Christine Munzer

From Colorado to Canberra

Teaching in Australia has been unlike any other teaching position I’ve had in my 15 years in the classroom. The biggest difference is working at a boys’ Catholic school – I was simply not prepared for the energy level of a classroom of 32 young boys. They just cannot sit still and are so curious about each and everything we discuss in class. I have really enjoyed their excitement for learning.

Another huge transition has been playground duty. In the comprehensive high school where I teach in the United States, my supervision duty involves ensuring students have passes and IDs on as they make their way through the hallways. Here, I supervise during recess and lunch where it is non-stop sport for the entire break. Boys make their way to the sports fields, scarfing down their lunches so that they can take full advantage of the time to run and play. In the US, I can’t tell you the last time I saw all of the students just play during their lunch breaks – usually all of their attention is on their phones.

The period of online learning was a huge learning curve. I’ve never been one to embrace the constant use of technology in the classroom – I once thought using a projector was too much technology in the classroom. However, this shift has been eye-opening and has helped me realise the abundance of awesome online materials, exhibitions and websites. Many of these cool sites have only recently become free to educators, and I hope they will keep access open once we move back into the classroom.

Still, the joy in my day was connecting with my classes using Zoom. This was also the highlight for my own two children because it gave them a chance to connect with the new friends they’d made before the coronavirus necessitated the shift to online learning.

While we had planned to travel to New Zealand for the Term 1 break, we are making the best of it by exploring our temporary adopted hometown.

To celebrate Canberra’s 100th birthday, a 145 kilometre trail was created that circles the Australian Capital Territory. We decided to cycle every section of the trail during our break. By the half way point, we had ascended quite a few peaks and taken in the majestic views and the beautiful array of autumn colours.

The coronavirus lockdown made us realise we should never again waste an entire weekend doing laundry or grading classwork because there is just so much to see in our short year in Australia.