Honestly, you are going to LOVE this Podcast episode. This conversation is real, it is raw. Gab promised me she would be my first guest on my podcast over 10 months ago... Gabbie is the best selling author of two books about the ups and downs, twists and turns of a teacher, 'Teacher' and 'Dear Parents'. If you have been looking for ways to protect yourself and your wellbeing, Gabbie shares with us what she has learnt about protecting yourself as a teacher, and what we can do to continue to advocate for ourselves as educators. This is one thought provoking episode that will get you thinking...

Show Notes 

Connect with Gabbie
Gabbie's website


Dear Parents
Is it burnout or demoralisation?

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The Learning Network

Since 2004 I have been teaching PDHPE and Community & Family Studies. I love learning. It lights me up. I am so passionate about supporting you to be the best educator you can be.

My Purpose
To grow a lively and connected community, where Community & Family Studies teachers can network, learn and share with each other.

My Mission
To build on the knowledge, understanding and skills of Community & Family Studies teachers to set their students up for success with confidence.



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Show Transcription

Kelly Bell: Hi everyone. Welcome back to The Learning Network Podcast. I'm joined by the amazing educator, Gabbie Stroud. And Gabbie is the author of two amazing books, 'Teacher' and 'Dear parents.' Gabbie, huge welcome.

Gabbie Stroud: Hi, thanks for having me.

Kelly: My pleasure. Gab & I, we connected last year when I left the classroom, and I was probably not in a very good place back then. But I feel so grateful that you reached out to me and we connected, and you're an absolute Godsend. When we chatted last year, I will probably feel forever grateful for our little conversation. Gab do you want to introduce or just tell everyone a little bit about your own journey as a teacher and an educator in New South Wales? 

Gabbie: Sure, well, first of all, I want to commend you and congratulate you because I do remember that first meeting, and you've come such a long way since then, and it's been beautiful to watch the self-care and the attention to your wellbeing that you've taken since that point in that recognition that you had at that moment where you made some big realisations that you needed to make some dramatic changes. So my story is that I became a teacher in 1999, Primary School trained, filled, brimming with enthusiasm and excitement, you've never seen a more keen young student, it was shimmering off me the desire to be a teacher and to get into the classroom. And you know, I think the thing I said most during University was 'I can't wait to be doing this for real. I can't wait to be doing this in the classrooms for real.' And my first year of teaching, I went off to England, I was awarded a graduate scholarship. And so I took myself off to London, I had 12 months teaching there. I came back to Australia, and I worked in various roles, in various capacities in primary schools in New South Wales. I then had another year where I travelled overseas and I taught in Toronto, Canada and did a teacher exchange and that was really rewarding and enriching and a wonderful opportunity to travel. 

And for a long time, I really loved teaching, I was just loving it, just enthused by it, it was the biggest joy it was the greatest passion in my life. And then around about, I'm going to say around about 2005 2006, the wheels started to get a little bit wobbly on the old teacher train for me and I realised that whilst I was loving teaching, there was very little room in my life for me, for my husband at the time, for any scope of having children or a family, hobbies or interests, school and teaching was all-consuming. And then came things like A to E reporting, and a shift to NAPLAN and my school, and that all coincided with me falling pregnant with my first child and teaching just got a whole lot harder. And from around about 2008 when my first child was born, I just noticed and felt, and I mean really felt, every single change that was happening in education and it was a very steep sort of change, if I could describe it like that.

It was so much data collection, so much accountability, so many more meetings, everything was heightened and fraught. They talk about high stakes testing, it was like teaching went and became high stakes, everything was high stakes. You needed evidence for everything. You couldn't just have a parent-teacher interview, it would be ‘We're having parent-teacher interviews so you need to have your evidence ready,’ to which is like, ‘Are we at a crime scene?’ like, ‘What's happened right here? It's me having a chat with the parents about their child!’ Things were just changing exponentially. and I really felt my autonomy, my control as a professional educator slipping away. It was feeling like teaching was more and more prescriptive. So, 'You've got to do these things. You've got to jump through these hoops. You've got to do it in these standard ways.' Add to that, I've now got a mortgage and I've now got a baby. I'm thinking about having another baby. I've got a marriage that supposedly should have some attention given to it. And those little wheels that were feeling a bit wobbly really started to fall off. 

