Teacher Healer - Education for Real Change

Megan Corcoran: Supporting teacher wellbeing

June 20, 2022 Megan Corcoran Season 1 Episode 11
Teacher Healer - Education for Real Change
Megan Corcoran: Supporting teacher wellbeing
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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, I'm joined by Megan Corcoran, a teacher who has recently decided to leave the classroom.

Megan spent over eleven years teaching and leading in alternative schools for young people who have experienced trauma and/or significant disadvantage. During that time, she worked as a school leader in Australia’s largest alternative school. She studied a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and her teaching practice is trauma-informed and grounded in Wellbeing Science. Megan is also an experienced workshop facilitator, coach and consultant, and co-founder of Teacher's Well, that provides wellbeing communities for teachers and aims to generate teacher-led wellbeing initiatives in schools.

Listen to Megan speak about the importance of slow teaching and building deep connections with colleagues. We'll also discuss the challenges that are driving teachers out of the classroom in droves and the solutions for teacher wellbeing that Megan and her colleagues are offering at Teacher's Well.

Your homework: 

  • Think about: Who do you feel safe talking to about your teaching challenges, and where do you go if/when your school doesn't have a culture that supports honest and vulnerable conversations?
  • Consider: How can you better support your colleagues and create safety for them to share their concerns inside or outside of the workplace?
  • Leadership challenge: Ask your staff what their ideal role would look like and make it happen.

Further learning related to this episode/references:

Learn more at teacherhealer.com

Music by Twisterium from Pixabay.

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00:00:00 Janine 

Megan Corcoran spent over 11 years teaching and leading in alternative schools for young people who have experienced trauma and or significant disadvantage during that time. 

00:00:11 Janine 

She worked as a school leader in Australia's largest alternative school. She studied a Masters in applied positive psychology and her teaching practice. 

00:00:20 Janine 

Is trauma informed and grounded in well being science? 

00:00:23 Janine 

Megan is also an experienced workshop facilitator, coach and consultant and Co. 

00:00:28 Janine 

Founder of teachers. 

00:00:29 Janine 

Well, that provides well being communities for teachers and aims to generate teacher lead well being initiatives in. 

00:00:36 Janine 

Listen to us discuss the importance of slow teaching and building deep connections with colleagues will also brainstorm potential solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the profession. 

00:00:46 Janine 

Post pandemic. 

00:00:58 Janine 

Megan, welcome to the Teacher Healer podcast, it's great to have you. 

00:01:02 Janine 

Thanks very much for having me. 

00:01:03 Janine 

Yeah, no worries. 

00:01:05 Janine 

So I brought you on today because I'm I'm really trying to work out what's going on with the great resignation. 

00:01:12 Janine 

We've got a lot of. 

00:01:12 Janine 

Teachers dropping like flies out of the system and you're one of those people who've decided to make a bit. 

00:01:18 Janine 

Of a shift in your life. 

00:01:19 Janine 

So I guess I'm just wanting to find out a little bit more about what's brought that on and where you're at. 

00:01:25 Megan 

Yeah, no problem at all. 

00:01:27 Megan 

Well, to be honest I'm leaving so that I can actually hopefully help the system a. 

00:01:31 Megan 

Little bit more. 

00:01:31 Megan 

So I think for a lot of teachers they're doing full career change, whereas I'm really hoping to stay in the education system and make a bigger impact. 

00:01:39 Megan 

So for me, I'm actually working as a leader at the moment I've got a few weeks left, but I feel like as a leader I haven't been able to do. 

00:01:46 Megan 

My best work and I'm looking at our teachers and they're they're not able to do their best work at the moment for our young people, so I'm feeling really conflicted to stay and be a band aid in the system as opposed to really being on the outside and trying to influence the system externally. 

00:02:01 Janine 

OK, interesting, So what do you have in mind? 

00:02:03 Janine 

What's your plan for influencing the system from the outside? 

00:02:06 Megan 

Yeah, so I guess I've always come in my teaching and leading. 

00:02:10 Megan 

I've always had a huge well-being lens on the. 

00:02:12 Megan 

Work that I. 

00:02:12 Megan 

Do so. 

00:02:13 Megan 

I studied a masters of applied positive psychology. 

00:02:17 Megan 

And it really. 

00:02:18 Megan 

Influences the way I work a lot, so I'm actually going to be working in more as a consultant for schools looking at culture audits. 

00:02:26 Megan 

Running well being workshop. 

00:02:27 Megan 

And then I also have a project that I'm doing with a couple of friends slash colleagues called teach as well and we're creating sort of a community for teachers who really do want to influence well being in their school and we're supporting them to come and have a well being experienced with us, but also leave with skills and practices that they can then apply in their school. 

00:02:47 Megan 

Hopefully better support those that they're working closely with. 

00:02:51 Janine 

That sounds really awesome. 

00:02:52 Janine 

Well, beings like being one of those things that's been popping up everywhere on Twitter and LinkedIn. 

00:02:56 Janine 

You know when I've been talking to different teachers and. 

00:02:59 Janine 

Like what do. 

00:03:00 Janine 

You think is going on there with the well being for teachers in the. 

00:03:02 Janine 

Classroom at the. 

00:03:03 Megan 

Moment it's a really interesting time because I absolutely have always loved being a teacher. 

00:03:09 Megan 

I thought it was the best job in the world. 

00:03:10 Megan 

I was. 

00:03:11 Megan 

Very reluctant when I left to go into leadership, so for me it was very much a values. 

00:03:16 Megan 

UM, yeah. 

00:03:17 Megan 

So I was like loving my teaching job, but I also knew I could probably do more in a leadership role. 

00:03:20 Megan 

So I took a lot like it was a very conflicted time for me to move into leadership, and now once again the same thing like I love leadership in a school, but I'm feeling conflicted and feel like I can do more so I'm getting. 

00:03:30 Megan 

But yeah, it's a really interesting time because the feelings that I had about loving teaching it's really hard to find them right now. 

00:03:37 Megan 

It's just such a challenging time with teacher shortages that seems to be the main focus every single day. 

00:03:43 Megan 

Like we start the day looking at the absent list and figuring out how we can cover it. 

00:03:47 Megan 

No one can really do their best work right now. 

00:03:49 Megan 

Because we're all in survival mode and I think for a lot of teachers, especially in Melbourne, after such lengthy lock. 

