In this episode I talk about some of the amazing people who have made a huge impact on my CAFS passion and career!
I also chat about how I can cheer you on from the CAFS sidelines through The CAFS Collective and the importance of cheering each other on and working together to be the very best educators that we can be.
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Hey everyone. Welcome back to The Learning Network Podcast. This is episode number eight and as we draw a close to the end of 2021 I would like to say a huge thank you to all those amazing CAFS teachers and CAFS students that I've had the absolute pleasure and privilege to be working with this year. I think the last count, have a feeling that over 500 CAFS teachers who I've worked with, taken a course, coached and mentored, been part of my Year 12 MasterClass sessions, and literally 1000s of CAFS students. So I feel very privileged to be able to support your CAFS journey and I absolutely love it. It's seriously the best part of my job is supporting and connecting with you guys.
In today's episode, we're going to chat about how I like to cheer you on from the sidelines, from the CAFS sideline, and the importance of cheering on each other and working together to be the very best educators that we can be in our CAFS journey. And if you haven't already seen I have launched The CAFS Collective, which is a 10-month intensive CAFS membership where you get to join me and a whole heap of other CAFS teachers on your CAFS journey for over 10 months where we have Guest Expert Sessions, MasterClasses over the 10 months, but also that rare opportunity for us to connect with each other to really improve our practice and what we do in the CAFS classroom. If you'd like to learn more about the membership, please head over to thelearnnet.com/collective and you can check it out there.
Hey, I'm Kelly Bell. Welcome to The Learning Network Podcast. I guide Community and Family Studies teachers, newbies and experienced, through the 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 in the 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.
Hey beautiful CAFS teacher. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of today's episode, I want you to sit back and reflect on your career. If you have been teaching CAFS for 12 months, 2 years, 20 years or anywhere in between, I want you to think about the people who have had the biggest impact on your CAFS journey, or your teaching journey in general. I want you to picture that person. I want you to see them in your memory or in your eyes and I want you to think about what they have actually done to shape and to develop you into the teacher that you are today. Because today's episode is all about the importance of us cheering each other from the CAFS sideline. I think, and I've said it before, if you haven't followed me for a long time, you might not know this, but I'm a huge advocate for teachers working together, not in silo, but teachers working together to be the very best educators that they can be. But look, I think, in life, in business, even in teaching, it becomes competitive. And I'm not sure why it has become like this. Many of my CAFS teachers would know that it's really important to actually share together, the better we do, the better we all do together. But I think we sometimes forget that, that we can't kind of shy away from sharing resources or we can't kind of keep things to ourselves. It's really important to actually share our knowledge and our expertise and our experiences that we have kind of undertaken in any part of our life.
Now I'm going to say this out loud and PE teachers, who I'm one of, I can put my hand up really proudly and say this, PE teachers are good at collaborating, but I'm pretty sure CAFS teachers are even better at doing this because I think over time, it has just become part of our practice. I think a lot of the, I don't know maybe social networking platforms that are out there, Facebook, Instagram, but even just that general idea of us working together has definitely grown our course. And I'm completely grateful for every single teacher who I've ever connected with, whether it be back in the day when I presented HSC enrichment days for Achper NSW across New South Wales. I'm talking about teachers like Jenny O'Donoghue. I'm talking about teachers like Bron Rainer, Kim Rodenburg, Kate Rainer, and some of these teachers I'm still friends with today. And I think it's really important for us to sit back and reflect on those people who have maybe had the biggest influence on us as a CAFS teacher. And for some of these, they might not actually teach CAFS. For me, as you've heard my story, I had the beautiful mentor and coach Karen Tillman, who was my PDHPE coordinator at Nagle College, and she absolutely supported everything I ever did. I think what she did so well was that she gave absolute trust back to me. She trusted me in what I did and she was there to support my journey the whole way through, no matter what happened, no matter what twists and turns my course took or my classes took, she always had my back. And I think that's something that's very rare in teaching these days, especially in leadership, that often our leaders, our exec, our principals, our headteachers. I don't know, have that miss-trust. But I think Karen never had that, there was never a doubt in my mind that she didn't trust me completely and believe in me. So for me, if I picture that one person who has had a huge impact on me, it probably is Karen. And I will feel forever grateful for that connection that we made back in 2004. And even prior to that, when I actually was doing, I think I did two weeks, a two-week block and other lady was on mat leave or took some leave and I came in there literally, I was like, what 21 or 22, I think maybe 21, and I took a two-week block, and then it was a job coming up. And I was on my prac actually, and they said, "We'd really like you to go for the job. You think we think you'd be amazing." I went for it, had an interview, was so exhausted by the time I went home. And I got a phone call from the principal that night saying, we would really love for you to accept the position and our school and I cried, I was in tears. It was so exhausting. But I had landed my first teaching job. And I was literally very, very lucky. But I will forever be grateful for Karen for trusting me and guiding me along the way.
