If you have no interest in what teachers do, then this post is not for you.  My daughter commented the other day that I was working a lot.  As a matter of fact, she thought I was working more here than at home.  I was surprised at first, but then I thought that perhaps the perception of those back home is that an exchange teacher doesn’t do much except travel and enjoy the experience.  Well, I am very much enjoying this exchange, but I can assure you that I am working hard.

I suppose I could have come here and taken the role of observer, done a minimal amount of preparation and just gone with it.  After all, I have nothing to prove to these people, or do I?  But it doesn’t take long that, in spite of yourself, you fall into your usual habits of finding ways to make a child feel welcomed in your class, parents feel their children are in good hands and colleagues feel they can count on you to carry your share of the load.  There are many interesting activities at Catholic College Bendigo, something for everyone, I’d say.  This is a private Catholic 7-12 school, located in a lovely gold mining town in central Victoria.

So in the spirit of keeping an open mind, I decided from the outset to participate in any club or activity that I might be asked to join.  Year 7 camp was my first big outing with my house group (homeroom).  I’ve also joined the Anime club on Fridays and the QI club (designed to challenge those enquiring minds) on Thursdays.  I attend 3 briefings a week and at least two staff meetings per month.  I have given a workshop to my second language teacher/colleagues on the integration of web 2.0 in our classrooms as the school is about to implement a one to one laptop program.  And I’ve been asked to join the Diocese professional development group as a suitable replacement for my exchange partner – not a small honour, I’d say.  I’ve volunteered to help out in or teach any workshop on IT that might be of assistance to my colleagues at the College, and they are glad to accept my offer.

This year is about exchanging ideas, not just houses and teaching load.  I came here to grow, not to take the “geographical cure” from my usual routine in Ottawa.  I am observing and trying on some interesting ideas in discipline, pedagogy and cultural differences, hoping it will colour my teaching in a brighter shade.  I am adding to my portfolio as an educational technology graduate, reshaping my ideas as well as those of others on the way we learn through technology.

A word about Catholic education – here at the College, they don’t just say they are Catholic, they try to really live it.  It’s not that they are preachy.  There are students and teachers who are not Catholic in this school, so the group is not homogenous.  It’s just that there is a sense of celebration here for just being part of a community.  There is no sense of embarassment for praying.  The school even has its own prayer.  A lovely idea that would be great to take back to my Ottawa school board.