Thus far, I've spent a total of three school days in my year 6 classroom. During these three days I've collected three pages of notes - "must tell" notes for my fellow teachers, friends, and family back home. Do what you will with the following information, but please realize that I am currently in debate of whether or not to ever return home based on what I've witnessed...
1. NZ students purposely arrive to school early, to join with friends and play outside for 30-45 minutes before the school day begins.
2. Although the NZ students are required to wear uniforms, shoes are optional. Before arriving to my placement school I was led to believe that this practice was an illustration of respect towards their culture and their environment. Now, I'm almost positive that at least 94% who participate in the option of the kids do it because they can.
3. Morning weather at Murrays Bay School is often unpredictable. This, of course, is always either due to the ocean shore located only meters away from the school grounds, or the mountain ranges to the North, East, South, and West.
4. For those needing an ounce of light-heartedness in their day: Each minute in the classroom, at least one child is turning to a classmate to either ask for a "rubber" or call him/her "naughty" (please excuse me if you find it unnecessary to still find this amusing after three days of attempted training).
5. Finding work unenjoyable, too fast paced, or draining? Come on over to NZ! If you get here by 10:30 AM, you'll be just in time for morning tea (a time dedicated to children's minimally supervised play so that teachers may escape away to the staff room and enjoy tea and biscuits)
6. Why have one scheduled time for physical activity when you can have 7? Not only do the kids arrive 45 minutes early to play with friends, but they have 15 minutes outside during morning tea, another 30 minutes during each day's "fitness" class, 55 minutes after lunch, 2 hours every Thursday afternoon for sport training, 25 minutes on Friday for outdoor "Jump Jam" (a school's version of self guided flash mob), and, of course, NZ's version of a reinforced token economy, resulting in...you guessed it, outdoor activity.
7. No need to waste time waiting until your arrival home for that after-school glass of wine. Every other Friday, schools' social clubs organize a cash bar in the faculty lounge for teachers to choose a drink, enjoy some snacks, and gossip about the week's work and the weekend to come.
8. In no way is a kiwi referencing "zip" or "none" while saying the term "zed." NZ has simply complicated our US understanding of the alphabet by assigning a word to the letter "Z." How do you spell zoo? "zed" o o. The initials for New Zealand? N."Zed."
9. NZ's choice of refraining from cafeteria food has only resulted in packed lunches including one or more of the following: whole wheat sandwiches, all natural fruit drinks, fruits, vegetables, all natural snacks (please see picture below for example witnessed Wednesday)...
If you find any of these concepts outrageous, don't worry, my jaw has been dropping all week. But these three days have only increased my excitement for the weeks to come.
What to look forward to next week:
Tuesday: First substitute experience with a NZ classroom (send your positive thoughts!)
Wednesday: My first whole-class lesson
Saturday: Day trip to Auckland's inner city (with plans to visit the NZ war memorial museum, Queen Street, Quay Street, and the Sky Tower's Sky Jump! 192 m (630 ft.) controlled free fall from the Southern hemisphere's tallest tower!!!