Monthly Archives: June 2020

Tips for e-Commuting

Many people struggle with working from home or e-commuting to work, because the idea and function of the office is an embedded practice with purpose in our everyday lives.

For a lot of us, the office is our ‘escape’. A refined and productive social engagement that is directly attributable to our financial success.

However, working from home provides the ability to balance all the parts of our lives that matter.

This is something that has ‘really hit home’ for a lot of corporates during C-19 lockdown.

When e-commuting, it is important to recognise there will be a time of fumbling through schedules, due dates and deliverables until you adapt to the new way of scheduling and master the new tools for colleague/ mentor/ client communications and productive engagement.

What you will also soon come to realise is you finally have the supports and tools for establishing that sometimes elusive work/life balance. why? Because now you have the tools and in most cases, the company’s support.

So what are your new tools…?

  1. Flexibility – something most adjust to with ease, even if they are lovers of detailed daily lists and schedules.
  2. Autonomy – many find this a motivator
  3. Responsibility – many fail of manage tasks to completion in isolation, without realising this is a key area for showcasing their leadership capabilities.
  • Know the privilege you enjoy.
  • Be well Organised.
  • Set aside place to work – ideally not at the kitchen table, but away from others and further distractions. allocate a room and it also becomes a tax deduction #WinWin
  • Manage your time – Don’t also be on, connected or available. Set a well-defined working hours. Allocate tasks to time then once you’ve done so, advise your colleagues of any deadlines for collaborations or due dates for submissions. Although some e-commuters resist, a daily work schedule is your best friend in the e-commuting scenario.
  • Back yourself – This is how you counter balance stagnation when ‘the boss is away’ scenario. Back yourself to know what you are doing and how your contribution moves the business forward towards it’s success.
  • Proactively manage your stress – after all, our greatest weapon against it[stress], is our ability to choose one thought over another.
  • Exercise each day – you don’t have to run a marathon or pump iron everyday, but just going for a walk around the block every morning can provide both physical well being and mental clarity.
  • Dress for success – even if you are in a tracksuit, make sure it is clean, ironed, stain- free, your face is washed, teeth are brushed and your hair is combed and styled. You’ll feel ready to succeed.

Good luck!

xo Tiff

If you have any other tips, you’d like to share please do so in the comments section

HOW is literacy taught in schools?

by Eileen Honan

When education commentators turn their attention to the teaching of reading in Australian schools, they often use metaphors of war. They talk about the reading wars as if our classrooms are sites of intense battle.

This can lead to parents becoming not only confused, but deeply worried about the teaching of reading, and whether their children are being used as cannon fodder in a fight between two opposing sides.

The reality of teaching and classrooms across Australia is far from this image of battle zones, bullets and wars.

Government and professional associations are making concerted efforts, at the national and state levels, to ensure our school students receive the best possible reading instruction.

For example, the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association (ALEA) recently released a declaration called Literacy in 21st century Australia. This draws together the best literacy practices for the classroom and beyond. It explains how literacy goes well beyond traditional notions of reading and writing, with “making meaning” at the heart of all literate practices.

In the Australian curriculum, literacy is not only part of the English curriculum, but is also one of the general capabilities. This means that children throughout all years of schooling should be learning how to use language and how to make meaning, not only in English classes, but in other subject areas too.

Literacy is embedded across all areas of the curriculum, encompassing:

the knowledge and skills students need to access, understand, analyse and evaluate information, make meaning, express thoughts and emotions, present ideas and opinions, interact with others and participate in activities at school and in their lives beyond school.

However, there is a lot of misinformation in the media about what teachers do, so we thought it would be worth explaining how literacy is taught in Australian classrooms.

The early years, age 5-8: learning to read and write

When children first arrive at school, the focus is on teaching them the “how” of reading and writing

The Australian curriculum emphasises that children need to make connections between their oral language and the written language they are learning.

Students in the foundation year of school need to learn how to understand and recognise the sounds of words, as well as the connections between spoken and written words.

They also need to develop reading fluency, being able to read without stumbling, to recognise and use a variety of words, and to understand what they read.

In years one and two, the focus becomes one of developing text composition and comprehension strategies, including the generic structures and language features of different texts.

Developing vocabulary knowledge is emphasised, as well as reading fluency and comprehension in highly structured daily literacy blocks.