So I bought myself some time in various ways; I took a year off to do my masters, I had my second child, Sophie. And I'm sad to admit that my most excited thought when I realised I was pregnant was 'Yes! I get maternity leave,' because I was just seeking a break. And, you know, life just went on and on. And teaching just got harder and harder. And then I fell in a heap. It embarrasses me to think about that, and to talk about it, because I want everyone to know, I was a very strong, robust, capable professional, I was very organised, I was on top of things, I was a great team player, I was a really excellent teacher. And yet it all got to me, it all became too much and I fell in a heap. I suffered burnout, I did everything I could to try and help myself, including seeing my doctor, going on antidepressants, seeing a psychologist, taking great personal care of myself with my diet, and with exercise. And yet still, I couldn't keep it all together, and I fell in a heap and I just realised I couldn't do it anymore. I was really, really broken. To the point where like, even my brain just wasn't working the way it should I would forget to speak to my children, my own children! And my husband would have to prompt me and say, ‘Talk to them, answer them,’ I couldn't even hear them. 

So things were not right for me in my brain. And I tell you that story, just so that people get the whole idea of what true burnout is, it wasn't just ‘I need doona day,’ or a Mental Health Week, it was really something wasn't quite right. So I made the decision to leave teaching, I resigned from my permanent position. But with that resignation, for me, it was ‘I'm not doing this again, I'm not doing teaching in that form, whatever that was, I'm not doing it anymore.’ I was very fortunate that I did have a hobby and another passion in my life, which was writing. I wrote an essay for the Griffith review, about my experience of being broken by the education system and it found an audience. There was, there is a lot that needs to be said about the work that teachers do. And I just happened to be saying the right things at the right time, and the world was ready to hear it. On that essay, I got a book deal. And that's where my first book, Teacher, came from. And surprising, it's still surprising to me, it became a best seller. Because, yeah, teachers need a voice and teachers want to hear a voice and my voice was out there and it stood for very many teachers and their voices. So that's my sort of shell, but you can buy the book and read it at length. It's a great book.

Kelly: I've read Gabbie's book quite a few times and I read it last year, only recently, and I cried and I laughed. So many of your stories completely resonate with me and one of the ones that I think is so hilarious, I don't know if it was in Teachers or Dear Parents, when you talk about the kid's shoe. You're at the end of the day looking at this random shoe in the classroom, you're like 'Who's lost their shoe? Surely someone doesn't have the other shoe on.' and I, being a PE teacher, I remember at carnivals, swimming carnivals, kids cozzies or kids undies, and you think, 'Okay, who's walking around with no underwear or who's walking around with no socks on,' like, surely you have to get your stuff sorted. So Gab, your story about, I think you call yourself or some people call yourself, a 'recovering teacher,' in that you did suffer teacher burnout and that obviously became a physical thing. What I think is really curious, and what I'd love to ask you, if that's okay, is do you have any regrets about leaving teaching?

Gabbie: Not regrets, because I actually knew that my health would suffer greatly. My kids, my relationships, and myself were suffering. So I don't regret leaving. It was the right thing to do for myself and for a great many people. I think my regret or my great sadness sits more around the fact that things aren't changing, and teachers are put in this position repeatedly, of being burnt out. I think that we live in a great country and we could do better and we could do better quite easily. So that's probably where my strongest sort of negative emotion sits. You know, I get I'm frustrated because I really think teaching is an incredible professional. I think learning is an amazing kind of magic. And I think that schools really are beautiful places. And yet we've made it we've we've put all these constructs around education that make it so ugly and difficult, and it doesn't have to be that way. So that's probably my biggest regret or probably frustration is that is a better description for that.

Kelly: So I support lots of teachers from first year out to, you know, being thrown a syllabus and that's about it, to very experienced CAFS teachers who are very, very passionate about teaching still, they are still in education. I obviously support them through the Learning Network, and through all of my online courses and Coaching and Mentoring. What I do get sometimes are emails from them about how they're feeling, they say things like, 'I know how you feel, I know how it feels to be in your position. I know why you left teaching,' obviously talking about me, and I haven't really shared my story, I suppose too much. I'm a bit of an optimist, I try to think about the positive and I do say that there was a complete silver lining for me to both COVID as well as leaving the classroom. I feel completely blessed to be able to support the teachers that I've been able to support in a very short space of time but I fear for teachers like that, I don't want them to be in my position and that's what I say to them, 'I don't want you to leave the classroom, because you're so valuable. Your school deserves to have you still. You are so passionate and so dedicated to teaching. I don't want you to be in my position. And I don't want you to leave.' I don't have any regrets either. I do think I've missed it a lot. I do miss the classroom a lot. And I think that's probably why I cried so much in both Teacher and Dear Parents and I decided to read them last year after I just left. I think teachers need to do a lot to protect themselves. What kind of advice have you been giving teachers since you left the classroom?

