Teaching in Australia

Welcome to my first Aussie classroom!

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That’s the view walking into my room through the sliding doors. My school is actually over 100 years old but my classroom is part of a new building that was built a few years ago.

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Walking in from the enclosed veranda where the kids keep their bags and hats. Hats are a part of the school uniform and are required for a student to play outside in the sun. No hat, no play is the general rule.

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Another picture of the front of the room. Don’t mind the rubbish bin.

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In case you are wondering, that is sunscreen by the tissues. I wasn’t kidding about the sun being intense here. The students also have swimming twice a week so we take it down to the pool with us. Don’t judge the empty bulletin boards, it is the beginning of the year and we have lots to do still!

CAFE bulletin board and Homework Club (from 4th Grade Frolics TpT Store) all ready to go!

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I love all the natural light in the room, although unfortunately the windows did not provide much breeze when we had the great air conditioner crisis the first few weeks of school.

IMG_3917Connected to my classroom are an art supply room (that the whole school shares), an office (seen above), a small kitchen and a mini computer room that connect through to the year 3 teacher’s classroom. I was so excited to have an office, but honestly I just use it to dump my stuff in the morning and stack my copies for the week.

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Instead I spend most of my time at my control center by the interactive and non-interactive whiteboards (and the behavior chart).

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One of my students “painted” a picture of me and gave it to me one of the first days.

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That’s it for my classroom tour! Now a few things I have noticed about teaching here/schools here…

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  • Instead of one 30 minute lunch and 30 minute recess/play time they have first break where they eat for 15 minutes and play for 30 and then a second break later in the day where they eat for 10 minutes and play for 20 minutes.
  • There are no cafeterias, kids all bring their lunch or buy from the tuck shop which is more like a snack bar.
  • Kids eat their lunch outside under the buildings and on the courts (since there isn’t a cafeteria). Even in the dead of winter in Brisbane it’s sunny and 70 Fahrenheit.
  • The schools here are very open and all indoor/outdoor. The buildings are Queenslander style which means all the rooms are on the second floor typically with an open veranda to catch a breeze.
  • School doesn’t start until 9am so the hour to half hour before there are parents, kids and siblings all milling around the outdoor common areas.
  • There aren’t school buses or dismissal duties. When the 3pm bell rings my kids all leave my room and walk home, catch a city bus or train, go to onsite after school care, or meet their parents and sibling outside to play on the school playgrounds or oval (field).
  • There isn’t junior high or middle school. Kids go to Primary School from Prep (US Kinder) to Year 6 (6th grade) and then High School for 7-12.
  • Even in the older Primary grades they don’t departmentalize classes, meaning every teacher teaches all subjects to the same class all day.
  • The class sizes are much larger, the cap is 28 compared to 23 in Texas. I currently have 28, which at first I thought was crazy but I am used to it now.
  • They call field trips excursions, math is maths, sweaters are jumpers, erasers are rubbers, markers are textas, trash is rubbish, trash can is the bin.
  • School years go from late January to early December and are divided into 4 terms with two weeks of holidays at the end of each of them (except in December/January where it’s 6).
  • All schools have a swimming pool and that is the PE curriculum the first and last terms of the year.
  • I know there are so many more of these but I can’t think of any more right now!

Well I hope that gives you a little more insight into teaching in Australia (or at least in Brisbane). It has been quite the learning curve for me to figure out the ins and outs of teaching in another country, but I am really enjoying it so far!

15 thoughts on “Teaching in Australia

  1. I have been waiting for this post since you started teaching! I love learning about how different international schools are the US. Makes me want to sign up to teach overseas or something! I cannot imagine having to teach every subject. My math skills are terrible and all my students know it! lol

    I think I would like the way y’all divide your school year, especially the 6 week break in Dec/Jan….that would be nice. The one thing I am curious about is the pay. Is it similar to the states?

    • I hadn’t taught math since I taught kinder (which doesn’t count really) so I was really nervous. Luckily I haven’t been too stumped yet because I am terrible at math! If you look at salary scale it seems like a good chunk more (about 10,000 more a year) but taxes are SO high that my pay check is almost identical to mine in the US and it doesn’t have insurance or anything extra taken out here. It’s still considered an underpaid job compared to the cost of living. Subbing on the other hand is almost three times the pay in Texas.

  2. Your classroom looks great, and it’s crazy some of the differences between Aussie and Texas schools. I think that it’s so awesome that that they have a pool and that swimming is a required activity! It’s crazy to think that there’s no cafeteria, and I bet that they don’t have the same issues that American kids have with being overweight.

    • Thanks. Yeah the swimming thing was so crazy to me too. All of the kids are such good swimmers too, it’s awesome. I very rarely see any heavy kids and even still they probably wouldn’t be considered overweight by Australian standards.

  3. this is gonna sound creepy but i love when you post here or on snapchat about school because it reminds me so much of my childhood. haha. i have been corrected so many times when is say ‘maths’ my husband is like ‘it’s just math, no s’. rude. and no hat no play, do your kids have the flap on the back of the hat? gosh i thought they were so dorky when i was growing up.

    • Haha not creepy at all! Ours don’t have flaps but some schools in Brisbane do and they are soooo dorky looking. Ours are more like wide brimmed one with the chin strap ?. A lot of schools have bucket hats because bucket hats are still a fashion statement here…

  4. So jealous! I haven’t taught for three years now and am in the process of swapping my qualifications over, which is taking me forever and I am worried that I have been out of teaching for too long now 😦 I want your classroom!

    • I know how you feel I was worried when I started subbing because it had been almost a year, but it all comes back so quickly. What’s the process like switching certifications in Canada? Here they went through all my university courses and even spoke to former professors to make it all lined up! It took forever!

      • Well I was here for almost three years before I even got my permanent resident card. So I only actually began to apply for my teaching qualifications to be transferred just before Christmas and, like you, it is taking a long time – particularly in getting universities to send copies of my transcripts only. I think that I may have to start getting pushy, which I don’t really like to do but I feel so frustrated at working in a before and after school care setting and not teaching.

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