The title of the post really has nothing to do with the content – people just say ‘no worries’ all day long so it’s floating around my head right now! It is a good phrase to keep in mind though – NO WORRIES!!
I think the best way to catch up on my adventures in Sydney and New Zealand is to do two separate picture posts – one for each place. I’ll share my experiences in each through a few of the pictures from each place. I will try to work on those in the next few days, because pictures take a long time to upload so it will take a little while to put together.
For now, I want to share about the fun I’ve had since getting back to Grafton!
On Friday night, M and C picked me up from the train station. The train was 30 minutes late because it only had one engine apparently (?), and I had tried to text M and let her know that, but my text didn’t go through! So they patiently waited for me for all that time so I was very thankful. I’m glad they didn’t leave me to find my own way home lol that would have been an interesting story though. I got back to M’s house and showered before falling into bed. The next morning, I woke up and did some laundry before just relaxing for a while. Even though I was just on holiday for 2 weeks, Frankie and I fit so much into that time that it felt really nice to just sit and do nothing on Saturday. After my laundry was finished, I went for a gorgeous run in the country. The weather had been kind of dreary for a lot of our time in Sydney and NZ, so I was super happy for the bright sun warming my back as I ran (and yes, I had sunscreen on!).
When I got back, M and I went into town with C to have coffee with her mom. On the way back, we stopped to get a 1 day fishing license for me so that I could fish with C on Sunday. It was only $6 so that was good! After that, M and J and I went to a BBQ at J’s mom’s house. It was such a fun night and I loved meeting everyone there. J’s aunt was funny and nice and she was a retired teacher, so we talked about teaching (among many other things!) throughout the night. She had started off in regular education before going back to school and then teaching special education. I could tell that she had loved her work, and she talked to me about having passion and loving what you do, which is awesome to hear. She also gave me the advice of keeping the students guessing. She said that keeping them wondering about what you’ll do next is a great way to keep students engaged and interested. I told her that that was very similar to advice my mentor teacher gave me about making sure that I was excited to teach a lesson before presenting it to my students. I feel so lucky to be meeting such great role models throughout my teacher education. The steaks that were being served were HUGE, and J’s mom said that they normally have bigger ones! The whole spread of food was delicious and it really was such a fun night. Everyone was so welcoming and I laughed until my stomach hurt at the funny conversations we had.
The next morning, I woke up bright and early to go fishing with C and her husband, G. I walked over to their house and helped them finish packing up before we were on our way. I wore a hat, a longer-sleeved shirt, and tons of sunscreen to protect my skin. We drove to Yamba to put the boat into the water and hopped right in when we got there. C is slightly competitive, so M was joking and saying that I needed to catch the first fish of the day. Well, after we had been there for about half an hour, I did just that! My fish was 30cm (they have to be 25cm to keep them), so that was a pretty good size! I didn’t catch any more for the whole day, but I still get to say that I caught the first fish and the biggest fish (and believe me, I have definitely been saying it for the past few days haha. C and I have fun teasing each other). She actually ended up catching the most, but I’ve been leaving that part out when I tell the story. =P We also saw two dolphins swim right by our boat! C and G said they had never seen dolphins from the boat before, so we were all impressed! We stayed on the water for about 3 hours before heading back to the dock. Once we got there, G cleaned the boat while C and I cleaned the 5 fish we had caught all together. As C was gutting them, tons of pelicans were lining up for the snack they were hoping for. We were watching the pelicans in front of us, and when we looked behind us there were suddenly tons back there also! We could have reached out and touched them, and they were super big! I ended up feeding some of the fish heads to them too, and that was an adventure haha. Even with all of my sun protection, I still got a pretty harsh burn on one of my arms and the tops of my legs. I had even put a towel over my legs after a little while because I was worried about a burn, but it still happened! I think it’s because my skin hadn’t seen sun since last summer lol. I’m sad about the burn, but hopefully it will be my only one of the trip! I’m so glad we went fishing and I had tons of fun.
When we got back from fishing, I showered and then packed up all of my stuff that had somehow exploded all over my guest room at M’s house. Packing it all up made me very worried for June 8th when I have to take it all back to America with me. I swear I didn’t even add anything to my luggage and it’s already so hard to fit into my bags! M took me over to the new house I’ll be staying at for the week with my new host, L. L lives with her husband, S, and her daughter CL. Her other daughter is away at college and that’s whose room I’m staying in. We talked all evening as dinner was cooking and then while eating it as well. S is actually from PA, so we had a lot to talk about. After dinner, we watched Dr. Who (hi Diana!) before heading to bed.
Today, Monday, April 29th, was an inservice day at the school. Here they call them Pupil-Free Days. Our topic for the day was the new Australian national curriculum. It’s starting next year with the implementation of the English syllabus. From everything I observed today, and from the answers I got through asking questions, much of how education is set up here is very similar to what I know about education in PA. Objectives and overarching goals guide teaching, and teachers create units/lessons that fit those goals. Some new changes brought about with the new curriculum include text requirements – in other words, teachers need to incorporate many different types of texts into their classrooms (media, sound, visual, etc.) – and new cross-curricular goals that are pretty specific. One of these cross-curriculum priorities is “Asia and Australia’s engagement with Asia.” There are 13 of these ‘Learning across the curriculum’ topics, and it was cool to see how they were dispersed throughout the curriculum. There are also 5 general objectives that are worked into different parts of the curriculum as the basis to much of what is included. Although some of the specific elements of the curriculum are different than what I know, it was very understandable to me and it made a lot of sense. Overall, there were only minor differences in the way that the education is being set up. New South Wales created an English syllabus that we were looking at today that is based on the national curriculum. Morning tea was catered today, and I ate about 50 delicious dessert things. I really should have taken a picture because I’m not even sure how to describe any of the sweets they have here. All I can say is I loved every single one. —On a side note, before eating dinner, L, S, CL and I were talking. I’m not sure what I said before this, but I do know I started talking about all the desserts at morning tea. S was laughing as I was describing some of the different ones and he turned to L and CL and asked, “Is anyone else noticing how much Sarah likes food?” So, I can definitely say that my personality shines through wherever I am lol. S saying that made me think of my dad because my dad also always laughs about how much I like food. — For lunch, C and I actually ended up cooking our fish that we caught yesterday! We were going to have it for dinner last night, but since we got back and my new hosts were expecting me, we just decided to cook it for lunch in the kitchen at school. It was my first time having homemade fresh fish and chips, and it was good! Here’s a picture of it! You had to be super careful while eating the fish because it had lots of small bones. After everyone started telling stories about people getting bones stuck in their throats, I kind of left the second half on my plate lol. But it was still really yummy!
In the afternoon, the teachers split up into grade level groups and I actually did a favor for one of the teachers by recording myself reading some books. I had a lot of fun doing it and it will be cool for the students to be able to listen to me reading even after I’m gone. After school, L was doing a few things in the classroom so I took my journal out to a picnic table and sat and wrote. Another teacher walked by and commented on my gorgeous ‘office,’ and I couldn’t agree more. It was so peaceful to sit out there with the shade and the sun shining over the trees and the birds chirping and even the bugs buzzing! Even though I now have 5 bug bites on my legs…..but still! It was nice lol. When we got home, I went for a run around my new neighborhood and got to watch the beautiful sunset. Where I’m staying now, there’s a spot in the backyard where kangaroos can often be seen, so one of my goals while I’m staying here this week is to get a good picture of one. They said there’s even one with a pretty big joey in her pouch so I’d love to see that!