So I want you guys to think about that person and I want you to keep them in the back of your mind as this podcast episode unrolls. And at some point, I'd really love for you to be able to write them a Christmas card or some little note or some letter or an email thanking them for the impact that they've had on your career. Because I think sometimes we forget about the people who have shaped us to who we are today.
So the next person I want to share with you is probably a group of teachers. Actually, I think I've mentioned these beautiful teachers before on my CAFS journey or in the podcast, they’re three teachers who supported me as a very young Pastor coordinator. So like I said to you guys, before Pastor coordinating in the Catholic system looks after a whole year group, 2 point paid position, you're on the exec, you're on the leadership team. And Ellen Lonnegan, at Dashain and Dario Walker, were the most amazing people for me. They used to call me a whippersnapper, especially your Ells. I think at first, I don't know, I think I was a bit, I don't know, not loud, but I was, I'm am very much an advocate. And I share my opinion often when it's not warranted. And I think I definitely get that from my grandmother's on mum, both mom and dad's parents, their, their mothers, and I think, I don't know, I just want to stand up for what's right and what's not, right. So these beautiful ladies really helped and guided me in my very early days as a teacher and I would get so frustrated at some things that I'd have to come straight to the office and have a discussion with them and I think once I do become a Pastorial coordinator with them, I was appointed, I think in 2008, possibly. I don't know, like I used to get so fired up. And those of you guys who know me personally and have worked with me, you would know what that looks like, I do get fired up. And it's because I have so much passion and drive and energy that I want to be able to support my students, the teachers I'm working with, but also stand up for what's right, and maybe what's not.
I think at the same time, I had two males that had a bit of an influence on my life and were cheering me from the sidelines. So Tim Gilmore and Patrick Finity. And the great thing about I suppose the six of us, is that we still keep in contact. During COVID we had a couple of zoom meetings and I think, for us, I've always tried to keep in contact with those, with those teachers. And look, they were leaders they've gone on to to be principals to be, you know, assistants in a system of schools, and beautiful teachers. And I think working with young people as well, I think, look, if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here today.
So for me, when I cheer you on from the sideline, what it looks like is me supporting you in your journey. I literally know what it is like to be in your shoes. I was there as a fresh faced 22 year old when I was given the syllabus in a textbook by Karen and she said Kell, I completely trust you, make it your own, make it your baby. And that's what I did. I literally ran with a course and went from having one class in our school, I think one or, I think one class in our school originally. And then by the time I left and moved to The Coast, 14 years later, it had built into four classes. I'm not taking all the rap for that. Of course I'm not, but I think having that person advocating for the course but also being able to support the course in general had kind of made it for what it was. So I think for me supporting you guys is really about working out where you are at the moment and if you're in your first couple of years of teaching, it is stressful. It is, you put your blood sweat and tears into it, you go home, you're exhausted. I remember sitting on the lounge, I think it was at my in laws, no, soon to be in laws, my boyfriend's house I ended up marrying, and just sleeping. Like coming home in the afternoon getting home at 3:30-4 o'clock, and just sleeping for an hour. And that's completely rare for me. I never like to sleep in the afternoon because it makes me a little bit cranky, just ask Daniel.
But I don't know, it's like I've said before, it's all encompassing. Our time, our energy, we give all of ourselves in that classroom, and I'm actually getting goosebumps as I sit here on a rainy November day, the last day of the month actually, just thinking about what it is like to be in the classroom because it's our emotions, it's the kids' emotions, it's their energy, it's the curriculum, it's everything in that classroom that really kind of makes it what it is. So I think, for me, it's thinking about what I can do to support you on your CAFS journey and learning from my mistakes and my challenges that I've had as a teacher over the last 17 years to go, please don't do this or please learn from my mistakes, get the kids to start writing from the very beginning, get them to go back to basics. Because even at the HSC end, when we see our HSC results at the end, we can see where the gaps are in the kids’ understanding. We see it, we see what you know, we see in their trials that they struggled to write PEEL paragraphs or they struggle to address the Glossary of Keywords. We know it, we get to see it. I think, for me, it's for me sharing those mistakes with you guys, that I should have started that from the beginning rather than you know, just focus on content.
