This term I have a Canadian student teacher. It's been a lot of fun and very interesting chatting with her about the differences between education in Australia and Canada. Here's some of the things we've identified based on our shared experiences so far:
- In Canada, to be a teacher most people do another degree (in Science, Early Childhood or whatever) and then you go to Teachers College for a year to be qualified as a teacher. Here in Australia, you have to do a 4 year teaching degree. People from other fields may do a one year stint at uni to become a teacher but it is not as common.
- Art class - I don't know of any primary school (Prep to 7) that has a dedicated art teacher like she says they do in Canada. We have non-contact time (time without the class) for Physical Education and Music (and in the upper grades Languages Other Than English). I get 2 one hour blocks without the kids a week.
- Reporting and Parent Teacher interviews - I commented to her that I'd read on some blogs recently about teachers being given a day to get report cards done and a day without the class to do parent-teacher interviews. She says that does happen in some schools. Here, we have to do both in our time (or during our non-contact time). At my school, parent-teacher interviews start 15 mins after school finishes and go into the evening. At other schools, they are conducted each day before and after school for a week. All of our team meetings, meetings with special ed teachers, curriculum meetings etc are also all done outside school hours.
- Monthly/Weekly themes based around seasons and holidays - we don't do that so much here. We have our term plans that cover specific content (e.g. narratives in English, Weather and Seasons in Science, etc) but we generally don't have a specific theme for a month and design most activities, games, the classroom decor etc around that theme. She also commented that celebrations like Christmas are not as 'big' here in terms of the extravagant decorations etc. My son has actually commented before when he sees some houses with lots of lights that if they really wanted to show the Christmas spirit that they would not buy the lights and decorations and give the money to charity or a children's toy appeal! Most houses here put up a Christmas tree but not as many decorate the in and outside of their houses with lights and decorations. Also, whole classroom themes? Never!
- Bulletin boards - we don't really make such big and beautiful bulletin boards. Yes we display things and make displays but they aren't usually as elaborate. Plus we don't have corridors like you to make corridor displays (see below).
- Our classrooms for primary schools schools are generally on one level though some have two. So we have lots of blocks or buildings that house 2-4 classrooms rather than big buildings that house the whole school with big corridors. When you step outside our rooms you are usually actually stepping outside.
- Then of course, there's the language! She says 'is it not?' sometimes when explaining stuff to the kids which is just not something I've really said myself before. I also tell kids 'to have a go' and 'how ya goin?'which she said she doesn't say. And of course, we also don't actually say 'throw another shrimp on the barbie!'- we call shrimp PRAWNS. We're more likely to throw a snag (sausage), a nice juicy steak or kebabs on the barbie!
- And I thought I'd just throw in that I don't have a clue what 'candy corn' and 'smores' are!! I've read about them on blogs the past year and don't have a clue what they are!
Wow, this actually ended up being a lengthy post so I'll leave it there!