Towards the end of last term I was contacted via Twitter by Kim from Holy Eucharist Primary School, about setting up a Skype between our students. Harmony was to be a focus of theirs in term two and Kim was keen to set up some real life experiences in relation to this topic. We hoped to talk about the concept of happiness and what it means to be happy where the students live (Melbourne and Ampilatwatja).
I would say I am quite the experienced ‘Skyper’ however in the lead up to this session I was quite nervous, yet also quite excited. It was to be my first Skype experience with my Alyawarr speaking class of 3/4 students.
As most teachers do, I have very friendly and positive relationships with my students. But being in the context I am in, it has taken these students a number of months to completely warm up to me and truly come out of their shells. So I was nervous about how these kids may react when faced with 20-30 complete strangers. I shared these concerns with Kim and she was very understanding, we decided to focus on developing relationships and links between the classes, rather than the concept of harmony. This idea aligned nicely with my rationale to use Skype as a way to ‘travel’ around the world, allowing students to meet people of different cultures, religions and backgrounds.
At Ampilatwatja School we spent some time preparing. We wrote questions and practised asking and answering these. Being an experienced Skyper I was able to explain the concept and purpose of the session to my students. Much to my delight, they were very excited. So much so that when Kim had some technical difficulties on the day our Skype session was scheduled my class got very upset with me when I told them we were needed to postpone it.
So, today we had our very first Skype session and it was FANTASTIC. I was so impressed with my class’ confidence, manners and voice projection. They did have lots of giggles, but this is just the way they express their nervousness. Kim’s class had prepared some fantastic questions and we mostly spent our 20 minute Skype session answering these. We have already agreed to Skype again and next time it will be time for the Ampilatwatja students to ask their questions and listen to the answers of the Holy Eucharist students, they’re very keen to learn about ‘those trains that drive on the road’.