The New Zealand Way

Well I have been here for about 5 days now, and I have already experienced “heaps” of New Zealand.

I have already done the following:

  • Met All of Kathryn’s family; her brother & his family, and her sister & her family; which included two “barbies” (BBQ)
  • Met Lyndon’s dad (this morning at breakfast)
  • Traveled through CBD: Central Business District (downtown) of Auckland, at night
  • Tried L&P: a NZ soda
  • Loved Hokey Pokey Ice Cream-another NZ favorite
  • Celebrated a NZ holiday: Waitangi Day, which is similar to our July 4th; so we went to the beach all day.
  • Board surfed the waves with my host mum.
  • I have seen the rural, urban, and beach parts of Auckland.
  • I have observed a “year 2” (first grade) class for two days.
  • I have experienced both sunny and rainy (high humidity) days!
  • Watched “Home & Away”- a NZ tv show, similar to something like OTH
  • Eaten passion fruit slice (slices are pretty popular in NZ)
  • Tried some Cadbury chocolates that are typical “jollies” here
  • Watched the SEVENS rugby tournament (on tv)
  • Gained 2 Kiwi brothers, a Kiwi mum, and a (part)Maori dad.
  • Went to church and worshipped God for all of his goodness and my blessings.
  • Had an “ice-block” or a pop-sicle on the way home from the beach.
  • Went grocery shopping for produce and what not.
  • Went on a 5k run in the morning with Kathryn and her brother.
  • Went on a 7k walk in the morning with Lyndon.
  • Went shopping with mum. (I surprise!)

^ That is just a “few” of the heaps of new things I have been doing since I’ve moved to Browns Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.

-I just came back from eating “fish & chips” with the fam 🙂 yes….I ate fish. You all should be very very proud of me! I was also introduced to a NZ tradition of “chip butty,” which is where you put “chips” or fries in a piece of bread and eat it like a sandwich. It sounds a bit crazy…I looked at Lyndon like a “space chimp” because it was a weird idea, but it was actually pretty good. (Although, its heaps of carbs! :/)

So, about school: It is not nearly as different from what I am used to in the states. The physical structure of the school is different: it isn’t one building with hallways and classrooms, but it is made up of 5 pods of 4 classrooms and then the other various buildings (which would be rooms in the states; for example, the library, the gym/auditorium, and the administration.) Everything is basically open and the hallways are actually brick paths outside beneath a cover (mainly for sun protection). I was surprised how much they value the beautiful weather and take advantage of it during the school days. Something I noticed immediately during lunch/recess is that the fields are completely open (no gates or fences like IPS), and there are about 600 children playing for about 50 minutes feeling completely safe.

The way our (Mrs. Smith and me) classroom runs is very similar to what I am used to and how I enjoy teaching. I had the chance to experience yet another first day of school, and it was great to see them come in and ready to learn. We have a time of “news,” which is similar to the morning meeting I am used to at home-this was a great way for me to feel at home. Speaking of feeling at home, I was introduced to everyone at the school assembly and at lunch, and was quickly made comfortable to be at their school.

The break down of our day:

  • Te Reo Maori
  • Roll
  • News 
  • Art (which is taught by each teacher individually)
  • Fitness (taught to whole grade by the team of grade teachers)
  • Morning tea (which is a morning snack-school wide) for 30 minutes
  • Reading
  • Lunch for an hour (which includes about 10 minutes of eating and 50 minutes of playing) and lunch is not provided at the school, so each student brings their own lunch from home-as do teachers (unless they leave).
  • Topic (which can vary between science and social studies)
  • Maths (yes, you say the “s” at the end)

On the first day, I was observing how the class was managed and how Kate (Mrs. Smith) taught and approached the students’ learning. Although we haven’t actually discussed it, I can tell her philosophy is similar to what I am used to. She gives them ownership of and honors their learning. “The Pinehill Way” is the motto of the school, and everyone sticks to it and the children are inspired to be their best in and out of school. It isn’t drilled into their brains, but they still want to follow the way. She taught this for “topic” the first day, and they helped her establish what it meant. She had such high enthusiasm and the children reflected that with their smiles and eagerness to be there. [There is heaps more I can blog about, but I feel like anyone reading this will be slightly overwhelmed, so I’ll end it soon.] However, I do want to share that at the end of the second day, Kate passed out stars “only for the special people” (which was every student) and she gave them very personal and specific compliments of why she enjoyed having them in her class. The children were absolutely gleaming! They felt so good about themselves and couldn’t wait to tell their parents. 

Overall, me being here and the experience is still surreal, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be in a beautiful country and with wonderful people. 


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