00:03:55 Megan 

Downs they've had an experience of realizing we can work differently and we can have more autonomy and we can be a little bit slower in the way we work and now they've just been thrown back into like such a fast pace environment where the demands are really high and they're higher than ever because there's not. 

00:04:10 Megan 

Enough people to. 

00:04:11 Megan 

Do the. 

00:04:11 Megan 

Work, so yeah, people are really struggling in schools at the moment. 

00:04:14 Megan 

It's a really tricky. 

00:04:17 Janine 

Yeah, so you're talking about mass. 

00:04:18 Janine 

Absences like what? 

00:04:19 Janine 

What do you think is driving? 

00:04:20 Janine 

That is it? 

00:04:21 Janine 

Is it that fast pacing problem that you're not used to? 

00:04:23 Janine 

Is it because of COVID illnesses? 

00:04:25 Janine 

There's something else behind that. 

00:04:27 Megan 

Yeah, it's a really good question. 

00:04:28 Megan 

I like a lot of people, would assume it's COVID absences and now the flu season starting. 

00:04:33 Megan 

But I actually got to do some work with the school around what was going. 

00:04:36 Megan 

On for them with their absences. 

00:04:38 Megan 

And we got to survey the staff anonymously and find out what was happening and surprisingly number one reason was mental health. 

00:04:46 Megan 

We didn't really. 

00:04:47 Megan 

Define that, so that could be like taking a mental health day. 

00:04:49 Megan 

You know, like a self care day or whatever it might be. 

00:04:51 Megan 

But that was the number one reason people. 

00:04:53 Megan 

Were taking sick leave. 

00:04:55 Megan 

Number two was workload pressure. 

00:04:57 Megan 

And then #3. 

00:04:58 Megan 

Was COVID sorry, it was really sort of striking to see that data with this school that we did some work with. 

00:05:04 Janine 

Interesting and like are there schools, sort of doing programs to help with mental health in the school or like? 

00:05:11 Janine 

What do you think is being? 

00:05:12 Janine 

Done at the moment. 

00:05:14 Megan 

They probably are. 

00:05:15 Megan 

But at the same time, we're in that really tricky spot where people don't have enough time to release someone to even go to training, let alone like taking time as a team to do something all collectively together. 

00:05:26 Megan 

So I'd like to think that they are, and that there's some priority there, but it is really that situation where we're all doing more work than we. 

00:05:33 Megan 

Usually wooden covering multiple roles. 

00:05:35 Megan 

So taking the time to actually really directly focus on well being seems to be put to the side a little bit. 

00:05:41 Megan 

At the moment, for most schools. 

00:05:42 Janine 

OK, so so that's something that you're wanting to move into externally then. 

00:05:47 Janine 

So how are you approaching this? 

00:05:48 Janine 

If if there's a lack of time in the classroom and like what's your plan? 

00:05:53 Megan 

Yeah, it's a really good question, so that's why I'm pretty passionate about what we offer, would teach as well at the moment. 

00:05:59 Megan 

Teach as well is an after hours program which in itself is obviously a challenge 'cause I don't want people to think that they can only look after. 

00:06:05 Megan 

Their well being external to their school hours. 

00:06:09 Megan 

But the reason it is an after hours offering at the moment is for that very reason. 

00:06:13 Megan 

It's just to know that we can offer a well being experience and we're really hopeful that people recognize that they actually feel better once they've they've come to teachers. 

00:06:19 Megan 

Well, I'm at the end of each session. 

00:06:20 Megan 

We often feel energized and connected and well supported. 

00:06:24 Megan 

And like we've got some strategies to face the challenges. 

00:06:27 Megan 

So yeah, we're we're running it as a sort of an offering after hours, and then we coach the people to then go and apply this in their school, because what we're realizing is people at the moment aren't that likely to book A. 

00:06:38 Megan 

Whole day workshop. 

00:06:39 Megan 

With an external person to close their school and do that, or to send staff to have training and what we noticed. 

00:06:45 Megan 

As well is. 

00:06:46 Megan 

That that's cool that we looked at that data for. 

00:06:48 Megan 

We actually also wanted to find out for them. 

00:06:50 Megan 

What were the most protective factors for them? 

00:06:52 Megan 

So what we're actually finding supportive in their school and and the number one thing that they found the most supportive was actually colleague support. 

00:07:00 Megan 

So it wasn't any of these external providers. 

00:07:02 Megan 

It wasn't. 

00:07:03 Megan 

Counseling wasn't any of that sort of stuff was literally the culture of. 

00:07:06 Megan 

They don't care that their colleagues provided them and number two was leadership support and there was actually quite a big gap between colleagues, support and leadership support in second place. 

00:07:15 Megan 

So to me as well, that data really informed what we're doing with teach as well to recognize that people need to be connected with their colleagues in at school and to be able to support each others well. 

00:07:24 Megan 

Being in this current situation. 

00:07:27 Janine 

Yeah, it's it's so interesting, isn't it? 

00:07:29 Janine 

Because like I found that as well like in my teaching, your colleagues become your family and but not having, I guess that time and structure inside the school day to be able to take that time. 

00:07:43 Janine 

It's a new challenge, isn't it? 

00:07:45 Janine 

Uh, because you're. 


It is. 

00:07:46 Janine 

There you've got. 

00:07:47 Janine 

These like set hours. 

00:07:48 Janine 

You have to be in front of the class and I know in primary schools it's way worse. 

00:07:51 Janine 

I couldn't even believe it. 

00:07:52 Janine 

I was a secondary teacher and we would work 15 out of 20 hours in front of the class, whereas the primary teachers only. 

00:07:57 Janine 

Got something like an hour and a half a week and I was like what is going. 

00:08:01 Janine 

On here. 

00:08:02 Janine 

How did he even get? 

00:08:04 Janine 

To talk to each other. 

00:08:04 Janine 

Into your planning, come yet alone, marking and everything else. 

00:08:08 Janine 

That goes into it. 

00:08:09 Megan 

Yeah, absolutely, but I think it can also be about just injecting small rituals and small moments of connection in a day. 

00:08:16 Megan 

Can even just make a huge difference as well, and so that's something that we're exploring a little bit is just how to make sure it happens every day, but even if it's just a very small opportunity, like a small window of opportunity, but just taking it and making sure we use it. 

00:08:29 Janine 

Are there any techniques or things that you're going to be teaching teachers that you're willing to share with us? 

