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From Perth to Calgary!

As I am currently writing this, I am in Guangzhou, China on the longest 17-hour layover ever from Perth to Calgary. It’s crazy to think how quickly the past two months have gone, but I could not be any more excited to finally get home into my own bed. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of being in Australia! Big thanks to the the three girls whom I’ve basically spent 24/7 with while in Perth and travelling around Western Australia and Bali. I couldn’t have asked for better roommates who made living away from home for the first time such a great experience. 

From driving both north and south along the W.A. coast, to driving six hours east to Kalgoorlie, here’s a bunch of things that I’ve noticed while in Oz.

  1. Spiders. Everyone warned me about finding spiders everywhere I go, most significantly – the toilet! I’m glad to report back that this was not true, or at least in my case, and I am most definitely happy to say that.
  2. Ravens. No one told me about those huge black birds! They’ve got freaky, beady eyes and are always around. They swoop and make the most obnoxious sounds ever… yet surprisingly, I might actually miss that once I’m back home and thinking of my home in Perth. Click the audio link to hear them! (you may have to turn the volume up a bit) - Birds.mp3
  3. Roadkill. It didn’t even cross my mind that I might actually see a dead kangaroo or emu on the side of the road. Don’t worry, it’s not in the city, but our drive out to different towns made for an interesting view every so often. All I wanted to see was a kangaroo jumping in the wild, but unfortunately, my time with them at the wildlife conservatory will have to do.
  4. Quokkas. These animals have got to be my new favourite. They were the cutest things to see when visiting Rottnest Island, and are so photogenic. They don’t have many natural predators on the island and have become so accustomed to the tourists that visit, that they don’t mind getting close to people and taking photos! 
  5. Sheila. This made my list because funnily enough, people actually know how to spell my name over here. It’s common back home to have it misspelled, but seeing as Sheila is slang for woman over here, it’s usually spelled right.
  6. The people. Australian’s have got to be one of the friendliest people out there. I never felt unsafe being out by myself and I am so thankful for that. Also, big shout out to some of our Uber drivers, especially the lovely lady who drove me on my way to the airport. It’s not often that we get a female driver, especially one who made such nice conversation on my last night in Australia.
  7. Frozen Coke. Macca’s (McDonald’s) equivalent to a slurpee, except it’s a little carbonated. Add in the fact that it was only $1 for any size, came in Vanilla Coke flavour and was such a refresher on those (few) long, hot days we had, I’m going to miss this one.
  8. Breadtop. This probably isn’t the most Australian thing ever on this list, but I am going to miss this place a lot. It’s an Asian bakery where the girls and I (most notably, Maya and I) found ourselves buying treats from. Also worth mentioning is bubbletea, something I love back home, but found extremely popular over here! In the main CBD (or downtown as we call it), there’s a street with probably 5 different stores selling it right next to each other. Special mention to Nicole, whom Maya and I have officially converted to loving it!
  9. Last, but definitely not least: The schools. If not for the experiences of visiting schools, this whole list would seize to exist. The people in the seven schools I got to visit were welcoming, and always very excited to hear about the Canadian students coming into their classrooms. It was so great being able to see how the different schools run, from the School of the Air and it’s unique online environment, East Kalgoorlie’s Indigenous presence, Scotch College and participating in their Highland Games, as well as my extended stay at Bannister Creek Primary with my year twos, I am so thankful!

So, what did I learn while here? A lot actually! I got to see different school environments and how they run, which for the most part, I think was pretty similar to back home, despite some of the unique schools we got to visit. I learned that the idea of travelling on my own isn’t that scary, but such a great time since I love my alone time (though, visiting places with less of an English language presence might be a different story for me… that’s a challenge for another time).  I can’t wait for the next adventure I’ll be able to go on. I’m itching to travel again already, though with what money?

It feels like just last week I was preparing myself to come over to Australia, and now it’s almost over! I am so glad to have been able to participate in TAB. If you’re having any doubts about it… don’t! I know I was a bit hesitant to join at first, but I’m so glad I did. I was able to travel, complete my classes, and do something I’m passionate about – teaching!

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#5: Bittersweet Goodbyes

I am writing this last blog post on my flight from Melbourne to Vancouver. This is the second or 3 flights, and this is the 15-hour flight! It is definitely a bittersweet feeling to be headed home. Teaching Across Borders has been an amazing and unforgettable experience. Being able to live in another country, see their school systems, and travel has been a really great. In the 2 months, us girls in Perth visited 7 schools, which I think it the most schools for any of the TAB placements. Most of the schools we visited in Western Australia seemed to run very similarly to Canadian schools, so that wasn’t too much of a culture shock (you can read about some of these schools in my previous blog posts). I am excited to return home with more experiences in the classroom!

