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COVID-19: Where are we now?

I’ve just spent an hour zooming with infectious disease experts re: what individuals and communities can do given what we know about COVID-19.

I have the privilege of being able to do this because I work at Sydney Uni.

So I feel compelled to share what I have just learnt and hope you find it useful because access to expert information that is unpoliticised, to questions about what we can do and why in these uncertain times, might just save lives and promote positive social hygiene behaviours.

C-19 is transferred via both contact and droplet transmission.

These droplets can be ‘aerosolised’ (aka air borne) and fall to a surface (table, bench, door handle etc) or be transmitted person to person.

We also know the affects of the C-19 virus on community groups is dependent on a number of factors (please note this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. The Amount of Exposure to the virus
  2. Age – the virus is more severe in the elderly because of co-existing disease.
  3. Underlying genetic factors – For instance: The number of receptors for this virus to get into the body systems and then the cells. Because males and females have different numbers of these receptors in their cells the impact of the virus also varies.

The Australian Approach

In Australia, we are operating under a policy of ‘suppression’ rather than elimination of the virus because elimination would require severe lockdowns and create social and economic consequences beyond what we have known to date.

So, the current policy is very much in step with a fire fighters approach to ‘spot fires’. Where measures are designed to fight outbreaks as quickly as possible.

Hence the official directive is:

  1. Get tested. If you have a tickle in your throat or show any signs of possible infection.
  2. While waiting for your results – SELF ISOLATE at home away from others.
  3. Social Distance

The fallacy of the FACE MASK

There is a lot of misinformation around the function and effectivity of facemasks.

Facemasks are personal protection equipment. The reason they are recommended (currently mandatory in Melbourne) is because the face mask acts as a barrier in 2 ways:

  1. Protects the WEARER against the transfer of droplets
  2. Protects the wider population by limiting the extent to generate droplets (a known source of transmission of C-19) to the environment.

So when you wear a mask, you’re not just protecting yourself, but also your community.

You’re being socially responsible and community-minded.

Key Insights from the panel discussion:

RNA (the genetic material of the C-19 virus) must reproduce exactly and yet there are some errors every time it multiplies. This is not necessarily a bad thing because through the changes in the strains, tracking of outbreaks can be more precise.

In Australia, C-19 outbreaks in January 2020 were largely from China, then a strain was tracked from Iran.

These nationalised strains of C-19 are beyond interesting to me and something no doubt worthy of further exploration, but by the experts – not me 🙂

I hope you have found this useful in clarifying any questions, hesitations or reservations you might be harbouring during these uncertain times.

Keep your distance, wear a mask out in public, wash your hands, cough into your elbow!

By doing this, you’re contributing to the solution of breaking the chain of infection.

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…

Our Educators are the Unsung Heroes of C-19

Rightly or wrongly, the responsibility for the daily health and well-being of Australian families rests on the shoulders of our educators.

Why?

Because our ability as CEO of our households sees us now responsible for feeding, clothing, educating and supporting our children while also managing through the financial complications associated with managing the delicacies of employment in the COVID-19 era.

If you’re a parent who has taken responsibility for the daily educational needs of your child/ren, you know the challenge is real.

If you’re like me, you value the quality of education your child receives.

And yet you know you are failing to keep up.

With life, with work, with your child’s education schedule and the house keeping!

In the first note after isolation was enforced, I couldn’t have loved my daughter’s teacher more.

‘Thank you for taking responsibility for your child’s education’ she said.

I cried. Knowing this was as hard for her as a dedicated educator to relinquish her daily responsibility to us – the unqualified.

As a tertiary educator and online educator for close to a decade, some might assume I had this in the bag.

I certainly wasn’t phased.

I’d downloaded the 13 page .pdf expertly crafted to scaffold both student and parent through this new educational reality.

It was articulate in the daily requirements and included links and hard copies in a folder painstakingly collated and that we’d excitedly collected (while observing strict social distancing instructions).

I was beyond confident.

Then I started reading….the first lesson was phonemes.

My daughter had been speaking about them for weeks and I had congratulated her excitedly.

Yet when it came to teaching them – I had NO idea!

Enter Dr Google… okay, I had a definition. I could make this work. I could participate.

Then I saw that the wonderful educators at her public school really had my back – they’d included an explanatory video!

Now I felt invincible. 🙂

As a working mum and sole parent, I knew the road ahead was going to be busy.

I never imagined it was going to be so challenging. But it was for my daughter and I was beyond committed.

As the days turned into weeks, I spoke to close friends and associates, my struggles, were also their struggles.

Now I was determined to ease the burden for all of us and let the teachers get back to teaching. After all, they’re the ones best qualified. And my daughter deserved them.