00:08:36 Megan 

Yes, well with teach as well. 

00:08:37 Megan 

We really look at using coaching as a way to actually support people to sort of unpack the challenges. 

00:08:43 Megan 

That we're all facing. 

00:08:44 Megan 

At the moment. 

00:08:45 Megan 

So we do a bit of a like we really keep the group quite small so we can create a lot of safety and really do a lot of container building with the group so that we know that we're all holding it safely and carefully. 

00:08:55 Megan 

Together and then we allow people to do case giving where they can actually talk through well being challenge they're facing in the school, and then the rest of the brutal actors coaches. 

00:09:05 Megan 

Uhm, we're doing a lot of journaling. 

00:09:07 Megan 

We're doing a lot of, you know, slowing down to problem solve a lot of mindfulness, yeah? 

00:09:12 Megan 

So there are just a few of the examples. 

00:09:14 Megan 

I guess what we do with teach as well. 

00:09:17 Janine 

Listen, do you have like a case study that you'd be able to share? 

00:09:19 Janine 

If I can experience the teachers had where they've found it grade or. 

00:09:24 Janine 

Uh, we have experienced some some change or growth for themselves. 


Let's see. 

00:09:29 Megan 

Yeah, it's it's really interesting 'cause I find even just being a coach and not necessarily the case. 

00:09:33 Megan 

Giver is actually very impactful as well in those moments as well so I can learn from the people that give their case and it can influence my work as well. 

00:09:42 Megan 

But yeah, we did have someone share share some experiences of just even losing that connection with their team and how. 

00:09:48 Megan 

Meetings are being cancelled to support their well being, so it was like you know you guys. 

00:09:51 Megan 

Are all time for, so let's cancel out. 

00:09:53 Megan 

Meetings, but then they were feeling really isolated in their school 'cause they weren't seeing their colleagues. 

00:09:58 Megan 

They weren't having a moment to talk to their leaders and ask questions, 'cause I would then have to go find them within the school 'cause they weren't seeing them in the meeting. 

00:10:04 Megan 

So we really sort of unpack towel like you shouldn't really. 

00:10:07 Megan 

It depends on the in, like the intention behind a meeting really like. 

00:10:12 Megan 

Sure, scrap the informative meeting that you know. 

00:10:15 Megan 

If there's nothing to share and it was just like sort of ticking a box that you had to have a meeting. 

00:10:19 Megan 

But maybe there needs to be meetings where there is ritual of connection happening. 

00:10:22 Megan 

Yeah, so that was actually a really fascinating case, and the person who gave that case ended up writing a whole blog post about it and became an article that like, yeah, I saw quite frequently on different platforms and it was really nice to see. 

00:10:33 Megan 

And then we heard back that that's cool actually, then started looking at ways that. 

00:10:36 Megan 

They could still connect and still just take 5 or 10 minutes to come together as a team. 

00:10:40 Megan 

It doesn't. 

00:10:41 Megan 

Have to be that one hour long meeting that. 

00:10:42 Megan 

But they thought they were doing the right thing by canceling meetings and giving people their time back. 

00:10:46 Megan 

But what they were doing was creating kind of a silo system in their school where where people didn't feel like a team anymore. 

00:10:53 Janine 

Yeah, I get. 

00:10:54 Janine 

That I'm I'm really lucky I I work in an organization that's it's small. 

00:10:58 Janine 

We got about 15 staff members, but connection is something we're really focusing on at the moment, and especially because we've all been working from home and it's made such a massive difference like I feel like that's the place I now feel most connected to in my life. 

00:11:12 Janine 

Uhm, even compared to my family and my friends because like there's such an effort and a time put into it. 

00:11:19 Janine 

But it's so hard to do in a school and. 

00:11:21 Janine 

You know it's. 

00:11:22 Janine 

So interesting Megan, because I've I've done probably 11 of these interviews before talking to you and. 

00:11:29 Janine 

Every single person I'm talking to is talking about connection as being. 

00:11:33 Janine 

A solution to everything we're going through and I'm it's not what I expected when I started out. 

00:11:38 Janine 

Like I don't know how many of the listeners know this, but when I started this podcast, my initial intention was to write a book. 

00:11:44 Janine 

Not to a podcast at. 

00:11:45 Janine 

All but I. 

00:11:45 Janine 

I couldn't write anything but negative things and. 

00:11:49 Janine 

I didn't know what the solutions were. 

00:11:50 Janine 

I had ideas about what they could be and what the system should look. 

00:11:53 Janine 

Like, but connection wasn't on the list. 

00:11:56 Janine 

I didn't. 

00:11:57 Janine 

I didn't expect that to be the number one sort of thing that was coming out of the interviews, and it seems to be the thing the cook the core thing. 

00:12:05 Megan 

That's really fascinating, yeah? 

00:12:05 Janine 

If people just want. 

00:12:06 Janine 

To be in relationship. 

00:12:08 Janine 

With each other. 

00:12:09 Janine 

Yeah, you know, yeah, like yeah. 

00:12:12 Megan 

So I wonder if it would have been a different answer if lockdowns hadn't happened. 

00:12:16 Janine 

Well, yeah, and I wonder, yeah, a lot of things would have maybe been different, of course. 

00:12:20 Janine 

Yeah, maybe it's timing. 

00:12:21 Janine 

So I've got to get keep this going for a little bit longer. 

00:12:23 Janine 

And see if that changes, but. 

00:12:26 Janine 

When we talked, you know a little pre interview. 

00:12:29 Janine 

You mentioned you had a little compass that you were using to help guide your work with the teachers. 

00:12:35 Janine 

Do not share a little bit of. 

00:12:36 Megan 

About that, yeah, sure. 

00:12:38 Megan 

So teachers well was actually born during lock down, so that was actually a a a time where I was actually just, you know, talking to other people in the industry about what was going on for us and how I was concerned for teachers in the in the field at the time and teachers. 

00:12:54 Megan 

Well really came about when we were going in and out of. 

00:12:57 Megan 

Lockdowns, so we're noticing that. 

00:12:58 Megan 

That was just such a hard time for teachers. 

00:13:01 Megan 

And I was actually really concerned for them, each time schools reopened 'cause the pace was just so fast and I noticed a lot of schools did really intentional work to look after their staff well being during lockdown, but then couldn't really apply the same thing like when the fast pace work is happening in. 

00:13:15 Megan 

A school. 

