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Final Hurrah

Well, Australia it has been a slice!!


 As I prepare to begin my journey home, I reflect back on what the past 80+ days away has taught me. At this point what I have recognized is that my role as an educator goes far beyond just teaching content. Here are three learning opportunities I am carrying with me as I move forward.

               1) The separate state and private school system have me questioning the effects and the lasting legacy they have on student’s success in future years. In a conversation with one of the teachers, it was interesting to hear about how student’s elementary education follows them throughout life. As she discussed her daughter, a state school graduate, she explained how in university people will ask what school you attended in your elementary years and pass judgement based on the answer you give. Although there are schools seen as “good” schools and “bad” schools in Calgary this defined separation seemed to be a foreign concept to me. The class structure of this system seems to be overtly limiting students before they even have a chance. Private schools can cost upwards of $20,000 and in such limiting students based on their parent’s ability to finance their future instead of the student’s abilities. Now, in saying this, I do not mean to point fingers at any one school or say that I did not enjoy my experience. Both schools were amazing and have helped me develop as a teacher. What this did teach me was that although I cannot influence the unequal distribution of resources, I can work to minimize the effect it has in my classroom. Being placed in a state school with obviously fewer resources, it was inspiring to see how as teachers we can be creative to help reduce the effects of financial inequality. I recognize that this will require creativity on my part, but I am excited for the challenge.  

               2) On a more personal note, this trip has given me the opportunity to better develop my self-awareness. Living away, outside of my routine and comfort zone, I found my confidence in my own abilities wavering at times. Within my house, everyone strived to be the best. Although that is not a bad thing, I do not consider myself a confident enough person to be in constant competition with others.  With such, I found myself struggling at times to feel able or qualified to express my voice.  If I am to help my students find confidence within themselves, I believe it is important to recognize my own struggles. They only make me human. However, as I continue to reflect on this semester abroad I believe my lack of confidence stems not from my lack of ability but from my fondness for learning more and exploring other views.

               3) Another learning opportunity I had while in Brisbane was to be a part of middle school and secondary classes. Although elementary is my specialization, I have become very fond of the upper years. The complex social environment and developing personalities present a wonderful foundation for an actively engaged classroom. It has been interesting to watch student explore their own ideas and critically examine the content they are presented with. Although I am extremely nervous about beginning my journey back to middle school next week, I am excited to see if similar engagement will occur. Wish me luck!! 

 

 


Now moving on from the sappy self-reflection, leaving Australia is truly a bittersweet goodbye. I am looking forward to seeing everyone back home but what I have learned here is irreplaceable.

Besides my amazing experience in the classrooms, Brisbane and Australia as a whole have been a wonderful place to call home.

So here is one final highlight reel!  What I am going to miss about Australia??

  • Southbank. Within just walking distance of our house was Australia’s largest man-made metropolitan beach. It was beautiful, with the boutique shopping and the weekend markets! The beach is complemented with beautiful public art display and a communal garden. This place became our sanctuary.
  • The Beaches. Byron Bay, Morton Island, Jervis Bay and the many more. There isn’t anything quite as relaxing as sitting in the sand, staring out at the ocean while listening to the waves crash up against the rocks.
  • The Weather. There is nothing wrong with “Hitting the beach” after a long week in September and October!
  • My Australian Family. From my amazing support team at QUT, it was great knowing that we always had somewhere to go if anything occurred. To the teachers and staff at Earnshaw and St. Aiden’s, thank you for allowing us into your schools. It was great to participate in and observe your classes.
  • And Finally, My Roommates. Thank you! I know I can be a pain but without you all I am sure my experience would not have been half as eventful. I am looking forward to reuniting over some Timtam slams and reminiscing our experiences together. I truly believe each one of you has left a lasting impact on me and for that I am thankful.

 

In closing, my advice for future TABers...

Just do it!! Yes, Australia is expensive, but it is possible to do it on a relatively modest budget just be aware of what you are spending your money on. However, in saying that you are on the other side of the world, remember to enjoy yourself!! You most likely will not always get along with your roommates, it is ok to disagree but do not let it consume your trip. Communication is key to mitigating those disagreements. And while school is still the priority, do not forget to enjoy the city you are in! Often it has lessons to teach you that are applicable both inside and outside of the classroom. Oh, and from my time here I have learned that every experience can be a good one, it just depends on what you make of it. Even those times you get caught in a tropical storm without an umbrella can have their moments!

 

Anyways! My time here has come to an end and as I begin my 40+ hour plane ride home I am excited about my next adventure. Grade 8 humanities here I come!

 

 Cheers blog readers!!

 

Brianne

 

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Rambling Thoughts of a Very Jetlagged Traveller

Well, I’m typing this final blog installment from the Vancouver airport as I wait (im)patiently to hop on my last flight of the day back to Calgary! I’ve already walked into a few people by walking on the Aussie (left) side, and I even felt a jolt of confusion when the customs man spoke to me in Canadian English… but I’m not all the way Aussie yet! I’m very happy to be sipping a Tims while I type!

I’m mostly feeling eager to get back home, but my emotions have definitely been very mixed over the past few days. I can’t wait to see my people again, but Brisbane truly became my home over the last two months! I shed a few tears watching our last sunset over the Kangaroo Point cliffs last night, walking through our “dinky little home” for the last time this morning, and taking our last drive across the Story Bridge on our way to the airport this morning (was that really this morning??).

To anyone reading this and considering applying for TAB 2019, my advice is to take the risk! I feel this experience has helped me grow so much as an educator, but also as a person. TAB allows you the perfect opportunity for creating overseas connections, immersing yourself in different perspectives, and learning about your values as a teacher. It is simultaneously challenging, inspiring, and endlessly rewarding. For me, TAB perfectly combined the two greatest loves of my life: teaching and travel. If I could do it again next year, I absolutely would! If none of that persuades you, perhaps this will: on my last day at St Aidan’s, our girls threw us a huge disco dance party to say farewell! The relationships I built with my year two girls were enough, alone, to make this whole experience overwhelmingly worthwhile. All of our coursework talks again and again about the importance of relationships with your students, but this experience made me realize just how universal this really is!

Thank you so much to…

  • Werklund for offering this amazing opportunity
  • My friends and family back home for supporting me from the moment I started the application last fall
  • Melinda & Dallas at QUT for being our international mother (and father) hens
  • All the staff and students at Earnshaw & St. Aidan’s for welcoming us so warmly and making us part of their daily routine

But most of all, I would like to thank my amazing Brisbane roommates, Brianne, Carolyn, Danielle, and Kennedy (and our occasional roommate, Matilda the Cockroach). You ladies pulled me through everything that Brisbane had to throw at us: from sticky humidity to broken GoCards, and from lobster red sunburns to unpredictable plumbing!  Not a day went by that I didn’t laugh until tears came to my eyes. Living with five girls in one “cozy” little house was definitely an adventure, but I will remember it fondly forever.

