It’s back to school time for many of my Canadian friends. Nothing breeds amnesic excitement like the initial days of a new school year. In honour of this occasion, I thought I’d run a little comparison of my 7 years of teaching experience in a Canadian public school division  to my 1 month experience at an international school in Colombo. I’ll leave the guessing up to you as to which bullet belongs to which school.


  • 41 different nationalities (most living in Sri Lanka for a 2-3 years)
  • Canadians of many different ethnic backgrounds (most living in Canada their whole lives)

School Day (for students)

  • 7:30am – 3:30pm
  • 9am – 3:30pm

Evaluation System

  • criteria referenced on a scale of 1-8 (still getting my head around this)
  • traditional percentages

A few funny student quotes:

  • “Ms. C. you look exactly like Princess Dianna; except that she was blonde and lighter skinned and had blue eyes; but other than that you look exactly like she did.”
  • “Ms. C. what country is America in?”
  • “There’s nothing quite like swimming in the Indian Ocean- except swimming in the Indian Ocean.”
  • Student on the phone to mother: “Mom, Ms. C. just let us blow up a car for the classroom movie!” (It was a dinky car, and it was set on fire with adequate supervision and a fire extinguisher right there.)
  • “What were those things called before they had DVD players?”
  • As an answer to an assignment: “I dunno, but wat do u call a vampire snoman? Frostbite. Get it? Laff now!”

Craziest moment:

  • having one student stab another student with a butter knife in the face
  • having one student ask if I could please give them more  homework

This being said, no matter where you go in the world, middle school kids are still middle school kids. They forget what you told them 2 minutes ago. The boys talk about the latest video games; the girls talk about Justin Bieber. Their lockers are messy and they use up the extra classroom pencils in the first week of class. They worry about looking cool and fitting in. They are quirky and funny, and no matter the location, I get a kick out of teaching them.

Trina aka Ms. C.