Since my first degree, I’ve always wanted to do an exchange and live in a new country and I was finally able to do that. Perth was an interesting city to live in because it was so spread out. We didn’t have a car so we had to transit or Uber everywhere, and most places were at least a 20 minute drive or 1 hour transit ride away so we really had to plan out our days and excursions. Thankfully, MacKenzi and I were comfortable enough to drive so we were able to rent a car to visit areas around Perth. The one thing that surprised me about living in another country is how much I missed the Rocky Mountains. I spend a lot of time in the Rockies and I really missed and craved them while I was away. This made me really think about whether or not I could live long term in another country. The jury is still out on that decision.

I can definitely say that I have grown a lot as a person. Living in a whole new country is definitely different than just travelling. One moment that stuck out for me was when Sheila and I were waiting for the bus and someone came and asked us a question regarding a bus route, and we were actually able to give him the information he needed. That's when I knew that we had been taking transit long enough to be familiar with it! This trip definitely took me out of my comfort zone and pushed me mentally, however it was worth it!

The best thing that has come out of this experience is the friendships I made with Nicole, Sheila and MacKenzi! We lived together, travelled together, did school projects together… basically everything together. I honestly don’t know if I would have made it through without them! Thanks for being the most amazing roommates, friends and group members.

As I sit here on the plane, I am bracing myself for the cold weather back home. I am so excited to see my people back home, my dogs, and my car. Thanks TAB for being such an amazing experience!

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G'day and Goodnight!

I can't believe my time in Perth has come to an end. As I sit in the pool lounge at our accomodation with five hours before my long journey home I can't help but reflect on my time here. I am both upset that this adventure is over and excited to share this experience with my friends and family. This entire process has exceeded my expectations. Here are a few things I have learned during my time in Australia:

1. Shrimp on the barbie is not a thing. Although people do get together to barbecue on the beach, Australians never use this phrase. I have not heard Australians use the word "shrimp" once during my time here, instead they use the word prawn. Apparently this is just another stereotype us North Americans have made up!

2. Everything in Australia can kill you. Well, okay, this might be true but I did not see as many deadly looking creatures as I expected to. In fact, I think I saw one spider on my entire trip and guess what? It was fake! That's right everyone, I freaked out over a spider on the ground that turned out to be left over Halloween decor. I did however see a couple strange reptiles that looked like a cross between a snake, crocodile and a lizard. Once you got past the terrifying set of teeth, they were kind of cute.

3. Australians love Canada! A lot of Australians I talked to have either travelled to Canada or it is a high priority on their bucket list. They actually want to go somewhere where there is snow, and here I am wanting to get as far away from the cold as possible. It is funny how we want to change climates with one another.

4. Winter is not as warm as you would think. When I first arrived in Perth in September I froze! It was so cold. I just assumed that Australia was hot all the time but turns out I was sadly mistaken. I was wrapped up in a blanket all the time and to add to that, homes do not have central heating. I am very sad that we are leaving just as the weather is warming up. However, I had gone two months without a sunburn but today was 21 degrees and I am looking slightly tomato-esque. This could be a slightly uncomfortable journey home.

5. Australian slang is real and it is everywhere! Australians like to shorten words and add funky endings. It was a bit difficult to understand at first and I had to ask many times what they were saying but now that I am used to it, I love it! For example: McDonald's becomes Macca's. How much better does that sound! Woolworth's which is one of the grocery stores here is known as Wooly's. As to not get confused with American football, Australian football becomes footy. I have had a great time going back and forth with Australians learning new slang. In the midst of this, I have learned that Canadians over pronounce the letter "r". Students in the schools I spent time in had a great time bugging me about that one. 

Overall, I have loved every second of my time in Perth. I was nervous about moving to a new country for two months but the other girls and the people I met quickly settled my nerves. I am so happy that I took advantage of this opportunity and I have nothing but good things to say. Also, sunsets are always better on a beach in another country so here is one for you all. Finally, I can't wait to come back to this beautiful country but for now, homeward bound!

 

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Catch ya Later Australia

Hello Readers!

As the tab program comes to end I am both sad to be leaving but am grateful for my experience. I have decided to compose a list of things I have learned while here in Australia. Hope you enjoy.

1. The weather in September and October is not the sunshine paradise I expected and packed for, but rather quite cloudy and cold. This brings me to another thing I have learned, homes in Australia do not have central heating but instead little space heaters.

2. Australians LOVE 90’s music. It plays at the grocery store, on the radio in the uber, and on the beach. As a lover of all things 90’s this was one of my favorite things here.

3. The Australian go with the flow attitude is a real thing. Some of the teachers explained they follow a 10 step policy for their lesson planning… 10 steps from the staff room to their classroom to plan their lessons. This laidback attitude also means that Australians have a great sense of humor and don’t take themselves too seriously.

4. Australians love their slang, this means shortening words and sometimes adding a ‘y’ or an ‘ie’. Here are some examples:
                    Avo - avocado
                    Pracy – student teacher doing their practicum
                    Brolly – umbrella
                    Lollies – candy
                    Chuck a u-ey – make a U-turn
                   Maccas – McDonalds
The list could go on and on, I hear new slang everyday.