00:13:16 Megan 

So yeah, we were kind of navigating this conversation, just not sure how. 

00:13:20 Megan 

We can respond. 

00:13:21 Megan 

But yeah, just really playing around with it. 

00:13:23 Megan 

And as we were discussing one day, we just started scribbling ideas down and we actually, like Scribd. 

00:13:28 Megan 

It all and. 

00:13:28 Megan 

Drew some pictures. 

00:13:29 Megan 

And what really came out of that? 

00:13:30 Megan 

Was we actually? 

00:13:31 Megan 

Did map out a compass. 

00:13:34 Megan 

And so the compass essentially has four four points, and they're our values that really guide how we work with teach as well. 

00:13:41 Megan 

So our true north is purpose, which we think every teacher ultimately comes to the field with a sense of purpose. 

00:13:46 Megan 

It's very meaningful work, but right now it's really hard to see that purpose at times. 

00:13:51 Megan 

Maybe there's a bit of fog clouding it, you know? 

00:13:53 Megan 

Maybe the workload is just so huge that that purpose doesn't feel like they're really connected to it right now. 

00:13:58 Megan 

So what we discovered was it's it's not so much about spending time to set that true north, but the other compass points are really important and we need to actually spend time at each of those as well. 

00:14:06 Megan 

So the other three is curiosity, compassion and courage. 

00:14:13 Janine 

Yeah, so interesting. 

00:14:16 Janine 

Yeah, compassion like that's that connection thing as well isn't it? 

00:14:19 Janine 

And courage gosh, you know that's like that. 

00:14:22 Janine 

That's great when a brown. 

00:14:23 Janine 

Stuff there too because. 

00:14:24 Janine 

You can't be brave without vulnerability. 

00:14:26 Janine 

And I think teachers are just super vulnerable right now and students so honorable. 

00:14:32 Janine 

I was actually talking to my nephew the other day and he's just turned. 

00:14:36 Janine 

16 and he's like all my favorite. 

00:14:39 Janine 

Teachers have less. 

00:14:41 Janine 

And I just don't see like you know, he's he's really into music and he feels like the music department for him is just fall into pieces. 

00:14:50 Janine 

And it's not what it was, and that was the only thing really keeping him engaged in school, so I can just see like. 

00:14:55 Janine 

That's really sad for him. 

00:14:58 Janine 

Yeah, but that vulnerability piece like it's it's huge. 

00:15:02 Janine 

And then what? 

00:15:03 Janine 

What was it? 

00:15:05 Janine 

Yeah, that's so funny, isn't it? 

00:15:07 Janine 

Because I think like. 

00:15:09 Janine 

Being curious as a teacher, it's not just about being curious about the content you're teaching, but it's being curious about the people you're working with and and yourself and how you're growing and learning and what challenges you're facing so. 

00:15:22 Megan 

Yeah, absolutely. 

00:15:23 Janine 

I don't know. 

00:15:24 Megan 

And like we thought of that one sort of came about two that we were like we need to be curious as to what's going on like we can see all these issues but if we go get a little bit more curious about then we can dive a little bit deeper. 

00:15:33 Megan 

You can really unpack them and then if we hold a bit of compassion for ourselves and the others we're working with and our young people, we can maybe have the courage to face them and and change them a little bit. 

00:15:43 Megan 

Or the influence the system a little bit more so that's sort of how the compass sort of came about. 

00:15:47 Janine 

Yeah, I like that because it's not just making assumptions that you know what's happening. 

00:15:51 Janine 

For people either. 

00:15:52 Janine 

Like that study that you did in, that's cool. 

00:15:54 Janine 

Like that's actually really enlightening, because it would have been very easy to assume that people were burnt out or that they had COVID or. 

00:16:04 Janine 

Whatever ask verbally. 

00:16:05 Janine 

Yeah, interesting. 

00:16:09 Janine 

Sort of more long term like I think like what it, what ripples are you hoping that this project is going to send out into the world? 

00:16:17 Megan 

I actually really like the fact. 

00:16:18 Megan 

That you use the word ripples. 

00:16:20 Speaker 2 

Should be. 

00:16:20 Megan 

I think that's why we always play on words. 

00:16:22 Megan 

We always think about the well like it's actually a sense it can drink from the well and there's. 

00:16:25 Megan 

A lot of imagery. 

00:16:26 Megan 

That in metaphors that we often use. 


Boo Boo. 

00:16:27 Megan 

So yeah, so we are we. 

00:16:29 Megan 

Use the word ripple a little bit when we're talking about our product. 

00:16:33 Megan 

But yeah, I guess essentially takes as well really began as like let's hold some spaces and people that are finding things hard. 

00:16:39 Megan 

That's essentially what it started out as it was like, let's see if there's any other teachers feeling the way we are, and we can offer this where we just come together and we hold that space and we see what we can do. 

00:16:48 Megan 

But it's. 

00:16:48 Megan 

Evolved over time. 

00:16:49 Megan 

To recognize that people were getting a lot out of the experience. 

00:16:53 Megan 

And that it would be a really great thing to be. 

00:16:55 Megan 

Applying with teams. 

00:16:56 Megan 

In schools, but as we've found out, like colleagues, support was way more important than these external providers coming in or having a one day workshop on resilience or anything like that. 

00:17:05 Megan 

So we're really, really hopeful that we can work with some pretty small cohorts to have that experience together, but then to that they have the confidence to then go and apply. 

00:17:13 Megan 

Different strategies and processes in their school to support their their teams and their colleagues as well to really stay in the work to be a united front and to support each other as they move for. 

00:17:23 Megan 

Good, I'm sorry. 

00:17:24 Megan 

Yeah, we're actually running it now as a longer program, so it used to sort of just be a community circle where people could sign up and drop in, and then you know we might not see them again. 

00:17:33 Megan 

But now we actually have cohorts for a whole term, so we come together once a week and we go through different skills and processes that they can use. 

00:17:39 Megan 

And we do one on one coaching with them at the aim that they will then go. 

00:17:43 Megan 

And apply this in that school. 

00:17:46 Janine 

That's really nice. 

00:17:47 Janine 

If you if you had. 

00:17:48 Janine 

Like out of all these tips and processes, if there was one that you could share just for our listeners, if. 

00:17:53 Janine 

They're really struggling right now. 

00:17:54 Janine 

Uhm, what would you recommend? 

00:17:56 Janine 

What would be the starting point for them? 

