This week I had my first teaching experience at the George Street Normal School in Dunedin, New Zealand. A "normal school" is a school that both teaches students and trains future teachers. While the teaching system in New Zealand does not drastically differ from that of the states, there are a few general differences that I noticed immediately. Firstly, the school is much more lenient and relaxed than the schools I have taught at in the states. For instance, there are many more breaks throughout the day where the students are able to play and go outside. Tea time occurs in the morning, when all the teachers go upstairs to have tea and biscuits for fifteen minutes, and the students are allowed to play outside and have a snack. Then there is lunch for one hour, and then a "fitness" break where the students go outside for a third time and run around for a bit. The students are allowed in the classroom alone, and do not have to be called in by the teacher after lunch. There exists are more relaxed atmosphere, but there is also more responsibility placed upon the students. Another difference is that the school uses composite classrooms, where there are students of different grades in the same class based on their academic level. My particular classroom consists of students aged 5-7, in years 1-3.
Aside from these differences, the school seems to be pretty similar to that of the schools in the states. There are extension and extra help programs, where students are pulled out of the classroom and worked with on specialties such as extra reading help, or a special science curriculum for the more advanced students. I look forward to going back next week and learning more about the school and the teaching styles at the school!