Small town teacher meets city school

US Primary Intern, or student teacher, Casey Harder is one of a number of educators from all over the world who are honing and sharing successful teaching skills with IGS staff and students.

At her hometown school in Munich, North Dakota, with only 250 people, Casey was one of just eight students in her class, and the entire school was housed in “a single building”.

“I come from a multi-generational crop farming family and I’m the first one to become a teacher,” Casey Harder said.

Apart from the obvious differences of teaching in a city, Casey noticed that IGS “students love talking and are so confident when speaking to adults”.

“At home, kids obviously talk in the hallways and at lunch, but in the class, they are pretty quiet because the classes aren’t really all that open,” Casey said.

“The Australian teaching style is much more open, which is really cool,” she said.

According to Casey, the confidence that IGS students acquire when presenting to a class also differs to students in the US.

“The kids at home don’t generally like getting up in front of the class and wouldn’t usually want to, but here the kids really give it a go,” she said.

She has found many other differences.

“We don’t study languages in Elementary School and a lot of smaller schools don’t even have language programs at all,” she said.

Now on the homestretch of her teaching studies, Casey has recently been reflecting on her time as a student teacher.

“Don’t be afraid of criticism,” Casey said when asked if she could offer any advice to other student teachers. “Not every lesson will go perfectly, so just take that as a learning opportunity.”

She particularly appreciated the opportunity to shape a collection of lessons at IGS during Term 4, managing the classroom in her own way.

“It’s been eye-opening and rewarding, especially working with Dave Engelbert.”

Dave allowed Casey to rearrange the classroom between terms and gave her full control of it.

“It’s been really helpful. I don’t feel like I am intruding.”

At the start of the new term, Casey made sure the students understood her expectations of classroom behaviour. “I could call them out, rather than letting it go because I was unsure of the rules.”

“This has helped me understand the idea of what makes a good lesson, how to be consistent, and how to encourage the students to do what is needed.”

Casey said she also valued learning about combining subjects at IGS, as well as using drama to help students understand the feelings of others, different ways of managing the class, and the benefits of being open to ways of improving.