WEEK 19: 137 days later


Oliver Wendell Holmes

11304191_10206021442686577_1566120956_nAs I sit here, coffee in hand, overlooking the ocean, I can begin to reflect on what the past 137 days have taught me. Our time came to an end, our bags were packed and we said one final goodbye to our much beloved city of Innsbruck.

I feel it is physically impossible to put the past four and a half months into one blog, as I simply would not do the experience justice! Since arriving home, the question “well, how was Austria?” leaves me feeling a little overwhelmed and not really sure where to start. I do know three things for sure; I have grown as a person, learnt new, interesting things about education across Europe and I have developed a deeper sense of cultural awareness and uniqueness.

The teacher to be 

Having the experience to teach in a classroom, where the main spoken language was not English, is something I will never forget. It allowed me to see that our actions can often speak as loudly as our words; we developed a strong, close bond with the children over a short period of time, even when we couldn’t say more than a few words to them. Learning to use creative and active methods to teach furthermore emphasised the theory we have been looking at back home in Stranmillis. These methods work; they allow all children to reach their own level of education and allow fun to take place in the classroom and links with the GTCNI (2011), who highlight that teachers should understand a range of different strategies for communicating with pupils, using a variety of methods.

Being given the opportunity to meet people from all across Europe has undoubtedly been one of my favourite things from the whole experience. Education is difference across the world and I think we become too complacent in thinking that ‘our way’ is the only way and the best way. My eyes were opened, opinions challenged and ideas sparked for my future as (hopefully) a primary school teacher.

The traveller 

4 and a half months later and my German skills are sadly still on the most basic level. Learning German was hard and the grammar was harder again. Having said this, I am very glad to have gained skills in this area. Coming from Northern Ireland, a country where languages are not taught very well, we noticed a big difference in how quickly we were able to learn the language. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn another language, to understand another way of life; another culture.

As Bernier (2015) mentions;

 “Traveling increases our knowledge and widens our perspective”

Experiencing carnival in Innsbruck was a real shock to the system on one of our first weeks living in the city. It was loud, bright and crazy… and it made for a very fun few hours! For the people of Innsbruck, this was just an ordinary, annual event but for us, a novelty. This idea of ‘normal to some, different to others’ became common for many eventualities over the past five months. I loved seeing how things that are so normal to us, can be strange and uncommon to others. I thought that eating dinner at 6pm was a pretty good time, but according to our Spanish friends, it really isn’t! We accept what we know to be true and the ‘norm’ for everyone, so I found it interesting to see that this isn’t always the case.

The student 

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow”

Lin Yutang

The past couple of days being home have shown me how much I loved Innsbruck and how much it broadened my opinions and thoughts in many areas. In order to try to sum up the past 137 days spent living in Innsbruck, here are 10 things I learnt…

  1. Travel is education on the move
  2. Life is expensive
  3. Skiing is amazing
  4. The mountains are beautiful
  5. Schnitzel is a little bit strange
  6. Change is good
  7. New challenges develop us
  8. German is hard
  9. Friends are great
  10. I like new places, new experiences and new people

I am so thankful to have had the incredible opportunity to live and study in Austria; a country so different to Northern Ireland in many ways. Meeting new friends, trying new food, learning new skills and experiencing new cultures have all been eye opening in many ways. An amazing experience shared with 3 great friends.

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Bernier, T. (2015) The benefits of Travelling, available at: http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/06/the-benefits-of-traveling/

GTCNI (2011) Teaching: the reflective profession, GTCNI, Northern Ireland


WEEK 18: Good friends & great adventure

“What we learn becomes part of who we are”

Kathy Jeffords (2013)

YZa6JG2G6MfuwrPsj8NMb7e9KDvxoGYjmy1f0KsgHwsPeople told us that our last month would fly by and well, yes… yes it has! Where have the last few weeks gone to?! How is this our penultimate week living in beautiful Innsbruck?! Time has flown; we have changed, learnt a lot and had many crazy adventures along the way. Another busy week has been and gone with our ‘Go Austria’ presentations, a day of hiking, some interesting textile classes, a couple of visitors from home and an Erasmus BBQ!