Gabbie: Oh my gosh, I have so much to say about all of that!

Kelly: Okay good, excellent!

Gabbie: There are a few things that I've realised and that I've learned. One of the things that happens for teachers is that we are so, you know that expression, 'you can't see the wood for the trees.' When you're teaching, you're so in the thick of things. Your day consists of literally figuring out who owns this shoe, right through to writing this paper and then getting to a meeting on time and returning a parent phone call. And when you are in the thick of it, you've really got no idea of what's holding you in that pattern, like where all these forces come from. And one of the things like, I think I write about it in the books, is I didn't even know who their education ministers were, state or federal, I was like, 'Who's got time to listen to the news?,' you know? So one of the things I've realised, since I've stepped away from classroom teaching, is that I've been able to have a really good look at all the things that hold us in place and put us in these positions. And one of the things that I've grown to understand is that yes, I experienced burnout and I got exhausted and overworked and stressed and I ignored it for a long time and so then my body took over and sort of started to shut down a whole bunch of things. But what I always thought was that it was on me, I thought that I burnt out because I didn't cope very well. I didn't manage and prolong, I thought I was a failure. The thing I know now is that our education system in Australia requires so much of us that it wouldn't matter if I was a superhuman and never slept, I would never get through all the workload. So actually what I experienced was burnout, but that burnout is a manifestation of demoralisation. So demoralisation is this idea of, As a professional, I know exactly what I need to do, but I'm constantly being asked to do something different.

So you know, as teachers, we look at a syllabus and we go, Oof, I'm not going to get through all that. You just know, it's basic math, so not enough contact hours with the students to get through all of this material. Like it's just, it's almost physics, and you know that as a professional, you know it, you feel it, it's deep knowing within your bones, you know. Then add on this kid that can't read properly, this child who's from a disturbed background, this child that doesn't attend, all those kinds of cultural capital issues going on, then you've got this overcrowded syllabus and then you've got these high stakes assessments. So as a professional, you're looking going 'Here's a perfect storm.' And you know that deep inside yourself and yet the expectation on us is, 'No, no, but you'll get through all that. Off you go now, go and do that.' That's the holding pattern, that's the expectation; that the impossible is possible. And as a teacher, you know there's just no way even if you push these kids, as hard as you could, you're not going to get it done. It's not all going to be achieved and they're not all going to get up to the standard that we'd all like.

That then repeated over time, and our efforts to achieve that impossible thing, over time for a teacher becomes demoralising. You get that feeling of defeat and it's really difficult not to take that personally and to not take that on. Then you add in the things like 'Whose shoe is this,' and you know, 'Omg the school isn't booked for the carnival the day that I wanted it,' and you know all those other logistical catastrophes of teaching life, you add all of that in, and overtime, it just chips away at you as a teacher. And it is actually demoralising, this defeating kind of feeling, and what makes it demoralising, rather than just defeat is, you know you knew as a professional right at the start that this could not all come together so perfectly. And then it manifests as burnout because we try, we keep trying, we keep trying, we keep trying to achieve all those things. So that's something that for any teachers who are listening to this, and are dancing around the edge of that idea of 'I'm not coping,' or, 'I'm not managing, I'm feeling highly stressed. I think I'm burning out,' while you might be, I want you to recognise and understand that's a symptom of demoralisation. That's just the holding pattern that we're in. And something about when we understand that, and when we hear that we go, 'Oh, it's not just me,' it kind of moves us a little bit from what's happening, we can see this is something that's happening to me, it's not happening because of me. If anyone's interested in knowing more about that they can Google Doris Santoro, and she's a researcher from the US and she writes about, she's got a great paper online, it's quite short, easy to read, and it's called 'Is it burnout? Or is it demoralisation?' And when you read that, it just all makes sense, and she says it far better than I do.

