaching techniques, student learning improved.
  • Students and faculty had positive perceptions of the new learning environments but also had to adjust to the unusual classrooms.
I have an amazing classroom at the moment. My main teaching load is in the School of Apps where students design and build mobile apps. This is run like a business and the room has been set up to reflect that. I think this is why the room works - it is how we are teaching. As you can see, they have a range of spaces to work at and there is room for collaboration space. The students are all young adults or adults and they love the room.

So, universities can head in this direction as well as schools, although few have done so at this stage. How long it will take is anyone's guess. I believe more and more schools are heading down this line, with the Ministry of Education certainly encouraging this in any new buildings (have a read of their design standards for school property). I just hope they have thought about changing the mindset of staff, as well as the furniture.

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” 
― Albert Einstein

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Too many online accounts?

Do I need a profile on Google+? We are an Office365 school so I have had very little to do with Google accounts apart from the calendar which I use ALL the time, and looking at Googledocs my son or daughter send me, because they are in a Google school.  I'm quite illiterate when it comes to circles and posting my new blog (only being doing that a week!) on my Google account. I need to Google Google and find out how it all works. Do I need it? I have Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, my photos backup to Dropbox, although I do like what Google did to a couple of my photos when I backed some up to there - makes me look quite the professional photographer!

This led me to thinking about all the different accounts I have for things which sent me into a spin. Dropbox for this, email for that, Yahoo, Google, Office365, work, personal... you get the idea.

So where to from here? I feel I need to make a list of all the accounts, work out which are for work and which are for home, then delete most of them! Making sense of all of them is crazy.  And still the question - do I need to have a profile on Google+??

How to truly listen

One of the most inspiring TED talks I think I have ever seen is by Evelyn Glennie " How to truly listen".

This clip shows the amazing determination and battle against all odds as well as the most amazing musicianship that I have seen. This clip made me rethink my teaching on so many levels.
One - all students should have the opportunity to follow their passion. Nothing should stand in their way, no matter what challenges they face. Who are we to tell students they can't do something?
Two - Music is for everyone. We work with deaf students at school and now have quite a few taking lessons in different instrument. We also have blind students who have gone on to tertiary study.
Three - Anything is possible. Never say never.
Four - Musically, I look to push my students to do more than just read the music. She says "what I have to do as a musician is do everything that is not on the music" which I love.

What will I take into the classroom? Being open to all students, their dreams and their passions. Giving support to them in any way I can.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

My journey over time - Part 2 - Inspiring people in my life

Throughout my life I have been blessed with some amazing teachers. Both at school myself, then during my teaching career.
Primary school started with Rick Merrington who taught me in Form 1 and 2. He was an amazing man who read us the whole of The Hobbit and always made sure all of us were engaged and excited about learning. I have a lot to thank him for, but sadly have no idea where he went to so I can tell him how much of a difference he made in my life.
My High School days were not as exciting unfortunately and only 3 teachers stand out for positive reasons - along with quite a few that stand out for other reasons that I won't go into here! One was my Form 5 English teacher, Margaret Grundy, who changed the way I saw English and actually made it interesting. She was full of life and always positive and her role as my Form teacher meant we got plenty of time with her. The other teacher who had a huge impact on me was my Music teacher - no surprise there. Stuart Martin was a young teacher who had boundless energy and often went out of his way to inspire students and support music in the school. He gave me opportunities that pushed me and made me a better musician. Highlights included our tour to the Tauranga Jazz Festival, playing in the National Jazz Orchestra and musical productions.
Stu Buchanan was a special person in my life, being involved in my music education, teaching me sax, clarinet and flute and then giving me opportunities to play at a high level with him and Ian Edwards. He also taught me a lot about music arranging and was a good friend with whom I had some interesting discussions with all the way through my life. I do believe that music teachers have a huge role to play in student's lives and can make a huge difference when they connect with students and the community.
University was not the most inspiring for me - with my main outlet being MUSOC and musical directing. I fought the system more often than went with it and this, although not liked by the Music Department particularly, gave me resilience and strength to fight for what I believed in. My time at Teacher's College was difficult as we had a line of relievers who often knew less than we did and I could hardly wait to get out on teaching practice. Tony Ryan was one of my teachers during this time, and while the musical production was on, he showed me how dedicated and motivating a music teacher can be.
Once I started teaching I was lucky enough to be teaching under Ward Clarke as Principal. Ward is an inspiring man and I still see him today. One thing I learnt from him was about the importance of valuing your staff. Every time I did something extra at school he wrote a letter of thanks. These were not just quick notes, but well thought out and heartfelt letters thanking us for how we were adding to the school and the community. This has stuck with me (I still have those letters) and I make it a priority to do the same for my staff and for those who work with me on projects. I look at the staff who supported me in those first few years of teaching and realise the quality of the people I was surrounded by - Gilbert Enoka, Phil Holstein, Mike Fowler - all leaders in their fields. It was an honour to have them to talk to and bounce ideas off.
My years of teaching have seen me work with a range of staff and although I can't single any out, I certainly learnt a lot at every school I went to. I would say the students were the most important, inspiring me to push my teaching and to learn new ways of student management. This continued until I came to Hagley where Brent Ingram and Andy Gorton pushed me to do more, think more and show what I was really capable of.
My thinking has changed a lot over the last 5 years and I feel doors have been opened and I have been exposed to a wide range of ideas. Twitter has been a huge learning base for me - amazing how much I have learnt from scrolling through and clicking on links to articles. I have #futureschools, #chched, #edchatnz, #globaled15, #edtechchat, #OneNote, #EdBlogNZ, #aussieED, #edbeat and #cenz on my check frequently list and I am always looking for more.
My Feedly is a reading kete full of great blogs - too many to mention here. It always gives me something to read and think about and keeps me in touch with new things to learn.
As far as world known educators are concerned, you can't go past Ken Robinson 's famous "Do schools kill creativity?" video. John Hattie and Michael Fullan are wonderful educators with great ideas. I have been to a couple of conferences where I have heard Angus MacFarlane talk about our Maori learners and he is so inspiring. There are so many books I have read and so many conferences I have been to that change my practice and help push me to be the best I can be.
I have discovered that the best way to be inspired is to listen to others, challenge yourself and believe you can change things for the better. Keep learning, keep reading and ask questions. Surround yourself with people that support and push you, people who have vision and who want to learn.