I now have a week of downtime to try to convince my brain that I’m no longer 16 hours in the future, and then I begin my third practicum! If you’ve made it this far, thank you for keeping up with all of us while we’ve been abroad! See you all soon back in Calgary!

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Cheers Australia!

I can’t believe it is finally time for my Australian adventure to come to an end. It’s been nearly eleven weeks since I first left home, but it feels like yesterday I was hugging my mom goodbye. In the past two and a half months I have gotten to tour Hobbiton, cheer on the All Blacks, climb a Fijian mountain at sunrise, drive the Great Ocean Road, visit the Sydney Opera House, Sail the Whitsundays and frolic in Noosa’s Fairy Pools all while keeping up with my classes and volunteering in schools. My time with TAB has been nothing short of amazing, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel while earning my degree.

In the weeks since my last post, Danielle, Brianne and I have been visiting classrooms of all ages at Earnshaw. This has been an incredible experience for me, as back home I am so focused on my secondary specialization that I almost never get the chance to observe and help out in an elementary classroom. It seems every day at Earnshaw I learn something new about Elementary education, which has me going back and forth between deciding if I would teach in the younger years or not, something I would have never before considered.

Throughout my time on TAB I have grown immensely as an educator. Initially when I received my notice that I was placed in Australia I was disappointed, I wanted to have an authentic cultural experience and I did not think I would receive that in Australia. Before leaving, I imagined it to be all beaches and desert and creepy crawlies, However, upon arriving in Australia, I found the country to be culturally complex, with amazing food, live music on every block, museums full of beautiful art and the loveliest people. The other benefit of being placed in an English-speaking country is that I got to full immerse myself within the classroom and was able to participate in a wide variety of classrooms, which was something I would not have been able to do anywhere else.

This weekend, I am coming home with so much more than what I left with. Each and every moment in Australia will be kept with me for the rest of my life. Not only have I learned so many teaching skills, but I have also made friends that I will keep for the rest of my life. Living in a house with five girls is not easy, but I am thankful I was placed with four other girls who were so open, thoughtful and ambitious. As a house we grew together in ways that we weren’t expecting, and I can’t wait for us to reflect on our shared memories in the years to come.

 

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My Final Goodbyes to Australia

Well, it is finally starting to sink in that my time here in Brisbane is coming to a close. I must say that I am very excited to go home to Canada, but I am also very saddened to be leaving my second home. I cannot begin to express the amount of gratitude I have for the opportunity to participate in this program and for the ability to combine my loves of traveling, learning, and teaching. I will hold these experiences very close to my heart as I move forward with my everyday life and career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My last week at Earnshaw has proven to be a culmination of reasonings behind why I wanted to become a teacher. The most significant reasoning is evident in the connections you make with students. Even though we are only at Earnshaw twice a week, students go out of their way to wave and ask “how ya goin’” as we walk through the campus. In one period, we returned to a prep class for the second time and instantly I was greeted with a hug from one student I had worked with previously. Throughout the Maths lesson, I was able to work with this student further and many others in which we shared many laughs, jokes, and of course hugs. The moment that struck me was that by the end of the lesson, this one student, in particular, asked me if I would be coming back to their class in which I had to inform them that I had to actually return to Canada this weekend. In response, the student let out the fattest lip with reddened cheeks and eyes starting to well up – my feelings exactly. It was so special to share this connection with a student and feel so impactful in this individual’s life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to give a special thank you to my roommates for becoming my family over the past two months. I can attest to moments of feeling homesick and it was comforting to know that I had an established support system within our dinky home. Love you guys long time. It would also not be fair if I did not give Kennedy a special shout out… I still remember leaving a TAB workshop earlier this year feeling fairly apprehensive moving away from home and traveling all alone. Despite ever knowing each other prior to the start of TAB, Kennedy asked me if I was interested in traveling together and am I ever grateful she did. By the end of this, Kennedy and I will have spent a grand total of 75 days together, at least 25 accidentally planned matching outfits, 17 museums, 3 countries, and of course an endless number of laughs and love. I am forever grateful for finding a forever friend.

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For future students interested in participating in TAB… my best advice is (as the Aussies say it) go on and give it a go! It is no doubt a daunting experience, but the amount of growth and learning goes beyond words. I still have to pinch myself thinking that this has ever been a reality.

Okay, I am done crying now … Canada, I will be seeing you very very soon…

- Dani

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Exploring Earnshaw!

So, it has been three weeks since I have left the world-wind of semester break and re-joined the real-world. At which time I began my second placement at Earnshaw State College, a P-12 Co-ed state school. My initial thoughts were that the students were more standoffish than those at St. Aidan’s and the teachers were beyond excited to have me in their classroom. I was excited to see what would come of it.

Now reflecting on my time at Earnshaw, it has not been a disappointment! I have had the pleasure of getting to know the students and teachers while becoming a part of the school. Since we have been at Earnshaw we have had the opportunity to be far more hands-on: working in reading groups, aiding in STEAM projects, and lending a hand in math classes. Not a day has gone by that we have not been engaging with the students and aid in the classroom. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be invited into the school, here are some of the highlights of my time so far. 

 

 Throughout Earnshaw, it seems to be a valued commitment among the staff to engage in student-centered learning. When meeting with one of the school’s literacy leads, he walked us through their comprehensive literacy program and the data they track from it. A unique element of this program was the tracking of the student’s successes and struggles in the form of a physical chart. Each student’s face is displayed on the interactive chart with identifying markers to illustrate their personal place within the program. By connecting a face to the data, it is easy to isolate which students are struggling and which students need a little more of a push.  As well it seems to add a human element to what otherwise can be seen as just numbers. In constructing the data in the form of usable data, students seem to receive appropriate, customized intervention. It was an interesting program that seems to be doing wonders to improve student’s literacy skills.  

Unlike my previous placement at St. Aidan's, the school is rich with cultural diversity and varied skill levels. Since attending Earnshaw, I have witnessed the teachers go above and beyond to encourage the success of all of their students.  Being a non-linear learner myself it has been heartwarming to see Earnshaw’s commitment to creating a differentiated inclusive community.  As I am someone who got into education to work with students who are often considered to be “difficult” or “bad” and are passed off as a problem, it has been rewarding to see teachers and staff challenge these stereotypes and apply techniques to deal with issues as they arose. It is refreshing to see the school’s commitment to the success of these students. 

