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Reisverslag School differences: Canada - NL
27 oktober 2014
School differences: Canada - NL
For a change I thought I’d write a little about what an ordinary school day looks like for me because my teacher friends might be interested and also because there are many tiny (and some bigger) differences between the Dutch and the Canadian school system. As a dear friend of mine stated, it is often the smaller differences that make living elsewhere interesting (Inge Remmelts, 2014).
My school day starts at 8.30 (and end at 4.30 or later). I practically live next door but often leave early to check my email and such as I have no internetz at the apartment. When I leave the house it is darkish, and soon it will not be light for longer than 4 hours a day or so I’ve been told… either way I go to the office and say hi to the other teacher’s assistants and other beaver volunteers. I quickly grab my stuff and run to the classroom of Mrs Hill, who teaches the grade 8 students Science and English. Before the first period we all have to stand beside our desks (a voice from the speakers asks us to “please stand for O Canada”) and listen silently to the national anthem, sometimes in Slavey or in French and at times without lyrics (so they have four versions). After the anthem there are announcements. Sometimes before the day starts I sneak into the principal’s office to add one of my (student council or improv comedy) announcements.
An ordinary school day has five periods (the Wednesdays have four) of approximately 70 minutes each. I spend most of my mornings with Mrs Hill and grade 8, and in the afternoon I help out with grade 11 English. On some days I help out in the kitchen (cooking lessons, everybody has them a couple of times a week) and one period a week I am in art (grade 8). A couple of periods a week I am in the learning centre helping out students with homework and after school I am always in the learning centre for homework club, except on Tuesdays where I am at the gym supervising until 6.30.
What I do during an English lesson is tell kids to be quiet, help out the teacher hand out stuff, walk around the classroom and help individual students spell and think. Sometimes I take a small group of students out in the pod so we can work together in a more quiet space and they can get some extra instruction and help. One of the grade 8 students asked me the other day: “Is this the stupid people group? Because if it is, it’s okay, I am used to it, I was always in the stupid people group in primary school. I’m just checking.” which kind of broke my heart. Some of the kids I help out are really lovely and this particular kid keeps forgetting his homework, my name, how to spell a certain word…. I can tell him how to spell simple words (“said” or “light”) over and over again, the next day he will have forgotten, and he also forgets when he has a test or even which subject he has on a day, and there are more kids like that, which is problematic for the teachers who have to keep track of all the work.
The English classes always start with mandatory reading, and since a period is quite long that works out quite well. Sometimes the students get a task during their reading, for example “write down a character trait” or “find a metaphor”. I like being in the class with the older kids more because they get to watch movies and write about them, and right now we are reading Macbeth (one student went King Duncan? Duncan Donuts!" LOL). The grade 8 students read short stories and have assignments about the stories. Crazily enough I am not allowed to correct spelling because apparently after primary school that is no longer relevant and it is all about content. But of course I do, if teachers in English class won’t correct spelling than who will? Common mistakes are they’re/their/there, but I also see things such as belive, to/too, actualy, becos, liqed, etc. Lots of errors really. But reading sotires and working with these kids is great because they do appreciate the help.
Science classes are fun when we get to do experiments, even though they are quite basic (measuring density, making flowers of ink and water). And once a week I am in foods (the kitchen) and I often get to eat what the students make (bannock, chocolate chip cookies, etc).
After school I help out at homework club, where there are snacks and students who mainly come for the snacks, which is not allowed. You tell them to sign in and work on their tasks quietly in groups, and walk around helping or sit next to them doing math together. Luckily I am allowed to eat on the job which means I can also indulge in the lasagna or ice cream or nachos or popcorn or pumpkin pie on those days. Working in the learning center is like doing homework club but with fewer kids and minus the snacks. The kids who come into the learning center are often ones who mainly attend school for one or two subjects that they need to finish before they can get their diploma. Most other kids do not have gaps in their schedule and can only come to the learning centre when their teacher tells them to go there and finish their work or sometimes do a test. The oldest student I have met at the centre is a very nice friendly and good-natured native kid of 24. He has a son and wants to move after he has finished his degree. He tells me all sorts of stories about his alcoholic family and his dad who got frostbite at his residential school because he had to stand outside at -30 without a jacket for hours only because he had uttered a word in his native language. Several of the native children have similar shocking stories to tell, and many students have a problematic situation at home either looking after parents and/or other kids, having to work every day after school to pay the rent, and having to endure endless fights between (addicted?) parents or guardians on a daily basis. As a teacher’s assistant you are closer to the students than most teachers are, and what the students reveal to us volunteers can definitely be heart-breaking at times.