5. I learned a lot about Australian’s Indigenous history after the 6 and half hour road trip to Kalgoorlie where we visited a school with a primarily Indigenous population.

6. If your friend gets scratched by a monkey in Bali you need to take her to the doctor to get some vaccines.

7. Australians are very friendly and welcoming. I was never afraid to talk to someone, whether it be for directions or where to find the best deal to rent a sand board.

8. I don’t like vegemite.

9. I could not have asked for a better group of people to have been on this journey with. I cannot wait to reminisce with the other girls about all of the fun times and shared experiences.

And lastly…

10. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and trying new things may be scary, but is totally worth it.

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Final School Experiences in Perth!

For the final three weeks of TAB, I will be at Bannister Creek Primary in a year two class. I was so excited at this opportunity because ever since I knew I wanted to be a teacher, grade two seemed like the perfect age group that I wanted to teach! Students at this age no longer need their hand held doing every little activity, they can write and form sentences on their own, their spelling is improving, they are quicker with their simple math skills and they get so excited to come to school and learn. These are some little things that I have always been told by other family and friends who are teachers, and I’m starting to see it in these students.

After the first day of being in the classroom, I was already able to make connections with the students, as they were so excited and open to the idea of someone new being there, especially someone from another country! My two days a week in the classroom has allowed me to work with students one on one, in small groups and even as a whole class. I was a bit worried at first as I didn’t want to become a distraction or give the teacher an extra thing to think about, but luckily I’ve been able to help the teacher out a lot in the classroom and give her a helping hand. My teacher actually lived in Lake Louise for a bit while she was in her undergrad, so she loved the idea of having a Canadian in her classroom. She often reminisces about her time in Alberta, and this has been making me a bit homesick, as we’re only a week away from coming home!

Since the students were so interested in learning about Canada, my teacher asked if I could teach the class a little bit about home. I prepared a presentation on where Canada was on the map and what continent it was on in order to relate to their geography lessons, and was then able to show them some pictures of the mountains, the snow, the animals and different foods we have back at home. The students here in Australia are always amazed when I talk about the snow and how much we get of it back in Calgary!

 

Here is a quick activity we did showing Calgary and Perth on the world map, and some fun colouring activities the students got to do afterwards.

 

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Take More Adventures

7 down, 1 to go! I can't even believe that we are in the final stretch of our TAB journey. Two months ago, 8 weeks in Australia seemed like we had all the time in the world. Now here we are with one week to go scrambling to fit in all the sights in the book. 

This weekend we rented a car for a second time and set out for our next adventures. I guess you could say we felt a lot more comfortable driving on the left side of the road this time after our 6 hour flat drive to Kalgoorlie. Nevertheless, little left, BIG right. We set out for our first adventure North to a little place called Lancelin. Known for its sand dunes and.....well, that's about it. Not long into our drive we stopped at a pick your own strawberry farm. Never in my life have I ever seen so many strawberries! Big red ones too. None of those tiny little ones I'm used to picking back home in Ontario. I think I contributed more strawberries to my stomach than I did to our basket. We spent our afternoon at the sand dunes sliding down on our bums on a couple of skateboards without wheels. It was such a beautiful place. Picture rolling hills of white sand for as far as you can see, ocean views behind you and desert storm winds. It was like something out of a dream. It seemed a little odd to me to be looking at these hills of white sand rather than white sand. And you want me to slide down them? Okay! All I really needed was some candle wax and a cafeteria tray but the board made for a much comfier ride. 

The second day of our adventure we headed south to Margaret River and it consisted of another beach, a winery/brewery and the longest wooden pier in the world. Thats right, 1841 meters long folks! It was so long that they have a little train that transports people back and forth from end to end. Neat! I think my favourite part of the day however, was an unexpected trip to the Mammoth Caves. So much history in one place. The cave walls housed many fossils of extinct animals and made for an eerie walk underground. The tour was self guided, so we all got to carry around an old school device that contained audio clips about the cave. If that doesn't sound cool enough, we also got to rock some pretty stylish headsets. Our day ended with a beautiful drive back to Perth and thanks to the controlled forest burns they had been doing during the day, the smoke in the sky made for an amazing sunset. The purples from the smokey sky mixed with the pinks and oranges of the sun made the two and a half hour drive home much more enjoyable. 

Overall, the scenery in Australia is like nothing I have seen in Canada. The brush and trees give it an almost Africa feel. Or at least what I imagine Africa to look like. Please enjoy this picture of the four of us at the sand dunes.

Until next time friends!

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Structure and Play

Hello Readers!

