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Year In Review: Teaching in a Public NZ High School

The year is finally over. February to early December is a heck of a year. I’ve learned a ton, mostly things I didn’t know I didn’t know. I’ve met a ton of wonderful people. I almost cried during my farewell speech. Those of you that know me will know it takes a lot for me to cry in front of boys. I am left with one overall thought; this is so much better than teaching in the States.

This year I worked in an Auckland public high school as a LTR (long term reliever). Basically, I was filling in for pregos. Most LTR’s will have you working for a stated term (up to a full school year) teaching a full load of classes. If you’re a foreign teacher trying to get your first NZ job most likely your going to land a LTR, that’s the life of an immigrant. Better than working pineapple fields.

There’s a rating system for schools in NZ. My school was a 4 out of 10 (or 12, what do I know). This means that there was an occasional chair thrown, and I learn to be happy with “Miss” at least its better than “Bitch”. If you’re working at a docile 1 school there has probably been a stabbing or three within the last few years. To compensate for you fearing for your life the Gov’t gives you lots of money for printing and office supplies. Judging by just how bloody hard it was for me to get a stapler (I love you Sue!) a little stabbing never hurt anyone. A docile 10 school is just stupid. Unless you’re keen on small classrooms with well-behaved students interested in learning, don’t bother. As we say in NZ, dry!

As a NZ teacher you get 5 hours of prep time each week. The down side of this is these five hours can be divvied out however the gods will. One of my good friends had four of her five hours on Wednesday. It may sound good for a minute, but we all know our attention span is equal if not shorter than our students. After about 30 minutes of her four hour prep she stalking the hallways looking for people to entertain her.

There is also no limit to when the workday starts and ends. The Social Studies dept. thought they would be awesome and have their meetings 8am on Tuesday, English 3:30 on Wednesday, Travel and Tourism 8am Thursday, Homeroom meeting 8:20am Thursday. God damn bloody hell, I tried my hardest to miss at least two a week. I’d like to think I have important things going on in my life that justify missing many of these meetings. There is no compensation for extra curricular actives except for the occasional free beer.

Classics Fieldtrip 2010

Classics Fieldtrip 2010

On the upside of things my grade book consisted of no more than 20 grades for the year. There is NO paperwork to be filled out for anything, and right or wrong there is no special anything for students with special needs in the mainstream classroom.

If your still having a hard time picturing yourself as a NZ teacher imagine your day without threat of a lawsuit, all major end of year national exams have huge impacts on the students future, and fieldtrips out the butt! I’m talking week long camping, museums, hiking, sand-surfing etc. Stuff no American youth has dared to dream of as a sanctioned school trip!

Education is still underfunded. Classrooms are starving for current technology, teachers are always asked to do more work than the day allows for. But my time is used to prepare and teach students. I found this to be a huge relief after teaching in the States for eight years.


4 Responses

  1. Hi:
    I have really enjoyed reading your posts, thanks so much. I am a kiwi living in the states married to an American.I like the states but miss N.Z. and want to move home. I am trying to convince her to move to N.Z. but she is scared to move… She is a well qualified elementary school teacher with a masters and national certification. Do you have any advice on how I may convince her that a move to N.Z. Thanks Nick

  2. I’ve been here for 4 years and am NOT impressed with NZ schools at all. Sometimes I wonder what the priorities are here.

  3. It’s nice to see you guys again. Now that vacation is upon you I’m assuming you’ll write more often. I’ve been here in New Zealand since November, kind of like you guys but a year later. The other half and kids are coming in about 2 weeks. I’ve found you blog to be my guide. When I arrived, it seemed like I had opened your blog and was living it, my own version of course. So I am in Wellington, have only been to Auckland for the Airport a couple of times, so I never really experienced Auckland, but I can say that Wellington is a great little big place. Anyway, keep em coming, it’s nice to see you back


  4. Seeking your opinion. I am a corp trainer and i have two masters degrees…how hard would it be for me to find a sub job in Auckland. Also since there’s no specialized classes for kids with special needs….what is the alternative? BTW you are a great writer…you made me LOL several times while reading your blog. If i wanted to be a sub teacher…with no certification…just copies of my degrees…what would be my first step. I will be leaving DFW for NZ on March 4, 2015

    Signed..resident and native of Dallas, TX

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