Then after school on Wednesdays I have a safety meeting, one topic at a time (last week’s topic: ladders! #joepie..). And then I get to tell my three improve kids to do some “hesitation” or to work on their “three headed expert”. I am very excited about Goat Fest, the big night full of acting and music right before Christmas. I hope it will be awesome. And I hope to share pics or film footage with you. One day a week (on Tuesdays) I am at the gym until 6.30 supervising and telling students how to use the weights etc. Sometimes the girls come and chat and ask me about their diet and whether they should stop eating poutine and drinking pop (answer: ummyes). The boys are often unhappy when I have to tell them theyr are trying to lift weights too big for them. I also tell the kids to do warmups and cooling downs and I kind of do it with them sometimes. But I try to save my energy for hockey. Because I’ve got hockey on Tuesday too. Whoop!! Also, right now I am also trying to organise a school paper because I think it would be awesome to have kids do some creative writing for a purpose, and I will try to sneak in information about drugs and drinking and smoking too. And probably a funny mock horoscope. You’ll hear more about this soon too. #exciting!!!
Last but not least, here are some of the differences between school in Canada and school in NL that I have observed.
Here, people hug when they meet. Back home people kiss when they meet (thrice) and I keep awkwardly wanting to peck people on the cheek. Then, here they eat poutine: french fries with cheese and gravy. I kind of miss my patatje met/ patatje pinda: French fries with mayonnaise or French fries with peanut sauce.
Also, here students get to school on big yellow school buses or in their own big cars. At home students generally come to school on their bikes or public transport. Here, students sing the national anthem at the start of each day as if they are proud Americans (LOL) whereas at home students have no idea what the lyrics of the national anthem are except for maybe the first two lines. And then there is hockey (so: hockey on ice) which is the nation’s most popular sport. At home it is soccer, which we call FOOTBALL because we play this using FEET (...).
Furthermore, here people know how to speak English and about 50% (this is me guessing) also knows French and/or a native language (in the NWT alone there are 9 officially recognised Slavey languages) At home people speak Dutch and English, and 50% can also do French and German or Spanish or something else on top of that. A random 1% speaks an unintelligible tongue named Frisian. LOL.
And lastly, here Autumn/fall last about two weeks. One week the trees suddenly turn yellow, the next week the leafs start falling down, the third week is winter. At home Autumn/fall takes a while and is very rainy. Trees turn lots of different colours and it might be the longest season of the year, and the nicest smelling one, and the wettest, and the cinnamonest. anyway it is winter here already for sure. And bring it on.
Other than that: Every classroom has a watercooler and Canads is just watercooler obsessed which is silly because water from the tap is absolutely fine. There is no mentor or “mentorles”. // They sing OH CANADA at the start of each day.
Students have no agendas (but perhaps that is just here). // Students are allowed to chew gum in class. WHY? // It is SO weird to see your grade 11 students get out of their trucks/jeeps/bigass vehicles..! // Also students from age 12 onwards (I think) can work at the supermarket. I know because all of the grade 8 kids have to go to their jobs after school which actually worries me. What about homework you guys?! // Food (up north) is extremely expensive. To name a few prices… Tea 12 dollars, mueslibars 6 dollars, fruit juice 6-16 dollars, M&M’s 8 dollars, a dollar per tomato, wee bag of salad 4-8 dollars, yarn 10 dollars, bacon 400g 13 dollars, and chicken is affordable only on wing night at the pub. // 50% of people do not know where the Netherlands is. The lady at the bank asked me where I was from and when I said Netherlands she asked me “Oh did you meet Peter Pan?! Hehehehehe” //Many people in the NWT come from the Philippines, they come here as nannies and then get their entire families over to live here. // Caucasian-looking people are a minority or so it seems. Many people descend from the Dene, Metis or Cree and/or have a mixed background. // Also, white and Cree people kind of discriminate the natives in the way that they make jokes about the natives being the alcoholics here which I do not like :( not all do it of course but still // Also, apparently French is seen as a prestige language - but there are mixed feelings towards those who speak French because of course the French language is associated with residential schools and erasing Dene culture and shaming the native people etc...
I go to French classes on Thursdays but I wonder if I could also go somewhere to learn some Slavey, that would be cool!! Tonight I am going to see a native rapper live so that should be interesting :)
Coming up soon: a blog about Halloween (after Halloween though, obviously) and a blog about living in the high rise (a building that might be evacuated before the new year for fire and general safety reasons) slash elevator stories ;)
BISOUS et KISSES en SMOKJES
Foto's bij verslag (2)
28 oktober 2014 12:50 | Door: Jeany
hahaha de 1%, sorry ik heb de rest ook gelezen en vond het heel interessant (en sommige dingen ook erg, arme kiddies) maar die 1% muhhahaha
28 oktober 2014 13:31 | Door: Geanne
Laiverd, wat weer prachtige verhalen! Ik vind het erg leuk om meer te horen over je dagelijkse dingen binnen de school, en de verschillen met Nederland. Zo te lezen heb je je handen vol aan de kiddos daar en laten we het weer ook niet vergeten. Twee weken herfst? Serieus?
Nou, heel veel succes nu de winter zijn intrede heeft gedaan en geen frostbite oplopen als je in het Nederlands begint te schelden he ;)
Dikke smok vanuit het andere Hoge Noorden
28 oktober 2014 13:56 | Door: oma van heereveld
H!i Mathilde, wat een interessant verhaal! Erg leuk om zo een indruk te hebben hoe het daar op school gaat. Nogal verschillend met Nederland. Veel liefs van je oma.