One of the big differences I have noticed from the schools here in Australia to the schools back in Alberta are the structures themselves. All the campuses I have visited seem to integrate their indoor and outdoor spaces and they all become part of the school environment. The schools are composed of many smaller buildings that are fairly close together, they are connected by paved pathways, green spaces, and overhead awnings to protect people from the rain and sun. This differs from the large, contained, brick structures I am familiar with at home. Rather than having multiple large gyms, a lot of the physical education happens outdoors on many grass fields, playgrounds, and even sand beach volleyball courts. I would imagine the reason for this integration of outdoors spaces is because of the weather here. In Alberta people prefer to stay where its warm indoors during cold months, but here the temperature remains pleasant year round. Another difference I have noticed is that students rarely have lockers, instead they carry around their materials from class to class in their backpacks. I suppose this is due to the sprawl of their campuses limiting their transition time between classes. Overall the idea of breaking up the day by spending a few minutes outside sounds very refreshing.

This week I had the opportunity to attend a seminar about play in schools and communities. The guest speaker was Jonathon Neen and he calls himself a play consultant, I know… every child’s dream job. He spoke about the steps the Welsh government has taken to increase play in both schools and communities. One of my big take aways was the limitations on children’s’ play. Some examples are: structure of communities, busy schedules of young children in organized activities, and playground designs too heavily based in safety while ignoring creativity. One of his solutions was ‘adventure playgrounds’. Adventure playgrounds embody the spirit of unrestricted play under the supervision of a trained adult in the absence of rigid play structures. An example of this is ‘The Land’, located in Wrexham, Wales. It is a fenced, one acre play area with a brook running through it. All of the play structures were created by children using old pallets, wheelbarrows, ladders, ropes, fishing nets, and many other materials, their safety and stability is then checked by one of the trained play workers. These adventure playgrounds really contrast the current societal idea of overprotective parents who have excessive interest in their child’s safety.

As the last couple weeks of Tab are approaching I am feeling slightly sad to be leaving but also looking forward to the comforts of family and friends at home. Over the next couple weeks we plan to finish the last of our sight seeing by visiting some more beaches, sand dunes, and Rottnest Island. 

 

Here is a nice beach picture as the weather begins to get colder back home!

 

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#4: Spot the Differences

After being in Australia for 2 months now, I have noticed some things that are very different from Canada in the schools, and in general. The first thing I noticed is the school bells here. They sound like air raid sirens, and I’m not even exaggerating that. The very first day that I visited a school, I was sitting in the office with Sheila waiting to speak to our contact person and the bell went off. We both looked at each other like “what was that?”, thinking that there was some kind of emergency. It is the most obnoxiously loud siren and even though I’ve heard it for a month and a half now, it still startles me every time.

Another thing I have noticed is that majority of the primary schools here have multiple one-story buildings on the school grounds, instead of one big building like in Canada. So, there will be a bunch of buildings that contain 4 classrooms, with a common area in the middle. Each of these classrooms have a door that goes to the common area, and door that goes outside. The students keep their backpacks outside of the classroom on hooks or benches. Even though they are covered by an awning, I’m curious as to what happens when they have extreme storms. They also each have a building for administration and a building for the library. Their ‘gymnasiums’ are not closed buildings though… they are like a big garage that has no door. All the students eat their lunches outside, and when we first got here in September and it was quite cold out (12 degrees at most), they were still eating outside. Definitely not something I am used to.

The teachers here call recess, morning tea and take it very seriously here. In every school, recess/morning tea is about 20 minutes. If the teachers aren’t on supervision, they take this time to relax and socialize with their colleagues. The all boys private school had catered snacks every day for morning tea, so over the course of three days we got muffins, sausage rolls, and cake. At the school that I am currently in, each Wednesday a group of teachers creates a spread for the other teachers. This week there were plates of meat pies, cupcakes, brownies and fruit. I could definitely get used to something like this!

A couple of random things that I have also noticed is that their standard paper size is a couple of inches long than ours. This is frustrating because any paper or documents we get, don’t fit into our folders/ binders. Another thing is that perogies and canned pumpkin do not exist in regular grocery stores here. Apparently, you have to visit Polish/Ukrainian specialty stores for perogies, and American speciality stores for canned pumpkin. Lastly, and the worst thing is the flies. If you think the flies in Canada are annoying with their buzzing around and constant flying into the windows, well try coming here. The flies here fly straight at your eyes, nose and mouth!! It is actually disgusting and 100x more annoying than flies back home. The hotter it gets, the more flies there are, and summer is approaching which means more flies every day. This fact alone makes me ready to come home to Canada ASAP!

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The most Australian sign 

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#3: New Cultures & Experiences

The past two weeks have been very busy for us girls in Perth! Since the students here were on Spring break, we took the opportunity to head to Bali for a week. Some highlights of the trip were visiting Hindu temples, hiking a volcano at 3:45am to catch the sunrise, and being attacked by a monkey!! Thank goodness it only scratched me… I only had to get a tetanus and rabies vaccine. I’d definitely love to go back to Indonesia one day!