Presenting our ‘Go Austria’ e-portfolios once again showed me how much I have learnt; often without even realising. Learning whilst having fun, chatting amongst one another and going on many day visits/trips. Thankfully the presentations were to be written in English – another reason I’ve been thankful to have English as my native tongue! We were expected to talk about our favourite classes and to make links to how we could bring these thoughts and ideas to the classroom and our future teaching lives; very interesting and beneficial.


On the topic of uni; this week, we had some very interesting textile and technical classes! Never once did I consider sewing, drilling and sawing when I thought about coming to Innsbruck. As mentioned in previous blogs, we have noticed quite a difference when it comes to health and safety! Sarah and I were relying on our 3rd year/GCSE technology skills to get us by drilling, hammering and sawing wood- all without masks or goggles! Having the opportunity to experiment with these new skills alongside sewing, showed us their importance for developing co-ordination in children; especially fine motor skills (Henninger, 2009). This further mirrors what Piaget (1950) suggests, as he mentions, “that sensory and motor experiences are the basis for all intellectual functioning”.

With our sun-cream applied, lunches packed & trainers tightly tied, we made our hiking debut this week. With a love of the mountains (usually covered in snow) we decided to go back to the mountainous area we skied on in our first week! Trekking along the side of the mountain was an incredible experience, over- looking Innsbruck from very very high above the city; even stopping to see some wild life along the way. The Austrian people are very active and I appreciate this natural, healthy way of life.

The thought of saying goodbye to our Erasmus friends is sad and we’ll keep that for next week. For this week, we had the fun of being invited to a BBQ hosted by our Hungarian friends! Taking along our last two visitors from home, made for a very enjoyable night with lots of tasty food, laughter and reminiscing over the past few months. We have been/still are learning about the many different cultures and religions represented in this group and we are always interested in hearing about the different traditions celebrated in each country. Axner (1993) highlights that

 “Friendship is powerful…and establishing connections with people from diverse backgrounds can be key in making significant changes in our communities”

Axner (1993)


The seven-day countdown is on until we make the journey back to the green island of Northern Ireland. Until then, we are going to try to make the most of the time we have left; experiencing life as Austrians for one more, final week.


Axner, D. (1993) The Community leadership project curriculum. Pomfret, CT: Topsfield Foundation

Henninger, M (2009). Teaching Young Children: An introduction: Merrill/Pearson.

WEEK 17: Unpredictable weather

 “Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery”

John Ruskin

Week 17. A week filled with 30 degree heat, thunder & lightning, breath taking scenery and a Chinese buffet… just an average 7 days in Innsbruck.


With Jack jet setting off to Italy for a few days, myself, Sarah and Emma decided that we would head to Hafelkar; the summit of one of our first ski areas. We set off with our picnic packed and sun-cream generously applied; hoping to get a tan along the way! Stopping (quite frequently) for photos, we realised just how beautiful the mountains really are and how lucky we have been to live beside them. With only 3 weeks left of our Innsbruck adventure, we are trying to appreciate everything we see and do… and taking plenty of pictures along the way!

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As part of our ‘Go Austria’ module, we had the opportunity to visit the ‘Museum Ferdinandeum’ this week. We have gone past this museum many times on the bus so it was good to finally see inside it! We started the tour by looking at artwork from Austria’s history. Travelling through the museum we were greeted to ornate statues showing a glimpse of Innsbruck’s past and everyday life living in the mountains. Although many of the paintings showed a very ‘stereotypical’ view of Innsbruck (or so we were told), I still loved looking at the many beautiful pieces of artwork showing skiers from many many years ago. Throughout the whole tour, we were continually considering and discussing how you would take a class of children to a museum and the activities that could be done with them. As Kennedy (2011) highlights,

“Children and young people benefit from leaving the classroom and learning in different settings”

Kennedy (2011)

I have seen this statement to be true on many different occasions and I feel that if museums were used to their full potential, in a fun and active way; children would develop a greater understanding of history and the importance of it. Before coming to Innsbruck, I would say that I didn’t have a terribly positive view of museums in my head and wouldn’t have considered them hugely importance for young children. Thankfully this has changed and as Kennedy (2011) further mentions, we need to embed cultural learning “deep into curriculum delivery and across the whole school experience”.

