So my CRT (casual relief teaching) work has been picking up lately, and I'm usually out at schools a few times each week. I've noticed some other differences between Australian and American schools lately and had a few amusing experiences I thought I'd share for today's blog post:
1. I already mentioned a few common names for boys (Hugo, Henry, Harry, and Jack). I've noticed a couple more: Hamish and Luca. I haven't noticed a pattern with girls' names yet.
2. Pencils are called gray lines. Markers are called textas. Erasers are called rubbers. And pencils don't seem to have erasers at the ends of them. Kids are always looking for rubbers to use or borrow. I think bringing this one invention to the Australian school system would singularly save hours of wasted time each year!
3. Younger kids get confused when I write my a's how they look when you type them. They want to see the regular circle with the tail. It's a hard habit to break! Older kids don't care.
4. The other day I "taught" Italian. No, I don't know Italian! I guess they figured because I know some Spanish that I could handle it. With most classes, the kids had projects about famous Italians to work on anyway, so it didn't matter.
5. When a Year 5/6 class walked down the hall toward their room and saw me, they asked if I was their Italian teacher. When I said yes, one girl said, "Yay, you're so pretty!" and then almost gave me a hug. I wonder what her normal teacher looks like?
6. I introduced myself to this same class with the usual, "My name is Mrs. Keys, I'll be your Italian teacher today, etc." and they all burst into spontaneous applause. It's a pretty good gig when you get a roomful of people clapping for you just because you say your name and tell them you'll be with them for an hour!
7. Australian kids are obsessed with their rulers and "ruling up" their pages before starting their work. For some reason, their paper in their notebooks doesn't have the red/blue margin lines that we're used to seeing, so students have been taught to use a ruler to draw a line across the top and down the side before doing any writing. I sort of understand the line along the side (so the writing lines up all the way down the page), but geez, these kids are super anal about having to "rule up" everything perfectly! One girl almost cried today because she couldn't find her ruler, until I showed her how she could use the side of her book to do the same thing.
8. Every school I've been to seems to have two distinct breaks. One is mid-morning, and the kids definitely eat. It's not just a recess. Some schools call it "brain food," and it has to be fruit or something semi-healthy. Other schools let the kids basically eat an entire lunch! Then they have a later break, usually at around 1pm. They eat again and get a longer recess. It sure breaks up the day and makes it go quickly. Sometimes, you only have one subject/lesson after lunch before the kids go home!
9. Swimming is a regular part of many schools' PE curriculums. Or when I've done after-school care, lots of kids go off to swimming lessons for part of it. Also, kids seem to do their music lessons during the day instead of after school. Random children leave in the middle of various subjects for their keyboard or flute or some other musical lesson.
10. Kids trade footy cards (they look just like baseball cards!) with each other at recess. I don't think they call it recess though. I think it's just "break."
11. Teachers in Australia get yard duty just like in the US. But you have to wear a bright neon vest and carry a "bum bag," which is a first aid kit fanny pack thing. I've heard that fanny pack might not be an appropriate term in this country!
12. Favorite questions asked by kids so far:
-"Have you met President Obama and Mrs. Obama?"
-"How big is the Statue of Liberty?" (I describe it.) "Oh, well forget it. I don't want to see it then."
-"Are you from Ireland?" (Lots of Irish girls come to Australia to work as teachers.)
-"Does everyone in America carry a gun?" "Do you get robbed all of the time?" (They watch too many American movies I guess!)
That's all I can think of for now. I'm sure I'll collect more tidbits and do another post like this in the future!