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What to expect teaching in New Zealand – Interview with an Overseas Teacher Teaching in New Zealand

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  • Lifestyle in New Zealand
  • NZ Culture
  • Teaching abroad
  • teaching in new zealand

What to expect teaching in New Zealand


Ever wanted to know what to expect teaching in New Zealand? Our Talent Acquisition Specialist Ashley, recently caught up with Deidré, an South African teacher who made the move to Auckland, New Zealand with Prospero Teaching New Zealand.

For those keen to take the leap, read about Deidré’s journey and uncover the process of making a significant career move abroad.


American Teacher in NZ

Deidré in New Zealand with her family.


What has been the biggest surprise for you about teaching in a New Zealand school?


I’m used to Primary school and now I teach ECE over 2’s mixed group. It’s very physical in ECE. It’s also play-based, which I like, and less academic group-focused. You follow each child’s interests and build on them.


How has your teaching style adapted to fit the New Zealand education system?


I’m working with much younger children now. I had to learn how to adapt to them, and be more basic in my teaching. Teach while we are playing. The Te Wharaki is more about their social emotional well-being and communication. I am more focused on relationship building than on teaching them how to read as in my previous formal setting.


What advice would you give to teachers considering a move to New Zealand?


Be open-minded and remember you have your way of teaching, but you are in a new country that has different views. Adapt, learn, and remember every new beginning is hard until you know how it works.

It’s information overload, be like Dory (Nemo movie) and just keep swimming!

Kids are kids no matter what part of the world you teach in. Set your expectations high with classroom management, and discipline and stick to it. Show the kids you love them and care for them.  Do not compare your country’s curriculum to the NZ curriculum. You are here to learn and follow your love to teach children!


What cultural differences have you noticed between teaching in your home country and teaching in New Zealand?


I’m comparing it to the USA, because that’s where I’ve been teaching for the past 5 years.

All schools start and end at the same time. Uniforms are worn here. More sports in school. Intermediate school is only 2 years compared to 3 years in the USA. Students have more free time with morning tea and lunch breaks, compared to 25-minute lunch and 30 min recess. I was Mrs. Duvenage in the US, here I am Deidré.


How have you found the process of settling into your new community in New Zealand?


It’s very culturally diverse, which we like. It was difficult to secure a house that is pet-friendly. My kids found it much easier to make friends here than in the USA. That to me was half the battle won.

Public transport is great and gives my teens the freedom to get around without me. We are happy in the community. Everything is accessible although there a fewer choices here than in the USA. On the bright side there are more South African products available here.


What resources or support have you found most helpful in adjusting to teaching in New Zealand?


We had several PDs about learning in the ECE setting and bringing the curriculum together.


What aspects of New Zealand’s education system do you find most innovative or effective?


Learning through play and looking after their social well-being. Each child learning on their level.


Key Takeaways


It’s apparent that knowing what to expect when teaching in New Zealand is more than just a change of scenery, it comes with its ups and downs. Ashley’s conversation with Deidré helps us to understand the challenges and triumphs of teaching abroad, offering valuable lessons for anyone considering a similar leap. As we conclude, we hope this glimpse into Deidré’s adventure sparks inspiration for those contemplating their international teaching venture.

If you would like to chat to one of our team about our current teaching opportunities in New Zealand, please register your details here. We’ll get in contact with you shortly about our current opportunities!

Start your next journey with Prospero Teaching!