Tyler Walsh reflects on his experience tutoring in the Wheatbelt to help bridge the education gap between rural and metropolitan school students.
At the end of November, I was fortunate to have the experience of going on Teach Learn Grow’s Summer Rural Program of 2017. Myself and nine other tutors spent the week at Wyalkatchem District High School, where we delivered one-on-one tutoring to school students from Pre-Primary to Year Six in order to help bridge the educational gap between rural and metropolitan students.
Wyalkatchem is a small Wheatbelt town located 192km North East of Perth and consists of a population of only 344 people, according to the 2006 census. The only school in the town, Wyalkatchem District High School, consists of a cohort of approximately 83 people from Kindergarten to Year 10. Due to the school’s low student population, students are placed in mixed classes and it can be difficult at times for teachers to accommodate the educational needs for all of their students. This year was the first time that Teach Learn Grow visited Wyalkatchem and we were successful in addressing this issue. The ten of us were allocated three primary students each to spend ten 50 minute one-on-one sessions tutoring them on a specific mathematics curriculum outcome. We used a variety of resources from worksheets, games, charts and chalk to teach our target mathematics outcomes in a way that is fun, engaging and easy for our students to learn.
Whilst we weren’t tutoring during the school days, we were still out and about engaging with the local community. This included hosting a fun sports afternoon at the school and meeting with the local Rotary Club for a dinner at the pub. There is a very good sense of community spirit in Wyalkatchem; everyone plays a role in serving their fellow townspeople. In particular, we were grateful to have a local volunteer ambulance officer give us a tour of the St. John Ambulance Wyalkatchem Sub Centre, where we learnt about the extraordinary commitment and effort made by our rural emergency volunteers to preserving life in the country.
Throughout the week, I have also thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my fellow tutors and making some good friendships.
Teach Learn Grow conducts a Rural Program twice a year, one in the winter and one in the summer. These programs are immediately after university examinations, therefore they will not conflict with your study. I highly recommend going on a Rural Program because I believe that the tutoring work is very rewarding and you get a great experience of country life.