Once we got back to Perth, we had one day of rest, and then we headed off to Kalgoorlie (a small mining town located 6.5 hours east of Perth… basically the Fort Mac of Western Australia). We opted to rent a car so MacKenzi and I experienced driving on the left side of the road in a right-side drive car for the first time! It was a bit stressful to begin with and I accidentally kept flicking the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal (they are opposite of ours). Thankfully it didn’t take too long to get used to it.

The schools we visited in Kalgoorlie have definitely been my favourite school experiences by far during this TAB program. The first was a School of the Air base, which you can read more about in Nicole and Sheila’s posts! The other school was an Indigenous centred school. The deputy principal explained that they focus on creating strong relationships with the students and their families to help the students succeed. The programs and supports they had at this school were really amazing. They have a speech pathologist and OT that come in a couple times a semester to diagnose and create programs for the students who need it. Then they have a teacher at the school who takes those programs and makes sure they are being implemented and utilized, and works with those students. They have a breakfast program for all the students, as well as a room with extra clothes and shoes for students to just take from if they need it. They also started gaining funding for students to enroll in after school sports programs, to give students more opportunities as well as to socialize with other students in the communities. The deputy principal herself drives some of the students to and from sports practices. We were fortunate enough to sit in on a language class where the students were learning different Indigenous languages. Two Elders had agreed to help run this program once a week, and the students all seemed very engaged and excited to learn more about their culture.

The past two weeks have definitely been the busiest and most exciting weeks we have had here, but I am excited for the next 3 weeks because will be in the same school for the duration. I’m hoping this will give us time to connect with the students and teachers, as well as get a better idea of their day-to-day routines.

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The four of us at a Temple in Bali

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Little Left, BIG Right

This past week the girls and I packed up our bags and headed to Kalgoorlie, which is about 6 hours east of Perth. We rented a car and for the first time I drove on the left side of the road. What an experience! Imagine taking all of your driving habits and flipping them over to the other side of the road. I think that by the second hour of the drive I was starting to feel pretty comfortable with the change. We had to keep reminding ourselves that right hand turns were from one side of the road to the other (BIG right) and left hand turns were quick and easy (little left). The drive to Kalgoorlie was straight and flat. The scenery did not change much during the 6 hours in The Australian Outback. The dirt was red and the the brush was short and quite dense. There were areas that resembled what I envision Africa to look like. We passed several emu and kangaroos in a less than ideal state (dead). 

While in Kalgoorlie we had the opportunity to visit a Primary School that had a large population of Indigenous children. It was evident while talking to the Deputy Principal that she was very passionate about the school. She talked a lot about the importance of building relationships with the students and becoming interested in their lives in and outside of school. She mentioned that she often drove students to sports practice after school so that they would have the opportunity to socialize with other children in the community. I was able to sit in on a language lesson with the level 3/4 students. While the lesson was designed to allow the Indigenous students to learn about the community in which their families came from, it was also beneficial for the Non-Indigenous students. It was great to see students learning about their identity. All in all it turned out to be a very worthwhile trip to the remote town. As the driver, I will continue to second guess which side of the car I must enter from!

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From Perth to Kalgoorlie!

After a quick two-week spring break in Perth and getting the chance to visit Bali (which was so great btw! The views were nice and the weather was warm, reminding me a lot of being back in The Philippines where my family is from), we had the opportunity to drive out east of Perth to Kalgoorlie.

Kalgoorlie is a small town and something completely different than what I am used to. It is a six-hour drive to get to, and when you’re in town, it only takes about 10-15 minutes to drive across it. While here, we had the chance to visit a few different schools. The first school we visited was Kalgoorlie School of the Air, a school that allows for students from different parts of Western Australia to attend, all while staying in the comfort of their own homes. A lot of the students that attend are from remote areas, therefore making it extremely hard to complete an education in person without having to leave their families. I found that the School of the Air seemed similar to home schooling, though they still receive support and materials from teachers at the school. Materials are sent out every two weeks or by term, depending on the age group, and there are daily sessions similar to our Adobe connect sessions we are using in our online classes.

Below is a picture of the set up for the online sessions teachers have with their students at Kalgoorlie School of the Air.

Another school we were able to visit was O’Connor Primary and though we were only here for a very short while, I learned that the school was named after the man who designed a pipeline that brings fresh water from Perth all the way to remote locations far away such as Kalgoorlie. Throughout our long drive, we kept noticing this pipeline above ground that kept following the road, and to our surprise, it was bringing water over 600km away!

The last school that we were able to visit was East Kalgoorlie Primary, a very small school that consists of almost all Indigenous students. It was an interesting experience to see a setting in which Aboriginal students were the majority and the practices that are put in place to help the students succeed. It was nice to see some of the methods talked about in our Indigenous Education class used in the classrooms at this school.