I have come to understand that Earnshaw's population is comprised of students from all walks of life. In supporting this diversity, Earnshaw promotes an inclusive environment throughout. An initiative that stood-out to me was the “Bridging the Gap” program. As you may know, Australia, like Canada, has a lasting legacy of European colonialism casting a negative shadow throughout society and bleeding into the education system. To help re-write the wrongs of the past and expose students to a better understanding, the project works to bridge the gap between the Eurocentric education students are receiving and the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander's values and teachings. This program is an inclusive program that works to expose all students to Indigenous thought by recognizing its importance and incorporating it into the classroom.

So State or Private…

Coming here I had no experience with private schools aside from the stereotypes presented to me through the media and what I had explored on the St. Aidan’s website prior to coming. However, from such limited exposure, I believed that receiving a private education meant you were receiving a superior quality education. In my short time in the schools, I believe the division comes down to resources. Although it was evident that Earnshaw does not have access to the same amount of resources as St. Aidan’s does, there is an obvious commitment to student success throughout both schools.

I am beyond thankful for both my experiences here in Brisbane. My placement in the private school gave me a snapshot of what it would be like to be a member of a school with no worries about resources or financial constraints. As well I got the taste of what it would be like to be a part of an all-girls program and how that affects the learning environment. From this, moving into the state school, I have found the realities presented at Earnshaw to be far more practical for future application throughout my career. It has been amazing being able to explore the different school systems here in Australia and it is sad to see it coming to an end. Although it has been nearly three months since I left, and I do miss home, it is going to be very difficult for me to leave this place.

 

Till next time readers!

 

 Brianne

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Wrapping up on Life Here in Brisbane!

One final farewell!

Wow, hard to believe but here we are with a 5 day countdown until we head back home to Calgary. Back to friends, family, routines and unfortunately much colder weather! Time here in Brisbane has been a fantastic experience, with so many new explorations every day, the time truly has flown by. Just this last week, we ventured to an outdoor food market called Eat Street, rode the Wheel of Brisbane, spent a full day at the Irwin Australia Zoo, and took a trip out to Byron Bay for one last day enjoying the beautiful surf and pristine sandy white beaches. I must say, Byron Bay takes the cake! We made it to the most Eastern point in Australia where we spent a good amount of time watching humpback whales splash around and a pod of dolphins jumping in the surf. Quite the perfect wildlife weekend to end an all around fantastic trip!

However, this also means that our time in our school is also winding down. I’m not looking forward to saying  goodbye to my students, or the friendships I’ve made with the teachers at the school. I’ve learned so much from my time here at St. Aidan’s that I’m excited to bring into my own classroom in the future. My favourite teacher moment that I’ve had thus far was working with a little girl on her word search sheet. She had found about half of the required words and came up to me with a sad look on her face. On the bottom of her sheet she had written in big capital letters “I can’t do it.” We sat down together and worked on a strategy for finding the words in the search. After testing out the strategy and finding one word together, I sent her back to her desk to try and find the remaining words on her own. It was so uplifting when she came running back to show that she had found all the words on her sheet and loudly proclaimed that she could do it! I pointed out what she had previously written on her sheet and she realized it was no longer true so quickly erased the negative statement from her sheet. It was such a small moment in the day, but it really made all the difference to me. Seeing her immediate mood swing and her change in confidence when she realized she could do it, made my day! It really reinforced why I have chosen this profession. I know I’ll look back on this moment, as well as all my time spent teaching and assisting here in schools in Brisbane. The welcome Melissa and I were given at both our schools was overwhelming. We could not have been more lucky with our placements and the support we have been given. Thursday will be a sad day when we have to say goodbye. However, I already know we are going to have a little disco dance party in the classroom on the final day, so I can’t wait for a few more moments of fun with the class.

I’m really grateful that I’ve had the chance to explore another country, as well as having been given the opportunity to become a part of the two school communities while here. A big thank you for all the support from my family and friends back home! See you all soon!

Carolyn

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Taming the Monkey Mind!

How ya going? It’s hard to believe there’s less than two weeks until I head home! I’m looking forward to seeing all the people (and bunnies) I love back in Calgary, but I am SO not ready to see the snow again!

Carolyn and I have spent the past two weeks at St Aidan’s, a private all-girls school in one of the southern suburbs of Brisbane. I am fortunate enough to be placed in a wonderful year two class with an amazing partner teacher and 21 intelligent, polite, and sweet girls! Having always found my niche in the earliest of early years (preschool and kindy, or, as it’s known here, kindy and prep), I’m a bit surprised by how much I am absolutely adoring working with the year twos! It’s a wonderful age, where the students are still adorable and loving, but are also starting to get used to the routine of school and have so many delightful questions, ideas, and insights.

I am also surprised by how comfortable it is to work in an all-girls school. I don’t know if I would advocate female-only schooling right through grade twelve, but I can certainly see the benefit in elementary! It’s fascinating to see what a softer, more “feminine” touch looks like on a school: emotions are acknowledged and valued, encouragement is given freely, learning is collaborative, introspection and reflection are encouraged, opportunities are given for every voice to be heard, and teaching approaches are somehow gentler and more fluid. This is not to say that boys are a bad influence or negatively change the environment. It’s also not to say that ALL girls learn in the same manner. But it is interesting to see the difference in contrast to the mixed-gender classrooms I’ve become accustomed to!

I wanted to make mention of one of the great emergent initiatives currently being rolled out at St Aidan’s.  Right now, they’re undergoing a huge push for mindfulness. If you know me, you might know that I can be a bit of a ball of anxiety, so, over the past decade or so, I have adopted mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises as ways to find presence and calm in my daily life. Not only has this been exceedingly useful in the past 10 weeks I’ve been abroad, but I’m also now getting to see how well it can work in a classroom setting. My partner teacher encourages the girls to be mindful about almost everything they do during the day. Aside from our daily (or sometimes twice daily, depending on energy levels) meditation time, we engage in mindful reading, mindful walking, mindful colouring and drawing, mindful handwriting, mindful listening, mindful singing, and even mindful maths! They talk extensively about calming the Monkey Mind, recognizing and releasing distractions, and holding space for themselves.  

While I’m sure mindfulness practices are equally as prevalent in schools in Canada, this is the first time I’ve been exposed to a thorough school-wide approach, and I’m very impressed! This is definitely something I will be carrying into my future classrooms. I might even try to incorporate it into my upcoming practicum!

Anyway, enough from me - here’s a picture of me being mindful on the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk!

 

Thanks for reading!

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Adventure is good for the soul.

Well here goes nothing, twelve days, three adults and one camper-van…or at least we thought it was a camper-van. Turns out, Hermes, our camper is nothing more than a minivan with a few more bells and whistles. Let the adventure begin!!