“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Saturday, 3 October 2015

TEDx Christchurch 2015

What a ride!
I was lucky enough to be given a ticket to this event at the last minute. Next time, I'll definitely get one.
What a day, what amazing speakers and inspiring people.
A quick reflection on my education today. I say quick, but it's hard to say it all in a short space. Bear with me.

The Opening by Te Pao A Tahu, a Christchurch based kapa haka group was fantastic, and my only negative comment is that it wasn't long enough. I could have listened to more of them. They had fantastic harmonies and they had a life to them that is not always seen in performances.

Michele A'Court grabbed my attention so well that I went a bought her book in the first break! Two comments stood out for me. One, you don't have to be perfect, you don't have to be right, speak out anyway and two, don't tell anyone you don't know how to do something. Give things a go more often - by the time they work out you didn't know, you will know. Love this - I'm doing that a bit anyway now!

Ian Wright from Wrightspeed said we must challenge the status quo to enable change. He told us we sometimes ask the wrong questions - a theme that carried through the day. Instead of asking how do we make more efficient cars and taking what we already have and making it better, he asked how can we save enough fuel to save enough money and be efficient. His work with replacing diesel engines with turbine powered generators, battery packs and electric motors is fascinating even though I wouldn't say I was into that sort of thing too much!

Rod Oram, a journalist took us through a range of explorers who were all trying to conquer nature, rather than learning to live well within nature. He told us about his trip to the South Pole and I particularly felt the quote on the cross on Observation Hill that was placed there in remembrance of Scott's party - " To strive, to see, to find and not to yield". He talked of biomimicry and of a biodegrable, recyclable, solar-powered aircraft and of the first living building in New Zealand - Tuhoe's Te Uru Taumatua. He spoke of Gus Speth from the World Resources Institute who says the biggest issue in the world is greed, selfishness and apathy. A very sobering talk.

Slavko Martinov gave us a sneak peek into his new project -  a Best in Show, but with chickens! Had us all in fits of laughter and is worth waiting for. More coming at his Pecking Order website.

Bridget Frame talked about philanthropy and the study she has done into non-earthquake grants in Canterbury. It was a sad talk realising that over half of the grants are from gaming money - every $10,000 grant requires $200,000 gaming money.

An inspiring story from Robyn Twenlow and her daughter Analise who has Tourette's Syndrome. Robyn has formed the Tourett's Association New Zealand and is an amazing advocate for all people with Tourette's. Her main push today was to lobby the government for those with Tourette's to be able to access funding for physical disabilities. Her daughter was outstanding and ended with "I have Tourette's, get over it". A standing ovation followed.

