A Living Legacy to Ryan

Interview Transcript with Dianne Chambers

Jo: “Hey everybody, I’m here with Di Chambers! Di Chambers and I met at a Professional Development training, and I’ve invited her to have a chat with us today. She’s got an amazing, amazing program in children’s coaching…born out of some very personal circumstances which I will let Di tell you about in a moment. I chose Di specifically; she is coming to us from South Australia and I wanted to bring her into this conversation about Joyful Teaching and joyful teachers. She’s a very humble educator and will be the first to tell you I don’t have formal qualifications…. but I can tell you she has plenty of life experience and a great big heart for education. So please welcome Di Chambers!”

Di: “Thank you so much Jo! I’m excited to be here and share what I know..”

Jo: “Thank YOU! I’ve got a couple of questions for you.. I think we’ll go on a journey with our listeners…I’ll try not to dig too deep, but we’ll see where this goes.. Firstly, I’d like to ask you what inspired you to pursue a career in education…as a supporting educator in the Catholic system? “

Di: “Well, to be honest I fell into that, but having said that, through a lot of learning and training which was initially instigated through business… a lot of personal development programs and reading I became very passionate about human nature. And about 10 years before that…before I moved into the education. System, I had set myself a goal..that I had wanted to work with teenagers and their self-esteem and so applying for a part time job in the education system took me to that role and umm the education support officer is about working alongside children. I’ve actually worked from Reception to Year 12 in the classroom, in the special ed area for a couple of years and also with migrant children, so I’ve had a varied role. I just want, I just want to affect children in a positive way…I want them to be able to cope with life…and that’s really important to me – so when I went into the system, knowing that I wasn’t a teacher I made a special commitment to myself that the classrooms I worked in, the teachers I worked with were the teachers and I was there to support them as the education support officer.

I worked in that environment, in the classroom to the best of my ability to get along with how the teacher was teaching. The thing was that I worked differently to a lot of people and from the personal development, the internal side of the child, and get onto the page of the child and really tried to work and understand that – before working with the education part of it…

so when I was in the senior part of the school I considered that I was always the go  between the child and the teacher because I was able to develop a close relationship with the child and understand their learning, as they can sometimes feel lost in the classroom.. and then go to then classroom teacher this is the way I see it.. is there another way to go around this? You know to find a way to achieve the outcome for the child but to change the workload in a way…so yeah, I was a teacher –

we are all teachers in a way but also a go between the teacher and the child..

Jo: “Just hearing you talk about it that way…and when you said that earlier about your inspiration of wanting to understand human nature, did that come from your own experiences of education as a child?..”

Di: “To be honest I think I have been gifted with loving people and people have always fascinated me, and that I’ve always got on well with people.. I absolutely loved raising my own three boys and my middle one was a challenge and because of the personal development I had done at that point I realised that I had control over the way  I reacted to him and so he was such a little mischief maker – just a very self-driven child from a very young age, very young age. I learnt by the time he was three that I was the adult, I had had experience in life I could…I n needed to control myself and not allow him to press my buttons and react to him so I pit a lot of these practices into play with my own children. Just realising they are what they are, and we can either bang heads with them or to understand them and I made a conscious choice to treat them (when he was three) to treat him with love because everything with him because everything could have ended up quite nasty otherwise!”

Jo: “Yeah! Thankyou so much! So that moves me to the second question…you’ve talked about your relationship particularly with your middle son in his very early years until you found systems or approaches that fitted you in. your particular situation. In terms of challenge now, what’s been a challenge now…. perhaps in the classroom or perhaps in the work you are doing now with your own work as you create your own programs? Have you got some challenges you’ve overcome that you could share with us?..”

Di: “Well I’ve got a personal challenge which I have overcome which has certainly impacted the drive for me to go out on my own to do some work with the kids..

so, ah firstly, I can see in a classroom…and it is often said that we had the children for six hours out of twenty four in a day…so…one of the challenges is the home environment…I never really went out of my way to change things…I tried to do my best with what I had…and then if we couldn’t work with the parents to change things, I decided that I would give the children that I worked with the best that I could give them the best experience I could while they were with me and that was the choice that I made. I was very good at not letting children get on top of me.. I learned a lot of skills… Jo, as you know…fifteen years ago our youngest son, (he was twenty-one years of age, he went on a holiday with a friend to India… and he went missing… and he’s still missing to this day…..

I was working in the education system at that time and when we had done all that initial things… I think I really only took three weeks off work…because…when something like that happens you can’t sit around and wallow in it all day. So I was conscious of, well not at the time of the trauma I had been through but I didn’t think of it as trauma then…I think we put that label onto what we went through….

I just absolutely loved working with the children and to me that was a real joy in the lot of the tragedy we were going through...”

