HSC Time … or is it?

All my Facebook memories at this time of year seem to have been me giving last minute advice and messages of good luck to my former tutoring students (including my own offspring … yes, when they were in Year 12 they dutifully turned up each week to the tutoring centre I’d worked in pretty much their whole lives, much to the amusement of their peers in our small group sessions).

This year, of course, the start of the HSC has been delayed. Consequentially, so has HSC Marking. We now won’t start marking until close to the time we usually finish, and it will continue into December. As a result, and because of the compressed timeline to get the results processed and through UAC in time for University offers, NESA is doing an unprecedented (there’s that word again!) second call for applicants. So if you have recent HSC teaching experience, jump on board, jump online and join us for an educational experience that is quite literally like no other. In my experience, you won’t find a better bunch of people with whom to work.

More details here

In keeping with my HSC-styled musings, this morning The Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces”–all about letting your daughter go and waving her goodbye as she begins adulthood–started playing in my Spotify list. This also seemed kind of prescient since Child the Elder is graduating this evening. It’s a postponed and online event and for a few brief hours last weekend we thought we were going to be allowed to sit on a couch in the same location to view it, before state pollies “clarified” that no, metro and regional areas wouldn’t be allowed to cross the streams for day trips just yet, after all.

So instead we’ll be sitting on our separate couches 92 kilometres apart. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before we can get together and have a properly celebratory meal and take some frame-able photos for what is actually a pretty significant moment in her life.

#UOWgrad2021

Congratulations, Jamie. We love you, we miss you, and we’re very proud.

If you need help with getting organised for the HSC, you can contact me on https://www.kimberleymcmahoncoleman.com or send me an email via kmcmahon_coleman@hotmail.com

Same stuff, different day

I haven’t written for a while, but then again, there’s been nothing to say for a while. We’re in Week 2 of regional lockdown, and expecting an announcement tomorrow that it will be extended again. With cases surging in the West and sewage surveillance detection in the South, a pretty-underdone “plan” on the return to school across the state, and daily new cases now above the 900 per day mark, lifting restrictions seems pretty reckless.

So maybe our esteemed government will go ahead and do that, after all.

The NSW government continues to not make a real call about the HSC. They talk about certainty but really, if any Year 12 students gets a positive diagnosis, the whole year group will be out of exams for a fortnight or so. It only runs across four weeks from start to finish and it starts in seven or eight weeks. So proceeding is inherently uncertain and they only way to have certainty would be to say, exams are off and we’ll go by your assessments.

One of the big ideas has been that the students could sit exams outside. I laughed at that one. Better pray for no big winds. Also, I had really bad hay fever during my HSC and I’m thinking that being outside among the pollen probably wouldn’t have helped that situation.

I should add that I sat the HSC at Lithgow High School. My husband delightedly told me that Twitter was alight with people lampooning the “plan,” citing that it had snowed in Lithgow during the HSC last year. I pointed out that we’d had a bushfire during ours. It was a bit distracting when teachers came in and started collecting keys from my peers, so they could move the seniors’ cars before they all became potential bombs.

This is the view from my childhood bedroom window this morning. Quick, set up a desk and a chair and pass out the exam papers!

Closer to home we’ve had bucketing rain and gale-force winds. Thankfully, we had some trees trimmed and used a cherry-picker to take down our advertising banners at the Shoalhaven campus about ten days ago – right about the time lockdown was called.

Photo Credit: Leanne Windsor. NOT taken on campus.

Other than trying to disentangle the mixed messaging of the daily pressers, I’ve been extending my brain by undertaking some online professional development. I’ve done this through two main channels; one formal, and one informal.

First of all, I’ve enrolled in another short course from UNSW’s Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM). I did one last year during my first WFH period, and the one I’m currently doing (Leading with Resilience) feels much more directly related to my role, so I may redo the budget and explore another option or two later in the year.

Apparently if you do enough short courses you can “stack” them into a certificate. I’m not sure whether I’m keen enough to pursue this option, but I love that it is there.

I’m also currently doing an AGSM leadership course that’s free to alumni, so while they overlap this week and it’s a bit busy, they kind of also fit in well together. The latter has probably ten times more people in it and the synchronous classes are in the evening, so it feels a lot more chaotic than our boutique little one where there are fewer than thirty of us and I’ve probably chatted to most people via breakout room by now.

Apparently resilience largely comes from all the things we’ve been told to do since forever, like eating and sleeping properly, and exercising, and showing ourselves some grace and taking an occasional break. With some actual references and neuroscience to back it up and the accountability of homework, however, I’m paying more attention than when it’s the fad de jour of a women’s magazine. A lifelong insomniac, I moaned about the data on sleep hygiene, because it’s not like I don’t *want* to sleep. Yet I did as I was told and started using a sleep monitoring app. Knowing it’s going to register if I faff around and don’t turn it on until midnight has made a difference. And much to my surprise as someone who rolls my eyes every time the spousal unit talks about meditation or chattering monkeys, I was OK with the pre-sleep meditation loops on the app. I rationalised it away as I had been falling asleep to podcasts, so it was just different talking. And I quickly culled the creepy-sounding bloke for a nice female voice. I suspect I’ve never made it to the end of her reel. But I’ve slept through the entire night twice this week, which probably hasn’t happened since I was like, 5 years old. Or severely jetlagged.

I even managed to sleep through audible wild weather this week, which has not been a thing. Possibly ever.

The informal professional development is taking place in the form of SheMentors, which is a mentoring membership for women.

I’ll admit at first I was completely skeptical, having previously joined something similar that I’d first heard about at my Uni. You paid for each event, you were “matched” with a mentor and placed in a small group for a one-off chat. They also took place in Wollongong (more than an hour away) at 7am, so I had to be up VERY early to facilitate this. In my case, the mentor didn’t understand my context at all, and advised me to take some annual leave in order to meet a writing deadline. The one that is part of my job. She actually told me to use my leave to do my work when I was trying to hold that boundary in the kind of career where boundaries between professional and personal life are already incredibly blurry.

SheMentors and the alternative both involve a fee for mentoring, and at least one senior colleague at Uni was absolutely horrified by this, but I get that businesses need to get money to cover their costs, so I can find a way to live with that.

The cost structure is different at SheMentors. It’s a monthly subscription, so I’ve budgeted that in until the end of the year and will see how I’m going then. It costs what it used to cost me to be a member of a co/writing support group, until their plans and fees all changed. The monthly fee covers up to two mentor hours I book with women who have acumen in areas I’m developing, and I am expected to donate at least one in return. (Side note: I still have slots available for August. So if this is of interest to you–hit me up). There are also lunchtime webinars and social events. So far I’ve been to two of the former and I’m booked in for a new member coffee catch-up.

I’ve had one mentoring session and booked another (with the second mentor being a recommendation from the first, based on our conversation).

First mentoring session, with the lovely Deborah. Pre-lockdown.

So far, I’m finding it to be really helpful.

I’m still an introvert, but–as my classes keep telling me–growth happens just outside of the comfort zone.