Dr Swee Tan has already been the subject of a book by an amazing young author, and today just reinforced what an amazing man he is. His research through the Gillies McIndoes Research centre has the world looking at new ways to cure cancer. He took us through how he managed to help people with strawberry birthmarks and how his research into that led him to be able to make the link to cancer stem cells. Having had cancer and having many friends and family with this terrible disease I applaud his work and know it will help others in the future.

Jason Kerrison. What can I say? I am biased as I taught him music at school - not that he came to class much as he was quick to admit in a lunchtime conversation today! But today, he opened himself up to the public by putting some unfinished work out there. He is basing his second EP on the Golden Ratio and has different lengths of songs to that effect, rethinking the duration of a song. Giving us all permission to present unfinished things, works in progress, is a great gift and I know from talking to others at lunch that this was taken on board by many.

A quick interlude let us know there will be a TEDx for youth conference in December. I have already told my daughter I will get her a ticket. Awesome.

An interesting talk from Carolina Izzo gave us an insight into the care and effort taken into restoring the dome in the Isaac Theatre Royal. A beautiful building and one I have spent much time in over the years. It is wonderful to see the dome looking so spectacular - thanks to this woman and her team.

The Sintes Brothers gave us a quick interlude with stunning tap dancing - getting us on our feet and clapping and tapping along.

Max Suckling talked about how they are using nature to combat insect invasions. His work with using pheromones to stop moths mating, and hence moth infestations is now being looked at with ants. Using pheromones instead of pesticides can only be a good thing for the world.

Architectural Designer, Craig Jarvis, delivered an amazing talk about sustainable homes. His explanation of the difference between energy efficient and actual sustainability was made very clear. He talked of Biophilia, the love of life, and how true sustainability is very hard. He asks "Are we fulfilling our love of life and our connection with nature?" and told us that "Our children spend more time building tree houses on iPads than on trees". He talks of biophilic spaces and the more biophilic the space, the more happy the employee. He has built his family a design to improve their quality of life and talks of homes that are good for our souls.

Eric Liu told us to think about our lives as citizens and how we use Power, Imagination and Character as the core of everything. His definition of power is "capacity to ensure that others do what you would have them do". He encouraged us to have more power, to be included in the voice of people. He talked of cultivating a culture - an example being the Gap Filler in Christchurch. We all should be a social contributor to the community. He talked about rights, particularly with the latest shooting in the US. He said there is no right without responsibility.

The last session began with Matt Vickers who told the story of his wife, Lecretia who fought to have the right to die on her own terms. This was particularly close to me and I found myself very moved by his story. Time the government considered the euthanasia laws.

Another interlude gave us a fascinating video called "The writing's on the wall". A great clip that shows how we view things from very different angles.

Finian Galbraith gave his speech about the pronunciation of Maori words, which I have seen a couple of times before. His words remind us that it is important to keep the language alive as no other country speaks it. He says "the Treaty is a licence to be here and with that comes responsibility". A theme that crops up a lot today.

The last message was from Julian Arahanga and Ladi6 as well as one of the cast from Songs from the Inside. This moving tale was about how they put the programme together ad how music has the power to change your emotional space. It can cut through cultural barriers and doesn't define rich and poor. To empower people you need to push them out of their comfort zone and you need their trust. The series really shows "when good people are gathered for a good reason, great things can happen". One of the inmates form the first series talked on stage - "from a cage to the stage" - and told of how the programme was a bridge to a new life. "I believe because you believed in me". A special moment.

Special things

  • If it wasn't for Tania, I wouldn't have had this day. Thanks so much.
  • I helped a woman at lunchtime today and she gave me a card. A card that thanked me. I was blown away and felt special by that one small gesture . Later in the day, I passed this on to another woman, who gave me a gift from her goodie bag. She was blown away by it, as I was at lunchtime. Random acts of kindness and thoughtfulness go a long way. You can check the card out (and order some for free) here.
  • The people were amazing - so many volunteers made the day special. Thanks to them and to the organisers. It was stunning.
Only one thing made it not quite right for me today - I would go with someone else next year. I found it hard to up to strangers and talk about the sessions, but so desperately wanted to talk about each session and how it had impacted on me. I had one man who came up to me just raving about a speaker - he just had to talk to someone about it. I felt like that but didn't have the courage to do the same thing. Next time maybe.

What a day!