Major: Elementary Education
Minor/option/emphasis: Reading, English Language Arts, and Social Studies
Hometown, State: Fort Dodge, IA
Type of experience: International Student Teaching Program
Experience: International Student Teaching Program
Experience website: https://isuabroad.iastate.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgramAngular&id=10349
Destination: New Zealand
My experience was absolutely amazing and I would do it all over again if I could! I taught at the Terrace School in Alexandra New Zealand. While I was there I taught in a 3/4 year classroom, this included students that ranged in ages 6 up to 9 years old. I spent my week days making connections with teachers and students while spending my weekend exploring the South Island of New Zealand. While teaching I was able to learn new experiences that I can apply to my own classroom. I learned how to differentiate needs, organize small reading rotations/math rotations, classroom management skills, learning through play, and so much more. During my weekends I spent time exploring the mountains, the land, the sea, and the beauty that makes up New Zealand.
I learned about this opportunity from a peer that had gone overseas a year before. She described her experience as life-changing and I was instantly intrigued. I asked around about the trip and finally took a leap of faith to go and learn through travel.
An impact to my life...
This experience has taught me so much about myself. I learned not only new strategies to use in the classroom but I learned who I was as a person. I learned that I could push myself to become the best teacher I can be and to be pushed out of my comfort zone. I learned to love a nation I knew little about before arriving. I learned that I could push myself to climb mountains and be adventurous. I learned there are only limits that I put on myself but if I believe in myself I can go so much further. This experience will help me to become a better and well rounded individual who can be flexible in any situation. I will continue to push myself outside of my comfort zone in and out of the classroom.
My most valuable learning experience...
The most valuable experience I encountered from this experience was learning about the Maori culture in and out of the classroom. Maori is New Zealand's indigenous people and culture. This is something that is very special to New Zealand. The students are required to learn the language and the teachers are asked to incorporate it into their classroom. I was fortunate enough to learn about the culture from my peers and my students. I was able to emerge into the culture and teach it during my time in the classroom. This helped me to have a better understanding of the people and what is important to them. It was absolutely beautiful to not only be in the country but to be able to walk beside the people there through their customs and lifestyle.
I will never forget...
The most memorable experience I had was spending my days as a teacher and my week nights/weekends being an explorer. I loved getting to go out and explore a country that I had never been to before and seeing how beautiful the earth can be. I loved that everything in New Zealand is close enough to drive to and it is easy to find beauty. I loved not knowing where I was going to go but going with the flow and seeing where the adventure would take me. Some of my favorite places I went to were The Catlins, Mount Cook, and Milford Sound.
A surprising discovery...
I was surprised at how flexible you need to be overseas. When in the school you will need to learn a new curriculum, work harder to understand your students, and learn a completely new way of teaching. I knew student teaching abroad would be different but I didn't know how many obstacles I would need to work through while overseas. It taught me how to become a stronger teacher and how to trust myself in the classroom. Learning how to trust myself and be extremely flexible is a life skill I am going to continue into my professional life as a teacher.
Advice for others...
If I could give advice to anyone it would be don't think too much about it and just do it. It will honestly change your life being in a different country and learning about a new curriculum. You can spend your life teaching in your comfort zone, but while you are young why not get out and see something new. I would suggest not having too high of expectations while you are in the country and just going with the flow. Things are not always going to work out, you are in a different country, but that's okay! This trip teaches you things about yourself you didn't even know, it gives you confidence, and helps you to understand humanity a little better. Go in with an open mind and heart, this place is absolutely breathtaking. It is worth every penny!