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Overcoming Distance in Kalgoorlie

Hi Readers,

This week I had the pleasure of visiting Kalgoorlie. Kalgoorlie is a small town of 30, 000 people located 600 km east of Perth, my first time visiting the Australian Outback. To get there we rented a vehicle and set out driving on the left side of the road. The drive was straight and flat with many kangaroos and emus who had met unfortunate ends on such a busy highway. The view was of low brush and shrubs mixed in with taller trees, all growing from red dirt.

The first school we visited was the School of the Air. This is a base station to connect students from K-6 who live in very remote areas of the Australian Outback to teachers and learning staff. Students receive term packages with all the resources they will need for that term, this includes novels, booklets, art supplies, math manipulatives, and even science equipment, the students then return the package along with their completed work at the end of the term. Every morning students ‘attend’ an online meeting that begins with the school’s catchy and official song. Students and teachers interact through microphones and by digitally raising their hands to indicate they would like to speak. All comments conclude with a cheeky “over!”. Throughout the morning students attend lessons with their teachers, whether this be social studies or even music. The afternoon is spent working on assignments.

I was very curious about life for the students who live so remotely, I quickly learned how they create fun learning spaces and communities in their homes. Most students live at base camps, which are large farms, someone described them as similar to North American Ranches. The distances from Kalgoorlie range from 2 hours to over 14 hours away. Students often have school rooms located within their homes and wear school uniforms (a polo shirt) on the weekdays to help separate their home and school life. A live-in tutor, sometimes one of their parents, attend a week-long training session at the beginning of each term to learn how to support students and stay in contact with teachers. To build community students still participate in dress up days and attend camp. Camp happens at the end of the term where all students stay in dorms in Kalgoorlie and spend time interacting and learning with their peers and teachers. Teachers also spend week long visits at students’ homes where they check in and support learning as well as build relationships and start to understand each student's unique world. The School of the Air and it’s students have found the key to overcoming distance.

 

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School Uniforms?

School Uniforms, a debated topic in Canada but rarely seen or worn. Here in Australia there are uniforms as far as the eye can see, from large school groups on field trips to kids using public transit on their way home from school. I have always had lots of questions about school uniforms, do they encourage conformity and suppress creativity? Are they itchy and uncomfortable? Would it make getting ready in the morning much easier? Would I focus less on outer appearance if everyone was wearing the same outfit as me? Would your closet look like that of a cartoon character with all the same clothes?  Luckily being here in Perth has provided some answers.   

Here is brief overview. The first record of school uniforms being worn is 1552. Uniforms can be regarded as promoting social equality among students and an esprit de corps (morale), but have also been criticized for promoting a form uniformity characteristic of militarism (Wikipedia, 2018).

Breakdown of the types of uniforms I have seen depending on the school:

Very Casual: Wind breakers/letterman jackets and your choice of shorts

Casual: Button shirts or polos and black slacks

Dressy: Blazers (sometimes plaid), ties, dress shorts or skirt, and school colored knee socks

Gym: Collared shirt with school logo, athletic shorts, white socks, and sometimes windbreakers

Even shoes are required to be the same at some schools; black leather, closed toed, and always worn with socks or tights. The uniforms seem to be designated by grade, all following the school’s colors. Year 6 might have button shirts and sweater vests, while Year 11 wear more formal blazers. The uniforms change depending on time of year to better suit the weather. The odd time I have seen students in school wear their own clothes was ‘free dress’ day which happens once per term. Students could wear whatever clothes they liked as long as they brought a donation for that month’s charity. I am sure all schools have different policies if students are not wearing their uniforms. One school called the parents to bring an extra, if this was not an option the school would provide a spare uniform for the day. The consensus from speaking with students is that they dont mind and some even enjoy wearing their uniforms. They sometimes find the winter uniform itchy and a little uncomfortable but they don’t miss the freedom of choosing their own clothing. Most students have a few of each clothing item for each season in their closet and rotate through before washing. 

 Nurses, mailpersons, and flight attendants of the world, I can now see the appeal!   

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#2: Scottish Highland Games in Oz?

This week we had the opportunity to spend three days at an all-boys private school. The school is K-12 and is split into Junior School (K-5), Middle School (6-8), and Senior School (9-12). The campus is massive and is built into a hill, so it has terraces. The High School, swimming pool and theatre sit on the top of the hill, the Middle School just below it, the Primary School below that, and then the huge sporting fields at the bottom. We were placed in the Middle School with the year 6s (AKA grade 6) and the first two days we spent in the classroom with the students. We got to see them completing end of term assessment tasks for different subjects, and we got to see various options like music, drama, and art. Today was the last day of term so it was a special day – the Highland Games.

The school has historical ties to Scotland and this is reflected in different aspects. For example the boys are separated into different houses (like Hogwarts), the school has a pipe band, and they put on these Highland Games at the end of the 3rd term for the Middle School boys. The games opened with a bag pipe performance from 8 boys, and then there were 9 events. These events were tug-of-war, sack race, spear throw, stone throw, hay bale run, kilt run, skipping, foot stepping, and welly throw (literally throwing a rubber boot). The boys were dressed up in their house colours and were able to get their faces painted (like William Wallace), and the teachers all wore kilts. Everyone seemed to be having a great time which was really great to see. There was lots of friendly competition and comradery amongst the boys. It was definitely a great way to end the term.