Night one! Well, to say the least, we started our trip on a bumpy road. Turns out it was a long weekend and we did not make sleeping arrangements ahead of time. So, camping in a rugby field with some locals down by the river it was! By day two we figured it out, camping was very limited, so off the beaten path, we went. Lucky for us the road less taken led us to Croki, a small village on the Manning River. Once at the heart of the hustle and bustle, now it is no more than a riverside campground, a few houses, and cows! Oh, and for those of you that don’t know, I love Cows! Anyways it was a wonderful stop to enjoy some family time and relax by the river. If the first few days were any inkling for the trip ahead, we were in for a wonderful road trip.

Our road-trip continued down the coast stopping a couple more nights before landing ourselves in Sydney! Wow! Three country bumpkins driving on the “wrong” side of the road in downtown Sydney, an experience to say the least! But the city did not disappoint. We toured around, making the iconic stop at the Opera house where we witnessed a police search for a French base jumper attempting to jump from a crane overlooking the harbor. Once again never a dull moment on this family vacation!

Next, we attempted to continue our tourist escapades and venture out to the Blue Mountains. However, after living outside of Jasper my whole life I am not overly comfortable in crowds of tourists so short lived it was. After a quick picture and a stop to stretch our legs we were off to the beach for a beverage and some R&R. Oh, and on a side note, when they say “don’t drive at night” they mean it. Kangaroos! Kangaroos everywhere!! Oh, and wombats and emus!

On the road again!! Melbourne was the next great city in our sights. But what fun would it be if we did not do some exploring along the way?  We stopped to explore in the town of Snowy River, yes from the show, apparently! This cute quiet town pointed us in the direction of Raymond Island. So back to the van and off we went. With a quick ferry ride, we were there. Koalas! Koalas everywhere! Echidna not, this place was a hub for animal life! See what I did there! Gosh, I am funny! After getting our fill of wild koalas and the other local wildlife, we were off to the streets of Melbourne for bathhouses, beaches, and burgers. Wow, and just when I think Australia cannot get any better, it does. 

After getting our fill of the beautiful city we began the final leg of our Great Australian Road-trip down the Great Ocean Road! We would not have been true to our roots if we did not stop at a farm-to-table restaurant at one point on our tour. Not only was the food amazing, the atmosphere and their commitment to limiting their ecological footprint was remarkable! They earned bonus points with me as they run an education program, educating the student about how food is grown and where their food comes from. Dream job!!! After filling our bellies, we began our trip down the winding Great Ocean Road. In a snapshot imagine driving along the most beautiful coastline on a winding mountain road. Now imagine doing it with your parents, a broken GPS, and limited cell service. It was quite the adventure, but as much as I felt like it should have been stressful, it was just what my mental health needed. Carefree coastal driving. No rushing, no plans, just driving and exploring as we go. Once again Australia exceeded all expectations. With a casual drive back to Melbourne we said our goodbyes, back to Brisbane for me and off to Coober Pedy for my parents!

Never in my wildest dreams did I think my parents would pack up and leave their busy lives back home to road-trip Australia in a van. But I am so happy they did! It was a once in a lifetime experience and I would not have changed it for the world. 


 

 

So other than being a much-needed stress break, this adventure has had its own teaching moments. So, what has traveling with my parents taught me about teaching and my role as an educator? 

Self-Care.You are only as good to your students as you are to yourself. Being abroad and away from my route, I found myself stressed and unhappy with my ability to attend to my studies. My mind just felt cloudy. My time away allowed me to refocus my mind and return with a positive mindset. Moving forward with my career, I believe it is important to remember to take me-time as to better serve my students. 

Patience. Well teaching two 50+ years old how to navigate using their phones has been a treat. After our GPS stopped working we had to rely on our phone maps, and what I thought was common practice, is not for everyone! So, I learned how to go back to the basics and teach something I do every day, step-by-step.

Be Curious. Not everything is listed in a book; explore, be intrigued, and try new thing. Sometimes the best plan is no plan at all. Let things happen organically and remember, you do not have to micro-manage everything.

Perspective. This trip has taught me that even in the ups and downs, life is all about perspectives. It is important to stop, take a breath, step back, and put it all into perspective.

 

Now! For what little time we have left here it is school work and teaching! Something is telling me it is going to be hard to leave this country.

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Slip, Slop, Slap

Wow has time ever flown by! Since I have last posted, I have experienced the absolute highlight of my trip. Kennedy and I traveled to the Whitsundays for a short 48 hours. Luckily, we had the opportunity to snorkel The Great Barrier Reef and explore Whitehaven Beach. The entire day start to finish was beyond amazing and luckily no sharks! I felt extremely lucky to know that I was snorkeling in a very healthy part of The Reef experiencing the beautiful colours of coral and even swam right next to a sea turtle who resembled Crush from Nemo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since returning to Brisbane, I have started at Earnshaw State College that is a prep-12 coed school public school. Earnshaw has been extremely welcoming, and both administration and teachers are eager to discuss their roles and perceptions of the Australian public system. I have found that Earnshaw has a strong commitment to their students’ academic needs, wellbeing, and cultural needs. Concerning academic needs, I was extremely impressed with their comprehensive reading program that is both presents in the junior and senior school. This program tracks students’ reading levels based on their National Assessment Program (NAT) against their in-classroom progression throughout the term. It was clear that the English coaches were committed to ensuring that all students were furthering their reading capabilities and if they were not they were able to adjust appropriately. For students’ wellbeing, I was able to attend the Wellbeing Wednesday Welfare hub that invites years seven to nine to participate in activities and games after school following a theme each week. In relation to cultural needs, the school has a Yarning Circle club that meets over the lunch hour in which students partake in learning about Indigenous culture through performing arts. I am looking forward to my remaining two weeks at Earnshaw!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for life in Brisbane, the days are becoming jampacked as I am making sure everything on my bucket list has been checked off while balancing the end of semester approaches! I and the Brisbane girls took a study break to visit Moreton Island for a day in the sun and some more snorkeling through some shipwrecks! The next two weeks I am sure will be whirlwind, but I am excited to keep exploring my amazing city!