00:17:59 Megan 

Yeah, that's a really, really tricky question, but I think it's about seeing through the the. 

00:18:03 Megan 

Mess, so finding a way to slow down because I think at the moment teachers are working so fast and just finding a way to pause and really cut through the noise. 

00:18:13 Megan 

And just really looking at the problem because at the moment it feels like a mountain like it absolutely feels like a mountainous problem and I think it's just about slowing down and actually really just recognizing what they can do, like like taking it as really small steps of. 

00:18:27 Megan 

Well, actually I can do this thing right now. 

00:18:29 Megan 

I can solve this problem right now. 

00:18:31 Megan 

The rest are too big, but let's just chip away at the really really small ones. 

00:18:33 Megan 

For now, and I think having a trusted colleague or a mentor or somebody that you just feel really safe to talk to that's in the industry is just really important is actually feeling heard right now. 

00:18:44 Megan 

Is is really important to move forward? 

00:18:47 Janine 

Yeah yeah, and guys if you feel like you're alone in your school like I've definitely been in schools where I just did not fit in, it was a small school and they were much older than me. 

00:18:57 Janine 

You know social media is there guys like reach out, reach out to to me. 

00:19:01 Janine 

You can contact each other podcasts and you know we'll we'll connect, but. 

00:19:07 Janine 

Yeah, like I. 

00:19:09 Janine 

I'm so interested in, uh, the foot has slipped out of my head, but you would. 

00:19:13 Janine 

You were talking about, UM. 

00:19:17 Janine 

Yeah, I've forgotten that's alright. 

00:19:20 Janine 

It happens. 

00:19:20 Janine 

All human. 

00:19:21 Janine 

We all make mistakes. 

00:19:22 Janine 

Thank you the message through. 

00:19:23 Janine 

The mess up. 

00:19:24 Janine 

It actually reminds me, you know of that. 

00:19:26 Janine 

You you know the little grid that that they say put your important in your urgent items in it and then cross out one of. 

00:19:33 Janine 

Them isn't it like urgent and important needs to happen now, but they're unimportant. 

00:19:37 Janine 

Non urgent stuff, just don't. 

00:19:38 Janine 

Do it like you can validate it or just don't don't do that thing and I think that it's funny 'cause a lot of teachers have been talking about ministrative loads and things like that and. 

00:19:50 Janine 

And actually I found as a teacher that's the sort of stuff that gets you into trouble, isn't it because you want to go on excursions with kids? 

00:19:55 Janine 

But then you're like Oh no, I have to get permission forms and I have to fill in a risk assessment and that's too hard. 

00:20:01 Janine 

And so you just don't do. 

00:20:02 Janine 

It, but that's. 

00:20:03 Janine 

The stuff you really want to do, so it's a dilemma, but if it's important, you know that God, that's gotta go and importantly, style. 

00:20:10 Janine 

I think. 

00:20:11 Janine 

But I I'm a big fan of just not doing things. 

00:20:15 Janine 

If you don't have to, you know, and I'm the first person to admit. 

00:20:18 Janine 

Even to you know my old CEO, he he would send us a lot of emails that looked urgent. 

00:20:23 Janine 

He'd be like I need this today and I need you to stress about this thing and what's going on. 

00:20:26 Janine 

And I found that if I ignored that for 20. 

00:20:29 Janine 

4 hours that problem would go away. 

00:20:31 Janine 

Every single time and if it was important, he would remind me again in a week, you know. 

00:20:37 Janine 

And and I was I said to his face, this is what I do, and he would sort of laugh about it. 

00:20:42 Janine 

And he didn't mind that that what it meant is like I could stress about these for an hour right now. 

00:20:46 Janine 

Or I can just keep doing what I'm doing and worry about it if it comes back up and I think I think that reactive thing that we all have when we're at work and and for teaching, it's particularly important because you've got students in front of you reacting all the time and giving you stimulus and creating like little goodness knows what fires and and you know. 

00:21:06 Janine 

Something I learned in my masters degree sense, so it's off topic, but. 

00:21:10 Janine 

I remember us learning about the Chinese education system and we watched a video of a preschool in China and it was just so different to my understanding of. 

00:21:18 Janine 

What early learning was? 

00:21:19 Janine 

Because I'm I was used to something that was quite disciplined or they'd watch over you. 

00:21:23 Janine 

And yeah, you'd go and you'd play and you do the things and you'd have. 

00:21:26 Janine 

Your relationships, but if the kids in these Chinese school, we're 

00:21:29 Janine 

Getting into a fight. 

00:21:31 Janine 

And one of the kids hit the other. 

00:21:33 Janine 

The adults wouldn't intervene. 

00:21:35 Janine 

And they'd let the kids build the skills to like battle it out amongst themselves and set their own boundaries and go, hey, you shouldn't be hitting me and and they have a conversation and then eventually they'd resolve it on their own. 

00:21:48 Janine 

And I was like how much teacher time would that save? 

00:21:51 Janine 

Actually, like how much time have I spent with your eight kids being like? 

00:21:55 Janine 

Why are you arguing in this group project right now? 

00:21:58 Janine 

You know you guys need to learn to work as a team. 

00:22:00 Janine 

Actually, if you leave them to. 

00:22:02 Janine 

Sort it out. 

00:22:03 Janine 

Sometimes, not always, but sometimes. 

00:22:05 Janine 

It'll resolve itself you. 

00:22:08 Janine 

So bit of a random story there, but I think I think there's a lesson there that slow the yeah and and trusting maybe do you reckon? 

00:22:17 Megan 

Yeah, that's a good point. 

00:22:18 Megan 

'cause I think teachers are so desperate to look after their young people like they really want to do the best for their young people. 

00:22:25 Megan 

And so we're always working so fast because that's what we're trying to do. 

00:22:27 Megan 

Like that's always current like the front and center what? 

00:22:30 Megan 

What teachers are doing so it's a really good example really of just some you know, to slow down a little bit and young people are just grateful that you're there. 

00:22:37 Megan 

You're teaching them and just let them work it out a little bit themselves too. 

00:22:41 Janine 

Yeah, UM, so let me ask you this question, what is your wish for education? 

00:22:48 Megan 

Yeah, really good question. 

00:22:51 Megan 

Look, to be honest, I really hope that the system learns to slow down, so I think at the moment no one let the teachers are not to blame. 

