Back on a learning curve

October 02, 2017

News journalist Declan Martin with De'Andrae Pilcher, Max Heeman and Shokat Ibrahimi.

Students hard at work in a modern classroom.

Back-to-school: Reporter Declan Martin with Year 5/6 students at Wilmot Rd Primary School.

When I walked into the Year 5 and 6 classroom at Wilmot Rd Primary School, there was an eerie quiet. All students were studying in silence.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but I did not think introducing myself to teachers Sarah Greenwood and Liz McIntyre would sound so loud.

In room 20, the students were busy doing a writing exercise on the different levels of government.

I felt like an outsider, or at least a bit awkward when I first arrived in the classroom, kind of like a ‘‘Billy Madison’’ adult who needed to brush up on their education, but some funny smiles from the students made me feel welcome.

It was probably a surprise to see someone different in the classroom on a Monday morning.

There was not much sign of shyness among the students who were quick to ask questions and share some banter with me about my untidy handwriting on the board.

I go to schools regularly in my role as a News journalist, and I can say there is no comparison between the classrooms I remember as a student to the new, modern classrooms.

They are so spacious and definitely feel more vibrant than the ‘‘face-the-front’’ classrooms I remember from the 90s. The room is filled with sunshine all day and the desks are not lined up in rows.

There is a great atmosphere in the classroom, that has obviously been built up through the year.

Teachers are an organised group and they have to be because of the difference of ability of their students, some need only a little guidance while others need more help.

For a country town, the students are truly diverse, representing different cultures. They all get along with each other, which is great to see. Some of the students are newly arrived in Australia. On the day I was there, the school welcomed a child who was attending school for the first time.

It is clear there is no hard and fast rule to teaching and some students need a little bit more help than others or benefit from different teaching styles, which comes from having two classroom teachers and support staff.

I was challenged by the school to plan a bit of lesson for the day and thought I would stick to something I know a little bit about in penning an article.

I ran through some of the basics, then gave the students the floor to ask me questions in an interview situation.

I played the role of a man who saw an unidentified flying object in the sky outside their home in Shepparton, who was answering questions at a press conference and the students were the reporters asking all the hard-hitting questions.

It was great to see the students bursting with enthusiasm and they were straight into their writing task afterwards.

School may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was good to get more than just a glimpse of school life I normally get through my job.

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