I was a casual staff member at Charles Darwin University (CDU) for four plus years from late 2011. During that time I worked with the Faculty of Education, dealing with both International Students and others connected with teacher training. I developed a lot of material relating to language issues and also much material covering aspects of classroom management proactive along with material to do with speech and speaking.

As a member of the CDU Alumni I received a letter from Vice Chancellor Simon Maddock asking for thoughts to be given to donating money to support International Students who are presently caught up in the impasse generated by COVID-19.

The money thing is not possible. However, I am happy to share material with students who might gain benefit from material I have created. I am not after being paid for what might be shared, because that is not the point of my offer. Helping to support students, particularly those in Preservice teaching mode or those with language needs is my prime objective.

Aside from LinkedIn, I am at

A great deal of material is on my blog at henry gray and can be used by those who might find it of benefit or assistance.

I have indexes of materials and don’t mind sharing. Just ask.



This post below was made by a school principal on a Facebook post. It was shared by another and in time the sharing reached me.

I acknowledge the source and share this post on my blog for it offers the perspective of a school leader on COVID-19.

“ **Usual disclaimer, I’m a scholol principal but I speak only for myself. Others may have different ideas**

I’m seeing a lot of threads online with the same general theme, so I wanted to just given a schools perspective on it all and answer some FAQs. Also happy to answer any questions people have that I can answer.

Lots of people feeling stressed, overwhelmed and under pressure by the work being sent home for kids. I hope this can help with that somewhat.

Few points to note first :

1) This is not homeschooling. This is an unprecedented emergency situation impacting the whole world. Let’s keep perspective. Homeschooling is a choice, where you considered, you plan for it and you are your child’s school teacher in whatever form you choose . This is at best distance learning. In reality, it’s everyone trying to separate their bums from their elbows because none of us know what we’re doing and what’s right and wrong here.

2) You are, and always have been, your child’s primary educator. If you decide that your child isn’t going to engage with anything sent home and is going to spend the entire period playing in the dirt, or baking, or watching TV, that is your choice. That is your right. It is clear in the constitution. There is nothing to stress or feel guilty about.

3) Schools don’t know what they’re doing either. They got no notice, no prep time and we’re told ‘continue to plan lessons as normal and just send them home’ as if that is in any way possible. If it were, we’d all be out of a job very quickly. I won’t rant about my thoughts on the Dept on this, but suffice it to say your school is winging it.

4) It is absolutely not possible to facilitate distance learning with a primary aged child and work from home at the same time. The very idea is nonsense. If you’re trying to do that, stop now. You can certainly have activities where your child learns, but your focus is your job, and survival. Again, unprecedented. Stop trying to be superheroes.

So, a few FAQs:

– My school has sent home lots of physical work. Pages and pages, hours and hours. How am I supposed to get through it all?!

You’re not, don’t try. Your child’s teacher spent a couple of hours in utter panic gathering things to send home so they could say they did their best and there weren’t a lot if complaints that enough didn’t go home. It’s not a competition, or a race, it’s unlikely the teacher will even manage to look at it all.

– My school keeps sending home links and emails with more work. How do I make it stop. Ahhhhhh

See above. These are suggestions and ideas because the school is worried itl be said they’re not offering enough. Use them if they suit you, don’t if they don’t. If you’re getting stressed, stop opening the emails. No one will know!

– X in my child’s class has everything done and we’ve barely started. Will they fall behind?

Even if everything were equal in terms of support and time and number of kids etc (which its not) kids learn at different rates. In the class there’s a wide range of levels in all subjects, there’s different paces and there are many kids working on differentiated level of work. It’s almost impossible for teachers do differentiate at the moment, so you have to do it. By expectation and by time.

Your child will not fall behind. This is all revision and reminder work. If kids could learn new concepts without specific teaching we wouldn’t need teachers. They will cover all of this again, multiple times.

– I’m not doing any work with my kids. All their doing is Lego, cooking and playing outside.

All of this is learning. Very valuable learning. Give yourself and them a break.

– How can I get three different lots of work done with 3 different kids of different ages?

You can’t, stop trying. If they’re old enough, try to get them to do little bits independently. Otherwise try to do something they can all engage with, reading a story together, some free writing, baking etc.

– So what’s the bare minimum you’d expect?