00:22:58 Megan 

The school leaders are not to blame everyone in survival mode right now, and it's actually the system and the conditions of work and all of that that needs to be looked at. 

00:23:07 Megan 

So until about how? 

00:23:08 Megan 

Hence I just can't see that you know things are going to shift too quickly in schools, so I really hope that things can just slow down a little bit and the conditions can change a little bit for those that have worked in a school they know, like even taking a toilet break is really tricky. 

00:23:22 Megan 

Even having a moment to eat your food can be really tricky in the day, like it's just things like that that we've always normalized in in schools, and I think we're at a point now. 

00:23:30 Megan 

You know where it's really challenging work. 

00:23:33 Megan 

It's really fast pace, and if you can't even. 

00:23:35 Megan 

Take a break to go the bathroom. 

00:23:37 Megan 

You know it's it's we're asking a lot of people that work in a school right now. 

00:23:41 Megan 

So I think yeah, just I want the system to slow down, 'cause I think that's going to be more nurturing for our young people to like. 

00:23:47 Megan 

We're not modeling the best work conditions for them either. 

00:23:50 Megan 

The way teachers are working, so I'd like to see. 

00:23:53 Megan 

Yeah, things just slow down and allow a bit more space in schools because even for our young people they they need space. 

00:23:58 Megan 

They need time. 

00:23:59 Megan 

They need to slow down to be creative. 

00:24:01 Megan 

And to think and to problem solve? 

00:24:03 Megan 

Yeah, we don't give the same thing to the adults working in the school. 

00:24:07 Janine 

That's so true, and like deep where it comes from that isn't it? 

00:24:10 Janine 

It's otherwise you're just skating the surface. 

00:24:13 Janine 

Absolutely yeah. 

00:24:14 Janine 

Do you have any ideas of? 

00:24:16 Janine 

What could change? 

00:24:17 Janine 

To allow for that. 

00:24:19 Megan 

Well, it's a really tricky one because I know we're in a teacher shortage. 

00:24:22 Megan 

So at the moment it's sort of like the dream would be that everyone comes in and they know what their day is going to look like, and they know where their free time might be. 

00:24:30 Megan 

Or they can create that free time and they can create spacious time with their students as well to be like, you know, this is when we're doing circle time, but then we'll have some quiet time where you can peel off. 

00:24:38 Megan 

And work on something creative. 

00:24:40 Megan 

With them, but at the moment I think because people are covering so many classes or they're combining classes or you're covering each other duties, it's not happening right now, but that essentially that's what I would like to see is that a teacher could actually know what their day is going to look like ahead of time to be able to plan for it appropriately as well. 

00:24:57 Megan 

So for that to happen, I think would need more. 

00:25:00 Megan 

Teachers in schools and would be the industry to be a bit more appealing to attract people to actually train and then want to stay up. 

00:25:08 Megan 

Yes, there's a lot a lot to be done, really. 

00:25:11 Janine 

I'm gonna ask you a controversial question. 

00:25:14 Janine 

Do you believe in smaller class sizes? 

00:25:17 Speaker 2 

I do. 

00:25:18 Megan 

I do, yeah. 

00:25:19 Janine 

Look, you talk you're talking to. 

00:25:20 Megan 

Someone who's worked in the alternative education system my whole career? 

00:25:24 Megan 

So I've essentially worked with young people where mainstream school has not worked for them at all, and that's why they end up in our schools and the the biggest thing at the center of all of our schools is small. 

00:25:33 Megan 

Class sizes and yeah, I honestly think when schools are at their best. 

00:25:38 Megan 

It feels more like a family environment as opposed to, you know, a big school system. 

00:25:42 Megan 

So it's where everyone knows each other really well. 

00:25:44 Megan 

And yeah, it just feels a bit like a big family and people can eat together and get to know each other really well on a deep level in their classroom. 

00:25:51 Megan 

And you know, have peers and problem solved together and like sort out conflict together as a class group. 

00:25:57 Megan 

Yeah, and I think those things are only really possible in a small. 

00:25:59 Megan 

Smaller system, smaller class sizes. 

00:26:02 Janine 

What would be your ideal class 9? 

00:26:05 Megan 

Uhm, that is a good question. 

00:26:06 Megan 

Turn off what? 

00:26:07 Janine 

Or or student to. 

00:26:08 Janine 

The ratio would however you wanna, yeah? 

00:26:11 Megan 

I've worked in high schools in alternative system and at the moment I would say the one I'm in. 

00:26:16 Megan 

This class sizes are slightly too big, so I'm gonna say probably about 12 students would be perfect. 

00:26:21 Megan 

I know that that's like idealistic and a dream and so far away from the reality right now. 

00:26:25 Megan 

But I think 12 students, one teacher would. 

00:26:27 Megan 

Be an absolute beautiful. 

00:26:29 Megan 

Size to have and I think that that's where that community can really form in a nice, beautiful way. 

00:26:35 Janine 

You know, I wonder like UM. 

00:26:38 Janine 

If there's a way that these kind of things can be done if people think a little bit differently, like you know there's lots of savings that could be made on relief teachers and all sorts of things that if if you put the money in upfront, who knows it might. 

00:26:53 Janine 

Actually pay for itself so. 

00:26:55 Janine 

I'm a little bit of a journey to. 

00:26:57 Janine 

Try and solve that problem. 

00:26:59 Janine 

I'm not an economist or or accountant, but I'm I'm going to eventually go to someone who is and see if we can find a solution because. 

00:27:09 Janine 

I just think that's the answer for me. 

00:27:11 Janine 

Like small class sizes. 

00:27:13 Janine 

If connection is the answer to our problem. 

00:27:16 Janine 

Smaller class sizes have to be the thing, and you know John Hattie can say till the cows come home that it doesn't make a difference to shooting outcomes. 

00:27:23 Janine 

But there's more to life than than what's on the page and. 

00:27:29 Janine 

Yeah, there's so much more to it, so I just that's yeah, it's an interesting one and and and it's not not everyone agrees and I get that, but come. 

00:27:39 Janine 

You know, children shouldn't be inefficiency. 

00:27:42 Janine 

In my mind, you know. 

00:27:45 Megan 

Yeah, I've actually been reflecting on what draws teachers through the work, and I think there's like different ways to look at it, and I think for some people, especially in high schools, they might be driven by the content like they're so passionate about the subject area. 

00:27:56 Megan 

They chose to teach. 

00:27:58 Megan 

And for them they just want to deliver that content. 

