Monday, April 6, 2015

Two USU seniors to return from teaching opportunity in New Zealand

By Sadie Hughes

Lorilei Barkley and Camylle Buck will return Wednesday after two months of student teaching in New Zealand. Both women said the experience was a great way to prepare for future teaching jobs they hope to find after graduation.

“It’s important to be able to have a variety of experiences to prepare you,” Barkley said. “I had to work my way through a new curriculum, new administrative structuring and a culturally different student population.”

Buck, who is majoring in math and statistics education, said she has seen a different way to go about education. She talked to teachers and saw different methods of teaching.

“Coming to New Zealand, I was able to learn about a different educational system and how they function and structure their students' learning,” Barkley said. “This comparison has allowed me to develop my repertoire of teaching strategies and to expand the way I look at education, grading and curriculum.”

Adjusting to a different system was one barrier Buck said she had to overcome. “The high schools out here do not have grades,” she said. “Everything is entirely test-based, so if the students do not pass their tests, they don’t get their degree.”

“The curriculum is so broad in New Zealand,” Buck said. “It allows more time for learning, and the school gets to dictate what the students are learning.”

Barkley said other than learning new ways to teach, she also learned about different ways of living.

“Using a dryer to do your clothes is very uncommon,” Barkley said. “Most people still hang their clothes up on a line outside.”

Also, although English is an official language of New Zealand, Barkley said getting used to conversational words was difficult. For example, she said you don’t buy “candy” in New Zealand. You buy “lollies.”

Aside from English, New Zealanders also speak Te Reo Maori, which is the language of the indigenous people.

“The pronunciation of many of the words was difficult and odd for me at first,” Barkley said. “It took me a while to be able to read and sing along with the students during class.”

Along with the goodbye gifts Buck’s students gave her near the end of her program, she said she was nearly brought to tears because of the connections she made with them.

“The students out here are amazing,” she said.

Barkley and Buck will graduate this year from Utah State University in May.

“As a student teacher, this is our last opportunity to get hands-on experience before we will hopefully be getting our own classrooms,” Barkley said.

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