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Private Schools vs. Public Schools

It feels like a lifetime since the last time I wrote a blog post! In the past three weeks, Danielle and I have seen the Sydney Opera House, drove Great Ocean Road, watched the AFL grand finale, snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef and walked the shores of the beautiful Whitehaven Beach. Australia is really starting to steal a special place in my heart! Now, we are back from all our adventures, and well into our second placement. This term, Brianne, Danielle and I have been placed at Earnshaw State College in the suburb of Banyo. The school is a public Prep to Twelve co-ed school, split by the Jr. Campus and the Sr. Campus. The school has been overwhelmingly welcoming and supportive of us during our time here, and we cannot wait to continue exploring the school and all it has to offer.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Observing the classrooms and culture at Earnshaw, I have been surprised at the similarities and differences that exist between public and private education in Queensland. Before coming to Australia, I was under the impression that the quality of teaching would be much higher at St. Aidan’s than at Earnshaw, but throughout our observations I have come to realize that the differences between the school have nothing to do with the teaching quality, and everything to do with the schools resources. At St. Aidan’s the school is filled with interactive STEM spaces, each student in the secondary school has their own laptop, and there are a multitude of co-curricular activities and school trips that the students may participate in. Although I would argue that methods of teaching, classroom management and pedagogies were the same at both schools, there was a definite imbalance when it comes to student resources and supports.

What I have found most interesting about our time in the Australian education system is that even the teachers struggle to decide which system of education is best for their children. The private school teachers had students in public schools, and the public-school teachers had students in private schools. There is a definite stereotype in Australia that a private education is a better education. This stereotype runs so deep that even teachers within the public system do not believe that the work they are doing is good enough for their own children. Personally, I always have and always will be a strong advocate for public education. I have always struggled to understand why Canadian parents would spend so much money on a private education, when our public-school system is so highly regarded. Coming to Australia, I thought my perception of private schools would change, as I would be amazed by the quality of education they are producing. After visiting both a public and a private school in Australia I do not believe this is the case. Both school systems are committed to ensuring that their students are receiving the best education that they can supply, and I would argue that both are succeeding.

 Moving forward with this placement, I am hopeful that I will continue to be amazed by the quality of education offered at Earnshaw. So far, our experience has been extremely rewarding, and I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks have in store!

 

Kennedy

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Switching Schools in Brisbane

Back to School!

Well we’ve just had Spring Break (called Term Break here) in Queensland, Australia. We’re pretty lucky because it gave us all the chance to jet off and explore a bit of Australia! I took off first to Melbourne and got to take in sights such as the Great Ocean Road. It was a beautiful drive all along the coast, worth seeing! Following that I was over in Sydney to see the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach. It was so fun to see such iconic sights in person! To finish up the break, I went up the coast to a little sleepy town called Noosa, it’s a place I would say is similar to Canmore, only instead of mountains it has beautiful beaches! I was able to cross off a bucket list item as I tried surfing for the first time and I was able to get up on my board and surf in to the beach! I think I’m hooked on the sport which may be problematic living in Alberta.

As I said, though, school break is over and we’re back in classrooms here. For the next four weeks I’ll be with Melissa at St. Aidans’s Anglican Girls School. Today was our first day and we both had exceptional experiences! With our last school (which we also both thoroughly enjoyed) we had the opportunity to move around to different classes throughout the day and see a variety of different grade levels, teaching styles and subjects. This school we’ve each been paired with our own teacher for our whole stay. I’m looking forward to this as my partner teacher is fantastic and I’m enjoying getting to know the kids. My hope is to have all the names down by my third full day! I’m in a grade one class and it’s really different being in an all girls school. You can definitely feel there is a calmer energy about the place as well. I already got to spend some time today working with smaller groups on their spelling and grammar and circling the class to help with various assignments throughout the day.

I really enjoyed how their library time was spent. They had a few minutes to sign out some books and then they were lead through a 5 minute meditation of sorts to calm what they called their ‘monkey brain’. Monkey brain is where you have so much on the go that you’re thinking about a million things at once; I’m sure we all can relate! After their meditation they were given a full 20 minutes to read their books in silence and every single girl in the library was focused on their reading! It was really impressive; even the teachers got to enjoy quiet reading! I must say I loved my 20 minute reading break midday, my monkey brain appreciated it!

From there we jumped right into gym class and due to odd numbers I got to partake in the games with the girls. It was a really fun joining the girls but running around in humid 33 degree weather is something I am not used to! You might say us Canadian girls are starting to notice the heat, and we’ve been told it isn’t even hot yet!

All in all it was a fantastic day and I’m really looking forward to getting to know this classroom of girls as they’re absolute sweethearts to work with! We finished the day with story time and they were so excited about it that I think I get to read to them story at the end of every day for the rest of my visit. I must say I enjoy it almost as much as they do!

Time to cook up some dinner, we’re having Greek tonight! Also looks like we have a wicked thunder storm rolling in so should be an exciting evening!

Thank you for reading!

Carolyn

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Halfway Already!?

Hello from the other side!!

Well, our time here is flying by!! One school and three weeks down!! What a three weeks it has been! Where do I begin?! My first prac* was at a high achieving all-girls private school, with afocus on the Maths and Sciences. I was coming in to this school with limited experience. I had never been in single-sex schooling, nor do I claim to be an expert in the Maths and Sciences. Being as we were placed in the upper years, during their exam prep, much of our placement was observation. As a beginner teacher, I find myself, chomping at the bit wanting to teach every time I get into a classroom. However, I found having the opportunity to just sit and observe different teachers, styles, and students to be extremely beneficial.


As I could go on and on about my experience at St. Aidan’s I will give you the highlight reel instead...

  • Throughout the school, I was impressed with their ability to integrate multiple discipline together. We observed a Physics class that developed English skills and an Art class that considered Geography during their application, to name a few. Their ability to teach in an interdisciplinary fashion with such fluidity was something I had limited experience with.
  • The rollout of the new curriculum. Although we had limited opportunity to observe this curriculum in the classroom, it seemed as though they are approaching it largely through an inquiry-based model. In a discussion with one of the Maths teachers, she explained how students will be graded out of 20, but only 7 of those marks will be for the right answer. The other 13 will be for explaining ones thought process and giving alternative ways of achieving the outcome.
  • On a final note, classroom management seemed to be a thing of the past in this school. Not to say it was good, bad, or otherwise, but it seemed as if the students were given ownership of their own behaviour and if they chose not to pay attention that was their fault. Over the three weeks, this seemed to fluctuate in some classrooms but overall seemed to be relatively similar across most of the school.

 

 

Prac*  the term Australian teachers and preservice teacher use when referring to their practicum

 

Now for a Beyond the Classroom Update!

Well, you know what they say, When in Australia do as the Australians!! So, we tried the TimTam Slam! And just when I thought I couldn’t like those biscuits anymore!! It turns them into warm chocolate cake!! And if the cookies did not sell me on this country, I had the opportunity to explore the Great Barrier Reef and it was beyond beautiful. There is something about diving and being underwater that is both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. The reef reminded me of how small I am in this world and just why I love diving! Oh and hanging out with the sharks did not hurt either!! Next up, Vegemite and Surfing 

What am I looking forward to? 