00:28:00 Megan 

But then there's others that are drawn because they're so people centered and they want to work with young people and. 

00:28:05 Megan 

They're looking at the whole person and their development, and I think that that's dumb. 

00:28:08 Megan 

Yeah, I've been thinking about that. 

00:28:09 Megan 

Even just your comment about John Hardy. 

00:28:11 Megan 

For me, like I was drawn to the work for the development side of it and really caring about young people and wanting to see, you know, change, happen and growth. 

00:28:19 Megan 

Yes, I just think that like there be, some people would be like. 

00:28:22 Megan 

I don't really mind what my class sizes. 

00:28:24 Megan 

I just want to deliver my content and I just want to know how many periods I have a day and that sort of thing. 

00:28:28 Megan 

So yeah, I just want it really fascinating as well. 

00:28:30 Megan 

Just hearing different people respond to that. 

00:28:33 Megan 

That particular issue about class sizes. 

00:28:35 Megan 

I think it's driven from different motivations. 

00:28:35 Speaker 2 

You know? 

00:28:38 Janine 

Yeah, and maybe maybe there's something in. 

00:28:40 Janine 

That let's just go on under one will go off on one. 

00:28:43 Janine 

Now let's brainstorm. 

00:28:45 Janine 

So I want to be solutions focused, so like let's say you had those people who who just love delivering content, and you know, like we have that in universities all the time, there's lecturers and they're different tutors and there's many, many people in a lecture and fuel. 

00:28:59 Janine 

People in a cheater Gray. 

00:29:00 Janine 

And like I think schools have possibly experimented with that here and there, but maybe there's something sort of to that, like for the teachers as well as just being like, well, you've got a really passionate subject expert here. 

00:29:13 Janine 

They're really great at delivering that and and kids will say if you interview kids, they actually don't say they want smaller. 

00:29:18 Janine 

Class sizes if you talk. 

00:29:20 Janine 

To them, what they'll tell you is they want to teach his passion without content, which I have always surprised about every single time. 

00:29:27 Janine 

But they want to know that that teaches passionate about the content and that part that teach your kids about them. 

00:29:32 Janine 

And it doesn't matter to them how many people they can competing with, or however many other people are there in the room. 

00:29:39 Janine 

So like, I wonder if there's something to that is like letting those people shine in that way and do that thing that they're great. 

00:29:47 Janine 

Because kids love that and then having those spaces for connection with the teachers who love that because not all teachers want that. 

00:29:55 Janine 

They're not good at it. 

00:29:56 Janine 

They might be uncomfortable with it. 

00:29:58 Janine 

They might feel it forced upon them. 

00:30:00 Janine 

And and putting people where they should be, what do you reckon? 

00:30:03 Janine 

Like, what's your thoughts on that? 

00:30:05 Megan 

Yeah, that's not something I've thought about too much before, but as you're talking it through, I started thinking about how it could, you know, could sort of look like if someone is like I'm a subject matter expert and that's why I'm driven to this work and absolutely adore doing it and I can behavior manager a huge group because I'm so engaging. 

00:30:20 Megan 

In the way I teach, you know, like they could have a. 

00:30:23 Megan 

Different structure for their class group. 

00:30:24 Megan 

But then you might have the health teacher who's like I really want to get deeper with the young people and I want to be able to hear all of their voices in a class setting. 

00:30:31 Megan 

And I want to work, you know, in a more community focused way, and that could be a smaller class size. 

00:30:36 Megan 

Like maybe we've just gone like the way we focus on education. 

00:30:39 Megan 

It's almost like we have a one size fits all approach in mainstream schools especially. 

00:30:43 Megan 

But maybe it is about just exploring very different models and different ways to do. 

00:30:47 Megan 

It even within the one. 

00:30:47 Megan 

School who knows really? Yes. 

00:30:48 Janine 

Wow, yeah it feels like you're like. 

00:30:51 Janine 

Well, we're cookie cutting. 

00:30:52 Janine 

The kids were expecting them all to do the same subjects and to behave the same way and whatever else, but actually we're cooking. 

00:30:56 Janine 

Cutting the teachers as well. 

00:30:59 Janine 

And everyone is unique and different, and they bring different skills to the table and. 

00:31:03 Janine 

I'm just curious like I I'm just gonna throw out a challenge if there's any school leaders of small schools out there who are willing to try this, like what? 

00:31:11 Janine 

What would it look like if you actually pull do stuff together and ask them what they wanted their ideal job to look like and then made it work? 

00:31:21 Janine 

How would that change things? 

00:31:23 Janine 

I'd be so curious to see that and if if you go off and you pull that off guys, can you get back to me with an email? 

00:31:28 Janine 

I want to know all about it and and, you know, feel free to take all the credit. 

00:31:33 Janine 

I don't need any credit, but I'd love. 

00:31:35 Janine 

I'd love to know. 

00:31:36 Janine 

How that works, that's cool. 

00:31:39 Janine 

Alright, so I've got another another question here. 

00:31:41 Janine 

This is this is the last one on the list of the. 

00:31:43 Janine 

Things that I ask everyone. 

00:31:45 Janine 

And that is what do you think is the potential for education to heal the planet? 

00:31:51 Megan 

Yeah, that's a big question as well. 

00:31:53 Megan 

I I think education is such a special place to work in because ultimately you are working with young people who are the future generation. 

00:32:01 Megan 

I'm sorry the possibilities of what those young people go forward and do with their lives is endless really, and and I think there's some really special things happening with younger generations at the moment where I'm envious sometimes or what they're learning and the skills they're developing that I didn't get to do when I was a. 

00:32:16 Megan 

Student like I just think their social emotional literacy is so much higher than. 

00:32:20 Megan 

Our generations got to have. 

00:32:22 Megan 

I think their understanding of. 

00:32:24 Megan 

Themselves is a lot higher, like they're very self aware. 

00:32:27 Megan 

Umm, they're they're learning about the planet and climate change and how they can take action, and they've got a lot more confidence to speak up and be advocates. 

00:32:35 Megan 

And they've got platforms to use like social media and things like that as well, which obviously can be a blessing. 

00:32:40 Megan 

And a curse. 

00:32:41 Megan 

Uhm, so I just think yeah, it's a really special place to work with young people and just to work alongside them and see you know what they're going to work on in the. 

00:32:49 Megan 

So so yeah, I think the opportunity is really endless. 

