(If you have not read my previous blog, you can read it HERE: http://bit.ly/2BVTsMC)
Day 10: Back to Reality
After a very eventful week that had us galivanting all the way to Vienna and back home to Graz, it was time to get back to business. It was interesting learning about cooperative teaching methods and making connections to past subjects that I have taken at UOW. Students are individuals who require different levels of support to enable them to achieve their best. This is why we must take into account the different strategies and resources teachers have access to and improve them when possible.
Day 11: Learning about Learning
As a teacher moving towards an inclusive education system, it is important to learn methods about working with our peers. This lesson focused on cooperative teaching methods and the different times each strategy would be most effective. Teaching isn’t just about sharing the information with the student but learning how to support the student in different situations and tasks. I found it effective that we applied the methods as we learnt about them in our own learning. It is one thing to learn the difference between teaching methods and another to actually experience it yourself. Teachers cannot expect students to be comfortable without taking into consideration how they might feel in their shoes.
The day ended with a movie, The Intouchables, a great movie that really pulled on your heartstrings. It connected well with inclusive education and displayed the stereotypes people place on individuals with a disability in society. Based on a true story, we analysed the movie and highlighted what the movie was saying about perceptions versus reality versus human rights of an individual.
Day 12: Vacay Day!
Once in a blue moon, we have a day free without anything scheduled. Some of us spent the day studying for our exam, collaborating with group members for the class presentations or just relaxing. Today was the day I left Austria for a nice day trip to Munich. With its ups (seeing even more snow) and its downs (did someone say 12 am flixbus?!? That was completely packed).
Evelyn and I decided to hit the road for the day to try and cramp in as much sight-seeing as we can before it was back to reality with classes. If you have the time, or have the spirit for a quick getaway, I would definitely recommend exploring during your day off (make sure your work is done first obviously, no one likes completing assessments last minute with no sleep). We saw frozen lakes, amazing castles and churches. The great thing about Munich is, it also has Euro as their main currency (not so fun when traveling after the program to find out not all European countries accept euro; rookie error but quickly rectifiable at a local money exchange). Top tip: the exchange rate from Munich ATM is top knotch too.
It was also useful learning some German phrases so that it was easy to order food in cafes. Although the pronunciation is different in Austria, if you try they are likely to understand your request and if stuck, those working in tourist areas can understand English.
Day 13: Yet Another Glorious Field Trip
We met back up with the group in sunny Admont, a quaint town with an amazing Abby and a spectacular library. We were given a tour around the Library where the history of the artwork, structure and sculptures were shared. We even got to see the secret to how they got their books to the second floor. Who doesn’t love a secret staircase.
After the library, we had a little rendezvous at Spar to pick up snacks and various goods to have lunch. Spar is one of main supermarkets in Austria and has similar to Aldi (also called Hofer in Austria). Then, it was down the road to Hallstatt, a beautiful town built onto the side of a mountain. Complete with a lake and its looming snow capped mountains. The town is a tourist must see and has even had a portion of the town replicated in China. It is a beautiful town, with many quaint shops, two churches and even a secluded castle on the opposite side of the lake.
Day 14/15 – Do Rae Me…
So.. if you haven’t heard of Salzburg, you could probably find out all about it in the movie “The Sound of Music”. Well not entirely, but the movie was based off the Von Trapp family story and parts of the movie were indeed filmed in the town. The group spent the weekend we had free looking at the sights linked to the movie, some of us even did the bus tour.
A few of us bought a Salzburg card which allowed us access into numerous sites around the town including those in the tour. It also meant that we didn’t have to worry about transport as it was included (a must if you are spending a couple days in a touristy European town). Two highlights of the trip was the fortress, built on top of a hill and the vontrap house, located 30 minutes outside of town).
One benefit of going at your own pace is finding places by accident. Whilst walking around the vantrap residence, we found the local zoo next door. Next to the zoo was the toy museum which with great difficulty and perseverance we made it to the top of the mountain it resided on and found this amazing view. Pretty amazing view after nearly falling down a hill as steep as the side of Uluru. Then it was back to reality with class on Monday.
Day 16-17: Group Presentations
The week kicked off with a new unit and group presentations. We were able to make the day enjoyable with lunch at a local vegetarian restaurant. Although it didn’t have an English menu, Edvina translated and I would highly recommend their vegetarian lasagne (in fact, almost everyone on the table ordered it). It was sad that this was our last class we had with Edvina, but we were to see her again at the farewell dinner.
Day 18: The Time Has Come.. For the Final Curtain
It was our last day of official classes, which we spent summarizing the units in small groups and then presenting to the class. I found the program effective at providing opportunities for group work and revision of the information. The teachers were knowledgeable and learning from them was so much fun.
Day 19: Just Some More Touristy Activities
Our second last day consisted of one last tour. We visited the Styrian armoury that resides within the Graz information centre. It was crazy seeing all the armour and what an army used to wear in the past. Although half of the armour within the building hadn’t been worn or weapons used, it was mind blowing thinking of all the people who would have walked in the same halls or even worn this type of armour. At the end of the tour, the group crammed in as much sight seeing as we could before our exam the next day. We also celebrated Valentine's Day in style, with our very own 'Galentines Day'.
Day 20: The final curtain
Test day came and went quickly. When we left the room, it was like a load had been lifted from our shoulders and the academic part of the program was basically handled. We had farewell dinner at a local Austrian restaurant - yummy food!
I would just like to thank all our lecturers, AIM Overseas, coordinators and everyone behind the scenes who made this program possible. It is insane how much has happened over the past three weeks and the lifelong friends I have made along the way. Although it may not be visible, the program has helped us change for the better and strive to be future teachers that parents want in their child’s classroom. Thank you for sticking around to read about my experience, over and out…
If you are keen to experience this enriching short-term intensive study program yourself, learn more about the Inclusive Education program HERE: http://bit.ly/2KPuMXQ
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"I am Catherine Stolk, 21, Australian, Animal Enthusiast and lastly a student at UOW. I am one of seven children which has provided with plenty of life experience. I am currently studying a bachelor of Primary Education so you could say I love children. Dogs of all shapes and sizes are my jam and outdoor adventures are just the icing on top. For thrills, I like to take my dog to agility training and walks along the road less travelled. Life is full of opportunities that you just have to take which is why I chose to apply for this program.