Sunday, May 9, 2010

Australian Dreams & Mother's Day

I'm recently home from 7 weeks in Australia with my family. I presented at the ACEC2010 conference there and towards the end of the trip had the great fortune to share a some time with a new teacher friend, Yvonne, who kindly arranged a tour of 3 Australian schools for me. We ended our wonderful day together with my doing a workshop for about 8 of her colleagues at Taylors Lakes Primary School (their primary is our elementary).

I have to say that workshop was the highlight of all the sessions I did while in Melbourne. I was chatting over lunch yesterday with my usual workshop partner, Debra, about whether either of us would have turned up Friday after school for a workshop on Web 2.0 tools, and we agreed that we would have NNNOOOTTTTT! So I have to both congratulate and thank the educators who came to play with my suite of tools that day. When everyone else was on the road home to families and weekend freedom, they showed up and gave me the hands-down professional highlight of my trip.

What was most exciting for me was that as the session progressed, the energy in the room lifted. The more they had the chance to play, they more they become absorbed in the fun and intrigued by the creative possibilities of using these in their own classes. We all left so positively charged by our time together that I couldn't stop talking about it when I got back to Mum's place. That session has given me the confidence to plan my way back to Australia. My goal is to return in a little less than a year to do lots more workshops and collaborations with any school that will have me.

Because my time in Australia was mostly split between family, getting ready for the conference, and doing homework for Wilkes courses, this time round I didn't get in much sightseeing. However, we did manage 3 trips to the seaside, and if you've read any of what I wrote last summer, you'll know that as long as I'm near the water, I'm a happy girl. Australian beaches are white or reddish sand backed by huge dunes or towering cliffs, and (where we were) cobalt blue water with curling surf that rolls up from Antarctica -- soul-fillingly beautiful. It's a good thing I didn't grow up there, because my parents would have had a terrible time trying to keep me in school. The call of the sea would have been too strong.

On my last evening there we watched the video of a trek you can do on the part of the coast we'd toured by car. The Great Ocean Walk runs from Apollo Bay to the Twelve Apostles (actually now 7 sea stacks that form when a portion of a cliff erodes and leaves a pillar behind). From the car on the Great Ocean Road, we looked down to the beach below from several fantastic lookouts along the way, but to walk it would be a peak experience -- and that will be part of my tour when I get back.

If my mum is up to it, I hope she'll be able to walk at least part of it with me. We did 5km together along the beach from Urquart's Bluff to Point Roadknight in Anglesea where my Aussie family has a summer house. To share that with her was the absolute highlight of my personal trip and I'd love to several more days of that with her before she's totally past it. That's my incentive to get shake loose from my computer chair and get back into shape -- so we can do some of that walk together. Several years of inactivity and eating have put on the pounds and robbed me of stamina, but now that I've retired and have this wonderful goal, I plan to embrace the opportunity to set that part of my life right and celebrate my new self with that trek next (Aussie) fall.

I've embedded the video we watched below. It's the tale of 3 walkers and their 6 days on this spectacular piece of Australian coast. I'm off for a local beach real-life walk with Thelma, the wonder dog, while the tide is out, and later today I'll be perusing a virtual island as we're into the first summer session at Wilkes and one of the courses (yes -- I'm doubling up to fit this one in) is about Second Life. Perhaps I'll get up my nerve and purchase a little waterfront real estate 'inworld' so I can have a virtual retreat by the water where I can go to write and study. How going to Second Life fits with my Third Chapter I'm not sure.

Happy Mother's Day to my Mum and all the other mums reading this. Most of us daughters do eventually figure out what's important in life and relationships. Although I now feel a long way away from my mum, I know it's because our time together in Australia brought us closer than we've been in a long time. Missing her is bitter sweet.

Enjoy the video!

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