What it also looks like for me, to cheer you guys on from the sideline, is to give you plenty of opportunity to grow and to develop as a CAFS teacher. And I think, again, like I mentioned, Karen, let me do that, she gave me lots of support, but she also gave me autonomy, and just just different ways to do things. And I think I'm a very creative person, if you know me, well, you would know that I had that meticulous kind of side, bit of a perfectionist, I'm not gonna lie, but I also really love to experiment in my classroom. And that's probably for me, my area of creativity, being a PE teacher being very regimented you know, all my whole life, even as a kid being very organised. I think this is one side of me that I get to be really creative and experimental and experience lots of different things. So if you've worked with me before, you'd know what that would look like; sharing with you guys, lots of resources, lots of things to help you on your CAFS journey to really make you think differently. And if I've worked with you before, I really hope deep down that I have opened your eyes to different ways of teaching, different ways of learning and different ways that you can move your CAFS crew, you know forward in their journey, because I think it is about being a little bit different, shaking it up a little bit, tweaking it. Some small tweaks to make some big changes in our classroom, to make a huge impact on the kids that we teach.
I think something else that I like to do to cheer you on from the sideline, and if you've worked with me before, you know what this looks like, is to make sure all of your answers, oh sorry, all your questions are always answered. Because I know for me, I've always loved asking questions. And I think Mum said to me only a couple of years ago, I'm like, Mum, why did you tell me this, you know, 20 something, or 40 years later, nearly? That I always used to say "Why?," when I first started talking, I’d say "Why Mummy? Why Mummy?" You know, why is, whatever, the sky blue? Or why do you have to drink milk this way, or whatever it might have been. I think Mum said as soon as I pretty much started talking, I would say "Why Mummy?" And again, if you know me, well, you would know what that looks like always questioning why? Why are we doing it like this? Or why is this, this and this? Why is this happening? And what's the impact of that? And I think for me, I always want my questions to be answered. Google's phenomenal, you can go down a rabbit hole. But I think for me supporting you guys, I never want your questions to go unanswered.
So if you're if you've joined the CAFS collective so far, that is my promise to you. If you are a part of any of my courses, or will ever work with me again in the future in Coaching and Mentoring, or any of my online courses, or even just in our Learning Network Collaborative Facebook group, you would know that your questions are always answered and always have me as a guide to support you in your CAFS journey. Because at the end of the day, there's no point in me holding my skills or my expertise in my back pocket and not sharing with you, you know, what I've kind of gone through. And I think, for me, it's not about that competition. And I think I really love this quote, and I've shared a quote from John, Robert John mean before but this is another one I really love. It goes like this, "Don't struggle to be a better teacher than everybody else. Simply be a better teacher than you ever thought you could be." And again, bit of a goosebump moment, I think. But there's no point comparing ourselves to each other. It's not a competition. Teaching is not a business, although it's looking more like businesses these days. But it's not a competition. We are literally teaching the same syllabus across all parts of New South Wales. Whether you're up in Tamworth, whether you're over in Lismore, or whether you're down in Shellharbour, or whether you're out at Dubbo, or you're here on the Central Coast like me. We're teaching from the exact same syllabus, we have similar students in our classes. And what we can really do is work together to be even better educators than what we were already. And I think for me, as soon as I step outside of my own bubble, my own CAFS bubble, which was, you know, my bubble in Blacktown. To go, I need to look to what other teachers are doing across New South Wales so I can be like them, I can grow like them and I can maybe do a few different things.
At first, I had no idea what I was doing. But looking to people that could mentor me and guide me along the way, was something that I think, I don't know, I think I've really craved. And look, to be honest, I think a lot of teachers keep their secret to themselves, and they don't share. What I've always tried to do inside the CAFS Facebook group, or if you've heard me present before, before I started The Learning Network, you'd know that I'm like, I'm going to give you everything I've got. I'm going to give you everything I have to help you and to support you from the sidelines, because there's no point in you feeling unsupported. And I think again, I have a Pinterest page. I don't really use it for the Learning Network, but I might share this on here, but I love quotes and I have a while big, used to have a whole big board in my classroom. I'll have to show you guys some photos of that but another quote that I really love is, I don't know who it's by so I don't really know, so apologies for that. But it goes like this. "Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel. Energy is contagious." And again, that kind of gives me goosebumps thinking about what it is actually potentially like, to shake things up a little bit to be a little bit different to step outside our comfort zone and to really go big with our CAFS crew. Because I think there is so much power in us working together rather than against each other. Yes, our kids are against each other for HSC results. But these are students, we're in education. We're not in big businesses, we are in education. And I think the more we get to share with each other, the better we do, but also the better our kids do.
