Today is my last day at Kip McGrath. I have been tutoring at Kip in the areas of English, Reading, and Maths for a year. It has been a great experience to work and teach in New Zealand. I have learned many new and innovative ways to approach struggling readers and tackling maths. At first I found myself always saying, "in America we do x,y,and z." Once I got more comfortable in the shoes of a New Zealand teacher I was able to speak the lingo and understand the methods. I would like to think that I can take back some of these new methods to my classroom in Arizona.
My students represented many nations, including India, Fiji, Indonesia, Brazil, and Scotland. Oh how I love this. There were many memorable occurrences--some of my favourites include:
- a boy brought me a gift before every session, including donuts, Cadbury chocolate, merchandise from his mum's company, it was after the last that I pulled the plug on the gifts
- a girl from Scotland asked me in all seriousness why I am married but don't have any children-when I gave a reasonable response she still didn't buy it and insisted that I am much too old to not have children.
- during the very first session the above gift boy asked me where I was from. I told him to guess-after using clues from my accent he concluded I must be from Ireland.
- Scotland girl had SERIOUS handwriting issues due to dyspraxia and our first few sessions were beyond painful for both of us. After a few months I received feedback from her teacher and parents that her confidence and quality of handwriting had improved. It was a huge milestone for me and ignited a little of that fire that burns inside of all teachers.
- I always love answering questions about America. You would be amazed at what the average kid thinks and knows about America without having any ties to it. I am constantly asked if I know any celebrities. It is perceived that there are so many celebrities that they practically live next door to you in America. I have been asked if I have ever seen a gangster or black person. Kids often wonder if you can really wear whatever you want to school in America-school uniforms are the norm in nearly ALL countries except America. I was even asked once if everyone is a millionaire in America. So there you have it, America in the eyes of foreign kids.