As I mentioned at the start of this blog, we had some crazy weather extremes this week in Innsbruck! It seems that the Austrian weather is even more unpredictable than the Northern Irish (I never thought I’d say that). After spending Sunday sunbathing, eating ice- lollies and swimming in the lake, we did not expect the weather that would fall later that evening. We had been told that the mountains make the weather here extremely unpredictable and your best form of ‘weather forecasting’ is to simply look out of your window each morning! Sunday evening brought with it thunder and lightning like I’ve never seen before; lightning which actually lit up the whole sky! I guess this is just another experience we had to have whilst living the mountainous life.


Kennedy, A. (2011) ‘Schools to learn the advantages of museums’, available at: http://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2011/nov/23/schools-learn-advantage-museums

Week 16: Climb every mountain

16 weeks, or 112 days (to be precise) into our stay in Innsbruck, and we are still learning a lot about this beautiful, interesting city. As part of our ‘Go Austria’ module this week, we took part in a guided city tour, in which we followed how Innsbruck had been affected by the war. Having taught the ‘evacuees’ on placement for two years running; it was interesting to hear about how many of the children from Innsbruck joined children evacuating Northern Ireland at a similar time.

After learning a little more about Innsbruck, stopping to appreciate some of the street art and being slightly distracted by talented skateboarders, we made our way to the Arzler Alm. As you can tell, I love the mountains and the life they allow the people of Innsbruck to have. With the snow almost completely gone, skiing changes into hiking and this week, we found ourselves trekking through the forest on a mini hike.

When we reached the top we were greeted to incredible views of the mountains, green fields and even a view overlooking the city… it was beautiful. The sunshine and perfectly blue skies did, however mean that Sarah was sporting a very red back/shoulders for the remainder of the day! Note to self: suncream on sunny days is a must!

One of our tasks for the afternoon was to reflect upon the last few months spent living abroad. In order to do so, we were given paper and envelopes, and were told that our letters would be posted back to us in a year. Emma and I made our way to the deck chairs looking out over the green fields and mountains in the distance… what better way to reflect, ponder life and aid the tanning process?!

“All of life is a constant education”

Eleanor Roosevelt

The Northern Ireland Curriculum (2007) highlights that children should be enabled to, “explore ‘me’ in the world”. This week we were again looking into the European Union… but thankfully no more table- quizzes! Instead, we were taking things down to a more child friendly level (probably my level of knowledge anyway) and we were looking at resources that could be used in school. The more we looked into and read books about where the EU came from, what is happening currently and what is planned to take place; the more it made me realise that it should be taught in school.

The NIC (2007) also mentions that pupils should be enable to explore, “features of the immediate world and comparisons between places”. Learning about the European Union lends itself very easily to looking into different countries, languages, currencies and food (to list only a few). I found the class very interesting and beneficial as I think it could be a very worthwhile topic to be taught within World Around Us.


Our week came to an end with some athletics; spectating not participating sadly! We went along to the famous Golden Roof as we had been told (thanks to facebook) that the ‘Golden Fly Series’ was scheduled to happen. The next couple of hours were spent watching athletes from across the world take part in the pole vault and the long jump. A fun night was had cheering on the participants and being extremely impressed by the fact that humans could jump over 7 metres… who knew?! From weening myself onto hiking to gaining knowledge on the EU, I feel like I am learning something new every day and for that, I’m thankful.


CCEA (2007) The Northern Ireland Curriculum Primary, available at http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk

WEEK 15: Time to start reading the news

Sadly for me, the European Union is something I know very little about. This fact was slightly exposed during a pub quiz on the topic… you guessed it, the EU! Our class began with 3 pieces of card and our task was to write down some facts about the European Union. At the start of the class, my knowledge didn’t really extend much further than what was written on my cards, but thankfully this expanded over the next 3 hours with a fun (but factual) quiz and a discussion about different elements of the EU. This class was completely different to any we have had in Stran, so I’m thankful to be learning new things as MacVie (2011) highlights that;

 “In order to reach your maximum potential, you must attempt to deepen your understanding of the world around you” 

The tag line for the EU is “United in diversity”. Over the past few months we have been able to see this in action as we have been studying and socialising with friends from many different countries within the European Union and even further afield!

