Monday, March 13, 2017


This may come as a shock to many of you - but I was given an incredible gift when I was created in my mother's womb. "What gift?" I hear you ask.

I was given a loud, clear voice.

I suspect my parents and sisters became aware of this gift within hours of my birth.

I first became aware of it when I was 7, playing in the street with a friend outside her house. We were having a delightful game of make-believe when her dad stormed outside and said to me "You are too noisy" and then he pointed at my friend "you need to do your chores". I was stunned, how can one be too noisy when playing on the footpath?

Fast forward 20 years, and my loud voice was no longer a problem but an asset when commanding the attention of 350+ primary school children in the school gym.

I continue to be reminded that perhaps my voice is louder than average when I speak to my children in K-Mart. I would like to blame the acoustics in the toy section....however, whenever I say something such as "OK children, 5 minutes until we go", every other person in the toy section stops and looks at me. In fact some onlookers have even been known to demonstrate a 'startle response' to the sound of my warm, loving voice addressing my children. As I said  - it's a gift.

In addition to an above average volume, I have also been gifted with the ability to not be afraid to use my voice. I think this was particularly demonstrated in the early 2000's when I would share my personal opinion on absolutely every agenda item raised in staff meetings. (It is at this point that I would like to apologise to all my colleagues who had to endure staff meetings with me during this era!)

I continue to be outspoken in my opinions and demonstrate an eagerness to share my 'constructive opinion' on all manner of topics. However, I am also learning (slowly) to be a little more discerning in when I demonstrate this ability. Just like the boy who cried wolf, if I use my voice all the time, people tire of listening to it and no longer respond to it. At the same time, if I never use my voice, I may allow things to occur that are not beneficial to my loved ones. It's a tricky balance.

In recent months, my mother has been in and out of hospitals and care facilities. We have generally had good experiences with these, but a couple of weeks ago mum found herself in a hospital that was not doing the right thing by her. I had a choice, I could grumble about what was going on to whomever would listen OR I could use my voice wisely and locate the best avenue by which to express my concerns and have them addressed. With a bit of help from my brother-in-law,
I located a service which would enable me to get in contact with the CEO of the hospital in question. I respectfully but truthfully aired my concerns, and found I was listened to - and things were put right.

When it comes to the education system, parents can generally fall into one of two categories. Some parents let the teacher know about each and every problem that arises with their child. They send angry emails, stand at the classroom door exasperated and share their annoyance with whomever is in the car park at the time. These people seem to always find something to complain about and teacher's fear their next interaction with such parents.  On the other extreme, there are parents who see problems, feel frustrated about them but are too nervous about talking to the teacher. These parents are the ones who need to speak up, because the teacher will never know there is a problem unless you tell them. I can speak for all teachers when I say that we want to hear from you if your child is struggling with something and we don't know about it!

The trick is to use your voice wisely. 

Speak up if your child has a learning challenge that the teacher needs to hear about.

Speak up when your child's right to feel safe and to have equal access to education is not being recognised.

Speak up when you see any child at risk due to the actions or inactions of another person.

Speak and tread carefully when your child has made a complaint about the class teacher or another class member - there are two sides to every story!

Stay silent when you wake up grumpy and everyone is annoying you today - including your child's teacher.

Stay silent if the person you are speaking to has no power to change the situation for you or your child.

If you need help in working out whether you need to 'speak up' about an issue concerning your child's education, contact me on 0425 792 189 for a confidential, free chat.
I'm happy to tell you whether you need to speak up or stay silent! 

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