The other thing that I wanted to speak to based on what you were saying, Kelly, is that we're not yet very good in Australia at recognising and talking about the emotional labour of teaching. So we actually spend a lot of time as teachers putting on a brave face. And a lot of teachers right now, during COVID, you know, I'm hearing a lot about how they're saying, 'Oh, I'm so exhausted, we're working in front of a screen, we had to pivot, we had to take it all online.' And yeah, that's all exhausting. And that is hard work. But I know the teachers you've got that you do, you know, that's nothing, we're the most flexible people, we literally turn ourselves inside out, and then jump through hoops. What I actually think is really exhausting and depleting teachers right now is the emotional labour, of putting on that happy, brave face and really showing up for the kids, being that consistent, safe place for them, when actually the world's going to ruin! And you know that emotional fronting that they're giving to prop up kids and essentially, other people's kids, you know. For so many, their own kids are in the other room like mine are now trying to do their work. And these teacher parents can't even be there for them. So I think there's a lot that we need to think about and consider in terms of the emotional labour of teaching. It's a very emotional job, at the best of times when we're face to face in classroom and now even more emotional. Giving and propping up and sort of counselling is being required of teaching right now helping kids to cope. Right now that's a huge give on teachers, you know, having to front up and bring that energy even though it's through a screen.

And then the last thing that I'll say is about, I just wanted to talk about teacher well being. I'm researching and thinking about a new paper for Griffith Review right now and I've been doing so much reading about teacher wellbeing and I just wanted to sort of flag with people that are listening to this today that we might have a perception that teacher wellbeing is just all on us, that it's something we have to do. I know when the wheels were falling off for me, I thought teacher wellbeing was all on me, I thought it was my responsibility. And you know, I'm not silly, I know how to read self help books and find things on the web when you're not coping. I knew to reach out for my doctor, I was seeing a psychologist, but I really thought that I could improve the situation by just taking really precious care of myself so I really got into fitness and health because I know that regular exercise for me really helps my head, I was taking great care of my diet. I mean, in my last year of teaching, I ran the City to Surf and a couple of other distant distance runs, I was doing a Michelle Bridges, not necessarily a weight loss thing, but just an eating plan. I was making sure I was getting enough sleep, I was really hyper-focused on 'Come on, come on, get your shit together,' was essentially what I was thinking, like 'Come on, really, you just take even better care of yourself, this will all come together for you.' And try as I might it just didn't.

What I've realised now is that so much of teacher wellbeing is actually affected by the school you're in, the class you're teaching, the colleagues around you and the system more broadly. And the efforts that are being made at the moment are probably, around self care, are probably more reactionary and transactional, is what's happening at the moment. So you know, reactionary is those things like when the principal can sense that 'Ah, everyone's really stressing out,' or whatever, so they finish the staff meeting half an hour early. That's a reactionary wellbeing measure like 'We're all a bit stressed, have an early mark, have an early mark.' I mean, while you're thinking I'll take the early mark, it's not going to help, it's not going to fix this feeling that's happening inside me.

Kelly: It's a Bandaid.

Gabbie: Transactional is more those kinds of things like; 'We'll get this PD person in who's going to come and talk to you about wellbeing,' and it's sort of that box ticking exercise. Like, 'Right, so that's wellbeing covered,' you know? Without that enriching follow up, and without embedding it deep within school culture or anything like that, nothing against wellbeing PD, but when it's just executed as a means of 'That, that's done. Boop, next.' So next year, what I believe is actually required, and what we need to be thinking about is transformative teacher wellbeing. So actual big system changes that will ultimately help teach your well being.

So my first thing would be reducing the amount of stuff that's in the curriculum, it's just stuffed, overflowing. And that's outrageous, and it's unnecessary. And you know that on its own would just go such a long way to improving teacher wellbeing. And then there's a whole bunch of other stuff like, if you want to get political, we could talk about making education bipartisan so we're not all holding our breath, each election going, 'Oh, my God, what is going to change now?' Or cringing on those few moments where we do get to hear the news and you hear the latest brain fart from the minister, and you just think, 'Oh, my God, really?' So what I think we need to be aiming for, whilst personal self-care, and those smaller measures within school on wellbeing, that's great and we do need to attend to that, and we need to have more of that, I think really, what's needed is real transformational working conditions and perceptions around what teaching and learning is, if we really want to improve wellbeing for teachers. I will stop talking now! I had so much to say about that!

