Yesterday I met up with a student at the beautiful Bronte and Tamarama beaches for some sunbaking, swimming and interesting conversation. We chatted effortlessly about our lives, her experience in Australia and at the school. I found myself recognising and marvelling at the improvement in her vocabulary, fluency and accuracy as compared to when she first came to the school and joined my class. It gave me such satisfaction to listen to her confidently express complex ideas and to notice that her listening skills have improved dramatically as I rambled on about my daily dramas and she was able to keep up with a majority of it.
We talked a little bit about her experience at the school and she told me how she is starting to feel sad because this is her last week. She knows that leaving the school will change the dynamic of the friendships she has made with her classmates and although she will be in Australia for another two months, the experience will be different.
She told me that she felt a part of a family at the school and she was really grateful for that. She also sympathised with me as a teacher by comparing the fact that she only has to go through this experience of loss once, whereas I and the other teachers, who inevitably form bonds with the students we spend so much time with, have to experience this loss a multitude of times as we say goodbye to the people we have often grown so close to. I felt honoured that she recognised the authenticity of the relationships that are formed at our school.
I told her that Ability is a little unique in this way because there is a prevalent culture of social engagement with the students for the purposes of creating a ‘whole’ experience for them. This is fostered by the encouragement of responsible social interaction within and outside of school. I also told her that I felt fortunate to be an employee here for exactly this reason, as it makes our jobs all the more fun and enjoyable, thereby making us better teachers overall.
This brings me to tell you a little about just one of the many social occasions we organised for the students.
Week 12 is always an opportunity to take the students on an excursion to experience some of the Australian ways of life. Two Fridays ago, end of week 12, was exactly one of these opportunities. Four of the General English teachers organised a barbeque at Coogee beach for the evening students to great success. Four GE classes and thus around 40 Ability students and teachers took over almost the entire bbq section at the northern end of Coogee.
Everybody had a great time. We ate delicious food, chatted and danced and generally shared an appreciation for each other. Everyone had such a lovely time that most of the students were eagerly asking when we could do it again. Soon I’m sure was my response.
I took just a couple of photos of some of my class and I always wish I could’ve taken more but hopefully you’ll get the picture as to how the night went. Lots of fun!!!