We were extremely fortunate to have had the privilege of listening to Wendy Lee for the second time last weekend.
I love everything she stands for - and her main message, the key ingredient to this 'teaching' gig - RELATIONSHIPS.
Both times I have listened to Wendy, she has reminisced about two great teachers she has experienced as a child, and that they had cared deeply for the children in their care.
Having heard her the first time, I thought about my own experience as a school student, and could not recall if I had in fact had a great teacher, that stood out, and whilst I recalled many good teachers, I ruled it out. I'd never had one.
Having heard Wendy reiterate these memoirs at the weekend, it has had me thinking yet again - have I had a great teacher?
In the meantime, we have had some exchange students from Tatebayashi, Gunma, Japan stay with us this week.
This has been very special for me, as I was in fact part of the pilot year for the sister city relationship between Tatebayashi and the Sunshine Coast... 21 years ago!
We have 2 students staying with us, and one has been extremely homesick. It's all cool - I've done this before! And as we all know when we get older, it feels like only yesterday...
Whilst the old Japanese is quite rusty, it has made me realise just how much I have known and experienced. Slowly blowing the dust off this week has uncovered so many treasured memories, and has made me realise, actually, I had some amazing teachers at Matthew Flinders.
In 1996 we hosted the first students from Tatebayashi. We were only 13. The students staying with us, many of whom had never been abroad, were also 13.
For one whole week we had a sister or brother. Language was not easy as both parties had only learned the other language for a few years as a school subject, jammed in amongst all of the other subjects in our week. This was the 90s - no devices, we used our dictionaries to assist our broken conversation. Risa cried most nights, and then pointed to her dictionary "cry baby", then we would both laugh, her through her homesick tears. We got out of school for an entire day to go on tour with them, on the Sunshine Coast. We all had a great week, and were sad when it was time to say goodbye.
Fortunately the idea was to reciprocate, and so in 1997 - just 12 months later - a whole bunch of us from 3 different grades boarded a plane to Japan with two Teachers, one amazingly fluent, and one with not one word of Japanese.
Our first stop was Kyoto for around a week. Our extremely experienced teacher took us to a plethora of temples, shrines, castles, parks and of course (by bullet train) to Hiroshima. She taught us how to navigate the suburbs, cities and country via bus, train, subway, bicycle, on foot - you name it - she ensured we were all over it. And we were.
She found us little side streets for authentic gifts and top notch okonomiyaki. Knowing we were going to Japan, she had honed in on the directional language and anything we would need to know to get us around.
We got back to our hotel each day, after a full day experiencing history, culture, cuisine and people, and changed out of our school sport shirt, and into civilian wear.
And here's where I realise how great our teachers were.
They basically said 'see ya later' - go out (in groups), find dinner, go shopping, meet people, enjoy the city, and be back by 9pm.
In a big city, in a foreign country. We knew how to go anywhere on whatever transport the city had to offer and speak enough to work out what was happening. We were 14.
We were also in the mid 90s, and so we had no phones, no devices.
What a great time to be overseas without your family at 14!
How funny, I kept trying to think if I had great teachers, and kept hitting blanks, as I was considering the classroom.
As we look forward to hosting Peter Gray in October, and having heard his story of allowing his own son to go to London on his own via plane at around the same age, I realise just how privileged we were as students, not only to be able to go on a 3 week trip abroad without our parents, but also to be able to be given those gifts.
Those two teachers gave us some of the greatest gifts of all - trust, freedom and independence. (Not to mention real knowledge - the useful 'street' stuff!)
So if you are reading this, sincerest thanks Jo Bush & Lyndel Grant - great memories allowed by two fabulous teachers!
My schoolmate Jodie with Lyndel Grant & Jo Bush on the train