Teaching beyond classroom

While teaching remote students Danya Benson has no ordinary classroom

Life & Style
OUTBACK: Mount Isa School of the Air year one teacher Danya Benson extends the walls of her classroom to cater for students in remote areas. Photo: Samantha Walton.

OUTBACK: Mount Isa School of the Air year one teacher Danya Benson extends the walls of her classroom to cater for students in remote areas. Photo: Samantha Walton.

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Teaching remote students across north Queensland and the Northern Territory, Danya Benson’s classroom extends beyond the standard four walls.

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Teaching remote students across north Queensland and the Northern Territory, Danya Benson’s classroom extends beyond the standard four walls.

A year one teacher with School of the Air in Mount Isa, Ms Benson uses different methods to communicate with her students.

Connecting with her two classes through video link four days a week, and individual link up twice a week, Ms Benson said she had a strong understanding of her students’ development. 

“This system allows me to follow students’ progression and keep an eye on their development,” she said.

“Alongside our video calls I can also recommend a home visit, where I go out to the station and have a one-on-one with the family or governess.

“The one-on-one time is brilliant and we are really lucky to have that time and build relationships and narrow down the teaching.

“Conducting home visits can be an eye opener for me to see what families are facing outside the classroom.”

Parents or governesses submit the children’s work via email, allowing Ms Benson to receive it quickly and provide feedback.

“This process strengthens relationships with families because we work closer together and support them as they educate their children,” she said.

Ms Benson returned to Mount Isa after living on the Gold Coast for seven years. With her husband and two children she returned to the north west Queensland to continue her teaching career.

She started an Instagram account called @theoutbackteacher where she shared her teaching ideas, communication methods and unique teaching experience with her social media followers.

“I try to post a mixture of things including what I do in the classroom,” Ms Benson said. 

“Because my classroom is so different I like to show a bit of the technology we use, how we communicate while also showing the landscape and lifestyle we live in the west.”

Ms Benson originally started the Instagram account to demonstrate the point of difference of her teaching experience to others.

“The students have taught me a lot about their life on a station, through their school work,” she said.

“They have reoccurring themes in their artwork including horses, cattle and rodeo and they will write about an event that happened on property that day; like there was a snake in the house.

“I feel I have grown while teaching at School of the Air. The children have taught me what a poddy and a gooseneck is and how they go about their everyday chores and life.

“While this job has been an eye opener, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

@theoutbackteacher post
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