Introduction to teaching in Australia

I got a phonecall on Thursday asking me if I was available for some temporary, relief teacher work in a local school on Friday. I said yes, then spent most of the night worrying – Which i actually (even at the time) thought was hilarious. I have no idea why the butterflies set in. The panic of making sure that yes I had set the alarm clock. Checking it twice, Once to make sure I hadn’t accidentally switched it off and once to make sure I’d set it to go off at 7am not 7pm. I didn’t even really sleep; I kept waking up for no reason!

I was absolutely fine though of course.

I was relieving a teacher who had gone home sick the previous day in a Greek Orthodox Junior school. It was a lovely old building and the staff were really friendly. It was very interesting to see some of the differences though.

Firstly., this teacher was a Year 7 teacher. Year 7 are taught as primary students are taught. They have the same teacher all day, for all subjects. This in turn meant that I taught English, P.E., SOSE and Maths.
Each lesson was 40 mins long. There were 8 of them. We had double English. P.E. which involved me taking them outside and giving them a ball to play “soccor” which I kept calling football which confused them. Then SOSE, which I naturally assumed would be something like PSHE but turned out to be more like Geography. It stands for something about society and the environment and the pupils were learning about land forms. Maths involved a mental math test.

All fairly straight forward. There were some notable differences though to what we are use to in the U.K.

At lunch time I tried to find the dining hall. I discovered there isn’t one. There was a hatch that served food, which had a cue system and then once you had your food you went outside to eat it (if you were a student). No dining hall and no lunch duty as it were.
The school bell wasn’t the usual metal ringy thingy. Instead, Grease style, it was “Bing Bong”ing from a tannoy – supermarket like. I could hardly hear it!
The conversations in the staff room were also interesting. For example I over heard one debate where teachers were arguing that Year 6 were far too young to learn long division and that one of their colleagues was being ridiculous to even try!!! Don’t they learn that in the U.K. far earlier? I was also surprised to discover that the Year7 class I was taking were learning to read the clock – that was one of their mental maths questions…. mmm I also had a wander around in a free they gave me and was surprised that I couldn’t find a single IWB anywhere!!! LOL How do the teachers cope? 🙂 I had to use a whiteboard pen all lesson!!!!

I was also expecting some comment from the pupils about my accent and the fact that I was from the U.K. I was expecting to be picked on a bit. I wasn’t. Infact they were more interested in whether I’d been to Old Trafford or Enfield. Whether I knew who the Artic Monkey’s were and of course whether I knew Kiera Knightly personally (that surprised me! Kiera Knightly???) I explained that although England was a small island… much much smaller that Australia… that didn’t mean that I knew everyone and that I had not had the pleasure of Miss Knightly’s company.

Although the school and staff were lovely. Being there made me feel very proud to work at Shenley Court. When I asked the pupils what they had been learning they couldn’t tell me. I had to teach them about the difference between argue and persuade before they could begin to explain what an exposition on European Brown Bears was. The cover work that was set didn’t mention objectives once and I have got the impression from teachers that I have spoken to that they don’t plan lessons in the way we do in the U.K. and although I can see the benefits of a more relaxed approach it made me feel very proud to be apart of a department and a school that had students who were much more focused on their learning who knew where they were at and how they had gotten there and could answer the question “What have you been learning” with no problems what so ever.

I was however very impressed when, at the end of the day, I asked the pupils if they would like to lead a prayer. Unlike at a certain school of a relgious nature where I used to work, all of thgem wanted to lead the prayer. Then they started to recite the lords prayer in Greek and then in English. AH would have loved it!! I was just stood there amazed. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it was lovely to hear. I loved the way they did the sign of the cross 3 times too. Very nice. They were all very respectful and calm about it. Very impressive!t


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