This episode of The Learning Network's Community & Family Studies Podcast is going to be all about why we never stopped learning as CAFS teachers.
In this episode I'm joined by two of my beautiful CAFS Collective members, Kate Hampstead and Courtney Pershouse, who I interviewed throughout the year.
Both of these amazing teachers has taken a number of different courses inside the Learning Network but are here to chat today about why they continue to back themselves, why they continue to do professional learning, and why it is so important to be surrounded by like minded teachers.
As Courtney and Kate talk about their experience in The CAFS Collective, they reveal the power of having people around you who get it, who are there for support and are so generous with sharing resources and ideas.
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Episode Intro - Kelly:
Hey CAFS crew. Welcome to episode number 38 of the learning network podcast. Now today's episode is going to be all about why we never stopped learning as a CAFS teacher. Never stop, like literally 18 years of CAFS experience doing lots of things with our course teaching author, co author of two textbooks, professional learning for the best part of 12 years. Lots of other experiences in terms of curriculum, marking exams, all that sort of thing. And I think I know, every minute I look at the syllabus, there's always something new to learn or to grow from it. So in today's podcast episode, I'm joined by two of my beautiful CAFS cullet Dear members, and I interviewed them throughout the year about their experience inside the CAFS collective now, they have taken a number of different courses inside the Learning Network. But they chat today about why they continue to back themselves, where they continue to do professional learning, and why they continue to be surrounded by like minded teachers who are there to support them who are there to lift them up and who are there to be so generous with sharing resources and ideas and learning so a huge welcome to my CAFS collective members, Kate Hemstead and Courtney Pershouse.
Podcast Intro - Kelly:
Hey, I'm Kelly Bell. Welcome to The Learning Network Podcast. I guide Community and Family Studies teachers, newbies and experienced, through best practice to improve knowledge, increase empowerment and alleviate stress, to help you and your students to make meaningful connections across the course. I will share strategic and purposeful applications from my 16 years experience in the classroom that I have adopted to increase student motivation, enjoyment, engagement and results. Together, we will grow and transform your CAFS crew to the next level without impacting your sleep and wellbeing process. To join my free how to improve writing and fast track results webinar, head to thelearnnet.com/writing. So tune in, get inspired and let's connect, learn and grow together.
Kelly: Hi everyone and welcome to tonight's live with a beautiful CAFS collective member Courtney Pershouse. Courtney teachers at a small school Anglican school southwest of Sydney and she's joining us tonight to tell us a little bit about why she joined the CAFS collective. And what she's been really loving inside the membership. So huge welcome to Courtney.
Courtney: Hello. Nice to be on here.
Kelly: You thanks so much for joining us. And I think it's it's always good to kind of I think for me selling something digitally and it's on a screen you kind of don't really know what it's like until you actually dive into things. So I'd love for you to be really honest with us tonight and share you know your insights into being in the castle if you've so far so you joined last year. Can you let other cast teachers know why you actually joined the membership?
Courtney: Um, I will I have done a couple of your PT courses. So that I RP one assessment year living CAFS and I just ot found them all really incredibly helpful for like my teaching practice. But also my perspective on trying to actually implement learning and teaching strategies that are intentional, that taught kids really what they needed to know and kind of get rid of all the not so necessary things. So you know, when the CAFS collective came up, I'm like, Well, to me, it was like a no brainer. So I can do the same thing. Have you as a mentor, which is amazing. And I'm also like, connected with a lot of like, like minded people that we can, you know, share ideas and thoughts and have questions and have access to awesome resources. So to me, it wasn't really I didn't really have to think about it that much. As soon as it came off. I'm like, this is perfect. This is exactly what I need. And like it's benefited me in so many ways. Yeah.
Kelly: That's awesome. And how long have you been teaching CAFS for?
Courtney: So this is my fourth year teaching CAFS, so I went to my school straight out of uni. So I had I got thrown in the deep end. My first year. It was like okay, so you're teaching CAFS? I'm like okay, I'm alright. We can do this. And I remember going through like the programme and I didn't have I had resources from previous years but you can have resources but when you have a you don't always know how to use them. And yeah, so now I'm in my fourth year in and boy a lot more confident than I was four years ago.