Another big event which brings many different countries and people together is… The Eurovision Song Contest and this year, it was being held in Austria! For the big night, we took ourselves to watch the performances on a larger screen than our laptops and we were surrounded by other Erasmus students; representing countries from all across Europe. This created an exciting buzz and atmosphere as each person showed loyalty to their country… regardless of how bad the act may have been! A great night was had even if we did watch the UK gain the grand total of 2 points and Austria 0 points. When people from many different countries come together, a lot of fun can be had!


Armed with a bag of sweets, a card and a present, Emma and I set off on our last early morning walk to school. We weren’t teaching this week, so we took our seats at the back of the classroom. Before long, we were joined by our class. Alix, our teacher, and the kids sat in a little circle surrounding us and one by one they wished us a ‘goodbye’, ‘good luck’, ‘we will miss you’ or some variation of these phrases in English, German or a mixture of both. Over the past 15 weeks, I have learnt a lot about teaching and planning lessons; especially teaching in a very practical, active way. The GTCNI (2011) comments that teachers should, “be prepared to experiment with the unfamiliar and learn from their experiences”. Having had the experience to teach in a very different environment will undoubtedly shape how I continue to teach in the future.11301416_10205895413135917_1018496872_n

To carry on the theme of ‘last times’, this week we paid our last visit to the slopes. Over the past 4 months, we have all most definitely caught the ‘skiing bug’ and skiing fast became our favourite way to spend a day off. Putting our ski gear away for the last time was a sad experience but as Dr Seuss comments;

 “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened”

Dr Seuss

Experiencing life on the mountains has allowed us to live as the locals do and I am also very excited to have developed a new skill! I am already thinking about and persuading my family to head to the slopes next year- yay! Week 15 has been another great week living in Innsbruck. The time is going very quickly and I cannot believe that we will be on our way home in a month’s time! Flights have finally been booked and we are starting to make lists of things we’d like to do before we leave. Innsbruck has become a temporary home; everything has become second nature and very normal so the thought of leaving is still a bit weird. I am excited to see what’s in store for our last 32 days living the Austrian life!

Here’s a little video of our past few months having fun on the slopes…


GTCNI (2011) Teaching: the reflective profession, GTCNI, Northern Ireland

MacVie, L. (2011) DIY Learning, available at http://leahmacvie.com/2011/06/why-its-important-to-learn-something-new-everyday/

WEEK 14: Where to next?

3 countries in 5 days? Okay, challenge accepted. This week, Emma, Jack, Sarah, Maialen (our Spanish friend) and myself decided that we would make the most of some time off uni! Our destinations of choice; Budapest, Bratislava & Vienna. With a long list of places to visit, coffee shop recommendations and booking.com emails at the ready, we were on our way!

 “Travelling makes you realise how small a mono-coloured dot you are on an epic massive hyper-coloured canvas.”

BBC Travel (2015)

11310842_10205804003690738_1691124781_oDay one in Budapest certainly started with a bang… our electricity decided to stop working, just as I stepped into the shower! Determined not to let this slight technical hitch spoil our day, we took to the centre of Budapest and hopped on a site-seeing tour bus! Top deck seats, blue skies and ear phones in place we were ready to hear all about this beautiful city. Cruising past some beautiful buildings, feeding the ducks in the park and wandering about with no real plan gave us a feel for this new place. Once again we were instantly immersed into the country’s culture; having conversations with the locals (or at least trying to converse!) and attempting to convert the currency. Having a 10, 000 note in my purse is not a regular occurrence! All these small differences give each city a unique identity and I love that.

A sunset cruise, experiencing the famous Goulash soup and enjoying a string quartet were only a few of my highlights from Budapest. Each gave me a strong impression of how the Hungarian people go about daily lives; living and working in this beautiful, interesting city! Michener (2010) mentions that, “if you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.”

Pretty blue churches, quirky coffee shops and talented street musicians paint a picture of our time spent in Bratislava; a much smaller city, with a unique charm and elegance. We were also extremely relived when we realised that everything in Bratislava was very cheap… the student budget isn’t a big one! With a love of music, I am always excited to stumble upon live street artists anywhere we travel to. This time, Bratislava treated us to two Frenchmen and a bike. A short conversation with the duo left me in awe as they explained that they are travelling across Europe in order to make some money and get a name for themselves. For us Northern Irish students, meeting two Frenchmen, in Slovakia, whilst we are studying in Austria, once again left me feeling grateful for the experience to meet people from all across the world.

