CHAPTER ONE: United Kingdom
Teach, Build A Website, & Volunteer In India
When I left Australia last April, “What Should Baz Do” didn’t exist beyond a 16-month old idea growing in my head. An idea is a fragile thing: without action, it could have easily been destined to lay down and die beside me in the graveyard. For the story to begin, I needed to invent Chapter One.
CHAPTER ONE BRIEF
Main Objectives: Teach, Start What Should Baz Do website
Challenge: Volunteer in India mentoring teachers
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.” – Les Brown
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE PAST YEAR
Teaching In London
In all fairness, planning for Chapter One began months before I left Australia. I became a qualified teacher in 2013, and always had the intention of using and developing this qualification around the world. I believe that applying skills in new environments, with different situational demands, is essential to improving skills effectively. Teaching in London has a reputation for being a tough gig, and with over 2,000 schools, I felt pretty certain I’d be getting loads of work with a mixed bag of education needs. London has certainly lived up to this rep.
I flew into the country on a Monday, and by Thursday was in a classroom working for Impact Teachers. I’d found Impact online a few months earlier, took a liking to a teacher mentoring program they run in India & Uganda called “Beyond Education Needs”, and got the ball rolling on the paperwork right away.
In the past year, there’s only been a handful of days where I wasn’t offered suitable teaching work. This certainly doesn’t mean I’ve been working every day – but if I wanted to, I could have. The formula here is pretty simple: Be good at what you do, and you’ll receive good feedback. Receive good feedback, and you won’t go hungry for work. Supply teaching has it’s drawbacks, but the variety of teaching environments, and flexibility to set my own workdays, works perfectly for learning, traveling (and/or building a website).
“The formula here is pretty simple: Be good at what you do, and you’ll receive good feedback. Receive good feedback, and you won’t go hungry for work.” – Baz
I’ve taught in secondary schools, primary schools, kindergartens, and nurseries. I’ve taught kids in ‘Pupal Referral Units’, who have been expelled from everywhere else. And I’ve mentored teachers in India, who put in 100 times the effort and show 1,000 times the heart, for a small fraction of the opportunity or reward available to any graduating delinquent of a London PRU. Finally, I’ve experienced firsthand the injustice of standardized testing, as I sat for three weeks marking the same three questions of maths exam papers from all around the country.
This saturation of teaching environments has been an invaluable source of experience for me as a teacher. Staying home would have been safer; teaching in Queensland was easier; the kids are (generally) nicer; and the weather and beach are obvious upsides… But for growth, for a challenge, and for experiencing something new, home doesn’t hold a candle up to “somewhere else”.
The job was lined up, no dramas. Accommodation was another story, for another time.
Building A Website
I remember taking a class at school called “Business, Communication, & Technology” at Gympie State High School in 2001. We learned how to structure letters properly; use programs like Excel and Powerpoint; competed against each other in words-per-minute typing tests; and designed a simple webpage using HTML code.
Back then, web design wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now. We had to imagine our design, learn the sequence of logical code inputs, and flick back and forth between the code and the visual screen to see what happened if we changed this figure or the other. It wasn’t a memorable page I created, but it gave me a stronger understanding of the logical and mathematical nature of web design, and what SHOULD be achievable.
Almost 15 years later, a lot has changed. Computers have advanced incredibly quickly, and to compare the capabilities now to then is like comparing an AirBus-380 to the cardboard cutout wings you would strap to your arms and jump off a roof with. But one thing remains the same: I still feel like that 15 year old kid using trial and error to make something appear the where I want it to… And I’m still getting distracted by pretty girls instead of getting any work done.
Starting in September, it has been a massive learning curve to design What Should Baz Do so far. Sometimes it will take days of watching Youtube, reading forums and learning, before I can complete a 15 minute task – but then I’ve learned something new. There’s still loads to do before it works the way I’d like, but I think it’s getting there. I have to thank a mate from back home – Josh Van Brederode of Northern Systems IT Solutions – for helping me decide where to start. If not for him, I might still be trying to decide on a domain name and hosting provider.
Traveling About A Little
One of the big draw cards of living in London is that the rest of Europe is right on your doorstep. It’s pretty radical that you can often buy a return flight to another country for the price of a few pints. So, although I’ve been busy teaching and learning how to build a website, I have managed to break away a few times for a bit of a poke around.
ROAD-TRIPPING THE SOUTH OF ENGLAND:
My first expedition out of London was a 16-day “lone wolf” road trip around the South. Hiring a van from Europcar for £16/Day, sleeping in the back, and using Virgin Active gyms around the country for showering (and working out), made for a very affordable and comfortable expedition. (Before WSBD existed)
VISITING FAMILY IN GERMANY:
My heritage is German on my father’s side and I still have family who live in Germany. So, after a bit of prompting from the cousins, I threw a few pennies at an airline and made my escape for a long weekend away over the ditch. (Before WSBD existed)
MENTORING TEACHERS IN INDIA
In October, I traveled to India with a group of teachers from London for an intensive week mentoring around 50 Indian teachers. This was part of Impact Teachers BEN (Beyond Education Needs) Program, which focuses on spreading improved teaching pedagogy to places like India and Uganda: sharing skills and knowledge with local teachers.
Because I set my own work days, I was able to head over early and get a feel for India before my colleagues turned up.
Part 1 – About making some early errors and then corrections (READ MORE)
Part 2 – Answering the question “Is India as scary as people say?” (READ MORE)
Photo galleries from India – Gallery 1 – Gallery 2 – Gallery 3
In January, What Should Baz Do readers decided that I should go to Austria before the winter ended. A few weeks later I found myself on a plane to Austria, with only a very loose “to-do” list to guide me. “Austria without a plan” turned out to be snowboarding; free stuff; cool people, beautiful countryside; a 10-year long reunion; and swimming in the Danube in Vienna appearing in the news.
Part 1 – About snowboarding and making friends (READ MORE)
Part 2 – Hitchhiking (kind of), train rides, and staying flexible (READ MORE)
Part 3 – Saying “YES”, interviews, & making the news (READ MORE)
Getting Behind Some Good Causes
While others are directing the important decisions of my life, I’m also aiming to support at least one charity per month as side projects.
Since the website got started I’ve:
- Gone Sober for October (READ ABOUT IT)
- Grown a “Dali” Mo for Movember (HAVE A LOOK)
- Completed a three-way challenge for Febfast (SEE HOW THAT WENT DOWN)
The 22nd of April is Earth Day, and What Should Baz Do is currently researching what sort of efforts can be made around London, UK.
Making The News
I don’t think anyone has done something quite like this site before, and I’m very happy to say that What Should Baz Do has made news headlines a couple of times so far – in Australia and Austria.
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17th March 2015
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For an English Version of the Austrian article CLICK HERE
A Current Challenge: #YogaEveryDamnDayWithBaz – Join Me! 🙂