Kelly: That's so good. And I think many of us were started exactly like you throw completely in the deep end had no idea what we're doing. And you guys have heard my story before. I was saying literally syllabus textbook. There was no like professional learning. There was no Facebook groups, nothing like that. And I think you kind of, there's a lot of second guessing. Hey, I feel like I don't know if this is working. Am I in the right mark? You know, and I think like, like you said, having someone need to kind of, I suppose steer the ship, see the group in a, in a way, but also have a whole group of other CAFS. Now, we're on the same page. We've been there done before, or even who I suppose some of our members are really sharing some of their own practices that they've kind of tried and tested that sort of thing. So what what are some things that you have taken away? So far this year, we've had four masterclass sessions, I think, plus to a couple of little bonuses thrown in there. What are some big things that you've taken away from the membership so far?
Courtney: And what I mean, when I reflect back to like how I've progressed over the four years and where I was that four years ago, when I'm like, I didn't know what I was doing. Like, and being where I am now. The CAFS membership will being part of the collective I suppose. It's just really allowed me to, I suppose just just teach better and the master classes target particular things and just my in your head, like, I wish I knew more about that. And then there's a master class on it. And I'm just like, Oh, what is it perfect. Like the guest experts, especially the well being one, I know, we talk a lot about improving practice, and being a better teacher and making meaningful connections. And all of that is so important. But something that I probably have taken out the most, especially this year is just learning to take time for myself and hearing experts talk about it from you know, a professional perspective and really realising that Well, time for myself actually allows me to teach Beto and allows me to play my lessons better in a more meaningful way, because I have the energy to do it. And, you know, by being able to have master classes and learn all these new things about assessment about planning about, you know, how to make connections between the prelim and the HSC course, which is awesome. I just really feel that I'm much more confident in teaching my syllabus, like I'm more equipped to practice what I preach, if that makes sense. Like, it's to me my personal experience, it's tenfold. And by having like all of this, like I really feel that my progress before CAFS collective or even before any of your PD.
And now. Yeah, has really just transformed my teaching, I guess. But I just know more. And when I teach when I have a learning activity, what I learned through your master classes is, is this activity going to help them learn about this? Is it meaningful? Is it purposeful? Like is it does it have a good intention behind it? Or is it just thrown in there to look pretty? And I think that's probably what I really gain out of cast collective. Having the bonus courses, like assessment gets really tricky sometimes, especially when you're trying to think about what do I actually want to assess, you know, and that does form a little like a part of your report, how am I going to report on these kids effectively and efficiently as a teacher and really try to get the best out of them. Rather than just letting them maybe succumb to their own expectations, sometimes just being a motivator and pushing them and then all comes from like confidence knowing what you know better. And I honestly don't think I would be this confident without all of your resources, but especially having that monthly check in and that weekly check in, ask questions seek feedback through the CAFS Collective is, man. It's really valuable in my opinion.
Kelly: That's good core. And look, I love having you as a teacher inside the CAFS collective and I think I've loved seeing you flourish and grow inside the membership but also, you know, prior to that, inside the the other courses that I've had on offer, but I think, I don't know, I think like the CAFS Collective is to me like a bit of a next level like you can do online learning and go at your own pace. So this allows a lot of flexibility. I think some teachers are a bit scared about having like taught master classes with me gosh, that you know that you guys are gonna get sick of me but I think like what is how have you placed that? Have you been able to join all their sessions? Or has it been? You'd like go and watch back? Some things have you kind of, you know, dive into things.
Courtney: I think how you use the term flexibility is perfect. because like the last two weeks, we've reporting periods coming up at our school and just preparing for that has been hard sometimes to tune in, but I can easily just watch it back in our portal for the collective, which is fantastic, but I just don't think 12 is too much. I think you're like, you're right. Sometimes people might think it's daunting, but it's not like that environment where you might go to a PD day and sometimes it can feel intimidating. Like I feel like it's, it's laid back like it's a safe space. So it's the climate we want in our CAFS classroom is exactly the same. Um, and yeah, like I just I've been able to pace myself where I need to if I can't join, but being able to catch up again, and having that portal is really hateful or even rewatching Oh, that what was that? That was said the other week, I need to, you know, go back and check that. And like I said, like, all of them are on topics not in my head. I'm like, Man, I'd like something on that. And then, lo and behold,
Kelly: There is you may ask me my brain. Yeah, I think you know, I love professional learning. And as you know, I've consulted before I've been there in depth for a long time. I've, you know, ran professional learning before. And I think everything I brought out, especially the CAFS collective are things that I would you know, I would have loved as a teacher, a new teacher teaching CAFS, but also some of the things that I've made a mistake in, you know, presenting professionally and kind of going well, it's on that so I don't feel like you're kind of seen and heard. And I think I use or use the term. You know, you feel like a bit of a bummer to see and like you said, doesn't mean hits the doesn't miss. You know, sorry. And this is a Marco doesn't hit the mark. And it is like a whole room of you know, 3040 people we don't feel like you're, you're seen by the presenter and I think, you know, I hope that is definitely what you guys feel inside the CAFS collective. Yeah. So if you were to, I suppose, like pinpoint one major thing that you have really uncovered inside your your practice as an educator, your pedagogy, or even community family studies. What would that one thing be do you think?
