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The Greatest Thing I’ve Ever Done.

Title – The Greatest Thing I’ve Ever Done.

By – Wendye Harnwell

I haven’t climbed Mt Everest or seen the Canyon Grand

Nor have I back-packed round Australia or trekked the outback lands

Antarctica is not a place that I have ventured to

And although I have been overseas – I have remained true blue.

I’m not a mighty skydiver or a canyon-climbing king

And dangerous white-water-rafting is definitely not my thing

Extreme sports are not the way that I can get my kicks

No it’s teaching in a classroom – that’s where my thoughts transfix.

I’m not an adrenaline junkie, bungee jumping off a bridge

or snowboarding or surfing or hang-gliding off a ridge.

I haven’t tried skin-diving, motocross or formula one

Nor have I been barefoot water-skiing in the sun.

Grass skiing doesn’t interest me, I haven’t in-line skated

Mountain bike and BMX are really over-rated.

Ice hockey and roller derby are definitely far too rough

and rock-climbing and parasailing are simply just too tough.

And so you see I’m no adventurer or extreme sportique freak

The greatest thing I’ve ever done is to teach my class each week

I never did the HSC – I left school in the 5th form

I didn’t want to go to Uni – nor did I conform.

So unqualified I taught at TAFE when I was living out west

I applied to CSU in Bathurst and must have passed the test.

For I studied hard and to my surprise distinctions came my way

And I received a special prize on Graduation Day.

I became a ‘Targeted Graduate’ and got a job ‘real’ quick

I was all prepared of course – I thought I was quite slick

But learning takes a lifetime and my lifetime’s no exception

So each and every class I have gives me a new perception.

Teaching is an art form and I’m the ‘arty’ type … so

I promote the individual and let create juices flow.

I’ve taught out the Back o’ Bourke, teaching aboriginal adults

I’ve even taught the deaf and blind with excellent results.

Of course I’ve taught ‘The-class-from-hell’ – and just survived the task

At least I feel they are more human now – what more could parents ask?

A feral bunch – they entered school on their first day – long past

But now they can all read and write – it’s really such a blast!

So it’s not exploring, discovering or adventuring that I love

I’ve been a clerk and secretary but teaching fits me like a glove

Children won’t slip through my class, feeling less important than they ought

I have always tried to show that special recognition that is sought.

Clearly there is programming, reporting and assessing

And late night’s marking written work – but teaching’s such a blessing,

for children, they are trusted to my care – 30 hours a week!

And I’d like to teach them more that the Capital of Mozambique!

To make a difference in their lives is my real goal and passion

Guiding kids to contemplate – co-operation and compassion

Education’s not just a giant knowledge bank of facts -

It’s lifelong skills to ensure that kids won’t be tempted ‘off the tracks’

As their teacher I become a judge, a mentor or a friend

It really has to be a special kind of blend.

I can have an influence of a monumental kind -

taken to the nth degree – I could change mankind!

But I’m not here to create the ‘super race’ at all

I really want to start very, very small

With kindergarten teaching them the power of who they are

To build their self-esteem – let them know they are a star!

To teach them right from wrong so they’ll not be meeting police

And reinforcing tolerance so bullying will just cease.

To stop frustration and annoyance and work for future peace

And maintain a healthy lifestyle choice so they won’t become obese.

Along the way they’ll learn the academic skills that they’ll need

To follow a future path to a life where they’ll succeed

An innate satisfaction and ‘to yourself be true’.

We need our doctors and our scientists but we need our dustmen too!

So I haven’t gone to sport’s extremes to get my kicks and thrills

Instead I have equipped myself with behavior modification skills

And thrown myself into a class with vigor, zest, and zeal

For it’s in the classroom that I can make a difference that is real.

Especially in the modern class with A.D.D. and more

With oppositional defiant kids who are always keeping score.

There are children with language disorders who need that special attention

And we’re always staying in at lunchtime to supervise detention.

But these make teaching such a buzz, they’re just the unusual perks

My achievements may not appeal to some – but for me it really works.

It’s what produces my adrenaline rush – and makes me feel worthwhile.

I’m a hero to the kids I’ve taught – and I always wear a smile.

The Greatest thing I’ve ever done? I hear you asking me

Well I guess it was going to University at the age of 33

And then following a career that to me – none can beat

The Greatest thing I’ve ever done – is really quite a feat.

By an Aussie Teacher – just like you!

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Wendye Harnwell

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