[Personal] 2020 Part Four

What a year! There will be nothing new exposed here as I am aware that anyone reading it will have experienced it all, all-be-it in your own way.  I write purely to reflect and record, as despite the significant impact the year has had, I know the memories will fade.  Reading back through the very few  previous posts I actually published this year is already reminding me of the power of recording thoughts and events.

So, 2020 a year of:

Changing plans All aspects of our lives were thrown into chaos. I went from travelling around Victoria to being limited to 5km from home.  Plans to visit Turkey and Greece dissolved into dreams as we protected ourselves and others by staying home and staying safe.

Adapting Work and social life adapted to online interactions. Imagine having close family within 20 minutes drive that you don’t see in person for months at a time?  Imagine spending more of the working year working from home than going to a workplace?  It was inconceivable a year ago, but the reality of 2020.  The local streets of our neighbourhood were explored in away that not happened in the previous 30 years.  Wearing a face mask became an expected standard.

Unfinished blog posts Moments of inspiration to write became moments of indecision – why would I write about ‘that’ topic when the world around me was in such a strange state?

Uncertainty Daily updates on the health of our nation were suddenly part of a routine.  Our ability to make plans has changed.  Personally, I can’t foresee when I might contemplate re-booking an overseas trip that we had planned for 2020.  My world has shrunk and my gratitude for being located where I am has increased.

New vocabulary As epidemiologists came out of the woodwork, phrases like : COVID19, Social distancing, Community spread, Contact tracing, Isolation became commonplace

Loss However positive we try and remain, it cannot be denied everyone experienced loss in 2020.  Lost income, opportunities and of course family members.  I think of the Year 12 students, missing the ‘rights of passage’ of their final year of schooling, of the first year university students who were thrust into online learning instead of the new experience of University life.  Those who lost jobs and opportunities as businesses closed. Lost opportunities to gather together for family celebrations – postponed weddings and funerals with limited numbers.

Opportunities The ingenuity of people who adapted their business to online versions – home deliveries exploded.  What do the staff at the Penguin parade do when the people can’t come to them? They broadcast the daily arrival of the tiny creatures on the Philip Island beach via the internet to the world.  What do high end restaurants do when their diners are no longer sitting at their tables?  They create gourmet meals ready to complete and enjoy at home.

Inspirations The random acts of kindness and inspiration from groups like the online choirs who collaborate to keep creating music from their homes.  The call to duty when families in high rise communities needed culturally specific supplies and the meals delivered to hospital staff.  The ‘Spoonville’ towns that created focus points for our walks.

Controversy It was not surprising that not everyone agreed on the decisions our leaders were making.  Were restrictions too harsh, or not harsh enough?  Were they an attack on our human rights or a necessary effort to keep us safe?  No politicians were prepared for a year like 2020, making decisions that were unthinkable as we watched the clock tick over into 2020.  Did they make all the right decisions? Did they try their best? Were there better solutions? Would they do it differently if they had the benefit of hindsight? Questions, I ponder mostly without answers.

Comparisons  The world went topsy turvy – whilst we were in lockdown, many parts of the world were opening up and then we are opening up, many other parts are locking down.   Envy and empathy were on the roller coaster.

I can honestly say that I never felt I was ‘stuck at home’ – I was lucky, I was safe at home.  I had work to keep my mind active, I have a comfortable home and was able to harness technology to keep connected.  I missed contact with friends and family and normal routines.  I bought a new jigsaw puzzle in March and it remains unopened.  That will be a summer holiday treat.

It is obvious that this pandemic is not over – time will tell.  I am hoping I am writing as we are entering the final phases – perhaps that is optimistic but we need plenty of that !

Here is a visual version on 2020 from my perspective – I count my blessings and am grateful.


[Personal] 2020 Part Three

We are now into our first fortnight of “Physical distancing” and life is OK.   In Victoria our government are updating us regularly and cautiously acknowledging the positive effects of our joint good behaviour.  Our island nation is benefiting from what has sometimes been called and tyranny of distance – but we are not out of the woods.

The following little story will tell how technology continues to connect us and inspire us to continue family traditions enven when we are not face to face. .

My father-in-law is an Australian who came from Italy as a teenager, met an Australian girl and married.  My Mother-in-law took to her new Italian culture with gusto, learning to speak Italian as a 17- 18 year old and very keenly learning from the Italian cuisine delights as well.   As a teenager, I was inducted into the same culture visiting the grandparents – Nonna and Nonno.  Tiny little Nonna delighted in sharing her creations – one of which is the Ricotta Cassetelle – only created for Christmas and Easter.

This year we have watched whilst the extended family share the tradition and joy via Facebook. Two cousins – one in Italy and another in Greece.



Inspired to give them another go (after a try a few years ago) we searched out the recipe written by my mother-in-law in quaint Italian/English


I used Google Translate to verify my Year 10 Italian translation of the Italian phrases – realising that ‘cucchianins’ were in fact ‘cucchiai’ translating to tablespoons

The final result [shared in Instagram of course] – yum !  Did they taste like Nonna’s?  Well not exactly,  but they serve to connect us to the past and others in our present (although distant) .

[Personal] 2020 Vision – Part Two

Life has been a little confusing in Victoria whilst the lines in the sand (or on the pavement more accurately) were a little unclear.  The Victorian isolation rules vary a little from the Federal rules.  This week’s discussion was around: Can you visit family members who live away from you?  In the state of Victoria,  the answer is No – unless they are in Aged care, but elsewhere in Australia the answer would be Yes.  So I can visit my Dad (subject to strict guidelines) but not my adult children.  I get it and I understand it and I am not complaining – but there was confusion for a period of time when ABC Melbourne were publishing Federal rules.  I am not wanting to be critical of those in leadership positions as their roles are phenomenally difficult but I reckon that consistency is one of the key traits we are requiring. I have chosen to limit my visits to my dad, although I could enter the Aged care centre, currently we can meet in the park as he is still able to walk independently around his neighborhood.  Presumably, this will change as the weather deteriorates into Winter.