Courtney: If I speak specifically for CAFS, mine, and we're and this is probably the last six months that I've learned this, which I've had really valuable is teaching kids, the foundation of the HSC course in prelim like that, to me is when I uncovered that through through your classes, or even exploring your 11 CAFS that, that kind of was a little bit of a lightbulb moment to me, because I'm like, Why, then spend all this extra time trying to teach it at the start of HSC, where we just refer back to it, reiterate it and expand on it. Actually getting kids to have a foundation and then allowing them to, I see more as they get into HSC. And they have more control over their learning, because they kind of know it before. That, to me is probably the biggest thing I've taken out in the last six months or so. But in general, I just feel like planning, planning lessons that I'm not going to look back on and be like, Why did I do that? Why did I waste my time on that? Like, let's teach how to actually write well, how to structure because at the end of CAFS, they sit in an exam. And they're not going to be able to memorise the textbook, or their work booklet, what they're going to take out of it is well, yeah, I know my syllabus, hopefully. But now I can reflect back on those learning activities where this is how I applied it and trying to build their toolkit, so to speak, and allow them to just pull out things where they need to and if structuring their question through, you know, appeal and things like that, or being able to annotate it through glue allows them to actually see where have I learned? Where have I shown understanding where I need to do better, but in the exam, they're able to start with something even if they had to go blank. And yeah, they're probably the two things I think resonate most with me. Teaching or CAFS specific?
Kelly: Yeah. Awesome. And look, as you guys can hear listening to Courtney. She's speaking to speech. She's talking about things that we you know that I've been speaking for a while, but I think seeing that kind of then go into your classroom and the impact that has on the kids is something that I feel so proud of. And you know, I just want to say personally, thank you so much for your insights and I love getting your emails and your messages and I probably owe I'm gonna email kill again. But I think, you know, I've asked you inside the Facebook group ask there because there's so many other kinds of teachers who are probably the same as you. So I just want to say publicly thank you so much for being part of our membership, you bring so much insight and passion. And, you know, I think we can learn so much, you know, from you, but also from a lot of our members. So, a huge thank you tonight for coming on. I really appreciate it. And really excited to welcome you know, quite a few new members inside the CAFS collective. So thanks so much for joining us tonight.
Kate Hemstead: That day or even every week. I probably I wouldn't go probably a full week without getting in there and seeing what's being said and all that sort of stuff. But yeah, I don't let it be a time pressure, I'd let it or use it in a way that is manageable and helpful.
Kelly: Yeah, so do you kind of sneak into like, if you have a free period? Or you might have a bit of downtime before school or after school? Is that how you kind of approach it?
Kate: Or? Yeah, probably usually. I sometimes have periods at school with my timetable where I'm not being paid to be at school. But sometimes it's easy just to stay get the marking down then and not take it home. So you know, sort of times and then at night, probably sometimes it can be good fun to jump on and see what yeah, what's happening.
Kelly: Yeah, and I think you're not kind of feeling that pressure to be, you know, to be on there all the time. But it is just that back up to go look, kind of not sure where I'm going with this. Does anyone have an idea? Does anyone have a different way of doing it? Or just kind of being that sounding board? You know, you're all the way up in Tamworth, and we have teachers from all parts of New South Wales to be able to kind of connect it to each other. And, you know, I think that like minded, you know, we're all doing the same thing, aren't we like, literally, from the same syllabus? So another thing that has been coming up for some teachers is that they, they kind of, they're not open to maybe sharing what they have, but they think, Oh, I kind of, I don't know what I have to share with people or I don't think, for me, because I what do I know? Or, you know, I'm so experienced, I don't really, I don't think I need that help. What would you kind of say to teachers who might be kind of in that position?
