Saturday, March 31, 2012

Working Woman

Well, I got bored. After nearly a year living as a "Lady of Leisure," I ran out of things to occupy my days. I found myself some days with literally nothing to do. So I got a job. I interviewed with a teaching agency, and now I'm a "CRT," which stands for Casual Relief Teacher. Basically, I'm a substitute teacher. So far I've been in a Prep classroom one day up in Richmond, with a Year 6 class for three days at a school in St Kilda, and with a Year 3 class the next day at the same school. It's been pretty good, though it's hard not knowing the kids' names by heart or developing any sort of real rapport or relationship with them. But I don't have to do any lesson planning or grading (hooray!), the extra money will be nice, and I only have to work on the days I want to work.

Here are some differences I've noticed so far between American and Australian schools:

1. Popular names are different here. I've had more than one Henry, Harry, Jack, and Hugo. Yes, Hugo!

2. Math is called maths. That's not plural. I can't get used to saying, "Get out your maths book" or "After lunch, you have maths." Very strange.

3. Students are required to wear hats when they go outside. Because the Australian sun is so strong, this is ingrained in kids from a young age. They automatically put them on when they go out to recess.

4. Apparently peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are distinctly American. Kids thought it was weird that I brought one for lunch one day.

5. Allergies are a big deal out here. I guess lots of Australian kids have them-to food, insects, etc. I even had to go to anaphylaxis training and learn how to use an Epi-pen.

6. There doesn't seem to be a class called social studies. One school calls it T.I., and I forget what that stands for. Science is definitely not a big part of the curriculum, at least in the classes I've seen.

7. Kids don't learn Spanish as a second language. Japanese and Italian are the ones I've encountered so far.

8. Kindergarten is what Americans would call preschool, and what we would call kindergarten is called Prep here.

9. Primary school includes everything up to eighth grade, and secondary school is high school. You call it Year 6 instead of 6th grade.

10. The school year has four terms, and all schools in Victoria are on the same schedule. There are two-week breaks between each term, and a long "summer" holiday in December/January. We're coming to the end of Term 1 right now.

11. My accent is definitely a novelty. Kids have no clue where Colorado is, though to be fair, I had no clue where Melbourne was until about a year ago.

12. I have to be especially careful with how I spell words, both for the students and in my notes to the teacher. Behaviour, favourite, colour, realise, centre, practise, etc.-I will never get used to some of these!

13. Student planners are called diaries. Waldo is called Wally, so they have Where's Wally books instead of Where's Waldo.

14. I read aloud a short story where the sun was compared to a penny. The kids didn't know what a penny was. Whoops!

15. Kids are the same all over the world. Some of my Year 6 students the other day were basically the Australian versions of some of my sixth graders back in Colorado-looks, personality, everything!

I'll try to be good about still updating the blog, even though I'm now a working woman. In other news, the Tough Mudder race is this weekend, so we're off to Phillip Island to torture ourselves. Here's hoping we don't die!


  1. I always enjoy the "things that are different in Australia" posts. The kids must have fun when they get "American Aubree" for a sub - with her funny spellings, strange pb&j sandwhiches, and talk of pennies. Although it makes sense, it's funny to think these things are strange to the kids.

    1. Yeah, the other day the teacher didn't leave any lesson plans for Literacy time, so I made something up: free writing time with the topic "If I could live in America, I would live in..." followed by a spelling "test" where they had to spell words two ways-Australian and American. Fun stuff!

  2. The differences you note would be exactly the same if you were teaching in the UK. It always amazes me that the UK is 11,000 miles away and yet so similar. I landed in Melbourne on Wednesday, we found a home, now breath. Like you Aubree I am going to give it a while before I become a working woman. Love your blogs, how did you get on as a tough mudder?

    One crazy difference I notice, you have to get into the left hand lane to turn right! :-)

    1. Welcome to Melbourne-feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need anything! Yeah, those hook turns are killer. And we survived the Tough Mudder race as you can probably tell from my most recent blog post!

  3. Great post - so interesting. Congrats on the job!

  4. My son Cameron really misses science, but otherwise our kids have adjusted to all of the differences in school here. I think I like the school calendar better. I am a former Spanish teacher, so teaching is not really an option for me, and I think it would be too much on top of keeping four kids organized, but I get bored from time to time. I am volunteering with the parent association for my daughters' school (PLC), and doing some volunteer writing so this year should be better. And I should mention that my mom is from Fremont, Michigan. I spent much of my childhood there, with plenty of visits to Holland . . . Good luck with the supply teaching. Christie p.s. and congrats on surviving the tough mudder race. Impressive!

    1. Yeah, the school calendar is definitely better for kids retaining knowledge. Fremont-what a small world!