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Working with a disability

I have Fibromyalgia, an invisible disability which means I deal with chronic pain and fatigue on a daily basis. I am very lucky to be able to work full time as many people with this illness are unable to work at all, but working full time in a classroom was so hard for me. I showed up and taught every day whether the pain was at a minimum or screaming at me to stay in bed. Taking home piles of schoolbooks was a feat that nearly beat me at the end of the day, the effort of just holding baskets of work, computer, lunch box and anything else that made me feel like a pack horse was nearly impossible at times but I pushed on.... until I burned out. I left the classroom and went relieving, which had different challenges but the hours were shorter and there were less responsibilities.

For me, burning out meant living with so much physical pain that I was in tears most nights wondering how I was going to make it through the next day. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I thought I would never work full time again. Then I was offered this job.

Initially I worried about how my health would stack up with the full time hours, so much so that I began working only four days per week. After a term of this I was able to increase back to full time hours and have a little energy left to spare! The reason for this change was that I was able to focus on how to help teachers work smarter, not harder or longer.

I can go into a classroom for a 45 minute session and have students show their learning through technology, airdrop it to my iPad or the teacher's computer and it's done! The work is available digitally to comment or share from an iPad or computer at home, the standard of work is a lot better than the children often show in their school books, I'm not glueing things into schoolbooks and lugging books and paper around and best of all, I see the kids totally engrossed and on task every time. It's a no brainer, technology really does make life easier when it's used properly.

You might say 'But you're an expert!'... and you'd be right - now. Four years ago I wasn't an expert, my knowledge was only one step ahead of my teaching at the beginning, but it gets much easier! Why spend your next four years mastering how to change your classroom pedagogy when I can show you in a couple of sessions?

I'm not saying that using technology will take your workload away, or that you should use it all the time, but why build a house with a hammer when you have access to a perfectly good nail gun? Make life easier.

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