Friday, 24 April 2015

Educator or Traveller or Photographer?

In the last 7 years, all three descriptions of what I do and love so much have just molded and gelled so well with one another.

I've taken my photography skills up a notch with the constant exercise and experimenting on the sports field, in portraits, during school plays, awards ceremonies and just all around interaction with the students. I've taken what I've learnt and shared it with students who are interested in photography. And taken what they have taught me to use in my photography. My love of travel photography has increased too. And I'm always looking at new ways to take photographs on the next trip or the next time I'm out of the city, or even wandering around the city.

I've always believed that travelling is a vital form of education. Education about the world and education about yourself. So with every trip I take, I learn something about myself, who I want to be, and with whom I want to spend my time. You learn to be more flexible in most situations, but more refined and perhaps a little restrictive in some decisions to be more focused on what is really important. Everything I've learnt from travelling, I've transfered to my "normal" life and how I handle situations at work.

My job has allowed me to travel more. Yes we get longer holidays than the corporate world, but we earn it! All the long hours and weekends that exhaust and drain us, are predominantly made up for in the weeks we have off. There are weeks we spend preparing for the next term and the next education challenge. But there are weeks we can just do "nothing" and it's in those weeks that I escape!
I keep myself sane with pictures from my travels on the cupboard and walls immediately around my desk. While I've taken a number of skills that I've learnt while travelling and applied them in my working world, I've also taken a number of those skills and tried (sometimes unsuccessfully) to impart and share them with my students in relevant lessons and classroom situations.
I believe that a teacher should be a guide, someone the student can build upon to reach that much higher, that much further in their life. And thus, everything I learn, I can possibly pass onto my students.

Education is a journey, thus at the heart, every educator or student is some sort of traveller.


Friday, 17 April 2015

(Educator or ) Traveller (or Photographer) ?

Where did the traveller in me come from?

If there's a gene for travelling I have it. Granted, following and reading multiple posts on social media, I may not have the full complement of travel genes that some others may have. I know that it's in my bones, heart and soul to travel, explore and experience the world in all it's wonders, sights, sounds, tastes, smells and textures.

Whether you believe in either nature or nurture, or a combination of both. Travel has been a part of who I am, and have been since before birth,

My mother in her early twenties travelled Europe and the US for months, my father travelled to Europe for sporting tours in his late twenties as well. Both families originally came from the British Isles two or three generations, sometimes four, before my parents. A member or two of the previous generations only came to SA after a number of "hops" between other countries and continents. Whether the moves were based on economic or survival needs, the inclination to leave the home shores, to venture out and explore the possibilities have been passed down in the generations.

My brother has recently moved to London; my aunt and her husband moved to Australia almost 30 years ago now. And all cousins on both sides have spent time overseas, from a few weeks at a time for work or adventure to a couple of months or two years for experience.

I grew up in the vibrant city of Johannesburg, and from an early age, we (my parents and I; and then subsequent siblings) travelled the country. My maternal grandparents lived at the coast in a chilled out city of Port Elizabeth, and so a regular trip down to visit them wasn't unheard of growing up.
But considering my parents experience with their own travelling, their love of learning and ensuring that we were exposed to a number of places and processes, enabled our love of exploring and learning and the need/desire to keep learning and keep exploring.

I remember a trip to Mossel Bay to visit the replica of Bartholomeu Dias ship, that sailed around the tip of Africa (first known European to do so). Mossel Bay was the first place he set anchor after passing Cape Point. We visited the "Post Office Tree" - where a sailor left an important letter in box or shoe under the tree, and from there it became the place to leave letters to be take in another direction to the writer of the letter - such as letters to loved ones back home.
I remember visits to a Coffee Farm in Kwazulu - Natal; a Cheese Factory in the Eastern Cape; an Ostrich Farm where we rode an ostrich; a Butterfly Farm; the Cango Caves; Table Mountain; river rafting trip down the Orange River. And a number of trips across African borders to Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho.

From the age of 9, we ventured internationally for the first time. As a family of 5, we travelled internationally 6 times before the kids got too big and had to fend for themselves.

I never looked back after that!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Educator (or Traveller or Photographer) ?

"Teacher, teacher...."

Like all little girls at one point or another, I imagined myself as a teacher. Marking books, creating fun things to do in class. All based on whatever age I was at the time, my inspiration was my current teacher - Miss B in 1st Grade; Mrs H in Kindergarten; Mrs T or Mrs M in 2nd or 3rd Grades.
 
