On my first day of a Canadian teacher’s college in 2005, we were told that 95% of teachers quit teaching within their first five years.
I haven’t had the same experience living and teaching in Australia.
I really believe this is because in Canada, there is so little time to “recover” from long days and 20 week terms. As much as I love teaching, I often feel like an open drain, with a tap constantly running.
The Australian holiday term gives both the students and the teachers more frequent breaks from each other, allowing students to mature throughout the year, and for the relationship to be more productive.
Yet, there are a few differences in the Australian school day that would irk some secondary teachers, unless they are prepared for them.
Three Differences you should be prepared for:
**based on a comparison between Victorian and Ontarian schools***
1) Contrary to Canadian schools, secondary teachers do not only teach three classes in Australia.
Four classes/day would be very unusual in Australian schools. In my experience, both government and independent (private or Catholic, in Australia) schools have about 6 periods a day.
The classes are often shorter but it does increase your student-contact time and mean you have to prep for more classes. It also means your prepping periods are not consistent in length. You won’t have much time to slack off and not be focused. (Do you ever?)
2) Even in high school, teachers can expect to be involved in yard duty and extra supervision of classes.
Firstly, even secondary schools require teachers to do pretty extensive yard duty. And, there isn’t a trade off agreement that balances extra class coverage with yard duty. For example, you should be prepared to have both yard duty and “oncalls” (or “extras” in Australia) all year. That might shock those of you who are used to union-run schools (it shocked me my first year out here!).
Secondly, all Victorian secondary teachers have a “Pastoral Care” load. (This has nothing to do with religion).
Instead of having 10-15 minutes of PA announcements, anthem singing, etc. at the start of each school day, VIT teachers have 10 minutes of “tutorial” (a.k.a. “homegroup”) for “housekeeping” issues about school-life.
It is also a time to provide care for students, not necessarily academic-based. It’s actual a great opportunity, but it does require the teacher to be super-organized in terms of their email-checking, as this is the way most information is not disseminated in Australian schools.
3) Canadian schools, especially Ontario, have strong union operation. Australians…don’t.
It is not mandatory to be a part of a union in Victorian schools, as it is in Ontario.
There are many different unions you can choose from to join. There will probably be lots of prompts to join one of them, but it is up to you to find out about each and select the appropriate union that will best protect you, the worker.
I would think that because they do not have united power, their power is less. But I’ve heard that these unions have sufficient ability to protect you. I’m at a private school where we don’t actually use them, but there are some that are recommended by Leading Out.