Why you should consider teacher exchange
Should the opportunity arise for a teacher exchange, I would suggest you give it serious consideration. Personal and professional benefits are there to be gained, writes teacher Judy Melling.
This year, I am living in Toronto, Ontario, having exchanged my teaching position at a Catholic Primary School on the Gold Coast. I am living in a condo on Lake Ontario, 32 storeys up and driving 30 minutes to school each day to a small Catholic school near Pearson International Airport.
Quite a change from my home on the northern Gold Coast and the five minute drive to school. All changes are welcome. This is a year of doing things differently and enjoying all the possibilities.
School life is similar in some ways but quite different in many. The staff and children have been very welcoming, friendly and accepting of having an Aussie among them. All are interested in Australia: the adults wanting travel tips and the children wanting to hear about the dangerous animals, particularly as a morning TV show airs a segment called “It happened in Australia.”
What a fabulous first half of the year it has been. The Canadian Education Exchange Foundation in Ontario are a magnificent group of former exchange teachers who devote their time to making our year rewarding. There is a full calendar of events for everyone to enjoy, so apart from these organised activities and my own itineraries, weekends are pretty well full.
Staying in contact with other Australian teachers here on exchange is always interesting. Life takes plenty of twists and turns and we are a unique bunch. Together we have shared weekends in the snow, trips to Quebec for the Winter Wonderland and the Ice Hotel, Ottawa, BBQs with Canadian families, maple syrup farms, afternoon tea at the Australian High Commission and walks through forests.
I have been able to see quite a bit of this southern area of Ontario – Niagara Falls and its surrounds: Lake Huron, Thousand Islands, Mennonite groups in small villages, snow shoeing to snow huts, dog sledding, walking on some amazing tracks with cedar forests, lakes, a grotto. The landscapes are varied and incredible.
As the Summer break approaches I am looking forward to more travel. I’m off to the States with some friends to take in some of the east coast – ‘a girl’s gotta see New York’ – then a road trip to Newfoundland via New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. It has just dawned on me that the start of the new school year will not be far away and then ‘Australia bound’ will not be much further on than that. Plenty of adventures left I hope.
Teacher exchanges are tricky to organise and far more involved than I was initially aware. The exchange effects many people and organisations. It is not always well received for various reasons. I’ve been fortunate. Our union was very supportive and helpful along the way – and everything this end in Ontario has run smoothly. I have been particularly fortunate, I think, with my exchange partner. Patience, honesty and a sense of humour goes a long way.
If you have even the slightest thought that an educational exchange could be for you, my suggestion would be to go full steam ahead. Opportunities await.
Our union can assist eligible members in obtaining a teacher exchange opportunity. Click here to read more.