So I decided to build a solution to help us all.

In doing so, I’ve now built a wonderful team of like-minded Australian educators and parents stretching four generations who share not only my educational vision but also a  community spirit… and

Our School Online was born.

So if you’re a parent, I’d love to hear how you’re managing through via our online survey because it’s really easy to think you’re all alone on this journey.

And let’s be honest, those What’sApp class groups don’t help our self-esteem! 🙂

If you’re and educator, feel free to call 1800 469 233 or email us at admin@online-school.com.au to see how our custom-built solution can ease the operational burden of moving your classroom online.

After all, we’ve built this to honour and support the brilliant work you do and the dedication you show towards educating our children.

Consider this our Thank you!

xo

 

 

 

 

C-19 – The world has gone mad. Again…

Now, we must STOP, look, listen, think and then act…

The shutdown of global industry could well be a by-product of our sheep mentality, but then again it may not…

While the ‘Facts’ evade us, so too does the privilege of making informed decisions in our daily lives.

So how do we as individuals, sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, workers, business owners, debt-savvy individuals manage the reality of business, government and schools grinding to a halt…?

The best way we can.

First we act as individuals. We look at our own daily behaviours. We adopt (or not) a hypersensitivity to germs and we take preventative measures accordingly.

For those of you new to this, that doesn’t mean we start wiping our bottoms and washing our hands with soap post ablutions (you should have already been doing that! 🙂 ), it simply means extending our daily hygeine habits to consider the health of our fellow community members and their families.

As someone who lives and works in a multicultural community, I have long known our current situation isn’t a matter of race, religion or creed.

However, I also know that’s not everyone’s perception…

So sadly, from the outset, some are already operating behind the eight ball.

It’s not your fault (or maybe it is), but rest assured this isn’t an Asian infliction.

Truth be told, none of us outside certain areas of the medical industry have even a buckley’s chance in hell of understanding what this Covid-19 infected world really is.

What we can control however, and what we can take responsibility for is clear.

Our response to the ‘global pandemic’ is ours to own.

So, the real questions to be asked is how do you want and will you contribute to supporting your loved ones and the community at large in a COVID-19 era..?

Those who know me well would describe me as a ‘germaphobe’ due to my life long love affair with soap, incessant hand-washing and standard ‘no drinking after others’ life motto and subsequent daily practices.

What is ‘natural’ daily behaviour for me and something I have been long judged for, could admittedly, in itself be a study. However, it has now become the global minimum expectation for all.

I’m not going to say ‘I told you so. This isn’t the time for grandstanding (is it ever?), but it is the time for calm.

So do what you can to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the risk of possible infection. Because we know C-19 lives on surfaces for weeks.

In doing so, you will be acting as a responsible global citizen and a kindly intended individual…

There is a whole lot of power in that.

Stop Nurturing Your e-Brand on social

If you do this…

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You’re signing up for this…

And that’s okay, if you understand how the digital ecosystem works.

Since 1920’s Australians have been encouraged to consume. Initially through the power of print media, then radio and television. 

Convenience has driven consumption of products and services for a hundred years, but somewhere in the last decade,  you and I became the product being sold, under the guise of community and human’s inherent (or learned) desire for connection.

Social media and technology platforms have so expertly distracted us from realising our digital selves are a mirror of our most vulnerable selves, disguising itself as a free solution to building our networks.

However, social technology and mobile media doesn’t connect us, it ‘distracts’ us and from it new daily habits and new norms formed.

Not sure, what I mean…?

Imagine there is a black out for 24 hours. Your phone has just run out of battery and there is literally no way to charge your devices. Even if you could, there is no internet connection.

You’re officially (and without warning) disconnected with no control over when reconnection will occur.

Think about that.

As an individual, How will that impact your mobility, your connection with your partner, children, local community, friends, extended family? How will it affect your earning capacity, ability to be on time (or even know the time), your access to money…?

Can you thrive, your way, in your everyday without being ‘plugged in’?

For most, the simple loss of electricity, paralyses our ‘normal’ everyday routine.

If you’re a small business owner paying ‘influencers’ to do this:

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Ask yourself how sustainable your approach to the market really is.

Social media nurtures a public profile for all to exploit.

It doesn’t organically provide you with community and opportunity or knowledge, merely access to information curated by an algorithm that it thinks you should like… and so you do.

The operational cost of participating is not just your privacy. It’s your intelligence. Now this is nothing new and you probably have felt very comfortable handing over your personal and business data to the AI-driven bots of the Big 7 for years.

