Hi! My name is Kelly and I am student teaching this semester in a first grade classroom at South Coogee Public School in Sydney, Australia. Even though South Coogee is a public school, all of the students where uniforms everyday. I learned from my CT that all schools in Australia, both public and private, require students to wear uniforms. Wearing uniforms is meant to remind the students that they are in school and that their behavior and work should reflect where they are. On my first day, my CT asked me to explain to the students how I had never worn uniforms in my schools in the U.S. The students were very surprised to hear this and this discussion inspired the first-graders to ask me more about my life in America.
Throughout my first day at South Coogee P.S., I tried to make comparisons in my mind about the differences between Australian and American schools. My students here rarely sit in desks. There is a lot of interaction and hands-on activities going on in the classroom. They often work in groups. They have a “morning tea break” around 11am which gives the students an opportunity to have a morning snack and play outside for half an hour. Around 1:15pm, the students are given a lunch break for 45 minutes that allows more time to play outside. My CT told me that Australians believe in movement and interaction by the students throughout the day. They are still young and need to release their energy in a productive manner.
My CT also created an activity called “crunch and sip.” This activity is snack time with news announcements made by a few students each day. Every student is assigned a day where he/she writes up an announcement about any topic he/she chooses. While the students have snack time around 10am, the students present their announcements. I thought “crunch and sip” was a great idea because it gives the students time to rest and reenergize without completely shutting down the learning in the classroom. The day keeps moving with the news presentations and keeps the kids’ minds thinking.
My favorite part of my first day was journal time. After a spelling lesson, the students got their journals and were given 20 minutes to write about any topic they wanted. I liked walking around to see what the students were writing about and some even drew pictures to go along with their stories! One little girl came over to me when she was done and asked if she could read me what she wrote. Since the public schools were going on a break the following two weeks, this girl wrote about her upcoming trip to America! She was so excited to read me all about her plans for San Diego. When she was finished reading me her journal, she asked if San Diego was near where I lived in America. I said that San Diego was on the other side of the country from where I was from but I was still very happy that she was going to my home country. Even though it was my first day at South Coogee P.S., I felt so welcomed by this little girl and the rest of the class. These students had just met me, yet they were just as interested in learning about my life and culture as I was about theirs!