The third and final stop was Vienna; our capital city for the past few months, host to Eurovision 2015 and famous for their coffee houses! The ‘Jack Fleming budget tours’ were out in fine force during our two day stay in this beautiful city! From an amusement park to an opera & some great site-seeing stops thrown in, Vienna certainly did not disappoint! Experiencing an opera with our €4 standing tickets was a highlight for me. We didn’t really understand what was going on, we may have had slightly sore feet and our trainers maybe looked a little out of place, but it was a great night and again gave us an understanding for how the Viennese like to spend their money with tickets reaching €500!

Visiting both the Belvedere and Schonbrunn Palaces gave the impression of a wealthy country and one focused on beautiful architecture. Managing the metro systems, experiencing the local delicacies, using different currencies, hearing new languages and absorbing each country’s culture has given me a greater appreciation for this incredible opportunity. Rodgers (2015) comments that travel teaches us in ways books never could. He states that by travelling;

…”you’ll be required to navigate unfamiliar places, read foreign languages, try new things and make quick decisions” 

Greg Rodgers (2015)


BBC Travel (2015) Friends want life advice? Available at:


Michener, J. (2010) Travel and Tourism, Ferguson Publishing, London.

Rodgers, G. (2015) About Travel, available at:  http://goasia.about.com/bio/Greg-Rodgers-96811.htm

WEEK 13: Salzburg take two

Meeting our Erasmus class at the train station at 8am can only mean one thing… it was time for another trip (educational this time). We were off to Salzburg for the day and with the weather showing sunshine, it left us excited for the day ahead. We began with a riddle game around the Mirabell Gardens. This game was devised for children, so we could get an understanding of how we could take a class on a school trip. Made for kids, but we all had fun running around the gardens in order to find the clues and answers we needed!


Salzburg is only the short journey of 2 hours from Innsbruck, but a very different city. For most people, the two main things you think of when you think of Salzburg are Mozart and the Sound of Music. It was interesting to see how these have shaped Salzburg’s tourism, from the many ‘Mozart cafes’ to the (tried and tested) Sound of Music tour. After an obligatory ice cream in the sun, we made the journey to the top of the Monchsberg. After the many, many steps, we finally reached the top and were greeted with a beautiful view over- looking Salzburg, with the mountains in the distance!

 “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”

Benjamin Franklin

This week saw Emma and I teach for the last time in Neuarzl. Over the past few months, we have grown close to the teacher and the children. It has shown me that teaching goes beyond the initial barriers we may face; we were able to love and care for the children, even when we couldn’t always talk to them. For our last lesson, we were teaching the topic of ‘direction’. Emma and I both feel that we have developed our understanding and practice of active learning. After we had covered the key vocabulary for the lesson, we got the children to play our ‘robot’ game in which they had to follow our simple commands of directions. This game created a lot of laughter but the children caught on quickly and surprised us by their fast memory recall!

“Play is the highest form of research”

Albert Einstein

To end the lesson, we made use of the ‘free space’ beside our classroom and played a blindfolded group game. Allowing pupils time to work with a partner, and as part of a group is very important. The Northern Ireland Curriculum (2007), mentions that pupils should have the opportunity to, ‘develop routines of turn taking, sharing & co-operating’ and they should be able to ‘understand how actions and words effect others’.

The ‘free space’ area we have made use of is something that not many school have room for at home sadly. The area is used a lot during the school day and the children respect the freedom when they are allowed to complete their work/reading sitting on a cushion outside of the classroom. 3 months on and we are still appreciating and seeing the importance of this comfortable and relaxed classroom environment. The relationship between the teacher and the children is very strong and again, that is evident to us without understanding the language spoken. We only have one final visit to school left and I can wholeheartedly say that I will miss spending time with our little class on a weekly basis. The phrase ‘Have a nice day’ (said in a German accent) will never grow old!


