Host: Gallipoli Station
Written by Chloe French – Governess, Gallipoli Station.
Moving from a small sheep station just 45km out of Whyalla in South Australia to a cattle station, which was four times bigger than our place, was a big change. My name is Chloe, 18 years old and just finished school last year, I decided to take a gap year and try out teaching distance education. I had no idea what I was getting myself into with the Bishop family, once I had been with them just over a month the jokes began to start. I shall give you a run down on what it’s like to be a Govy at Gallipolli. It’s hard to give a run down on a normal day in our class because normal isn’t a thing we know much about, but I shall give it ago.
I have found that if you can’t laugh at even the smallest things that go wrong then you will never make it through a day. I’m not saying Gallipoli is a bad place I’m just saying sometimes, nothing goes right. If something goes wrong with one person then it affects us all. Even in the class we have our bad and good days. Now we have more good days but when I first started it was a different story.
Both of the kids have completely different learning styles. Having to work that out wasn’t hard, but the challenge was trying to work out how to teach an eight year old boy who hated school and was always giving me a long list of reasons why he shouldn’t have to do his work. Each day he would lose that argument with me and get to about 3pm and decide to do his work and most days he wouldn’t finish in the class till about 5pm, one day he didn’t finish till 6pm. He isn’t a bad kid at all but he just didn’t enjoy school. I was trying to teach him how to behave in class but still also make it enjoyable. It was hard to find that balance but I knew that’s what I had to figure out. Now he is a completely different kid, seven months down the track and he is doing extremely well in school and it’s amazing when you take the time to help a kid how much they will blossom and develop.
Georgia, also known as ‘Gbish’, loves school. She is always excited to start her day and the activities that I have organised for her. She comes in each day with an interesting new question to ask or new story she made up on the walk over to the classroom.
Righto, an average normal day in our school room goes like this – I head over to the school room about 7am and make sure all their books are out and laptops are ready to go. I also check emails from teachers to get me up-to-date. It hits 7:30am and I walk out the door, yell out to the kids and they race on over. Lauchy wins and Georgia is on the ground crying in protest but we get over that when I tell her about the activities we are doing after lunch. I work with Georgia in the morning till smoko and Lauchy works independently on either science or history (it changes each term). Georgia and I start the new unit that she gets every two weeks. We work until 9:00am, then it is smoko time and the kids head out with Willy not far behind yelling out ‘Wait me . . . wait me!’
Lauchy and Georgia come back into the class at 10am when Lauchy’s on air starts – On air is when they go online to a site called IConnect where it shows slides that his teacher controls and has a camera so he can see his other class mates. He dials into the same code as everyone else in his class including his teacher. His On Air lesson goes for 60 minutes each day apart from Friday’s. Once Lauchy’s ‘On Air’ is finished he hangs up and goes back to his desk and does his little subjects. They include – Mental Maths, Daily writing, and spelling.
These are all things he does independently while I sit with Georgia when she does her On Air lesson. She likes to ‘chat’ for a while and her On Air only goes for 20, sometimes 30 minutes. Seeing this and hearing that other children really wanted to ‘chat to each other’ I came up with the idea of a preppy chat session. Not realising what I was getting myself into, it became quite popular with the kids allowing them to chat to each other and share experiences as well as enabling their on air lessons to flow a little more freely.
After Georgia finishes her On Air lesson it’s about 11:30am and we finish off bits and pieces of her work then she goes to lunch. Usually I send Georgia out at 12pm and Lauchy isn’t that far behind her if he has all his little subjects done. As I’m walking around the class getting activities set up for after lunch, Lauchy is usually chatting away to me while I’m walking around. Even if I leave the room he is still chatting away!
The lunch bell goes off at 12:30pm and you will hear the kids running over to the kitchen with the little man running right behind them trying to win. They both come back into the class at 1:30pm and I set Georgia up at the craft table so I can work with Lauchy on his Maths. I usually only have to explain to him what to do and help him out for the first half an hour and he works independently for the next half an hour. Once Lauchy has finished his Maths he then joins us down at the craft table with music and relaxing time for the last 30 minutes of school. When it hits 3pm sometimes they stay longer, or they leg it out the class and off home.
After about an hour of them finishing school they are usually back over in the class to see what you are doing and do some more activities.
Once the kids have left the schoolroom I clean up, start to send worksheets to their teachers, and email them about reading or feedback for the upcoming weeks. I finish work at five and once I have finished in the classroom I head over to the big house to see the kiddies again and play some games with them. I believe that being a Govy doesn’t just stop when you leave the class, it’s not like other jobs. You don’t just switch off once you leave because kids just don’t understand that.
I’m always hanging out with them and playing because to be a good Govy you need to maintain that special bond with them so they can trust you. It did take a while for me to develop a strong friendship with these kids and even become a part of the family but each Govy needs to be able to work with the family. Just the other day Lauchy came up to me and gave me a hug like he usually does but he looked up and told me “Chloe you are basically like my big sister . . . yeah, you are my big sister” and gave me another big hug. All those hours I spent with the kids’ refusals to complete tasks, my persistence, and the frustrations we both felt were worth it and the results make me appreciate my job.
Being out here in the middle of nowhere and only having a limited social life with the same crew can get a bit hectic sometimes. You can get sick of each other rather easily. Some days it can be hard because after a long day with the kids you want to have a normal adult conversation with someone without talking about Minecraft or Paw Patrol! We try and make fun out of anything, like going down to the water hole for a little swim or having a yarn over at the Rec Room watching CatFish. You start to become a family, and sometimes just like families we can have our odd fights.
Another thing that we get excited about is going into town, which for me isn’t very often unless there is a school event on. We have had a couple of events this year for school with the Mt Isa activity day, Home Tutor Seminar, Sports Day, and at the end of the year Sports for Bush kids, but I also go to events with the family including the Mt Isa show, Camooweal tennis, and Camooweal horse riding. I appreciate these events now that I hardly ever get to go into town and see other people. It’s not a short trip down to the shops like in the city; Mt Isa is 290km away from the station.
It’s not just good for us, it’s also great for the kids to get into town and see other kids. They hardly see their classmates because they live all so far away from each other, the closest kids near us would be 30kms away. Lauchy and Georgia have seen their class mate and teachers probably about six times this year. It can get hard for the kids because they are basically living in an adult world growing up faster than most, but the experience of the freedom of the bush I think is well worth it. Just the other day Lauchy went out to see the camp out mustering. You can’t say every kid gets to do that.
Being a Govy at Gallipoli and even at Herbert Downs (the property we transferred from earlier this year) and being with the Bishop family has been entertaining. It’s been an eye opener to distance education and how much it has developed over the years. I will tell you this, saying goodbye to these kids one day will be extremely hard, as the Bishops have warmly welcomed me into their family. Gallipoli has been a big change to what I was used to back home but has been an amazing experience so far and one that I will always remember.
One lesson that I have learnt, never tell the three year old which room is yours at the quarters, especially if you have lollies stashed.