It’s been a week since I moved to outback Australia to teach at rural school. My appointment happened so suddenly where I was interviewed twice in a period of two days and given a week to move to my new school. It’s a dream come true for me as I have always wanted to teach in rural Australia. I fell in love with the idea after attending some seminars and taking an elective at university on rural education. The government also offers great incentives for teaching in rural locations such as subsidized housing and free flights and higher pay rate than teaching in the city.
I now live in a small farming community with a population of 1000 residents. I prefer not to say exactly where I am to avoid breaching any professional standards. The locals are very friendly people and this is the kind of town where you can leave your house unlocked. Everyone knows everyone so you do have to be careful about saying things.
As I have become acquainted with my new home, I’ve started to learn issues facing the community. The drought had a major impact on the inhabitants as this is a farming community. Many families have left and businesses have closed down as they are unable to support themselves. There are many houses that are for sale and empty shop fronts which the locals say have been empty for years. Many places are run down too as it’s hard to get services here. Only people who own their home seem to have made an effort to maintain them.
The children also seem to have huge gaps in their learning. They have had a succession of teachers who have only stayed in this community for a short time. The school has trouble retaining staff due to the isolation and some office politics unfortunately. I have the feeling that the children don’t want to invest in me emotionally in case I leave. I have told them that I am definitely staying until the end of the year but even then I was hesitant about saying that. I don’t know what the future holds. For now, I know that I won’t be going anywhere but I would leave if my dad became very ill. My dad had a heart attack in 2014 and still has issues with his heart.
My contract is for six months with the possibility for extension next year. If offered, I would agree to teach for another year. I think I would be happy to teach here for about four years. I don’t want to live here forever. I miss city life and my friends and family back at home. In the meantime, I will try to make the most of my time in this rural community and take the offers that come.