Kelly: And I know, like Gab, you obviously had brought up so many things. The article that you that you mentioned before, by Doris, what's your last name?

Gabbie: Doris Santoro.

Kelly: That article, you sent that to me last year when I left the classroom, and it just hit the nail on the head. So if you obviously if my CAFS teachers want to listen to that, have a read, it's fantastic, but I don't know... I think we teach a concept called wellbeing. Most PDHPE teachers or TAS teachers who have done Home Economics or Life Management, we teach these concepts in our course. You know, we say that there's five aspects of wellbeing you need to have a balance of all these to hopefully have some sort of balance in our life. We literally live and breathe this concept and we teach it as well. What always gets me is that we still feel like we need to push and keep pushing, and I think putting on that brave face to say, 'Yeah, I'm okay. I'm sweet. I'm good. It's obviously about me,' you know, we could go into the whole conversation about the system, as you kind of alluded to. So I think we need to work smarter and work together. I think so many of us put on that brave face. So yeah, 'I've got this, I know my stuff. I know my stuff. I know, the curriculum, I know, inside and out,' and we don't reach out to other people to ask for help. Since, I suppose I've been helping teachers, probably for about 10 years in the space that I help teachers in, and I've always been like, 'Here's my program, here's my assessment task. Here's a teaching and learning strategy that I've tried: have a go, whatever you think, like, give me some feedback on it.' I think we, I don't know if it's like a stage six thing, like a Year 11 and 12 thing, that so many teachers are really guarded about their resources, about what they have.

 Now, I think what I've been trying to do in the CAFS space for a really long time is to break down that barrier and to say, 'Look, we're all in it together, we're teaching the same curriculum, we actually have the same HSC that we need to prepare our kids for, why not work together,' we shouldn't be against [each other]. Yes, HSC results get put against each other, high stakes testing to get into ATAR course, to get into university, but we really need to work together and to work smarter with each other. And I think that idea of collaboration is definitely something that I'm a huge advocate for and I've worked with colleagues before who aren't like that. Frustrating, I think that has probably been my biggest challenge as an educator for the last 16 years is, okay, I'm working with these people in this team who aren't on the same page as me, they're on a different planet, and they're not willing to actually work together.

So I think that's definitely part of the process to help teachers for their wellbeing is to actually work together. If you're teaching the same stuff, reach out to someone who is teaching [at] the school in the next suburb or in a similar area or the Catholic school in a local area. Well, why aren't you speaking to the people in the public school down the road, literally down the road? And I hope, and I hopefully teachers say this, that what I've tried to create hopefully emulates that a lot. And I think when I first spoke to you, when I first did leave the classroom, I had no idea what I was going to do, I thought it was gonna be in teacher wellbeing, a teacher wellbeing space, but I realised I had something in my back pocket to help people but in a practical sense. What do you think day to day teachers can do to really protect themselves, I think themselves but also protect themselves from themselves, but also other people? I don't know just around that whole wellbeing, space burnout, their own health.

Gabbie: Yeah, um, one of the things that you're talking about there Kell is one of the remedies that Doris Santoro suggests if teachers are to recover from the burnout associated with demoralisation, and that is to find your tribe. So what you're talking about there is connecting with like minded colleagues who are willing to share and have that same collegial attitude. And teaching is a collegial profession. It's just a shame that we've put all these systems and standards in place that actually prevent us from sharing resources and being collegial. And you know, the moment we start measuring stuff in that way people do get protective of their stuff that is only going to contribute to your burnout, because then suddenly, you're in competition. Yeah. So finding your tribe is a really great remedy for burnout, finding those colleagues that you can share resources with that you can chat openly with, those colleagues that you can actually say, ‘I'm not tracking very well, like I am not going well,’ and sharing those emotions that you're feeling. Finding that group of people is paramount. It won't solve everything because I've got to say, I worked in a school where I was like family, we loved each other, and I knew I was loved in that space and cared for and valued, but we were all just, you know, ducks on the water. And my colleagues didn't have the capacity to stop and help me in the way that I needed. Plus it ignored warning signs way too long. So a tribe isn't going to save you, but it's certainly going to help. 