00:32:53 Megan 

Hopefully not too late to save our planet. 

00:32:56 Megan 

But ultimately, I think schools are such special places, and I think it's you know it's a pretty huge huge opportunity that people have to work alongside young people. 

00:33:04 Megan 

And just to facilitate, you know their their journey really and just allow them to explore it and see where they where they're headed and what they're going to do in the future. 

00:33:16 Janine 

I want to ask you something. 

00:33:20 Janine 

It's been on my mind a bit lately and and in the circles that I've been working in this conversation is like you know your answer sort of was like the potential to heal. 

00:33:29 Janine 

The planet comes through the students and I feel like sometimes there's a lot of pressure on young people to solve. 

00:33:36 Janine 

Some of the problems that we can't solve. 

00:33:37 Janine 

All we've created or that our grandparents are created. 

00:33:40 Janine 

Or whatever, often. 

00:33:41 Janine 

Like what what are? 

00:33:42 Janine 

Your thoughts on this idea of students being like activists and active citizens and and you know doing that work? 

00:33:51 Megan 

Yeah, it's a really. 

00:33:52 Megan 

Good question, UM, I guess like I admire their energy and their confidence. 

00:33:56 Megan 

To do that? 

00:33:57 Megan 

But it is actually really unfortunate like. 

00:33:59 Megan 

I feel like. 

00:34:00 Megan 

They're doing it 'cause I have no choice. 

00:34:01 Megan 

Yes, because if they don't do something if they're not loud about it, like their planet is actually at a point now where if they're not doing anything, their future is actually in jeopardy. 

00:34:12 Megan 

So it's actually sort of, you know, the generations that came before them that have put them in this position where they actually probably feel obliged to be an advocate or an activist. 

00:34:20 Megan 

Store I'm sorry you know. 

00:34:21 Megan 

I feel like there's a lot. 

00:34:22 Megan 

Of pressure on. 

00:34:22 Megan 

Them as well, and they're probably feeling a lot of things we didn't have to feel when we're younger 'cause we were so unaware of the crisis and the damage we were doing to the planet, and that the generations before us had done. 

00:34:33 Megan 

Whereas right now they've got so much information and it must be a really unsettling time for them too. 

00:34:37 Megan 

So I actually feel like it's it shouldn't be on them. 

00:34:40 Megan 

And it's actually. 

00:34:41 Megan 

The generations that came before them that needs to do the repair and and guide them and allow them to have the future they want and it shouldn't have to be centered around activism and changing things and saving the planet. 

00:34:51 Janine 

Yeah, but do you think there's a place that? 

00:34:54 Janine 

In education. 

00:34:57 Megan 

For the young people. 

00:34:59 Megan 

Oh, absolutely, yeah, absolutely. 

00:35:01 Megan 

I think there definitely is, but I just don't want him to feel obliged to have to. 

00:35:04 Megan 

Take that path. 

00:35:06 Janine 

Yeah, yeah, so. 

00:35:07 Janine 

So here's a question. 

00:35:08 Janine 

Then, like what's the role of a teacher in this? 

00:35:10 Janine 

Like what? 

00:35:11 Janine 

Our our teachers activists, are they there to heal the planet or are they there to just, you know, teach kids how to grow up and do their thing be their best. 

00:35:23 Megan 

Ah, that's a really good question. 

00:35:24 Megan 

I like to. 

00:35:24 Megan 

Think that teachers? 

00:35:27 Megan 

Support young people to be really critical consumers of the information in the world that they're. 

00:35:30 Megan 

Entering, so I feel like that's the teachers role more than anything, so not necessarily to teach them to change the planet or anything like that, but just to give them the skills and the strategies to know how to be critical of what they're hearing. 

00:35:42 Megan 

And what they're learning and then to make their own informed choices that way. 

00:35:46 Megan 

Uhm, yeah, that makes sense, yeah? 

00:35:49 Janine 

It takes total sense, awesome. 

00:35:51 Janine 

Well, did you have anything else you want to share about your great new project? 

00:35:55 Janine 

Is it teacher? 

00:35:56 Janine 

Well, yeah, but that you've been working on future as well. 

00:35:57 Megan 

Takes as well, yeah. 

00:35:59 Janine 

Yeah, that that you want to share before we fully head off. 

00:36:03 Megan 

Uh, my look. 

00:36:04 Megan 

We're about to go. 

00:36:05 Megan 

We're about to start sharing our term 3 offering so if anyone was thinking about signing up to a well being community, we are about to start sharing the term 3 information. 

00:36:14 Megan 

So I guess if people are interested we are teacherswell.com and you can also find us on Instagram under teach as well. Yeah, so we'll be starting to share some information about our. 

00:36:23 Megan 

Term 3 offering and we'll have a free information meeting. 

00:36:26 Megan 

Great session in a couple of weeks as well, so that'll be going out pretty. 

00:36:29 Megan 


00:36:30 Janine 

Awesome and that's for Australian teachers. 

00:36:32 Janine 

I'm guessing. 

00:36:33 Janine 

Do you have anything like would would it be accessible for people outside of Australia? 

00:36:38 Megan 

Yeah, it's actually so far we've had teachers from New Zealand as well, so we actually we put all the time zones essentially on our offering for Australia and New Zealand and and yeah, so because it runs after hours I guess. 

00:36:50 Megan 

It wouldn't be too far fetched to think people could sign up if it was morning overseas somewhere and they wanted to sign up, but ultimately we've had Australian teachers and New Zealand teachers so far. 

00:37:00 Janine 

Excellent thanks good for our listeners to know. 

00:37:04 Janine 

Well, best of. 

00:37:05 Janine 

Luck with your project that you're going to be kicking off. 

00:37:07 Janine 

I know you're still in a school for a little while longer. 

00:37:10 Janine 

But it's so exciting what you're doing and it's it's really nice to hear that there are people out there doing that. 

00:37:16 Janine 

Good work to help teachers I know. 

00:37:18 Janine 

That it's much. 

00:37:19 Janine 

Needed at the moment, so thanks for all that you're doing there and. 

00:37:24 Janine 

Yeah, I hope it. 

00:37:25 Janine 

Works out really well. 

00:37:27 Megan 

Thank you. 

00:37:28 Janine 

And thanks for joining us on teaching healer. 

00:37:31 Megan 

No problem, thanks so much for having me. 

00:37:32 Janine 

Thanks Megan.