These past three days were such a great opportunity. The students were so well behaved, and they were really fun to be around! They had lots of questions for us about Canada and the staff was also extremely welcoming. I really enjoyed my time at this school!

MacKenzi and I giving it our all in the sack race

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First Classroom Experiences in Perth!

This week I had the opportunity to visit Success Primary School here in Perth. I was put in a year 2/3 class of nine students in Inclusive Ed. The class consisted of eight boys and one girl, with four educational assistants and one teacher. I was told that Success had a high number of students that attend this school in Inclusive Ed, and that despite their attempts to try to integrate all these students into mainstream classrooms, it was difficult for some of the high needs students to make progress in that setting due to their needs and all the stimuli that can come from a large classroom full of people. Because of this, these students are placed in a separate classroom with a higher adult to student ratio, where more focus can be put on the student and their learning. After being in the classroom for the one day, I was able to understand the difficulties that would come up if all 9 students were placed into a classroom of 20+ other students.

The time I spent in this classroom was short, but I really enjoyed being in such a small class, as I haven’t had much experience in one, apart from an observational half day experience in Field I. Most of the students in this classroom had autism, though you wouldn’t be able to tell right away, while a few were none verbal and needed more direct supervision. It takes a lot of patience and strength to be in one of these classrooms, but I think that the end result is so worth it after seeing students enjoying themselves and having fun in their learning. 

The day went by pretty quickly, focusing on reading and matching, as well as doing some math games focusing on addition. We then took a bus ride over to the shopping centre for lunch, which my class does every Tuesday. Here they do different activities, such as helping the teacher shop for classroom materials, learning how to check items out, visiting the post office, and just enjoying lunch in a different environment, all while practicing some basic life skills and mannerisms. When we got back to the school, I was able to visit their sensory room, which is something that I have yet to see, and it was interesting to see how it really calmed one of the boys down.

I think that it would be such a great experience to spend more time in a classroom like the one I visited at Success Primary. I know it may be tough, but there is so much joy in being able to see students progress throughout the year. The EA’s were quick to tell me that it can be hard at times for them, but at the end of the day, they really felt like they were making a difference, especially when they would look at their students today compared to the beginning of the year (which is usually late January to early February)!

This is only the second school visit we've had here in Australia, and I can't wait for the upcoming school visits for the rest of our time here! 

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Isn't Australia supposed to be warm?

After a very exciting weekend in the Gold Coast, I have finally made it to Perth and have slowly started to get acquainted in our accomodation. It is very cold in our apartment! We are all wrapped up in blankets as we do our homework.

This week so far, we have visited two very different schools. On Tuesday, we went to an elementary school that hasa specialized program for children with special needs. We each got to work in a different classroom with children that have a variety of special needs. The school had a separate play area for students who required more assistance at recess time as well as those students who did not feel comfortable integrating with the rest of the students. Our contact at the school mentioned that they tried to include the children with special needs into the mainstream classrooms but it was too much of a challenge as the needs of each student was so diverse. The special needs classes were much smaller than the mainstream classes and the number of assistances per classroom varried depending on the students. It was a really neat experience because the teachers had so many different resources to keep the students engaged and excited about learning. I found that the teacher I was working with used a lot of music and songs to teach different subjects. The students knew all the words and movements that made up each song. They were learning without even realizing it! I also really liked how the teacher led the students through a relaxation sequence after lunch and playtime. The students were so worked up and stimulated after playtime that this was a great way to calm them down and get them focued on the next task. 

It has been a really fun and exciting week in these schools. Although there is no language barrier, the students like to try and talk wtih a Canadian accent! It has been so much fun interacting with different students and sharing our cultures. I am looking forward to a two week spring break and coming back to work in some more schools!

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Preparing for Perth!

My name is MacKenzi and I am a second year education student headed to Perth with the Teaching Across Borders program. I, along with three other girls will be staying in the accomodations at Murdoch University. They are already all there and settled in. Lucky them! I will have a bit of a unique experience as I will be arriving in Perth one week after the start of the program. First, I am headed to Brisbane to compete in a triathlon. I have so much to look forward to as I prepare for my journey across the ocean for both of these amazing opportunities. I have always been a big traveller and interested in different cultures around the world. I am always planning my next trip and researching new places to go. I know how important it is to travel with an open mind. The greatest lessons happen when I am pushed out of my comfort zone. So, I am travelling to Perth without any expectations and am teaching myself that it is OK to feel uncomfortable.

This will be my first trip to Australia and I expect that it will be far from dissapointing. I am so excited to be placed in a new school every week and expand my practice. I know that I have so much to learn and I am ready for all that the teachers and students have to offer.  Although we will be entering these schools as teachers, I see myself as a student. I want to embrace the differences between the Australian and Canadian school systems and expand on the similarities.