But in the absence of legal protections and faint attempts by the ACCC to protect the business interests of media organisations above and beyond the actual human right to privacy for all Australians, your data will continue to be sold back to you, to increase your consumption of mobile and social platforms, because you continue to ride them.

Why do we capitulate so easily to being ‘dumbed down’ as both individuals and society?

The tide needs to turn and although an ethics discussion has been simmering, it is falling largely on deaf ears, possibly because of our collective apathy and the economics of a challenge seem unviable.

Civilisations have crumbled repeatedly throughout the history of man. Why?

Maybe it’s because we fail to recognise the patterns of history do apply to the living and rather than seek to amend our ways intelligently, sustainably and purposefully we default to the convenience of consuming the information provided to us, rather than proactively seeking what is in our collective best interest.

Do you care enough about yourself and your loved ones to seek out a future where your daily actions are your own, or don’t you feel your privacy is worth anything anymore…?

This week’s Challenge: Remove your social media platforms from your phone for a week and see what you are really missing out on.

Why I’m Walking for Lifehouse

A healthy life not utilised, is wasted. 

Unhealthy is much more fun…

Until you’ve heard the words ‘It’s cancer’ from the mouths of family or friends.

Then healthy becomes the only thing you care about.

Three out of the five members of my immediate family have survived The Big C.

Selfishly, I’m doing the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse 28km Walk with Lifehouse Coastal Trek later this month because I’m an inaugural member of an amazing group of humans called Lyndal’s Pink Gems who also share a tenuous relationship with Cancer.

We’ve been ‘in training’ now for a couple of months (in between life’s many distractions).

We’re hoping to complete the course in about 5 hours or so, but we’re not as interested in time taken, as we are in time spent. Together.

My team: Lyndal’s Pink Gems

Captains extraordinaire Christie and JA will ensure everyone is together and supported as needs arise.

Jodie’s handbag will contain the essentials, and while a few will be orienting themselves with a camelbak for the first time, all will be focused on propelling each other towards successful conquering of an unknown terrain with a smile and a strong sense of purpose.

Much like everyone’s journey with The Big C.

We won’t have our wonderful support crew by our side on this particular venture, but we will have each other and that means more wonderful and memorable moments made and shared.

We do have 28 kilometres of Royal National Park to cover afterall!

Warning: This is where I ask you for your loose change

So….if you are able to support an amazing group of humans at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse treat people, not just cancer, please help us raise funds by DONATING HERE 

Every dollar makes sense.

It’s time to re-think your approach to Social.

I spent a day with some of the brightest young minds in advertising last week.

The similarities

All were fabulous, capable, intelligent, hard-working ‘go-getters’. All were running some of the better social media campaigns in Australia.

Some were from boutique agencies doing really cool stuff, others had evolved to freelancers, some were in-house marketers, while others were clinging lovingly to the structural ropes at some of Australia’s biggest agencies.

All were social coordinators, social leaders, the agencies’ ‘social experts’.

Yet, throughout the course of the day, I felt myself go through all the stages of grief.

I took the next day off to get my head back into production mode and (as luck would have it) I was surrounded by social marketing and social media practitioners who also shattered my new media soul into a thousand pieces when they started telling me How2 Social through buzz phrases, which included (but painfully was not limited to) ‘personal brand’ in the same breath as ‘authenticity’ and ‘social measurement’ as Facebook metrics.

Over two separate days in two completely different environments, my grief was confounded.

Why?

In the short space of two days, it became abundantly clear that current practice is merely a hybrid of the platform ‘certified’ sales pitches. A regurgitation and adaption of the papers we were writing and the presentations we were giving back in 2012…

OVER FIVE YEARS AGO!

(and yes, I know I’m screaming, but seriously…?!)

Discussions around social media have traditionally been driven by the available technology, or social community management issues that have arisen through the event of participation.

Traditionally, advertising and media agencies have worked behind a thin veil of creative agency presenting ‘the solution’ as the requisite bridge between product/ sterile company and desired consumer.

Sadly however, a large percentage of Advertising, PR, Communications and Media Agencies are entrenched in outdated business practice when it comes to production for and distribution on social.

If these company representatives are anything to go by, even the agencies who have re-badged their Art Director to Creative Lead are missing the point somewhat entirely!

This only compounds my grief as Australian agencies should be leading the global creative charge in this space (and no don’t point me to the self-congratulatory industry statues corporations spend millions to win each year).

Creatives have the opportunity to lead, rather than dwell.

Directors have the opportunity to integrate and showcase, rather than merely direct traffic.

Oh.. and to the Preditors (the hybrid being that is both producer and editor) let’s make a concerted effort to lose the jargon.

It’s not about what you call yourself, it’s what you say and do that drives impact.

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