In the weeks to come my parents are coming and we are road tripping the East Coast of Australia. It will be really nice to get away from the city and explore some of rural Australia. On this trip, we will have the opportunity to explore more about Indigenous peoples of Australia and their relationship to the land. So far it has been interesting to see the parallels one can draw between Canada and Australia, and Indigenous relations within each country.

 

 

Till Next Time,

Bri in Brissy! 

 

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Surfing the Waves of Inclusion!

G’day again mates! Today is a rainy day in Brisbane, so I’m using this opportunity to catch up on some homework, drink a few lattes, and reflect on my experiences in another blog post. The past week has been chockablock full of exploration: from the famous Sydney Opera House, to the gorgeous Blue Mountains, to the warm and wonderful Bondi and Byron Bay beaches! My favourite experience so far has definitely been last Thursday, when I got to toss out the shakas and catch some gnarly waves on a surfboard in Byron Bay! Sweet as!

I’ve finally figured out how to share pictures in my post, so here’s one of me hamming it up in the sunshine!

 

In my last post, I talked about mental health - this time around, I'm going to venture into a topic that's even closer to my heart: inclusive education!

In my first school placement in Brisbane (which is now unfortunately over!), I had the amazing opportunity to spend many mornings with a wonderful prep (kindergarten) teacher and her loving, intelligent, and adorable students. I was continually amazed by her patience and skillful implementation of differentiated, engaging, and meaningful learning experiences. As someone who hopes to teach early elementary in the future, I thoroughly enjoyed my mornings with the “preppies”! One student in particular stood out for me, though; to protect his identity, I’ll refer to him as Max. I first took notice of him when, at morning circle, the teacher asked him, “And who are you today?” I carried my curiousity about Max over all three weeks at Earnshaw, and, fortunately, everyone I encountered was equally as eager to discuss the situation with me. After some questioning, I found out that, alongside diagnoses of ASD and ADHD, he exhibits multiple personalities, all of which are well-developed and entirely separate from one another. His “bad” personality was called Max, but he also had many “good” personalities, such as Toad, Mario, and Tails.

Even more fascinating than my first experience with multiple personalities was the teacher’s handling of the issue. Though he clearly exhibited additional needs, he was never “othered”: she respectfully used the name of whichever personality he was exhibiting that day and never brought special attention to his behaviour. For example, one day when “Bad Max” was causing a disturbance in the classroom, she privately conferred with him, addressing him as Max, and invited him to “go have a look outside for Toad”. He was frustrated, but took her advice and went outside, running around the (fenced) schoolyard (still within eyesight). He came back into the classroom a few minutes later with a completely different expression and in a completely different voice announced, “I’ve found Toad!”, sat down at a table, and continued his work peacefully.

To say I was blown away by this teacher and student relationship is an understatement! It was incredibly meaningful for me to bear witness to the inclusive practices that made this prep class run smoothly, despite the diverse students with so many different needs, abilities, and personalities. I could really talk all day about the amazing inclusion I saw in many classes at Earnshaw, but I would be writing for pages! I am eager to see how large of a role inclusivity plays in my next placement at St Aidan’s, starting next week. For now, I’m looking forward to a few sunny days in Noosa, followed by a long-awaited trek to Melbourne before all the Brisbane girls are back together again!

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Indigenous Education in Australia

Hi everyone! It has almost been a month now since I have landed in Australia, and I can’t believe how fast time if flying by. Us Brisbane girls have now finished our first placements and are currently on spring break. I will now be enjoying some time south of Brisbane, visiting friends in both Sydney and Melbourne, and in a few weeks avoiding sharks in the Whitsundays. For the past month us Brisbane girls have been very busy becoming acquainted with our new city, visiting schools, attending QUT lectures and keeping up with our online classes, so it is nice to have some time to ourselves to explore this beautiful country!

Before we left on break, we had the chance to attend a meeting on Indigenous education at St. Aidan’s with their school Chaplain and Dean of Innovation and Engagement. Brianne, Danielle and I requested this meeting in order to gain some perspective on how Indigenous ways of knowing and learning are being introduced within Australian classrooms. As it turns out, the State of Queensland is miles ahead of Canada when it comes to integration of Indigenous culture and knowledge into their schools. Within Queensland including Indigenous perspectives is a cross-curricular priority. Indigenous ways of knowing must be integrated into each subject area, as mandated within the curriculum. Queensland schools are also working hard to organize staff PD’s on Indigenous education, and St. Aidan’s itself participates in an Indigenous learning circle with other school leaders and Indigenous elders.  

Although St. Aidan’s is very proud of the work they have done to pay respect to Australia’s Indigenous people, they also admit they still have a long way to go when it comes to supporting Indigenous populations. In our discussion, the Chaplain spoke of a student within the school who was of Indigenous heritage but did not wish to identify herself as an Indigenous at St. Aidan's. The Chaplain acknowledges that after this came to light, the school faced the harsh realization that it might not be an inviting environment for Indigenous students to feel respected and accepted. Moving forward, the Chaplain spoke that St. Aidan’s is committed to creating an environment where Indigenous education can flourish, and Indigenous success stories can be celebrated.

Both the Chaplain and the Dean of Innovation and Engagement agreed that Canada was a country Australia looked up to when it comes to Indigenous relations. It is very interesting as a Canadian to hear this, as I know Canada has a far from perfect relationship with its Indigenous people. Although we may have treaties, we don’t have comprehensive educational programs aimed at educating Canadians on Indigenous ways of knowing that span all curricular areas. I do believe that there is a lot that both Canada and Australia can learn from each other when it comes to Indigenous education.

I am looking forward to beginning my next placement within the Queensland public school system. Hopefully I can gain some more insight into the curricular aims of Indigenous education, and how schools across the State of Queensland are integrating Indigenous ways of knowing and learning within their classrooms!

 

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Mid-term Reflection

So, I have about reached the half-way point of my trip thus far and what a whirlwind it has been! My time spent at St. Aidan’s school was something that I will always treasure, and I have learned a tremendous amount from both students and teachers. One of the most significant teaching experiences I will take away from St. Aidan’s was from the Religious Values class in which the year eights were participating in a community outreach program. The group of girls I was assigned to were going to a nearby school called Milpera.