CCEA (2007) The Northern Ireland Curriculum Primary, available at http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk

WEEK 12: Not all classrooms have four walls

“The best kept classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky”

McMillan (1925)

The word ‘classroom’ tends to bring about images of a walled room with a board, desks and books; not trees, outdoor toilets and wood for seats. This week we had the privilege of visiting and observing one of the Wald kindergartens. These ‘forest children’ play, explore and learn outdoors all day, everyday, no matter what the weather… a little different to our warm, comfortable schools in Northern Ireland!

Walking around the forest gave us an impression of how and what the children were learning. Wilson (2012) mentions that the focus for such ‘schools’ is not on the academic but rather on fostering children’s creativity, self-esteem, confidence and well- being. He further comments that;

 “…forest schools include marked improvements in concentration, perseverance, cooperation and motivation

My eyes were opened to the concept of a forest kindergarten and I was extremely interested in all that was going on. We saw children playing (and loving) games in the rain; using soil to give themselves moustaches and story time took place with all the children sitting on two planks of wood. We were shown photos from earlier in the year; the children had been experimenting with snow and soil, cooking on a open fire pit and making art using natural resources. Everything was done outdoors, without the use of electricity or technology; creative teaching?…I think so!

Speaking to the teacher in charge gave us a greater understanding of what was happening and how the children were learning. Without the use of technology, the children were able to make more authentic self- discoveries; using the world around them to inform their decisions. Charner (2012) highlights the many benefits to outdoor learning in the mainstream classroom. She mentions that teachers less often consider the;

 …”high level thinking that occurs outdoors as children solve problems, negotiate rules and construct with loose parts”

The kindergarten is for children aged 3-6, who then move into a mainstream primary school setting. I would love to see how smooth (or not) this transition is, but our university lecturer assured us that the children move into primary school with ease and they are often more patient, placid and attentive.

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As much as I loved our trip to the ‘forest kindergarten’ I am not fully convinced that it could be introduced into Northern Ireland; with our ever- changing weather and strict health and safety rules. The Northern Ireland curriculum (2007) does however encourage teachers to include outdoor learning in their lessons as the outdoor area provides children with one of the “best environments in which to learn”. Working together outdoors will also help build strong relationships alongside showing children how to settle arguments and disagreements.

Leaving the forest with a wet coat and slightly cold hands, showed me how resilient and ‘hardy’ the forest children had become! These children were healthy and happy and were learning in the most natural form… a refreshing sight to see! A great experience, even if it did mean using an outdoor, non- flushing toilet in the middle of the forest!


CCEA (2007) The Northern Ireland Curriculum Primary, available at http://www.nicurriculum.org.uk

Charner, K (2012). Let’s Take It Outside. Texas: Gryphon House

Wilson, R (2012). Nature and Young Children. New York: Routledge

WEEK 11: You learn something new everyday

I’m just going to jump straight into this blog and make the claim that learning German is not easy. I think I came to Innsbruck with the slightly unrealistic idea that I was going to become fluent over night with no problems at all… sadly, this didn’t happen. A sunny start to the week also brought about our German test, so Sunday evening was spent practising, writing and sussing out ‘der, die or das’… even seeking a little help from home!

I think that our general confusion and frustration when learning foreign languages, stems from the fact that it is not an important area within our curriculum, especially at a primary level. By observing the other Erasmus students in our class (with their 2/3 or 4 other languages) I can see that understanding more than one other language aids the process of learning another. Johann Wolfgang highlights that;

“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own”

Although the process of learning German isn’t the easiest, I am thankful for the opportunity to do so. As we look more closely at German grammar (so much fun), I can see the links, similarities and differences to English. I personally feel that by teaching languages in primary school, children would not only acquire a second language, but also develop a greater understanding of their first language.

For the next number of weeks I will be brushing up on old gymnastics skills and putting my primary school knowledge to good use! Gymnastics is part of one of our sports modules and let’s just say, it’s a little more intense than what we’re used to in Stran ‘gymnastics’ classes. With seemingly less concern for health and safety we were doing handstands, cartwheels, backwards rolls and vaulting in the first couple of classes. A lot of fun has been had so far and I’m determined to leave Innsbruck being able to handstand confidently for more than 3 seconds! In this class, we will also have the opportunity to plan a lesson for teaching children to cartwheel… something I can say I have never had to do before!