It wasn't until I was out of high school, and taking a year off before heading to University that I ventured into the education realm, with a job at a Kumon Maths and English Centre. Generally the kids work independently on whatever section or concept they are at, having been through the concept with one of the assistant supervisors (my role) or the supervisor of the centre. I was able work with a large of kids of different ages, at different stages of the program. It was here that my passion for guiding and coaching kids in the right direction and watching them build connections with concepts was sparked.
 
I starting tutoring high school kids in Science and Maths during my university years and the spark became a flame that on occasion almost went out. It was only once I had started my postgraduate degree that I realised that my one of passions wasn't in pure academics and science, which I loved, but in the guidance and coaching of children to create their own knowledge; to stimulate the building and connecting of thoughts and ideas.

Just over eight years later, after finishing my postgraduate Honours degree & a one year Post-Graduate Certificate in Education, I'm in my 7th year of full time teaching high school.

I wish I could say with no guilt, that I've never looked back - but in all honesty I can't. There are days when I question whether I'm in the correct field; whether I've given all that I can give and need to move on; whether I've dealt with so much stress and frustrating situations that I'm mentally and/or emotionally exhausted or incapable anymore. BUT! a student will say something that indicates that I've impacted their life more than I thought; will do something that shows that what I've said or shown is being used in their own lives; or will simply say "You've changed my life" "I get this because of you" "I trust you with this"

It's those scenarios or words that I know that I'm in the right place, doing the right thing and changing students/kids/peoples lives.





Friday, 3 April 2015

The start of something new - a little background, and the way forward.

I've been interested in photography for as long as I can remember. My paternal grandmother was always taking photographs and as a result so was my dad.
It was through that exposure that I became part of the family tradition of photographers.
I remember getting my first camera for my 7th birthday from one of the boys in my 1st Grade class. It was a red 110 film camera, which I proceeded to take photographs of my friends and boys that seemed to be grabbing my attention. The framing and composition of the photos were hideous.

It wasn't until the year after high school while on a trip with my dad at a conference in Sydney, Australia that I got a camera that technically became mine. Prior to that, I had used my father's cameras on occasion.

Finally, in the early summer (November in the South Hemisphere) of 2006, after months of research and going into the store to look at and test drive the camera, that I bought a digital camera. A compact. Panasonic Lumix TZ1. It had a 10x optical zoom, which was my goal, to get the best megapixels and highest optical zoom. The reason I bought that camera then....an overseas trip in December of 2007.....and I wanted time to get to know my camera before travelling.

I took some of my favourite photographs with that camera on that trip. One of which is the background to this page. The most beautiful roses with the dainty and yet dangerous ice crystals on a background of stones, sitting next to the Execution Trench at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp outside of Berlin. The complete contrasts of colours, textures and emotions still captures my mind nearly 8 years later.
Execution Trench, Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

In 2009, I started teaching at a high school and my love for photography continued to develop and I ventured into the world of DSLR cameras with Canon 1000D. The world of sports photography was opened to me. For the next almost 5 years, I photographed kids on the sports field, on the stage, at awards ceremonies and just messing around on the school fields. With the years, came kids who were also interested in photography, and thus began an unofficial photography club that is slowly growing.


Glacier Bay, Alaska
Yukon Territory, Canada


Sea Point, Cape Town

North Dakota somewhere, Empire Builder train route

Rugby game against local rivals.
School making a tunnel for the 1st Team Rugby
Tennis.





When a friend and colleague asked me to photograph his wedding, I had a bit of a freak out. Really?? You want me to record the most important day of your life thus far? What if I mess it up? What if I get it all wrong? And this was around the time I was looking at upgrading my camera to a Canon 70D.
Thankfully, I had a member of the photography club that I could see whose photographs and mine are from different points of view, but the thinking and thought processes are similar, and I know that he will surpass me in his photography, so would be a great help on the day.
So with a new camera, which I had spent a few months getting to know, and an "old" camera and a student assistant, we photographed the wedding. I know we got some amazing photographs, but I also know that I would change a few things in the future - like the timing of the afternoon. Things we had planned to do, didn't happen, like the dress took longer to put on that thought so we missed some photos planned.

After the wedding in April 2014, I headed to Ireland to visit the motherland, so to say. And more travel photography.

This year, I'm starting this blog, as my start of something new. With it, comes two overseas trips, which will see me fulfilling a few of my "things to do before I die" dreams....San Francisco and Iceland....to catch a cable car, walk the Golden Gate Bridge, wander Alcatraz, visit the Blue Lagoon, hike a glacier and see the Northern Lights.