The countdown is on with only two days until my flight! I am getting so anxious, I can already smell the ocean! Pictures to come when I get over there.   

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First Few Days in Australia

Hello!

My name is Nicole and I am excited to have made it to Perth. I first arrived in Melbourne on August 28 and stayed for a week. While there I visited many museums, shopped in the arcades, walked around the botanical gardens, and took a trip out to Phillip Island. At Phillip Island, I was able to watch the penguins make their way back to their homes after a busy view days on the ocean as well as feed some kangaroos at an animal sanctuary. Melbourne is a very busy city where the cafes and restaurants outnumber the people residing there. For this reason, I was more than ready for an escape from the city life with a day trip on the Great Ocean Road. The Great Ocean Road is a war memorial that spans 243 km along the south-eastern coast of Australia. This was my first chance to see rural Australia and it was beautiful. While on the drive we stopped at a rainforest, many small ocean towns, and some breathtaking lookout points.  I look forward to more flat white coffee, an Aussie staple.     

After a week in Melbourne I flew to Perth where I met up with three of the four tab girls I will be staying with; it was comforting to see some familiar faces. We have since moved into our place and are getting settled at the University of Murdoch residence. We had the opportunity to walk around campus and it is very similar to U of C with a gym, student centres, lecture rooms, and studying spaces. I am really looking forward to my time here in Perth and in the surrounding Indigenous schools. This is such a great opportunity and I hope to learn more about the Australian friendly and laid back way of life!

The photo below is of the Apostles on the Great Ocean Road

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Hello from Perth!

Hello! My name is Sheila and I’m in my fifth and final year of the concurrent BEd program participating in Teaching Across Borders.

After a week of some solo travel around Sydney and Perth, Australia, I’ve finally been able to settle down and fully unpack at the Murdoch University Village in Perth for the next two months! Sitting in the Student Hub of the university, I can’t believe that the fall semester is starting and that this will be my final year. It’s still surreal to know that I’m in Australia with TAB, so here’s a few of the reasons why I chose to participate in TAB and what I hope I learn from it by the end of my trip.

  1. Ever since I was younger, I always knew I wanted to get into the field of Education to teach elementary kids. It was my long term goal and dream to be able to travel abroad to teach in different countries in order to learn more about the different cultures and backgrounds that people have around the world. With TAB, I’m able to kick off that dream in Australia!
  2. Tying into the first point, I love to travel and TAB has given me the opportunity to travel to a different country while also being able to finish my degree and do something I’m passionate about.
  3. Again, tying into my previous point, TAB has given me the opportunity to do something else that I’ve always wanted to do – travel solo! These past few days of solo travel have been a nice time to do things that I want to do in my own time, such as be a tourist and sight see, as well as relax and reflect, while enjoying the time I have before classes and TAB start. Participating in TAB also gives me the chance to learn to live away from home and grow.
  4. Who I am as a teacher. By the end of TAB, I hope to learn more about myself, as well as what kind of teacher I’ll be. I know it’s hard to predict who you’ll become, as everyone is constantly changing, but I hope to understand more about what kind of teaching style I’d like to have, as well as give me a better idea of how I’d like to approach field experience when the time comes in November.

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Here's a picture I took at Murdoch University promoting the School of Education!

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#1: Adventure Time

Hello readers!

I have never blogged before, so here goes nothing. My name is Maya and I am a second-year student in the education after-degree program. I am extremely fortunate and thankful to have this Teaching Across Borders opportunity in Perth! I have been travelling around Australia for the past two weeks with my family. I have snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, spent a few days on Fraser Island, explored the outback (Uluru and Kata Tjuta), driven up the Gold Coast, enjoyed the beaches and rainforests, visited Brisbane, and now I am currently in Sydney. It has been an amazing and unforgettable experience so far and I am so excited for my adventures to continue in Perth!

When I first heard about the TAB program, I was instantly interested. My family loves to travel, so throughout my life I have been very lucky to have travelled to many countries. This has fostered my love for exploring new places and experiencing new cultures. I have also always been interested in the idea of living abroad however the thought of being so far away from home and my family has always curbed that idea. When I learned that the TAB program was only a 2-month exchange, I felt that was the perfect amount of time! I immediately knew I wanted to go to Perth when I heard that there was a possibility of seeing an Indigenous school. I know the Indigenous people here are a marginalized group, similar to our Indigenous groups in Canada. Throughout my courses from my first year of the after-degree, we have had many discussions regarding Indigenous students and creating authentic lessons that could include Indigenous practices. From this TAB experience I am really hoping to gain some insights, ideas, and strategies for working with Indigenous youth, and bringing that into my practice when I come home to Calgary.

I’m excited to see what adventures and experiences I'll have over the next two months! 

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Here is a picture of me and Yoshi the koala! 

 

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