The GTCNI (2011) states that teachers should have an understanding of strategies to;

“…promote and maintain positive behaviour, including an acknowledgement of pupil voice, to establish an effective learning environment”

GTCNI (2011)


Ready to step up to the vault!

This week in school, Emma and myself realised that sadly we are no longer a ‘novelty’ for our little Austrian class and therefore, as with all children, they sometimes get a little restless and chatty. Due to a language barrier, it can sometimes be hard to maintain positive behaviour throughout the whole lesson.

This week, we were introducing the topic of ‘sea animals’ through the use of a picture book and some whole class games; two relaxed and active methods. We hope that by varying our lessons and approaches, we will fully engage the children and this will create a positive behaviour in the classroom.

To end our 11th week in Innsbruck, we once again joined a group of lecturers from across Europe. We were discussing the topic of ‘Pluri Mobility’ and we had the opportunity to understand fully why Erasmus benefits us personally, professionally and culturally. Alongside my newfound love of skiing, eating Lindt chocolate and travelling to near by countries, I really do love the whole experience of Erasmus. Although we are only half way through our time here, I can already see myself developing and maturing as an individual and I can see how these changes will affect my future teaching. The Council for Europe (2011) mentions that ‘mobility’ has been;

…specially designed to help the student teachers to transfer their own mobility experience to their future learners”

The council of Europe (2011)


Discussing and debating


GTCNI (2011) Teaching: the reflective profession, GTCNI, Northern Ireland

The Council of Europe (2011) Pluri Mobility, available at: http://plurimobil.ecml.at/PluriMobil/Objectives/tabid/3770/language/en-GB/Default.aspx

WEEK 10: A song and a dance

“It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright sunshiney day!”

Johnny Nash


This week, we said hello to more great days of sunshine, swims at the lake, a gymnastics class and of course; 21st birthday celebrations!

Our week began with another early start for school. Over the past number of weeks, we have become very close to the teachers and children in Volksschule Neuarzl. This has enabled us to teach with more ease and the children are more willing to participate in our simple games/exercises for teaching English. 11134231_10205657477427673_1743627326_nThis week Emma and I made use of song and dance in order to teach ‘Our Morning Routine’ in English. We quickly realised that music had the ability to break down some of the barriers we had been facing previously. Music seemed to give the pupil’s a greater confidence and they all participated fully in our little song… Emma and I even managed to get a singing compliment from one of our pupils! The GTCNI (2011) highlight that teachers should have;

“…a knowledge and understanding of strategies for communicating effectively with pupils”

By using song as the teaching method, our pupils’ were more easily able to practice pronunciation and through the use of actions they were able to more quickly understand what each sentence meant.

Turning 21 in Innsbruck was spent in style. As the sun was shining, we took to our new favourite spot… the Baggersee Lake. Great friends, perfectly blue skies and take away pizza… I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday! A birthday dinner at Ludwig ended a wonderfully chilled day. I’m not sure if you can ever go too far wrong with a burger and a chocolate brownie?!

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This week at uni, we had a class on Austrian children’s literature. As with at home, there seems to be a big push and emphasis on getting more children to read. We looked at many different children’s books used in schools here in Innsbruck. Thankfully, our German skills are improving slightly… we were able to read some of the children’s books! The class reflected many literacy classes we have had in Stranmillis with the benefits of reading being touched on and how each book could be used with a group of children. 11180039_10205658916943660_350256530_n

As Rogers (2012) mentions, books help children build their vocabulary and give them a mastery of language. It was interesting to see that although we are thousands of miles away from home, many of the same/similar books were being used in schools here in Innsbruck. We were then asked to discuss our favourite books as a child and the books currently being used in schools from our countries. This was very interesting as it gave us a wider understanding of the resources used by teachers in many different countries across Europe.

Next week will see us have our first German exam, something which I am slightly nervous about! In 5 classes we have covered A LOT, so let’s hope the weather takes a little rainy spell and lets us get some work done for that! Gymnastics also made an entrance into university life this week, but I will mention more about that next week…


GTCNI (2011) Teaching: the reflective profession, GTCNI, Northern Ireland

Rogers, S. (2012) Benefits of reading to children, available at: http://www.childrenswishingwell.org/5-benefits-of-reading-to-children/