The routines of life are now entering the new normal.  Social connections are being retained via online chats, phone calls etc.  My calendar now has a few planned social Google Hangouts and I have already ‘Zoomed’ with colleagues from a previous job.   My niece who is in a small flat in London is sharing her progress on jigsaw puzzles and discussing podcast options via ‘What’s App”.  Humour is still a very important part of people’s coping mechanism and I delight in seeing the creativity shared around.  Some cute videos and heaps of memes to make us giggle.    A gorgeous movie posted on Facebook by a friend of an older couple singing their version of ‘Always look on the bright side of life’.

From the confines of our homes, our world can open up to different opportunities, some things we may have put off are now achievable and actually offer a chance to improve ourselves or develop different skills.   I have had a piano in my house since my children were little and they were having lesson and wanted to move to a ‘real piano’ from the mini electric keyboard .  I never played as a child – not sure why, it just didn’t happen but my girls both had lessons – enough to be able to entertain themselves in later years and accompany their vocal skills.   So the time is now ripe to get back a bit of that value I added to them – they are giving me gentle hints and inspiration to ‘tickle the ivories’ that lay dormant most of the time.   The piece of furniture in the front room which holds the family photos so nicely is now creating sounds – I won’t pretend they are pretty, but it is a start.

Houseparty – Piano lesson

Here’s a little ‘House party lesson’.




[Personal] 2020 vision – Part One

Time to dust off the blog as I really believe I may forget how this era in my life unfolded.   Nothing revolutionary here, more a diary for my own purpose.

A few weeks ago, I was completing what I now know was my final work road trip visiting amazing teachers around Victoria.  The ‘Coronavirus’ was news in other parts of the world and not having any significant impact on life in my little pocket of the world.   We really had a lovely naivety of the things that would develop so quickly over the next few days and weeks.  Australia was still impacted by the devastating bushfires and drought was still high on our minds.

Sitting in a cafe in a small country town, I remember overhearing chats about toilet paper shortages but in general, life was still ‘normal’.   I think this was the time when many Aussies were aboard a cruise ship off Japan awaiting news that their enforced isolation was coming to an end, and perhaps it coincided with many Aussies returning from China spending some time in quarantine on Christmas Island.  It is already getting tricky already to remember the chronology of the events.

I returned to Melbourne and life started to change – little by little.  The situation overseas was starting to make major ripples in our lives.  As a teacher, I was acutely aware of the evolving debate over potential school closures and could see schools working towards what started to appear an inevitable period of time where schools would operate in a severely altered format.

In mid-March (that’s two weeks from when I am writing) we had friends over to our house for dinner and I remember it being that awkward time when we didn’t know whether to hug each other when they arrived.    No rules enacted – social distancing was just about to emerge in our lives.

A few days later, in my immediate family, ‘working from home’ was first discussed, then planned over a number of days and then enacted.   My adult children adjusted very quickly, there were no complaints – a ‘just do it’ attitude.

My elderly father who lives is Aged Care is being cared for by a wonderful doctor who had what I realise now was very forward thinking conversations with her patients and families about possible scenarios – conversations that make us confident that he is in good hands.  The opportunities for visiting him have moved through a number of small increments as the situation in the outside world altered.

Coffee meetups  at the local cafe with my friends slowed and then ceased – we did not know that they were the last face to face catch ups for a while.  It just seemed to naturally blur into our new normal and transfer into the virtual world. I’ve watched family members return from overseas and go into important isolation periods.

Now I join most of the people I know who are lucky enough to still have work (at least for a while), to be working from home and using so many different digital tools to maintain connections with my colleagues and friends.

Yesterday I interacted with colleagues, friends and family via all these tools in some way or another.

  • Direct phone call – landline
  • Mobile phone from car
  • Twitter DM
  • SMS
  • Instagram DM
  • Gmail
  • Outlook
  • What’s APP
  • Houseparty
  • Zoom
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Google Drive

I’ve watched my work team, adapt and co-ordinate actions in new situations.  Our final team meeting was moved from a face to face catch up in Adelaide to a team meeting via Zoom from our homes around the country.   CSER has always used technology in innovative ways so it was not a great stretch for us to adapt and create new actions to replace our face to face work.We are now preparing resources to help keep the excellent outreach work of CSER Adelaide available to teachers around Australia.

I have also witnessed so many little simple reminders of the goodness of humanity – the humour being used to manage our emotions, the Random Acts of Kindness, Teddy Bear Hunts, Chalk the Walk – all small but powerful indications of the good in people.

It is no surprise to me that through this technology, is what is helping us stay connected.   I have been espousing it’s value for that since I started this blog.  It is one of the main reasons I started this blog.  I summarised those in this article in 2016.    The innovative ways it is being used now are my silver lining.

Here’s hoping for more positive news in Part Two – at some later date.

What a team!

Having just returned from a team meeting of the CSER Project Officers, I was reflecting on the privilege it is to be part of this project.  Then on Twitter my WA colleague Robin succinctly summarised it :


Each meeting is an opportunity for people who work independently during the year in each state and territory, to gather face to face and share experiences, challenges, successes and to plan for the future.  It is an important element in our program.

We are given wonderful time to learn from each other and share expertise.  This time, we worked on reaction timers using Microbits, assessment strategies, creating games using design strategies and tech, unplugged computational thinking activities to name a few.  Always a pleasure to see how this divergent group approach these ideas .