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Teaching in Australia

Students Can See Another Country While they Fill their Graduation Requirements

Attention education majors who have always wanted to visit Australia: Here is your ticket! Student teaching abroad is a popular way to complete the dreaded 10-week rite of passage, and Australia is a top destination. The schools are similar, the culture is welcoming, and there is no language barrier. You can fulfill all of your requirements in Australia alone—and see Australia while you’re at it—through the The Global Student Teaching program. I spoke with Alima and Jacqueline, two former student teachers, and went to Australia to do my student teaching along with my wife, Tamara. Here’s what the four of us experienced:

Location

Student teachers may have some choice of location, but placement ultimately depends on the coordinator’s finding a willing school. All student teachers in the GST program teach in the state of Victoria, most them near Melbourne.

Housing

Alima stayed with the principal of the school and his family. “I had my own room, and access to the Internet. It was nice to have a family atmosphere while being so far from home.”

Jacqueline stayed with a host family and walked to school. “I couldn’t have asked for a better family. They often took me places on weekends, provided me with great meals, and were always there for me.”

Tamara and I shared a house with a friendly Melbourne police sergeant. When he wasn’t fightingcrime, he was out fishing, so we often had the house to ourselves. When he was home, we got the inside scoop on the criminals and the fish that got away.

Students and staff

One of the most frequent questions American student teachers get is: “How do Australian students compare to American students?” Short answer: No difference. Long answer: The U.S. and Australia are both home to culturally diverse populations and it is impossible to make any broad generalizations. Jacqueline reported that her students were “wonderful,” but I visited one school where students regularly shouted at teachers. All student teachers described the staff members of Australian schools as being warm, welcoming, and supportive.

Best part of the experience

Alima

“The best part about student teaching in Australia was having the opportunity to expose the children to American culture. I taught them about Texas and had my mom send cinnamon gum, American flag toothpicks, and Mad Libs; they were all a hit.”

Jacqueline

“The experience as a whole was incredible. All the pieces fit together to make my time in Australia the best experience of my life. One of my favorite sites was The Great Ocean Road. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. Also, the people I worked with, lived with, and encountered on a daily basis were amazing.”

Tamara

“Australians do a nice job of balancing work and pleasure. So while we were expected to do our work, we were also expected to enjoy Australia.”

Peter

“My best memories include waking up to cockatoos and parrots outside my window, teaching guitar at the school, joining my students at an outdoor education camp in the mountains, and snorkeling The Great Barrier Reef after student teaching."

Where are they now?

  • Alima is teaching third grade at a private school in Colorado and plans to work at an international school in the future.
  • Jacqueline is substitute teaching and looking for a full time position in Colorado.
  • Tamara and I are finishing MA degrees in education and searching for jobs in international schools.

More Information

Australian school year

February to November. Costs: Living expenses in Australia are currently lower than in the U.S. Most students stay with a host family and pay for room and board.

Working in Australia

Getting a work visa for Australia is complex process, but there may be teaching opportunities in the near future as Australia’s teacher shortage worsens. Visit the Australian department of immigration web site for more details, www.immi.gov.au.

Contact Information

Global Student Teaching, educatorsabroad.net.

PETER BURNSIDE was a graduate student at Barat College earning a MA in education. He taught English in Korea for two years and traveled through much of Asia.

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