Milpera is an entry school for new immigrants and refugee students who do not yet reach English proficiency. I, and three year eight students went to a beginner class that held a various age of students, with one who just emigrated from Syria the day before. All students spoke at a very low level of English, many could speak some English but struggled with reading and writing. It was very interesting to observe the St. Aidan’s students work one-on-one with the Milpera students and at times I found that the girls struggled relating to students who were older than themselves. Nevertheless, the girls seemed more than enthused about getting to know the Milpera students in which they asked them several questions about themselves while attempting to help them practice their English. At the end of the class, the Milpera students had the chance to ask the St. Aidan’s girls questions about their schooling, what their favorite sports are, what they do in their spare time etc. I anticipate that the St. Aidan’s girls will develop strong relationships with the students of Milpera and aid them in their transition into the Australian Educational System. As well, I hope that the students of St. Aidan’s develop a greater appreciation for their own privileges.

Lucky for me, the mid-term break does not just apply to my students! I have since traveled to Sydney and I am currently in Melbourne! Next up, the Whitsundays! I am looking forward to the other half of my time here, starting at Earnshaw State College after the mid-term break!

  

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Emu-tional Wellness in Australia

G'day from down under!

It has been a whirlwind first few weeks in Brisbane adjusting to the Aussie lifestyle. Between meeting our liaisons at QUT, meeting the amazing staff and students at Earnshaw, and meeting a few cuddly koalas and kangaroos, we have been very busy! Most of us leave for our two weeks of spring break this weekend - it will be great to see more of what Australia has to offer.

It terms of education, one of my biggest takeaways so far has been the focus in schools on mental health and wellness. During my first degree, I minored in psychology so I am always interested to see different schools' approaches to mental health. Personally (although I might be a touch biased) I believe that mental health should be at the forefront of every school's pedagogical radar. Students cannot learn effectively and be engaged in their work when they are distracted. One of my strongest impressions of the few Australia schools I have seen so far is that mental health takes a much greater precedence than in schools back home. On campus at QUT, large billboards asked R U OK?, which I later learned is a Queensland-wide suicide prevention initiative. To my surprise, I have also seen posters for this program at Earnshaw! The focus on mental wellness is evident from classroom to classroom in so many ways. 

The school daytimer dedicates a few pages to positive education which highlights affirmative self-talk, mindfulness strategies, and effective study habits. As well, we got to meet with the school chaplain, Hannah, to talk about her role in the school. Coming from my experiences as a child, I naturally assumed that a chaplain referred to a sort of religious liaison; however, Hannah takes on a much broader role. She leads weekly sessions such as Mindfulness Mondays and Wellness Wednesdays to offer strategies for stress relief and foster relationships with and between students. Her room functions as a judgement-free "safe space", where kids can go to talk openly, ask questions, and even de-escalate if necessary. Her place in the school is so well-valued by staff, students, and family members alike that, during our stay, we got to participate in a fun run organized to raise money to increase her weekly hours at the school.

The focus on mental health is also very evident on a classroom level. One particular example was in a year three language arts class, where the students were doing oral presentations in front of an audience of their and classmates and teacher. As a textbook introvert, even the word "presentation" makes me feel stressed! I noticed this sentiment mirrored in some of the grade three students who were hiding behind bookshelves, frantically scratching out or erasing their work, or whispering in nervous voices to their friends. The teacher offered three options for students feeling overwhelmed by the task:

1) You can go tomorrow

2) You can visit me outside of class time with a few friends and present to a smaller group

3) You can have a friend record your presentation on an iPad and show me

Her rationale for this differentiated approach was that she would rather find an alternative for her nervous students than force them into an assessment that could damage their confidence or manifest an anxious response. She commented that her students’ mental health and security is far more important to her than their large-group presentation skills for this learning task.

It has been so encouraging to see Australia's desire to integrate healthy mental wellness awareness and practices into the everyday classroom! Next up for me is a few weeks exploring the coast from Sydney all the way back up to Brisbane (with lots of homework along the way, in case my professors are reading this)! 

 

 

 

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Heading into Spring Break!

Hi Blog Readers!

How ya goin’?? It’s hard to believe we are already wrapping up at our first school. It’s been an incredible three weeks and we’re sad to have to say goodbye to all the amazing people we’ve met! Spring break officially kicks off for schools here starting tomorrow at the last bell. 

At the beginning of this week we were invited to join a university lecture that was focused on EALD (English as an additional language and dialect). It was a really great experience as the professor organized a yarning circle which is a practice done in some Indigenous communities. We passed around a talking stick and each took turns sharing what we had learned in the course. Even though we were guests for the day we still were allowed to participate and got to discuss what we had discovered since our visit here in Australia. Another interesting resource the professor shared with the class was a video called ‘You Can’t Ask That’. Essentially it highlighted questions and biases that are often directed toward the Indigenous Communities here in Australia. I found it to be particularly interesting as there were a lot of similarities with the stereotypes toward our own Indigenous Peoples in Canada. I would recommend checking the series out on YouTube if you have the chance!

Today at our school we had the chance to help the prep class (kindergarten) with their writing. It was hard to believe this class was writing in full sentences! They are already at the same level as my grade ones from my last practicum so it was really impressive! We have also been helping a grade 3 class prepare for their storybook presentations and just yesterday we got to see some of the kids give their final presentation in class. The kids did really well presenting their stories and I’m glad we got to see the end result after working on this assignment with them over the past few visits!

Our liaison at our current school has been absolutely amazing and yesterday she introduced us to a program used by teachers across Queensland called ‘One school’. It is essentially a website available to teachers that organizes the whole Queensland curriculum into year plans, unit plans and lesson plans. Although not a perfect tool, it would be amazing as a first year teacher to have some starting point for preparing for your first year worth of lessons. This website was amazing and even included links and resources required to set up your class for any given unit. You could search by grade and subject to find a plan that would cover the necessary requirements in the curriculum! It was very cool!

Outside of school we’ve been keeping busy too! This last weekend we got to enjoy some of the perks of living in Aussie and spent some quality time on the beautiful beaches! I’m thinking our new favourite spot will be South Bank which hosts an inner city beach and is only a 30 minute walk from home!

Starting tomorrow we’ll all be taking advantage of the spring break and heading our separate ways to explore some of the neighboring cities in Australia! Next stop for me is Melbourne and the weather forecast is saying it’ll be around 20 degrees. I think I’m officially an Aussie as I believe I need to pack my sweater because 20 degrees feels a bit chilly these days...

Till next post!

Carolyn 

 

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Hello from Brissy!

We’re well into our stay here in Brisbane and it’s hard to believe how fast the time is flying!!! We have a school spring break coming up, which they refer to as their midterm break. We’ve discovered their school year here runs in conjunction with the calendar year so they’re coming up to their final term and their summer break which kicks off close to Christmas! As you can imagine, just like home, this means the students are getting excited and full of energy for their time off school as well as year end. You can feel the restlessness in the classes at the end of each day. Makes you realize that kids are just kids no matter where you are in the world.

