As part of my second year I had the option to study abroad during either semester one or semester two. Most people who choose to do this module go to Spain and study at an allocated university for the semester; however this option is only available in semester two.
I wanted to study abroad during my first semester and therefore I had to find my own placement where I could do my study. This for me was an easy decision, as I had previously planned to go abroad and volunteer in a primary school.
I decided to go to Trinidad and Tobago to study as I have family there and I knew they would be able to help me with accommodation. Some of my family members were teachers and they helped me to find a school that I could attend during my visit. I went abroad after my first year modules were complete. This was possible as Education and Childhood Studies students have no exams and the first year of teaching ends in May.
I wanted to go abroad to Trinidad and Tobago as they used to follow British law and I felt that it would be interesting to witness how they have changed their system to fit their own needs. It also gave me the opportunity to be involved with a different educational style from that of the UK and it tested my ability to adapt to different classroom environments, which I found more difficult as the weather was scorching hot.
Once I had found out the details of the school, I went to my course leader who then typed up a letter for the principal to request that I attend three days a week, over the period of a month, observing their teaching methods. This letter was also very important for me to have, as I was going abroad alone for nearly two months and it was helpful when clearing customs.
I was at a private school called Curepe Educational Centre which had a nursery, kindergarten and primary school on the premises. From first glance, the school isn’t what you would expect a private school to be. The school used to be a house, but had been renovated by the principal to make it into a school.
While at the school I observed almost all of their classes. Many of the teachers were preparing their students for their end of year tests and completing work to hand into their government for marking, with the exception of their Standard 5 class which had just completed their exam for secondary school. In Trinidad and Tobago, you don’t get to choose which secondary school you attend, instead you have to complete a test similar to our 11+, which will help them place you at a school within the area you live.
I sat in most classes and observed the classroom layout, the students’ behaviour, the teaching styles, the classroom management and what they were learning. Many teachers at the school had different styles of teaching. Going to each class for even a couple of hours gave me the opportunity to witness their individual styles and differences.
I will be using this experience abroad to help me with international education comparisons but I also hope that my experience abroad will make me stand out from other students who have done, or will be doing the Erasmus experience in the near future.