Kate: Yeah. So I was probably a bit like that sort of thinking or, you know, no one's going to want to know what I've done. But then like earlier in the year, I just did this fun activity with my year 11. CAFS class that worked really well. It was a bit of a breaker for us in terms of just needing something different. And I thought, yeah, look, I might as well get in and share. And a few people just said, oh, yeah, look, I'm so glad that you shared that. But sometimes I'll get in there and read other people's questions and have been thinking exactly the same thing. And haven't, you know, done it. So, you know, if I asked for something, and someone sends me something, and it's not exactly what I want, like that, that's fine. Like, we're just sort of there to give each other ideas to help each other. I think we're not in I think the big thing is we're not in competition with each other. I know our kids are sort of in competition in the HSC, I suppose. But not really. And so it's soon yeah, if we say that we're not in competition, then we're all working as colleagues, then I think, yeah, we just take what we can give each other really.
Kelly: Yeah, and I think, I don't know whether that wherever the mentality comes from, I think I noticed the how we can see for the best part of 14 years, and I kind of found working in Sydney, it was a little bit like that, like a little bit competitive. Schools were kind of kept to themselves. And and I do get that, like our students essentially are against each other and not against, you know, your own cohort. You're against the state. We always say that to our kids, but we're educators were working with young people, it shouldn't be a competition like we're not businesses, despite saying that we're like a business. We aren't we're actually educating young people and trying to make a difference with them in their loans or anything, any little more. So any little journey that we can kind of take on.
Kate: I think especially especially with CAFS because of that because of the content of CAFS. Its content and I say to kids, when I'm doing those, you know, subject selection nights, I say to kids, it's not something that's airy fairy and out there. This is like real life stuff. You're gonna get it, you're going to enjoy it because it's it's actually the real world. And so we want to give our kids the best learning and opportunities in in the CAFS syllabus. So, yeah, at some point, I suppose we've got to say the exam isn't the most important thing.
Kelly: Yeah. And I agree. No, you know, my experience many other teachers do as well, you know, author of the two textbooks that we have and you know, been involved in lots of other things around curves, but at the end of the day, By supporting these young people to advocate for themselves advocate for other people become, you know, the best parent or carer that they can be, um, use technology safely function in our communities, and just be really good human. So I think, you know, there is a competitiveness, about the HSC, and about all that sort of stuff. But I think at the end of the day, you know, if we can kind of build each other up and be there to support each other, then that's, you know, that's the best gift we can give to each other.
Kate: So I say to my kids, I say, look, I want to enjoy the content with you. And I want you to do the best you can in the HSC. So I'm going to push you I'm going to mark your work, I'm going to make you do practice, but we want to enjoy the ride as well. We've got to find a balance somehow.
Kelly: That's really great advice. And I think that's good for the kids to hear that that, you know, there is some hard work that we've got ahead, but also is about having fun, and being like a team. So if there are teachers who are thinking about joining the cast, what do you what is what's been your just your one favourite thing so far.
Kate: I think just the connection with the other CAFS teachers and seeing that we all struggle with sometimes the same things. Sometimes a question will go in there to kill and it'll be someone I reckon it's probably maybe taken a little while to actually build up the courage to write it. But I can it's probably at least 10 Other people thinking I was thinking the same thing. I just haven't asked that question yet. So I think that it does feel like we're supporting each other. And someone put something in there the other day saying, look at someone got an assessment task on this topic. So some of us could send one and, you know, just that support. I think
Kelly: That's awesome, so thank you so much for coming on tonight, Kate. So we're hoping to have two beautiful new faces to join us and, and at the end of the year, hopefully with all things happening in COVID. Staying away, we can actually see each other face to face, Kate and I've been lucky enough to do that. But a lot of our members, like I said, from all parts of New South Wales. So for us to come together at the conference at the end of the year will be an absolute blessing. So thanks so much for joining us tonight. I really do.
Thanks for joining The Learning Network, I'd love to hear what connected with you most about today's episode. Take a screenshot and tag me on Instagram and Facebook, @thelearnnet. If you'd like to know more about my courses, MasterClasses, Coaching and Mentoring and Membership, you can DM me over on Facebook or Instagram or head to thelearnnet.com. Don't forget to stay connected by subscribing to Apple Podcasts or Spotify, and if you love today's episode, I would be so honoured if you could please leave me a review. See you again next week. Let's continue to connect, grow and learn together to make a huge impact on the students we teach.
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