For me, survival mode. I won’t pretend that may be true of all teachers, but you know what if they can’t have perspective in a time like this then I wouldn’t overly worry about their opinion anyway.

My ideal for my kids in our school?

– A bit of reading every day (independent or to them or via audiobook etc)

– some free writing now and then. If they’ll keep a diary or something, great. If not, would they draw a comic?

– Practical hands on maths. Be that via cooking, cleaning, outside or some maths games physical or digital.

– Some fine motor work. Lego, cutting, playdough, tidying up small toys.

– Physical exercise everyday

– Some art/music where possible through the week. Doesn’t need to be guided.

-Stretch goal, if old enough getting them to independently work on a project is great for keeping brains ticking over. Get them researching in a book or online and putting together something to present to you or family.

– If younger, lots of imaginative free play, the more independent the better.

You are doing enough. You are loving your kids and supporting them through a difficult time. Look after yourself. Minimising stress is absolutely vital in a time like this for mental health. Don’t let this be something that stresses you. Only you can control that by accepting it is in your circle of control, you are the primary educator and this is all your call.

Happy to answer any questions if you have any.

*Apologies, this post is much longer than anticipated.”



Sometimes dreams can be forecast to break down in reality.

I believe this campus is, totally unnecessary and so totally, totally over the top.

And now an extra $15 million to buy the land that was going to be gifted by the City of Darwin Council. Is this an uncoupling of their business relationship shared with the CDU.

So we go for a new city centre campus costing hundreds of millions of dollars while the Casuarina Campus becomes increasingly ghostlike with fewer students on site. Online learning has been part of the reason for increasingly empty buildings.

A visit to the Casuarina Campus creates the impression that the buildings belong to the Essington International School!

There is heaps of student accomodation just off the campus along with Unihouse for students 800 metres up the road adjoining the Casuarina Shopping Precinct- the biggest and most diverse commercial and retail shopping centre in the NT.

In spite of these facilities and notwithstanding CDU penury, the new extravagance in the city is going ahead.

Not for mine an idea built on economic rationality or careful pragmatic forethought.

We have been told that the new campus, costing in excess of $400 million is being funded by a grant from the Federal Government together with a loan from the North Australian Infrastructure Fund. Seemingly these funds cannot be appropriated to meet more dire University needs.

I wonder. This campus could well become a facade while more urgent core business goes unfunded. This could lead to a further reduction in course availability and further redundancies of University staff.


I woke this morning with feelings of gratitude and relief.

My gratitude was to our army, navy and Air Force personnel.

Thank you to all Defence Force personnel and their families past and present for your commitment to serving our country, its people and for keeping Australia safe. Thank you too for overseas service that has helped liberate those who have been subjugated and forced to live in inhumane and oppressive situations.

I also woke with feelings of personal relief. I was just thinking this morning on this Anzac Day about how lucky people like me who did not have their birthdays drawn in the “Vietnam Raffle” happened to be.

That was all about an Australian crawl up America’s political backside and for what end result! The Vietnam conflict was a no brainer and for years our defence force contributors were reviled and figuratively ‘spat upon’ in its aftermath.

The first more positive recognition of Vietnam Veterans was 20 years too late. So many soldiers were destroyed in body, soul and spirit by what was little more than Australian political whimsicalness and an overwhelming desire to curry favour with an ally that has started more wars on Earth than any other nation.

Those whose birthday marbles stayed in the barrel had an opportunity to grow up in a regular societal environment, pursue normal occupations, be a part of regular family pursuits and to remain unsullied by the horrors of Vietnam.

Those who were drawn to undertake military conscription involving training and assignment to Vietnam have in far too many instances, been reduced to destroyed souls.


One of the sticking points about life and relationships both personal and professional, is to insist that ‘your’ viewpoint is the right viewpoint. To offer and incorrect statement or recommend an action that proves to be wrong is reluctantly followed by an apology.

Within school contexts, this can have atmosphere destroying and suspicion arousing outcomes.

For teachers, it can be all too easy to make mistakes. It may be the incorrect spelling of a word, the misunderstanding of roles played by children in some dispute, or getting it wrong when it comes to a particular fact being correct or incorrect. In these instances and others, to apologise to students for a mistake or misunderstanding is important. It models a correct social attitude to children and also earns respect from children. The following examples illustrate my point.