I was speaking yesterday to an academic from Curtin University. His name was Sol, I believe it's Sol Karnovski, and he is doing some research around emotional labour. And he said something to me yesterday that made me just kind of, you know, we talked about aha moments and things like that. It was ‘Aha!,’ it was light bulbs going off in my brain and the little hamster got on its wheel and was like, ‘Oh,’ he's idea about a collective management of the emotional labour that we have to do as teachers. And so he talks about an idea where a whole staff, or maybe it's just a department within a school, sit down and they talk about ‘All right, actually, what are the things that are impacting our wellbeing? What actually is?,’ and obviously, the same things keep coming up, like workload and managing student behaviour and data. And then as a staff or a group looking and going okay, what of these can we put some boundaries around? What of these can we remedy? What of these can we change? And really knotting it out to get them so that as a little group you have a collective pathway forward. This is how we're going to deal with that or this is something we're going to do now, we're actually going to do away with that Thursday morning meeting because actually, nothing's getting done, or it could be an email. So sitting down and identifying it all together as, ‘What are the things that impact are impacting us? What are the things that are giving us a crappy wellbeing, putting us at ill wellbeing?’ I'm still trying to find a word that's the opposite of wellbeing,

Kelly: Yes, illbeing, it's actually a real thing. 

Gabbie: Yeah so, what are those things and then, as a group, how can we tackle them? Because it's all good, and well, as an individual to go, ‘I'm going to go home early, I'm going to get out of school early,’ but it's very hard to enact that then as an individual, when someone asks ‘Can you pop into my classroom,’ and ‘Do you have a look at this or do you have time to go over this?’ If you've all agreed, as a staff that on Wednesdays and Thursdays, you're all out of there by four or whatever, then that's the thing, and that's the culture, and that's what you're all doing. And in a small way, then that becomes transformational wellbeing, rather than reactionary and transactional, you know. As a collective, you're all doing that together. So that actually made a lot of sense to me, rather than individual teachers kind of trying to carve out time and going, ‘Oh, well, I'm going to get to my yoga class every week,’ or, you know, whatever, it's really hard to enact that just as an individual, but when we get together, you know, no one supports teachers, the way teachers support teachers, because we get it for each other. And this idea of collectively working it out means that you're not one person leaning on another, you're also in the huddle together, it becomes a little Scrum, you know, and you can all charge forward with that power and sort of, in some way, sort of knock over some of those things that are preventing you guys from being the best teachers you can be. I hope that makes sense. This new stuff for me, I'm saying it out loud thinking ‘These sound like good ideas.’

Kelly: Look, I was like you, I did my Master's in Educational Leadership. That was 2013, when I had a newborn baby, that was a really good idea, Kelly! Yeah. As you do because I thought I had to get that piece of paper. Yeah, I want to be an Assistant Principal in a Catholic school. But you know, after having children, you kind of go ‘I don't want that life. I don't want to be married to the school.’ As much as I love education and schools and I love the school I was working at, I don't want to live there. I don't want to have my weekends and my nights at the school. But look, what you have said about working together completely resonates, and I think teachers are really lucky when they find a good space, a good school to working in, that is supported by colleagues are on the same path, the same, same page, not in another whole other genre of writing that are literally on the same page working together. And I think it does take really good leadership. I think it does. It has to come from the top. Yeah. And you can't have a staff who is who, I really came to make a change and you have that, you know, that toxic environment that does happen in a lot of schools, you know, schools and principals appointed in leadership positions, when really, maybe you should have just stuck to the classroom. You're a really good classroom teacher, but your leadership has a lot to answer for. And that would be a whole other conversation that we could have about leadership and I know that you've touched on that in both of your books, you know. Alright, I've got a question for you to finish up. If you were to give your younger self some advice, what would it be? 

Gabbie: Well, I've given this some thought. Let's see. The thing I realise is that my younger self was beautiful, beautiful as she was, but she was so naive. I had no idea of the political context that teaching sits within, and the ramifications of that for me as a professional. So I would probably advise my younger self to consider where teaching fits in the grand scheme of Australian society in the context that we live in. I truly had no idea of those ministers, I truly had no idea of the impact that they were having. I was excited, for example, when Julia Gillard came into power as the first female prime minister, and I was all Woohoo, and that's all I ever sort of thought about Julia Gillard. And I look back now and I'm like, ‘Oh, my God, she made some really poor choices about education.’ But at that time, I was busy finding, ‘Whose shoe is this!?’ And just the dream of teaching, nose to the grindstone didn't even realise. I think that as teachers, for us to find our voice, and for our voice to be heard, we need to have a good hard look, good hard think, that’s what we say to the kids, ‘Have a good hard think.’ We need to have a good hard look and a good hard think at the people who currently have strong voices in the education sphere. 

