Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some differences: Canada and Australia

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: 
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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!

Kylie :)


  1. I loved this post!
    It sounds like we in Scotland have more in common with Australia! Same for class room layout, display boards and we dont have monthly themes or classroom themes. All of my displays are created for displaying current work and they will usually be built up through the term to show off Topic work. I will add that I have no idea what smores, candy corn or 'specials' are. Our parent meetings are in evenings too and I have specialist teacher for P.E. and music. Soooo much more I could add! Love reading about everyones great ideas though!

  2. I love reading about different classrooms. FYI smores are delicious. It is something that is done around a campfire. First you roast a marshmallow and then you add a small chocolate bar with two graham crackers to either end of the marshmallow then you smash it all together and enjoy. You are not missing out on candy corn it is sickening sweet candy that taste nothing like corn just is in the shape of corn. Specials are music, art, computers, and P.E. Most teachers in the US have an hour each day where the students leave and go to one of these classes while they plan and have meetings.

  3. Whereabouts in Canada are they from? I am in New Zealand but trained for teaching in Ontario. A lot of the things you've mentioned I've noticed myself but some are new to me, too. I've never seen parent-teacher interviews done during the day. What a lucky bunch of teachers she knows! It's important to understand that each province can train their teachers differently and school boards can even operate differently.

    Case in point: The schools I have been in don't have specialist art teachers but they do have specialist French teachers that teach throughout the school, creating non-contact time for the classroom teachers.

    One more thing. It's a matter of semantics but "Teacher's College" is misleading. It is a university degree (studied concurrently or consecutively to another degree like sociology, psychology, english,...). We refer to it as college because when you graduate and go through the registration, you become a member of the College of Teachers for your province.

    ✪ Liam ✪
    Twist of Liam

  4. Thanks for your comments Claire, Jess and Liam!

    Claire, it really does sound like we have HEAPS in common! I also create boards to display current work throughout the term.

    Jess, thanks for the info about smores and candy corn! You know what, we don't have graham crackers either! I asked my student teacher and she said they are like a cross between our crackers and biscuits. I'd love to try smores - they sound delicious! You are SOOOO lucky to have an hour EACH DAY without the class! WOW! We have to teach computers and art ourselves.

    Liam, I'm not sure what part of Canada she is from. From your comment, is there a difference between a college and university? We go to university and I just thought you called it college? We don't have anything called college here. We do have a TAFE system, which perhaps is what you mean by college? I didn't mean to suggest that you didn't come out with a degree.


  5. Again, each province has it's own Board of Education so the system is a little different for each but essentially college is trades-based and typically more practical training. Historically, university is theoretical.
    Diplomas come from colleges and degrees come from universities.
    I'm not offended by your comment about college/university - I just wanted to clear up what is unavoidably a very muddy concept.
    ✪ Liam ✪
    Twist of Liam

  6. but have you tried smarties?

  7. It was great reading this post! I am a teacher in Vancouver Canada and I have a student from Australia. It has been interesting learning the similarities and differences among the two countries - case in point her mother cooked her first turkey for our Canadian Thanksgving.

  8. Thank you for reminding me about why I no longer teach in your state! :)
    Some primary schools in other Australian states have art rooms and art teachers.
    I'm not sure where you live but plenty of people in Brisbane and elsewhere in Australia decorate inside and outside of their houses for Christmas these days. Hasn't always been that way. I agree with your son about the amount of money spent on lights!

  9. I am so glad you posted that Quilty Cat - I teach in Victoria and definitely have more than 2 hours release from my students a week! This year have 45 minutes for each of PE, Music, Art and ICT - and then I get a library time too of half an hour a week. Last year was sooo much better as I also had my kids going to LOTE and Health class - I got 6 hours! Not to mention CRE time... gotta love religion :) That was in a K-12 though, so we had to suffer through muck-up day.

    I have actually been wondering since I was little and used to read the Babysitters Club books what smores are - all anyone ever explained to me was that you use Graham Crackers. Glad you didn't know what a Graham Cracker was either! I still don't really get

    I love that you are out there in the blogging world, and are really motivating me to start my own. It's nice that you post after school my time, instead of waking up and checking all of the blogs before I leave for work :)

    Thanks for all your hard work - keep it up!!


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