So great were the benefits of my exchange to LLanfaes Primary School in 2011 that I decided to try for a second exchange to the UK and luckily I was successful.
2014 has been an interesting, educational and challenging year that has been well worth the effort of getting out of the comfort zone. Something that I hope I may get the chance to do again.
My exchange to Magor Church Primary in Wales began one cold, not quite freezing morning at the beginning of January, 2014. Driving into school on that first morning is always so nerve racking, hoping that there are at least a few staff members that you can find some sort of click with and that the kids aren’t all horrid.
Luckily I meet several people with a similar ‘warped’ sense of humour as me, so it began well.
It also amazes me the number of teacher aides that are around in infants classes in the UK and learning to delegate jobs I have always done myself to very capable aides was great learning curve for me.
I started January in Year 1 and had two very long terms with a few great holidays in between, before I made it to the long summer holiday, only to learn that after the holidays I was to move classes to Year 2, not a great move in distance or level, but a very challenging one with both a change of staff and some extremely challenging children.
So professionally developing methods of dealing with personalities and class issues was right up there on the agenda.
I can say that I was able to introduce a PE uniform into the school, which began in September, after putting forward the benefits of children wearing their PE uniform to school rather then bring it and change into and out of it for PE or sport lessons.
I was able to travel to many wonderful locations throughout the year including great areas in Britain along with the many wonders of Wales, Lakes District, Cotswolds, Cornwall, Kent and Ireland and Scotland for the Commonwealth Games. I also headed off to great locations like Morocco, Turkey, Copenhagen, Denmark, Sweden and Spain.
I was very lucky to have some friends and family from Australia come to visit me, and to have short term experiences with the wonderful Welsh.
Meeting , living and working with people from the other side of the world is one of the best experiences of my life. I have made lifelong friends, and rekindled with friends from my first exchange in Brecon, some of whom I consider to be my Welsh family and love equally to many of my friends and family in Australia.
It amazes me that there are so many wonderful people throughout the world that have so much to give to the children in their care, and that I have been able to share in their lives and gain from their experiences.
The fact that we as teachers, have the opportunity to exchange, live and work in such wonderful places away from home is fantastic. I encourage more teachers throughout NSW and ACT to challenge themselves, step outside their comfort zones and take on the exhilarating experience of working for a year in another country.