Exploring the Kiwi educational system
Name: Lauren Anderskow
Major: Early Childhood Education
Student Teaching Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Coming into this experience, I knew I would learn a lot about education, but I didn't realize how much I would come to learn about myself. In the little time I've been in Auckland, New Zealand, I have had incredible opportunities to work with children from a different culture, as well as see some beautiful places. Adjusting to a new family and environment is difficult, but I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.
While exploring around this beautiful city is breath-taking, teaching and learning about a new education is the primary reason I am in Auckland. To enrich my early childhoodeducation major, I am currently student teaching in a Year 4 classroom which is equivalent to a thirdgrade classroom in the United States. My students are anywhere around age 8-9. My classroom consists of 29 students, which seems like a handful, but the students behave extremely well. At Gladstone Primary, the students are never held back, because so much of the instructionis differentiated. The class does a few whole group activities to broaden general knowledge of subjects like handwriting, Maori culture (the language spoken here besides English), topic (science or social studies focus), writing or communication. However, students are placed in ability groups for reading, spelling and mathematics. Students can be in different leveled groups depending on the subject. For example, I have a few students who are incredible with mathematics, but struggle in reading. The differentiation works really well for the students in Auckland, as they with kids their same age and are still challenged on all different levels.
One major difference in the education system is the amount of free playtime. Students in New Zealand have an hour of lunch, of which only 10 minutes must be spent eating. The rest of the time, students are free to play. They also have a 15-minute fitness session to begin the morning, followed later in the day by a 20-minute morning tea (which is snack and recess). The outdoor play seems extremely effective, as kids are able to release all of their energy on the physical activity and they stay focused in the classroom throughout the entire day. The kids also have more freedom, and are allowed to climb trees and swing on the monkey bars. Another major difference is the lack of footwear. Most students come to school barefoot and do not where shoes during the school day.
Exploring around Auckland hasn't been so bad either. The natural beauty of this place is incredible. Each morning, I wake up to a beautiful sunrise, with red and orange broadening across the sky. It is currently winter, however, temperatures here are in the 50's and 60's. A few weekends ago, I spent the day learning to surf on Orewa Beach, which is an hour north of my city. The sand was a beautiful teal color, with white sandy beaches. Last weekend, I experienced the scenery in the city, finding local cafes to enjoy a warm coffee at and meeting people in the local area. One of my favorite things I got to experience was dinner at the top of the Auckland Sky Tower. The Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere. I had the opportunity to have dinner with a friend in the 360- degree orbit at the topic of the structure. It was an incredible view. In July, I will have a two- week vacation to which I will travel to the South Island of New Zealand. Traveling and exploring through this magnificent city has created memories that will last me a lifetime.