“Having said that you carry this whether its (at that time it was a sadness in the pit of my stomach) it could be for other people anger for the things that are going on in their lives…all sorts of emotions we carry with us and 
I have a very firm belief that it is not our job to dump things on other people and so I worked really hard to go to work in a positive frame of mind every day. Inside I might have been feeling sad but children always light your life anyway…but I had practices that I consistently did…whether it was listening to a gratitude video (and I still listen to, to this day but probably not quite as often as I did back then) uplifting music, uplifting podcast – there’s so much on YouTube these days you have to look inside and think what do I want and what am I struggling with today and there will be something on You Tube.. but it’s a matter of doing it consistently. Even when you think you don’t need it because the need is to override the something that is programmed inside of you and you know if it’s a negative moment you have, you need to have something to turn it around… Children and the things they do in the classroom just trigger you like that, and it’s a matter of putting yourself in a place that you can control those triggers..”

Jo: “Di, It’s such an incredible … I know it’s the story that you live with and reality that you and your family live with but

“to use the spirit and the momentum of that personal tragedy and to bring it into the classroom is so important that I think that in our teaching community (whether it’s a supporting teacher or in mainstream teaching, whichever role it’s so important to hear and to share because at the end of the day it makes me think when our talk what skills you are inadvertently passing on to the people working with you and to show them that you are a living example of showing resilience and humbleness …”

“and working with this to make a positive meaning out of what you are going through and being able to help. So, thank you for sharing something so deeply personal…I’m sure anyone listening would feel compelled to want to know more. When I first met you, I was just so personally touched…in my own life it opens the doorway for other people to feel more comfortable in sharing their own stories too…and that’s what it is about – it’s growing together. It’s one of the virtues of education – we are learning together..whatever our circumstances.”

Jo: “So, I’m going to move to my next question.. those first days when you were working in a formal education setting…is there any support that you thought you personally wanted…? Or along with the teachers you were working with, I’d imagine that you might have worked with…brand new teachers, very experienced teachers and some in between. Is there any support you wish they or you had to help them in their work?..”

Di: “Uh yes…for me I went in with the ‘helping the human being aspect you know, so I was passionate about that..! I started in the middle school probably years six, seven and up to ten here in South Australia and I quickly realised oh my gosh – the kids have got assignments to do with due dates to be put in and I started to get really drawn into this ‘time frame’ and kids getting their work done and finished. I was working with children that had issues – some of them had literacy issues…Dyslexia…Autism..Asperger’s… all of these conditions… I had to stop myself… I started my job and I actually had no one to guide me through it at all…so I sort of pulled myself back and I thought…at the base of all this is learning there are little human beings and I really wanted to make a connection with all these human beings and I have this saying that I say. I find out where they are.. I want to move them from where they are to somewhere. Now, the difference for me is that unlike the classroom teacher who is responsible for them, they have checks and balances for them and expectations for them to embrace. I don’t always know how that serves the child myself, and that is an opinion of my own… that is how I worked it…to move my own position – from there to somewhere but in the teacher’s position to see if we could change what the amount of work or whatever it might have been to actually achieve what the outcomes are and really look at the outcomes.. you know is there only one way to achieve it or are there other ways to get the same outcome?”

I would have loved to have somebody guide me through that…but to be honest…I thought the way that I looked at it was different to most people, so I don’t know that that’s always a good thing to happen. To have a mentor to discuss these things with and for them to say, look that’s a really good idea, but just be careful going down that route for what you might run into…But I just made the decision because I was nearly fifty when I went into this role…and so my attitude was “I’ll do it my way and do my best that I know how’ and I know that if I put a foot wrong I’m going to get a tap on the shoulder…but

I was never tapped on the shoulder in fifteen years… I figure I must have done something right! ..”

Jo: “I think so!”

Di: “Sometimes I think a mentor, some guidance to find out the lay of the land…I mean schools are interesting places….it would be nice to have a bit of guidance… Probably the benefit for me is that my children had previously all gone through that before so I knew a lot of the teachers…that’s a whole another interesting thing – you know people going in..but everybody is too busy to talk to you!”

Jo: “As we come to the end of our time, thanks so much again for your time today. As we come to the end of this year – we are all well aware of what’s been going on…one of my main intentions in starting these conversations with educators is to really propel and lift the mood from a somewhat sombre year in education – depending on what you are reading, what you are listening to. We do tend to hear about the challenges that children and teachers have been facing this year through COVID…”

My intention is to raise that vibration and remind ourselves about what’s great about education even in these difficult times…

“So can you…I know you would have tons to choose from…but do you have a piece of advice that you would like to share with people listening.. about teaching? About education?…”

Jo: Thank you so much! I could chat all day to you! I’m very lucky to have a personal connection with you and have many more conversations. It’s been my great pleasure to interview you today and thank you so much for your unique take on what you do and why you do it. I hope people listening today get the sense of who you are. To meet you in person, you live your truth and I think that to me that’s one of the reasons I was so keen to get to know you better and to help tell one of my stories which is why I feel that joy is so important in teaching and to have that sense of inner fortitude to develop yourself as a person but also when influencing others around you. Di thank you so much for your time and for sharing some of your stories with us today.

Di: My absolute pleasure Jo..Thank you!

Click here to view my interview with Di Chambers

To learn more about Ryan’s story click the link https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-09/ryan-chambers-mural-for-man-missing-for-13-years/11395878

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