I am currently on my second exchange in Alberta, Canada. The experience, both professional and personal, is hard to equate. The friends I have made in both countries through the exchange program has enriched mine and my family’s lives.
Professionally, I have learned so much from working in a different system, different ways of doing things (playground duty at -30°), new curriculum, and my Aussie-ness to another batch of kids.
It has invigorated my teaching and set me up to be a better teacher (so I hope).
The teacher exchange program may not be taken up by many people but it is an extraordinary professional learning opportunity that cannot be filed against a cost benefit analysis.
Well maybe it can: the cost of running the program is far far less than sending one teacher on PD for a year.
Both the home school and the exchange school benefits from new people coming in, even if is only for the year. Support of teacher exchange benefits the students, their teachers and schools. Win, win really.
I am coming to the end of the year, and there is still so much to do. We have travelled far and wide, and currently am enjoying the early arrival of winter… snow in September freaked out even the locals. Did get a snow day though!
The weather has settled, the harvest is in and Thanksgiving Canadian style has been celebrated. I know that the next few weeks will fly as reports need to be written, Christmas concert prepped and put on, being organised to leave, being organised for my returning partner – however all the effort is worth it.
The best advice is to move beyond ‘one day I would like to do that’ to ‘let’s get the paper work started’ for amazing professional learning and the adventure of living in another country for a year.
Bernadette Baker On exchange from St Mary’s Cathedral College to Lethbridge Ontario.