Students engage with high-quality literature and have opportunities to create and explore various ways of expressing themselves through written, visual, spoken and multimodal texts.

Later years, age 8-18: reading and writing to learn

As they move through primary school, students engage in literacy practices across all areas of the curriculum. Modelled, shared, guided and independent reading and writing are daily practices.

Students work with the teacher, other students and independently on viewing and designing many different types of texts throughout the school week.

As students enter the high school years, the emphasis shifts to subject-specific literacies. A good overview of some of these can be found on the curriculum site.

All teachers share the responsibility for developing their students’ literacy capabilities, regardless of whether they are teaching Year 7 drama or Year 12 physics.

Why teaching literacy is important

There is no doubt that Australia is a literacy-dependent society. The demand on young people is growing within the context of international test rankings and competition, an increasingly globalised workforce and a transitioning economy that requires highly sophisticated literacy skills.

As such, it is important that literacy teaching in classrooms reflects the very best approaches that research, policy and curriculum design can provide.

A review of literacy research found that contemporary literacy practices include:

  • cracking the relationship between written and spoken language
  • drawing on cultural knowledge to make meaning from texts
  • being able to use texts purposefully in different contexts
  • understanding how texts can present different representations of the world.

The ALEA literacy declaration is clear that:

No one method of reading/writing instruction will ever meet the needs of all children at all times. Therefore educators need to be discerning practitioners as they draw on research that is contemporary, valid and rigorously conducted to inform their practice.

A range of literacy learning support materials is available to teachers and parents, including from education authorities in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. These resources make important links between research, policy and classroom practice.

Professional associations play an important role, including ALEA, the Primary English Teaching Association of Australia and the Australian Association for the Teaching of English. These organisations provide professional development and resources for teachers, as well as commissioning research projects and undertaking advocacy and public engagement.

The author, Eileen Honan, is a Senior Lecturer in English and Literacy Education at the University of Queensland.

Leadership – It’s black & white

I woke up this morning to footage of protests, turned riots in America and solidarity protests across Europe.

These were the continuation of activities over the weekend following the death of a man, George Floyd, at the hands of a former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, with a reported history of misusing the agency his position gave him.

Last night, as I watched media reports about the escalating situation, I wanted to know what the US leadership’s position was… so I went to Twitter.

Unsurprisingly, the escalation of protests into riots had its genesis.

This morning I revisited the @realDonaldTrump Twitter feed and confirmed my suspicions.

The preferred narrative of the current American president was purpose-filled: insight division, assert white power, silence free speech and deride the 4th estate (media).

My default research platform, should tell you all you need to know about the style of ‘leadership’ in the region of genuine discontent.

While President Trump (@realDonaldTrump) is not the first President to utilise the social networking platform, it is his communications platform of choice (for the moment).

So to understand the ‘Voice’ of the President, Twitter is the logical place to start.

Originally, I started screenshoting the President’s twitter feed, but I stopped.

The abuse of people, process and community was abundant and not something I was looking to give oxygen.

But it got me thinking…

We keep hearing both locally and globally about the ‘new normal’ following the COVID-19 pandemic that literally saw the world ‘lockdown’.

However, absent in the global leadership dialogue is what we want our ‘new normal’ to look like.

We know the ills of each society are only exacerbated in extreme conditions and hardship.

But is the American leadership position still a viable justification for repression?

IMHO complacency of conversation and supporting action is why a non-politician became the President of the United States of America.

It is also why the new normal is whatever the ones who speak up, stand up and ‘do’, decide.

Ignorance breeds contempt and social structures are embedded with the bias of those who wield power. Their perspective is deemed (rightly or wrongly) appropriate.

However, in reviewing the annals of business (and more recently politics) when is anything @realDonaldTrump has ever done been deemed appropriate?

There is nothing united about the American states.

In reviewing the news footage, I couldn’t help but wonder why and how ‘civilised society’ can repeatedly get it so wrong.

This is a time for leadership within the global community – irrespective of political, legal and economic structures and biases associated with them.

This is the time for men and women – leaders, future leaders and their followers to stake a claim on the future we desire to work towards.

If we are genuinely ‘all in this together’, I wonder who within the group of world leaders will speak up, stand up and lead.

Deciding when enough is enough is a solid place to start our ‘new normal’ as I am reminded how well Sorkin nailed the issues in his opening scene of Newsroom, way back when…