1. Incorrect Instructions

On occasions, incorrect instructions might be given to students who are asked to complete an assignment or other piece of work. When the mistake is realised, or when it is pointed out by students or parents, an apology and correction earns respect. To discount the error is quite the reverse. If students complete work tasks based on instructional error, acceptance of the assignment rather than requiring resubmission is the better course of action.

2. Forgetting an event

The lives of teachers, classes and schools is both crowded and busy. In that context, upcoming events which require preparation, parental permission, the wearing of special clothing (i.e. swimming, costumes for an item being presented) or the need extra food because the class is going on an excursion can be forgotten. Sometimes it is too late to correct the matter so children miss out on the event or the excursion. Apologise for your mistake; don’t try to brush it over.

3. Failing to keep appointments

Appointments are made to be kept. Perchance you are not able to keep an appointment, for instance with a parent or student, make contact and apologise. Set up an alternative date and time.

4. Misjudgement

If misjudging a matter, apologise for the mistake. It can be easy to misjudge a situation involving student discipline, work completion and so on. If this happens and the mistake is yours. say so and apologise.

Teachers are models. This includes in behaviour and attitude. If something you do is wrong, say so, apologise and move on. That will be good modelling and leading by example. Apologising as necessary is part of role modelling.


Imagination – revitalise the ‘inner eye’.

This is about appealing to children’s imagination and having students walk round inside their heads.

(Adults are ‘big children’. This vignette can apply equally to grown-up as well as children.)

Imagination can be a powerful tool. Having children simulate situations through appeal to their imagination can be a very powerful supportive learning aid. Having children put themselves in the pace of literary characters, into historical situations, using the ‘mind’s eye’ to imagine life in another country, simulating situations regarding applied maths – the list goes on – can be a powerful teaching tool and conceptual reinforcer.

Imagination can run riot in terms of the richness of variables and probabilities that light up the minds of children. Keeping students focussed is the role that belongs to the teacher. If allowed the opportunity for development and use, it is a quality that adds to the vibrancy and ‘life’ in lesson situations.

With oral texts, shared reading can be enhanced if students are asked to use their imagination for the sake of predicting, considering consequences, analysing characters in readings and so on. This can extend to include drama and the acting out of scenarios. Imagination also has credence in more academic contexts, including Science and Maths if students are ‘invited into’ these domains. This is situational learning where students are given questions based on real life scenarios. Maths, Science, Literacy and SOCE all lend themselves to scenario learning.

Imagination could certainly help with the management of home schooling, by adding vitality to learning situations.

Scenario learning is also stimulating for teachers because it encourages them to use their imagination in order to set the learning scenes.

Children’s imagination can be quite boundless. However with the use of electronic gadgetry and games I fear that imagination has diminished, because of undue influence by technological takeover. Devices can stand in the place of children determining outcomes and play by setting the agenda to which children simply react.

I used to say to children at all age and grade levels, that we have three eyes; the left, eye, the right eye, and the mind’s eye. That eye is the imaginative eye and it sits in our brain behind our forehead. It can ‘see’ in the same way as our physical eyes by taking us to places in our heads.

Imagination can be a powerful tool facilitating teaching and learning opportunities in classrooms. It can enhance teaching and learning contexts and also build memories of the created events and scenarios. And it can certainly be of use in these coronavirus isolating times.



School leaders, teachers and parents make regular decisions about educational issues. Some policies and processes require lengthy consideration while other procedures are actioned after very short lead times. In most instances, those most impacted by resulting changes are children. Unfortunately, changing priorities and new approaches are little understood by those most affected – the students. Educational partnerships focus on adults talking for students, about students but generally not with students.

That has certainly been the case as COVID-19 confuses the 2020 educational agenda. Within a few short weeks, the school year has been turned upside down. Teachers and parents have been left juggling between the alternatives of school attendance and home schooling for children. One is left wondering whether schools are there for normalised education or simply to provide for students who have to be minded elsewhere so their parents can go to work.

Students are in the middle of this dilemma. They need reassurance and must not be caught in a vacuum of misunderstanding. They need to know they are valued and loved; they must not feel they are a nuisance or a burden to parents and the community.

It is critically important that students should understand what is happening educationally and why changes are taking place. Both parents and teachers need to converse with children about these matters. This must include listening to young people and answering their questions about educational alternatives.

