Term One Reflections

First term was a very long 11 weeks. It began with me readjusting to teaching 4 days a week as opposed to traveling 7 days a week and finding time to blog was challenging and the longer I left it, the easier it was to find reasons why I was too busy! So here goes….
My first 5 weeks back are a bit of a blur as that was how long it took me to get back on my feet and cope with the exhaustion of both teaching and doing the preparation needed to teach. It also took me 5 weeks to rediscover the balance of what was needed for a 50 minute lesson with each year level!
HIghlights for the term include the following:
1. Bu Maylanny’s visit.
Bu Maylanny is a university lecturer from Bandung (West Java) and her 2 week stay was nowhere near long enough. Her visit was organised by the wonderful Pak Nyoman at APBIPA. She spent 2 days with us at PEPS and I still have students telling me how disappointed that they missed working with her in class. She taught us how to play bekel ( an Indonesian game very similar to knuckles except with a ball).

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We played this with several classes and they all really enjoyed the challenge. Very tricky picking up beads with one hand and bouncing and catching a ball in the other!
2. Hearing Impaired Worksop; “Supporting Students With Hearing Impairment”

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I am very lucky to have a sound field system in my classroom complete with microphone. There are several hearing impaired students at our school however I find that using the sound field system benefits everyone as when learning new vocabulary every one can hear clearly and it also benefits my voice enormously as I can just speak normally instead of having to talk loudly all day. I used to have huge problems with my throat and voice and thanks to the sound field system, this has largely been eliminated.
The one thing that I brought away with me from the workshop regarded the use of smart boards. I use mine constantly both for introducing and revision and it was pointed out to us at the workshop that smart boards are usually used in darkened rooms. My room has blockout curtains on one side and there is no doubt my hearing impaired students would have difficulty trying to lip read to support their hearing while simultaneously looking at the smart board!! Can’t believe I hadn’t considered this already!
3. State Grant for Establishing a Sister School
The schools on the south coast all applied for this grant and we were all successful which is sooo exciting. We each won $2000 which will go towards buying ipads so that students can communicate with our sister school next term about “sekolah”.
4. Congklak
This term I finished up with teaching all the junior primary and middle classes how to play congklak. It is a game I have only usually taught upper primary students but have realised that years 1-3 can also play it and enjoy it. It was hugely popular with all students!

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Indonesian Teacher Visitor Program with APBIPA

Last Sunday I collected Pak Yasa from the airport. He is the first and last teacher visiting the Fleurieu primary government schools in 2013 because I am about to head off on LSL travelling around Indonesia. (Follow my travel blog Jalan Jalan with Bu Cathy!)
Pak Yasa is from Bali and is the 6th teacher we have hosted through this program. APBIPA is a business run largely by Pak Nyoman in Bali which among man things, targets teacher quality as well as teaching English programs. Through the teacher quality arm of his business, he coordinates Indonesian teachers who are from schools which value their teachers experiencing western teacher methodology.
For our Indonesian language programs here on the south coast, this program is perfect for many reasons. We have an Indonesian visitor in our schools for 2 weeks who becomes a film star legend whom all students want to talk to and this provides students with real authentic reasons for using Indonesian over that fortnight. We also get the opportunity to talk to Indonesian people face to face and as most are muslim, it has been a brilliant way to demystify any previously held stereotypes. The most obvious example is the jilbab. At first it was what students noticed first about our visitors and wanted to ask about however now we find that students barely comment on jilbabs at all!
In 2012 we hosted 5 teachers: Pak Usman from Sumbawa, Bu Indra from Sumatra and Pak Agus from Bali in Semester 1 and then in Semester 2 we hosted Pak Asep and Bu Valentina from Jakarta. The best thing for our schools about this program is that Pak Nyoman does all the organising. After our experiences with the BSALC grant which involved us organising times, flights, visa, passports; basically every aspect of the teacher visits, ourselves, joining the APBIPA program has been a dream. He does it all. All we have to do is meet the teachers at the airport, provide accommodation (hosted), plan their visit across 3 sites, organise a weekend of sightseeing which always incorporates a visit to Urrumbirra Wildlife Park where they can hand feed kangaroos and have their photo taken with koalas, then return them to the airport for their flight home. It is a full on fortnight for us all but is always highly enjoyable and chokkerblock full of amazing memories. We usually try to fit in an evening of Indonesian cooking where we all get together with the Indonesian teachers who do all the cooking and us westerners being the kitchen hands! Always delicious and fun!
As the other 2 primary schools have ongoing language programs (multiliteracy currently) which although highly engaging and worthwhile, involve high levels of teacher preparation and energy, I willingly do the organisation for the visiting teachers. This involves keeping an eye on my emails so that I can respond quickly when Pak Nyoman contacts Australian schools seeking willing participants. We then, via email, find a mutually suitable date which is compatible with both the Australian and Indonesian school calendar. For us it mainly ensures they visit during term time and for the Indonesian schools, it mainly ensures they are avoiding exam and reporting commitments. Once dates are set, Pak Nyoman emails me information about the teachers (biodata) which I forward on to Annie & Sharon. I then write a timetable for their stay so that we all have equal access to the teachers on the various days we work and for the days none of us are working, we offer the teachers to classroom teachers or if that is not an option, I contact the highschool to see if they can accommodate them for a day preferably with a teacher who teaches a similar subject.
We usually share the hosting commitments over our 3 sites. This is to give us time with the teacher beforehand so we can plan together our upcoming days and it also helps with transportation to and from school. Occasionally staff from school have hosted our visitors but generally we host the ourselves. In some ways it is a fantastic opportunity for staff and families to come face to face with our visitors and interact with them in their own homes, but it is also a valuable time for us with our preparations, so hopefully with our upcoming sister school agreement we will be able to do both!
Overall it is a fantastic program and one we all throughly enjoy being a part of. Our students have gained so much from our many visitors. For a full on 2 weeks with innumerable benefits to the language classroom, I highly recommend it to all and find it is worth all the organisation.