By Adrienne Cytto, Staff Writer
Okay, so I have been waiting to talk about my time student teaching at Claremont College for a long time now. What can I say? The school is absolutely amazing. Every day, 350 students from Kindy – Year 6 come in with their formal hats and blazers on and run around the playground until morning assembly.
Claremont is an Anglican school overlooking Coogee Beach that recently celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2012. One of the reasons I wanted Claremont as my student teaching placement was because of how well rounded their students are, and the focus the school puts on academics, art, music, sport, religion, outdoor education and more.
The other awesome aspect of Claremont is that it is in its second year of implementing co-teaching in the classroom. This means each year group has about 50 students with two teachers. While there are technically two classes that each teacher is responsible for, the two classes work as a whole group most of the time.
During lessons they start off together, and then the teachers might break up the students by ability groups in subjects like math or literacy, or take their own class to continue the lesson. In fact, there are many different approaches to co-teaching, including parallel teaching, team teaching, alternate teaching and stations. In each situation, both teachers have distinct roles and are helping students, whether it is presenting material to one group, or modeling or observing while the other is teaching.
Overall, the collaborative environment is always lively and it is so nice having the support of another teacher to plan with, bounce ideas off of, and help manage the classroom. Without a doubt, I could see myself working in a team setting like Claremont in the future. The classrooms are also unique since they have been specifically designed to be open learning spaces for co-teaching to take place in. This means the rooms are broken up into different sections that can be closed off with a curtain, and there are multiple screen projectors and seating areas for students to work in.
Working with the Year 4 students has been a blast; they are such a happy and enthusiastic bunch of kids that behave well (for the most part). I’ve been able to teach various science and maths lessons so far, and it’s great to see the determination the students have. I introduced the highest maths group to a problem-solving challenge question, wanting to see if they could use four numbers and add, subtract, multiply and divide them together to get to the number 24. I somehow stumped all of them, but then one boy ran up to me first thing the next day showing me how he had figured out the problem. It was by far my proudest moment, seeing that the students were so engaged and motivated that they wanted to keep trying to get the answer.
This past week I also had the opportunity of going on my first field trip with Year 5 and my friend AnneMarie, who is student teaching with that group. We went to Darling Harbour, where the students were to survey tourists about their perception of Australian people and culture. They asked them various questions about sports, animals, landmarks, and what they think of Australians. Overall they were quite successful and each group interviewed at least 10 tourists. We ended the day going to the IMAX Theater to see the “Hidden Universe,” which was a film all about space.
I can’t believe it has already been three weeks at the school and the end of Term 3. For now we have a two week break and then Term 4 begins, which goes until the end of the school year in December. For now, I am going to enjoy my break, which includes a BU field trip to Melbourne and then a few of us are off to some more fun in Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. Sunshine, koalas and Nemo, here I come!