Celebrating teacher diversity

It's report card writing time. That dreaded time of the year when teachers summon enough strength to gather their thoughts and put them on paper in a meaningful and non-accusatory way. For Australian and New Zealand teachers, we are day-dreaming of our winter mid-term holidays and it doesn't help that we are bombarded with teacher memes about end of year and summer break (I'm talking to you American and Canadian teachers!). 

Okay, I've lived all over the world and have family in the US so totally understand the excitement and anticipation of summer holidays. In countries where the sun rarely makes an appearance, I clearly remember the longed-for long summer days. As a fellow teacher, I would never begrudge you your excitement about the end of year either.

However, spare a thought for your poor fellow teachers in the southern hemisphere who are mid-way through the school calendar, feeling exhausted and wondering if it's too early to start doing a countdown to the end of the school year in December. 

Which brings me to my blog post. How much do you know about your fellow teachers outside of the country you live/work in? I will confess my ignorance of some of the words or terms that are used in US English but I know that when I'm talking about bringing some thongs on a holiday excursion I have to make it clear they are the ones that go on my feet when I'm talking to an American! Bum-bags are commonly known as fanny-packs in the US (let's not go there...) and rooted means a solid foundation in the US, whereas in Australia it means.. er.. broken. As in "...your car is totally rooted mate!" - meaning not working (NB: this is the clean definition of the term in Aussie slang!).

Do your students frequently find British English or American English in their worksheets, websites or activities you've downloaded? If so, use it as a teaching point to explore the differences with this useful Spelling variations poster pack. I enlarge this and place it on the wall of my classroom as a reference poster and it's come in handy on many occasions for my students. 

Okay so what are the differences in term dates. Listed below is information I have gathered while researching this blog post. If YOUR school does something different, please comment below - I'd love to learn more about our differences.


Australia & New Zealand
Late January/early February - December

October - June

August - June

February - November

September - June

September - March

August - June

September - May

September - July

United States of America
September - May/June

United Kingdom
June/July - June/July the following year

Other noticeable differences are the terms for school years (some states may differ slightly from one another slightly):

In Australia we have:
Kindy (not compulsory)
Preschool (not compulsory)
Foundation Year (sometimes known as Prep and newly compulsory in most states) Age 5
Year 1 -6 (through to age 12)
Year 7- 12
UNIVERSITY to follow or COLLEGE for a trade

In the United States you have:
Kindergarten through to fifth grade (aged 12)
Grades 6 - 9
Grades 10 - 12
COLLEGE to follow

For all our differences, what I do know is that teachers are born not raised. I know that teaching, no matter where you are in the world, makes a difference. I know that teachers around the world should celebrate our differences and embrace them. For as educators, don't we encourage our students to acknowledge and celebrate our differences? Our passion for teaching is what unites us. 

To my northern hemisphere teachers I raise a glass and say "congratulations on making it through another school year"! To my fellow southern hemisphere teachers I say, take a breath, push on and in the immortal words of Bon Jovi "we're halfway there!".

1 comment

  1. As an Australian born educator who has lived in the USA since I was 18, I loved your post! Yes, lots of words are different - I clearly remember being a high school exchange student to Texas, and asking for a rubber (Australian for erasor!) in class. Still, as you pointed out, no matter what country we're in, we're all in it for the children. Great post!


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