And look, all of my experiences are based on what I've learned in the classroom as a CAFS teacher, you know, so I had year 11 and 12 back to back for 17 years, or 16 years sorry, before I left the classroom in 2020, July 2020. So I had that rare opportunity, year 11, you know, back to back, throughout, during my career. But also presenting professional learning across New South Wales, meaning thousands of cast teachers, and also the power of social media using the CAFS Facebook page when we first started it, and then I asked Kim and Kate to join on. Look, supporting you guys has been, honestly, my career highlight. Every little part of my journey supporting you guys on the CAFS sideline is something that I'm super proud of and I honestly do feel really proud of that. And it just that sense of collaboration that we have, and I think, I don't know just hearing from other people how they do things or, or going okay, you know what, there's similar teachers in the same sort of boat as me doing the same thing, if they're struggling with this, then that probably means that I'm struggling too or let's kind of work together.
So that's literally why I called you know, my business, I don't know, it's not a business to me. It's a professional learning organisation, a movement, I suppose. But The Learning Network is for you guys to connect together and learn together. And I think, you know, my tagline "connect, learn and grow" has really been about what I've tried to do inside, you know, The Learning Network, so connecting with each other, learning together and growing as a CAFS teacher. And I think supporting you guys from the sideline is really giving you and sharing with you guys meaningful and purposeful strategies that will help you get the results that you want and your school wants to go be with your CAFS crew. And I think transformation really comes from us connecting learning and growing to be the very best educators we can be with actual strategy and purpose. There's so much fluff that happens in our classrooms. And I think across New South Wales, there's this misconception that CAFS is the dumb version of PE it's the dumb cousin or sister or whatever, of PE and I think it's not until you actually teach it and to actually, you know, do lots of professional learning in it, you get to see the end game and you go you know what, there's some things that we're missing out on, not just things that the kids are missing, but we are as teachers as well. And literally I will share everything. You know, I've learned my CAFS journey with you guys and also supported, you know, hundreds of CAFS teachers across the state to really, you know, to nail that HSC but also to, you know, to just support you from the sideline.
So if you are thinking about joining The CAFS Collective, you are a teacher that really is obsessed with teaching CAFS and supporting you and cheering you on from the sidelines is literally what my beautiful CAFS teachers have signed up for. So if you are thinking of joining the CAFS collective, registration is open for another week. So this recording is taking place on November the 30th, so rego closes on the 8th of December. And if you love CAFS like us, and you know that you have so much to offer your students and you're really determined and committed to improving on what you do in your CAFS classroom for all of your students, joining me inside The Learning Network, but also in The CAFS Collective is something that you can, you know, really do to reward yourself but also to protect your time and wellbeing. Because I know, I can, I know what it feels like. If you don't have someone who can support you on the sideline, like I have been able to do, then this is a great opportunity for you guys. And I think for us, just having those mentors in our career, you know, is something that we can really look to benefit from.
And I see you guys, you work so hard for your students. But sometimes you don't really get the results that you and your school want and you're kind of tired and you're thinking that you're a little bit burnt out maybe, you're tired of developing new resources, you're on that hamster wheel of creating new stuff all the time. And I think to have someone you know, like myself and a whole other group of CAFS teachers who are supporting you and cheering you from the CAFS sideline is definitely going to be something that I will promise you if you are thinking of joining The CAFS Collective. But as soon as you come into my world into my orbit, you know that you'll have my support all the way through to be able to deepen your knowledge and understanding about content that really, that sometimes we struggle with. And I think often, I call it like the CAFS Island in your faculty, you might have other people on your little island that don't know CAFS like you, TAS teachers, I'm talking about the boys mainly, TAS boys who, you know, teach construction or you know, teaching IT, teaching timber, you know, D&T or even our PDHPE colleagues who don't really know the course some sometimes they just don't get. And I think I love the CAFS teachers that I get to support because all of you, honestly all of you, have been able to share something with me, share and welcome me into your classrooms. And I feel really honoured to be able to do that.
