After a lot of missed phone calls and doubts about even completing my international pre-prac, I woke up on Wednesday morning and walked up the hill to South Coogee Public School. I initially found the office and was swept away to my first grade classroom to meet my CT. She is an older lady that has been at the school for a long time and knows the ropes. I spent the day mostly observing and talking to some of the staff and I through this I noticed three major differences between South Coogee and my prac experiences back in Boston. The first was the uniforms. Even though it is a public school all of the children have to wear uniforms complete with matching backpacks and matching hats. Australia has universal health care and because every Australian has a 1 in 2 chance of getting skin cancer they take wearing the hats especially seriously. The children cannot play, go to lunch, or go to sports without their hats which was super interesting. The second huge difference was the instruction. The teacher did not really plan or execute any lessons but would rather review a lot of already known stuff and hand the children worksheets to complete. The teacher was also a lot more stern with the children and did not hesitate to raise her voice or call out children for bad behavior. Finally, the biggest difference was the schools dedication to the arts. I actually went to a school assembly that is once a term that commends students on their art work and allows them to show it and talk about it in front of the entire school. The students seem to love art and the teachers incorporate it within their curriculum as much as they can, something I have never seen done within my pre-prac experiences within the United States.
There were a lot of similarities though. One of the main ones was the parental involvement that is present in so many schools in the states. Parents volunteer to help with reading groups and actually spend an hour in the classroom twice a week which is awesome. On Wednesday morning there were actually 5 parents for the 20 person class. The parents are also present around campus helping out at lunch and sports and such. The second similarity was the creating of a school culture. It seemed like the students were so excited to go to South Coogee and there is even a school song they sing loud and proud.
I can't wait to get back into the classroom and learn more about the school and get to know the students better!