Education has been muddied by everything happening at the moment. Lack of clarity about educational futures was echoed in editorial comment by the Northern Territory News. “The messaging around schools for Term 2 from the federal, state and territory governments is as clear as mud” (8/4/20).

This ‘muddiness’ plays on children, their parents and their teachers. We need to consider what students are going through at this time. They need to be included in all conversations leading to decisions about education during term two. Pros and cons about the two alternatives -school attendance and home schooling – should be canvassed. Parents should be listening to students about their schooling preferences. Family situations and children’s futures are at stake.

For Territory families the situation is compounded by statements from both the Education Minister and Chief Minister. Thursday’s (9/4/2020) issue of the News leads with the headline “School IS compulsory” with Minister Uibo indicating that term two will be as normal across the Territory. The Minister adds, “All children are expected to attend school from day one, Term 2 -Monday, 20 April … you should plan for your child to physically attend school.” (News 9/4/20 p.7) The Minister adds that home schooling exceptions can be made. The Chief MInister’s comment on school attendance is somewhat broader. While suggesting that home schooling is a viable option he stresses that learning must happen and that term one leniencies will not extend into term two. ( “NT schools open … but parents can opt to home school: Chief Minister” NT News online 9/4/2020)

The upcoming holiday week will not be one of rest and relaxation for anyone connected with education. There will be a lot of discussion within households between parents and their children about the best way forward. One can but hope that students, parents and teachers will move into term two with clear understanding and commitment, for muddied educational waters are confusing.

Our first NT Director for Education Dr Jim Eedle said in 1979 that we do well to remember that education is for children. More than ever students need to be part of the planning so that surety replaces uncertainty about their future schooling.



It is timely that universities are starting to think about home grown needs with short term courses for Australian students being supported by government funding. The Focus on overseas students and their money has for years, taken the focus off domestic students and their needs.


It is safe for schools to open on day one of term two with hundreds of students and teachers returning to environments where physical distancing is an impossibility. And it WILL be safe until there is/are an infection/infections within a school/schools. What will happen then? The whole issue about school attendance or home learning is, at the moment, one lacking both logic and clarity.


It’s time that the CDU Management Council had a deep rethink about its construction and service priorities. The budget is tight, the Casuarina campus buildings (at all times) are 80% empty and salary budgets are under stress. Better to consolidate rather than spending over $400 million on an extravagant and unnecessary city campus.

The word is that the money drawn from a Federal Government cities grant and the NAÏF can’t be reallocated because of allocations policies.

Guess what … it could ! All things are possible but it takes willpower and endeavour to effect change.


I wanted to wish all those on LinkedIn the very best with what has been a very different Easter. It is like no other any of us have ever experienced.

This Easter has made one one appreciate the way things usually are, in terms of freedom of movement and the ability to set our own agendas. All of a sudden we are subject to individual management for the collective good.

The last weeks have been ones of great dislocation for everyone. I hope those who are suffering economically and socially find the strength and wherewithal to manage. We all need to look after ourselves and our family members.

The fact that in Australia the normal partisanship positions have been set aside is in a juxtapositional way, an Easter positive.

Politicans are pulling together for the collective good. I wish that sectionalisation in politics with its focus on points gaining and brinkmanship could be permanently set aside,.

Let us all look after ourselves and each other and take care.

At this time we need to take each day as it comes, being as positive in outlook as possible. If we can buoy others up, so much the better.

There is value in time and reprogramming our use of its blessing is an opportunity for each of us.


Bombarding children, particularly year 12 students with perpetually modified study options at this time, will do nothing positive for their state of mental health and well being. Cancelling NAPLAN for 2020 was wise and considering a deferral of formal assessment for all senior years may be wise. For students to mark time and age a year in terms of formal schooling assessments would not be the end of the world.

Schools and teachers like never before will rely on parents to oversee the education of students on the home front. The attitudes of children as home learners will also be important. Online learning and correspondence links will only work if regular time and structured home learning environments are established and maintained.

Online meetings in place of face-to-face gatherings is not a new concept. Around 15-20 years ago this strategy supported many meetings and key ‘within Australia’ and overseas conferences. I suspect that discontinuation had a lot to do with concerns from airlines and hotel chains about loss of patronage. These were well managed and effective management and professional development alternatives.