So to wrap up today, I want you guys to think about that person I asked you to think about at the beginning. What do they look like? What impact have they had on you as a CAFS teacher. It might be a student, it might be maybe an SLSO that's worked with you, it might be another colleague from across the other side of the state, or it might be a mentor that, you know, doesn't even teach CAFS, but is someone who's made a really big impact on you. Because I know that, you know, having that person to guide you along the way, is really, really important. And I think having someone who is supporting you to be the best educator that you can be, is something that is really missing in schools. And I think we've become so busy with, you know, with our work that we forget that we have all these amazing people around us. And like I said, Karen Tillman, if you ever listened to my podcast, you have had the biggest impact on my educational career and I feel absolutely blessed and honoured to be able to work underneath you. You know, you are my PDHPE coordinator for 14 years and I feel so blessed that you, that you guided me that you kept me in check, you kind of let me still have that spark but you also made sure that I was advocating for what I really believed and for me to, to be the best educator that I could be. And I think, for me, supporting you guys inside The Learning Network is really, you know, you deserve the goals that you have set for yourselves and I'm going to help you get there in the end.
So let me know what you are thinking in relation to this particular person. And I think, I don't know, I get very emotional about this sort of stuff because I think it's important that we actually have someone who's there to support us. And if you're not feeling supported, I'd really like to welcome you inside The Learning Network. Everything that you've been part of, you know, or anything that is on offer is always about supporting you guys from the sideline. And I think, you know, even if you're diving into The Learning Network Collaborative or one of my online courses or you're thinking about joining The CAFS Collective, then supporting you on your CAFS journey for you to transform as a CAFS teacher, is something that I actually, I don't really take lightly. I feel absolutely privileged to be able to do this as a profession. And even though I left the classroom, I still feel like I'm inside your classes and I love hearing stories about, you know about what you guys are doing and the emails that you send me. And yeah, just the pictures and things that you send me about what you guys are doing inside the classroom is absolutely lovely.
So, let me know who is cheering you on from the CAFS sideline and I just wanted to, again say a huge shout out to every single person that I've connected with in the CAFS world, but also the beautiful teachers that I've been able to work with, you know 14 years at the same school, I feel very blessed to be part of that, but also two and a half years at another school.
Despite where I ended up, and what I'm doing right now, I think I have grown as a person and grown as a leader. I might not be the principal of a school, I might not be the assistant principal of a school, which I always dreamt of, that's why I did my masters, stupid. [laughs] Anyway, I don't regret that either, I kind of do in one way, but anyway. Despite me not having a leadership title, I still very much feel that I'm a leader, and I always want you guys to feel like that you're, you are a leader. The title doesn't matter. You don't need a title to be a leader. You are leaders in your classrooms and your beautiful students look up to you. And we get to have the biggest impact on those beautiful students that sit in front of us every single day and even if it's only for two years, or if it's you know, for their 7 to 12 journey or even their K to 12 journey, you should feel absolutely blessed that we get to teach this course that we absolutely love and to be able to support those young people who are sitting in front of us, to make a difference not just now but in their future.
Our professional discussion for this week is to chat to me about who is that one person who always cheers you on from the CAFS sideline. Again, it doesn't just have to be that CAFS teacher, it could be you know, maybe a teacher who taught you at school, or it might be, you know, your assistant principal, it might be your, a year advisor that you've worked with. It might be someone else from another faculty. It might not even be someone at your school, it could be someone from, you know, across New South Wales or in, you know, internationally, across Australia, it doesn't matter. Who is that one person or that group of people who always seem to support you from the sideline no matter what? Please share it on social media and tag me @thelearnnet, using the hashtag #thelearnnet, to celebrate that person and to say, thank you for being the beautiful, amazing cheerleader from the sideline. And, for me personally, I want to say a huge thank you to every one of you who has been part of my CAFS journey. I feel very privileged to be able to support you guys.
Again, if you're thinking of joining The CAFS Collective it is my 10-month intensive CAFS membership where you get to have me as your coach or mentor for 10 months, but also join a whole heap of other beautiful CAFS teachers who are waiting inside the program to join you in our MasterClasses, our monthly MasterClasses, our Guest Expert sessions, our video recordings, the templates and resources I'll be able to share with you guys inside the program. But this is PL that's done very differently. And I'm going to be able to provide all the support I have, encouragement and resources and information that you guys need to help your CAFS crew grow without compromising your time and wellbeing in the process. Take care guys.
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 loved 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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