And it's not us, as teachers, it's policymakers and its politicians. So we need to have a good examination of what's going on there. And then we need to think about ‘How can we change that discourse? How can we place our voices in there? And what do we think about the things that they're saying,’ so I would tell my younger self, to watch the news and to read papers, and to be more active in her profession. Because I was very active in my school, very active in my students lives, I was very active within my own classroom. But classrooms and teacher lives and school lives, don't just sit in a little bubble, we're held in this larger framework, and I was just oblivious to it. So I would advise my, my young, beautiful, naive self, to just get woke a whole lot sooner about what's going on around her. Because it's super, super important. And until teachers do get a better handle on that, I fear that we're just going to be lemmings falling off the cliff for a long time. So that's that's the advice I give so to young teachers and newly graduated teachers who are listening to this, know who the ministers are, listen for the educational news that comes out on on TV, and nightly news and radio and stuff like that. Have a thought process about it, have an opinion about it, talk to one another about it. Where you can, join a union, be active in putting your voice out there.

Kelly: And Gab, in a nutshell, we call that advocacy. We actually teach that concept in our course, in a section called ‘Groups in Context, advocating for minority groups in our community.’ And I think as teachers and you have done that, like through teacher you have done that you have advocated for teachers who don't have a voice. Yes. And, you know, I, a lot of teachers have so much respect for you for actually saying things out loud that have should have been said many, many years ago. Yeah. And I often wonder what other you know what the current Education Minister, policymakers think about you coming out kind of coming out and saying this out loud? Because it's not spoken about, and I think you said it before when we were chatting, you know, about you, it has been seen as ‘Oh, they can't cope, would you say to have a couple of days off? Nope, just go shake it off, go to the bathroom, go and have some time.’ ‘No, I don't need time. I need a better way forward!’ And I think advocating for ourselves and I think for me, that's when I did leave the classroom I did want to become an advocate and my form of advocacy is my space, doing what I do with my teachers in Community and Family Studies through The Learning Network, and all the things I'm hoping to kind of build within those teachers is for us to be a tribe. And I call it the CAFS Crew, our CAFS Crew, working together as a collective group. And I think we do need to have a voice and advocate for ourselves, but also know that there's always so much to do, and we need to have really firm boundaries about what we do as teachers. So Gabbie, you said that you're working a couple of things. 

Gabbie: Yes.

Kelly: If people want to connect with you, or find out more on what you're working around, Gabbie has her two books so ‘Teacher’ and ‘Dear Parents,’ amazing, amazing books. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh. There’s so many stories in there like I can literally picture a student who has done that exact same thing. Where can people kind of find or hear about what you're up to go?

Gabbie: Well on my website that needs updating. If you follow me on social media, on Instagram I’m @gabbiestroud and on Facebook I think I’m gabbie_stroud, but just Google me and I seem to pop up. Social media is where I put most of my information. So there should be a new book coming out next year, which I’m excited about. It's a fiction, but it’s still in the world of education. I can't seem to stop telling the same story over and over. And I've got so many other exciting projects on the go. So social media is a good spot to find me. Not Twitter. I don’t love Twitter. 

Kelly: No, me neither. I started with Twitter, and I don't know, I think it's for politicians.

Gabbie: Yeah, it's very shouty and seems unproductive for me. But Facebook and Instagram, I like to hang out there. And what I really like to do is hear from teachers. So, my Instagram post is not curated images of beautiful classrooms and stuff like that.

Kelly: [laughs] Not Pinterest worthy?

Gabbie: [laughs] Not Pinterest, absolutely, it's the opposite, that I’m in. But I would like to think that my social media pages are a conversation with teachers. So I’d love anyone who hasn’t been over there to pop on over and have a look and join my tribe.

Kelly: Awesome. Thanks so much Gab, really appreciate it. You have been an absolute Godsend for me and will always value our conversation when I first left the classroom. And I thank you for your energy and your advocacy for teachers like you, who you probably see yourself in. So thanks so much, Gab.

Gabbie: Thanks so much, thanks everyone for listening! Have a great day!

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traditional custodians on whose land I walk, work & live.
This land was and always will be the land of the First Nations People.