Melissa and I have had some fantastic experiences thus far at our current school and we’re actually sad to only have a few more days there. It really is a school that offers a lot of awesome experiences for their students. In just two weeks we have been a part of: a colour run to raise money for their Chaplin, an after school program called Wellness Wednesday that encourages students to focus on their own mental health, independent reading groups that provide children with additional support to improve their reading level, and explored the gadgets available to students during their STEM classes. It’s amazing the variety of support and opportunities available to these students.

What I have been most impressed with so far is the focus on students and their reading abilities. The motto of our current school is “if you can read, you can do anything.” This is not just a part of their pedagogical framework, but it is strongly reinforced every day of the week. Every day the students in prep to grade 6 spend the majority of their morning reading in specific reading groups. Every day of the week is designated to a specific skill: accuracy, fluency, comprehension and stamina. The students are fully aware of what skill they are working on and what that skill means and looks like in terms of their reading. We also had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with all the grade three teachers and learning aids as they discussed each child in grade 3, what level they were reading at, what level they should be at, and methods to try to help that student improve their skill. Every teacher and aid knew exactly where every grade 3 student was at and were fully invested in finding ways to help that student. What I found even more interesting was it was just about the students reading, they considered factors such as the students background and personality and how that might influence their reading ability.  

We were also lucky enough to get some time to play with the VR machine in the STEM classroom. An absolute out of this world experience! These kids are so fortunate to have access to that kind of technology!

Outside of school we’ve been exploring coastal beaches, hanging in coffee shops to work on our online classes, cuddling koalas and feeing kangaroos! We recently tried the national dish: vegemite. We collectively agree to stick with peanut butter from here on out.

Time for me to refill my chai latte and get on with some school readings.

Until next week!

Carolyn

PS: Wish I could share pictures with all of you but they're not working for some reason! Check out pictures from my peers to see all that we're up to! :)

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Getting my teaching Koalafications downunder!!

Well after three weeks of traveling New Zealand and questioning if this is real, reality is finally starting to sink in. I am really on the other side of the world about to begin my studies in Australia! But before we get into the academic side of things I should say that my beliefs about informal learning have been reinforced throughout my traveling adventures. 

Prior to arriving in Australia, I joined a friend in exploring the wonders of the north island of New Zealand. And wondrous it was!   When arriving in the country I had little to no expectations. I did not know the “must do’s” of New Zealand and was more or less just following where my feet, and the bus, took me. And I couldn’t be happier on how it turned out. Just over 2 weeks I experienced; sand boarding down the dunes in Hokianga, exploring the beaches of Hahai, and hiking the Tongariro crossing. It was like everywhere I had ever been in the world wrapped up in one little island.

On my travels I had the opportunity to stay in a homestay and talk to an Indigenous Maori family about the history of their people and what that looks like in a contemporary context. The parallels that could be drawn from their early interactions with Europeans and those of Canadian Indigenous peoples were compelling. Although at one time in history the Maori peoples’ way of life was threatened by extinction, it seems as though the culture is making a comeback throughout society and more specifically the education system. During our time we had the opportunity to visit a local school and in conversation with one of the teachers she explained that teaching Maori history is now a requirement through years 1-8.  This includes teaching the Treaty of Waitangi and how it has influenced Maori and European settlers’ history. Although this is just the surface of what they are teaching, one can quickly see there are similarities arising between our history in Canada and that of New Zealand’s. In addition, the family explained that in a tool to preserve their traditional language there is a push to develop a language curriculum and are hoping to someday have it recognized as a second-language in university.

Another wonderful opportunity we had while we were at the homestay was to learn a traditional Haka. The Haka we learned was traditionally used as a war cry/war dance and in contemporary times is now used by the All Blacks rugby team before each game to motivate the players and intimidate their opponent. Overall It was an amazing opportunity to be invited to take part and explore the beautiful culture that is Maori. 

I am taking with me from my travels not only amazing memories of everything I did but also a genuine curiosity to explore more about the education system in New Zealand and the Indigenous peoples that call it home. But for now, off to the next adventure.

So far, we have had the opportunity to meet with our QUT liaisons and have a tour of the school. After visiting the university, we adventured out to our placement schools; St. Aidan’s Anglican Girls School and Earnshaw State College. At initial glance the schools are very different, but both seem to be engaging in 21st Century learning and STEAM opportunities. I am hoping to have the opportunity to see the students engage with the technologies they have at their school see how they can apply these skills in real-world application. Everyone at both schools seem to be amazingly open to having us and I am excited to begin working with them. I hope in my time here I am able to observe different teaching styles and programs and hopefully I can add some new tools to my teacher toolbox.

Along with getting more classroom time, I am hoping that while I am in Australia I have the opportunity to observe Indigenous/settler relationships and perspectives. This complex relationship has always been a passion of mine in Canada I am curious to see if I am able to draw parallels between the current and historical relationships of the Indigenous peoples of Australia and those of Canadian Indigenous peoples. Along with the personal growth I believe I will gain from this, I also see this opportunity as a unique teaching opportunity in my future classroom.

 

 

Til next time,

 

Brianne B

 

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Finding Pieces of Home in Australia

So, at this time I am more than halfway through my practicum (“prac” as the Aussies call it) at St. Aidan’s and what an experience it has been. St. Aidan’s is an all-girl school, from primary to year twelve. Considering my specialization is elementary, I was a little apprehensive having my entire focus of my prac being in the secondary school. Nonetheless, I have learned lots from both the teachers and the students! In some of my previous experiences entering classrooms as a visitor, students become very shy and are not so willing to open up their learning space to a stranger, but with the students at St. Aidan’s that is quite the opposite.

Students are very interested in hearing everything about Canada including our funny sayings or how we could fathomable stand a temperature that drops below 15 degrees. Luckily, in a year seven Geography class, the teacher put our knowledge of Canada to the test. The teacher was introducing a new unit on “liveability.” The teacher started by presenting the students with a definition of liveability, highlighting aspects such as weather, transportation, prosperity, etc. The students were working out of a textbook that provided images of individuals with blurbs of what they find to be a livable city but did not include the perspective of a Canadian. The teacher, therefore, proceeded to use us Canadian teachers as a “primary sources,” having the girls ask us questions about where we are from while focusing on why we find Calgary to be a liveable city. It was quite an interesting experience to reflect on and share what I love about Canada and have students so eagerly ready to learn.

Some students are quite funny in their responses to our descriptions of Canada, but the general consensus is that they are afraid of how cold it can get and luckily enough for some of the year tens, they will be visiting Calgary and Panaorama in this coming January for a ski trip. I was sure to tell them to pack their toque and mittens!

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