Get out and teach remote

Get out and teach remote


News
Caroline McCarty, deputy principal at Doomadgee State School, urges all Australian teachers to teach remote.

Caroline McCarty, deputy principal at Doomadgee State School, urges all Australian teachers to teach remote.

Aa

REMOTE communities are very different. For many they are unlike anything you will have experienced until you take your first step from the plane onto the airstrip, or drive over the weir as its water levels drop after torrential summer rains.

Aa

REMOTE communities are very different. For many they are unlike anything you will have experienced until you take your first step from the plane onto the airstrip, or drive over the weir as its water levels drop after torrential summer rains.

In remote communities there is wet and dry - just two seasons.

There is red dust and heat, and a whole community of indigenous people who you've heard stories about your entire childhood but never had the opportunity of meeting, until now.

There is no coffee shop with chai lattes, internet is limited, mobile phone service is restricted to within the borders of the town, and there are dogs and horses around each corner.

A dear friend and valued colleague, Mark Davidson, who has lived in remote communities most of his teaching life, told me before I moved to my first community, "My dear, you will cry; day one or term one - somewhere you will cry".

He was right - I did. It was day three.

From the moment you start working in a remote school, you are finding new footing; you negotiate, you feel out of your depth, and you don't know names, parents or the other teachers.

However, just like in any Queensland classroom, you look up as you welcome your class each day and you come to the very real and sudden realisation that this is no different to anywhere else.

Teaching is teaching. Kids are kids - and these kids are amazing.

They will accept you and teach you things you will never learn by sitting in the south-east corner of our state. They will challenge and cherish you and what you have to offer.

You will form life-long friendships that are strong as you fight the same battles in the remote outback.

You will learn to rely on and build a network within the community.

You will be treated as one of the family, you will be welcomed and you will experience a whole new life. You will start to really see the families, the love for the kids and the reality that, unlike the south-east corner of Queensland, your front yard is not a boundary for your property.

Living in a remote community is about exactly that: community.

The dogs you saw roaming as you entered town do belong to someone - they just also exist within the community.

The horses are ridden by the kids, but again they are a part of the community. In remote communities, I have stood on school parade with kids singing Advance Australia Fair as a herd of brumbies galloped down the main street of town - a very surreal and honest moment in remote Australia.

Kids may not be at the same address every night, but they are with family, they are with love and they are surviving within a tough and sometimes poverty-stricken community.

Communities do not want your pity; they want you to do your job well. You will sit with families who have been here for so many generations that they can speak about thousands of years of history.

You'll learn stories about the country and you'll have opportunities to be a part of women's and men's business, to spear and sit by open fires below a blanket of endless stars with amazing men and women who share the stories of their ancestors.

You will sit atop mountains and watch sunsets that are as red as the dust they are setting over.

This is teaching remote, teaching in community; the life is simple and its people are real.

It will touch and influence you in ways you cannot explain.

When you return home or move on from the community, you will know that you are changed. You will be a better teacher for it.

You will know what closing the gap really does mean and you will take skills into your career that no university, no teachers college and no regular school will teach you.

In the words of one of my teachers, who was successful in transfer this year: "We came out here scared of the community - now we're scared of going home!"

The reality is we are scared and fearful of the unknown.

Working in a remote community will change your teaching career, your perspective on life and, most importantly, you will understand and be able to contribute to conversations and political agendas with knowledge - not assumptions and influence from people who have never walked within a rural or remote community.

These communities need voices that speak with truth and teachers who teach with passion.

Make a difference - teach community.

The story Get out and teach remote first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by