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Teacher-authors around the world: meet Catia from Portugal!

I'm back with another interview in the series of Teacher-Authors Around the World.
My guest today is my fellow Portuguese-speaker Catia from Always a Teacher & Forever a Mom.

 Always a Teacher and Forever a Mom
Click on the image to check out Catia's blog!

1. Where were you born and how did you end up in Canada? 
I was born and raised in Lousada, a small town in northern Portugal.
It's a quiet town very rich in culture and history. Its historic sites comprehend Bronze Era buildings, Roman bridges and aqueducts, medieval churches and dozens of manors and palatial homes.

Catia's parents' home is a typical farm house of the North of Portugal.
It's over 200 years old and built in granite!

I lived in Lousada until 2003, when I moved to Canada.
My husband is Canadian and after 5 years of marriage, 2 children and the prospect of a country entering a deep economic crisis, we decided to move to Canada.
We have been here for 11 years now, and although I miss my country, family and friends, I never regretted making the move.

2. Do your children speak Portuguese?
No, my children do not speak Portuguese.

When we moved to Canada, my oldest was only 3 years old and about to enter school. Since his English speaking abilities were non-existent at the time, we decided to only speak English until he learned the language. I guess we got so comfortable with English that we never went back, lol.

Once in a while we try to teach the children some vocabulary. They really enjoy it and we hope that eventually they will become somewhat fluent in Portuguese.

3. What are the main differences between schools in Portugal and Canada?
There are a few differences. Some are positive and others not so much. The following are the ones that I most noticed:

In Canada there is a homeroom teacher until grade 8.
In Portugal this only happens until grade 4. For grade 5 and up students have one teacher per each different subject.

School hours in Canada are always the same throughout the week. Elementary starts around 9 a.m. and ends around 3:30 p.m.; and Secondary starts around 8:30 a.m. and ends around 2:30 p.m.
In Portugal only kindergarten to grade 4 have this type of regular schedule. Starting with grade 5, school schedules vary throughout the week. Some days, children can start as early as 8:30 a.m. and only finish at 6:30 p.m.; while on the next day, they might just start at 9:30 a.m. and finish at 1:30 p.m.
I find that this type of school schedule has a negative impact on children. They are often very tired and unmotivated by the end of the day.

Studying doesn't mean you can't cuddle with your favorite kitty!

There is no such thing as substitute teachers in Portugal! Usually, if a teacher misses school, the students are either sent home with parents/caregivers or are left to roam around the school grounds. In fact, unless the teacher misses for more than a month or two, there are no substitutes at all :( This doesn't help giving continuity to learning and the students are the ones that most suffer from it!

Public school in Canada is 100% free.
In Portugal, the public school is also free, however, the students have to pay for all books and supplies!

There are more differences between both school systems, but these are the most striking to me.

4. I believe you've already homeschooled your children. Is homeschooling common in Portugal?
Yes, I homeschooled my son for grade 5 only!

Teaching the science curriculum:
a project-based activity to cover the body systems
It was a good learning experience for both of us and it gave me a renewed respect for all homeschoolers out there. Although there is a lot more flexibility in homeschooling, it is also very demanding in terms of prep work.

When I left Portugal, homeschooling was not even heard off. However, I have recently learned from some colleagues and relatives that it has become quite popular lately. Due to the economic crisis of the country, some families have ventured into homeschooling in order to provide their children with a good education while cutting on costs.
In general, it is regarded as something strange and most people don't really "buy" into it.

5. Which do you prefer creating: classroom resources or clipart?
I love the creative process of both classroom resources and clip art. Each has its own appeal and often play off each other :)

 Subtraction Activity Set
Check out the cupcakes Catia drew for her Subtraction Activity Set
 Free Word Wizard Vocabulary
Click on the image to download the FREE Word Wizard Vocabulary Journal 
There are times when I come up with an idea for a resource and then have to create the clip art to complement it; and other times I just create clip art that later on inspires me to create classroom resources.

6. If you could give one tip to anybody getting started on Teachers Pay Teachers (or similar websites), what would it be
Definitely: be patient!!!!
I think that when we start as new sellers, often we set extremely high expectations based on the success of others. I was no different! When I first heard of Deanna Jump's success, I thought right away that I could do just as well as her... I thought my resources were certainly going to take TpT by storm and I would make a million dollars in a few weeks !!! Well, that just didn't happen, lol.

It took me a while to learn to be patient. My store is growing slowly but steadily. Yes, I still think that I could achieve the success Ms. Jump did, but now I know that it will take me a long while :)

Thank you so much, Catia, for being my guest!!! Muito obrigada (that's "thank you" in Portuguese)!!

Now go check out Catia's Always a Teacher & Forever a Mom blog, chat with her on Facebook or G+! You can also find her on Twitter and Pinterest!

READ: 10 words that English borrowed from Portuguese

READ: Teacher-authors around the world: meet Lisa from Scotland

READ: Teacher-authors around the world: meet Lindy from South Africa

READ: Teacher-authors around the world: meet Rosie from New Zealand

Follow this blog if you don't want to miss the next interview in this series!

Thank you all for reading!


  1. Thank you so much for the opportunity Lucy! This is such a fun series to read and I'm thrilled that you chose me to be part of it :)

  2. Ive enjoyed reading each of these posts, Lucy! It's so much fun to read about teachers in other parts of the world! Now I'm off to read Catia's blog! Carol

    1. I'm so interested in how people live in other parts of the world that I figured other people might be interested too!
      Thanks for reading, Carol! You're a good friend!

  3. Fascinating...... I've now crossed being a substitute teacher in Portugal off my bucket list lol! Great job Catia and Lucy :-)

    1. You're funny, Rosie :D
      Thanks for always reading!
      - Lucy

  4. Great post, Lucy! As a fellow Canadian, it was interesting to read Catia's thoughts! :) Zero substitute teachers in Portugal vs. Ontario, where we must supply teacher for at least a year before being eligible for long term assignments. Wow!!

    1. I also loved learning about what goes on in Canada and Portugal.
      Catia's comparison was great.
      Thank you for reading, Emily!

  5. I chat with Catia on TBTS chats. She is funny!
    Debbie (kyotodeb)

    1. Can you believe that, after almost one year of TBTS, I haven't been able to attend a chat yet?
      I'll keep trying and I hope I'll "meet" you there too!

      - Lucy

  6. I loved reading about Catia's home in Portugal and the differences between the educational systems in Portugal and Canada. And I love the background papers Catia creates. They're unique and charming! And I also love to read Catia's posts in the TpT seller's forum. When you read them, you can just feel her heart! Thanks for giving us this chance to learn more about Catia, Lucy!

    1. I'm also a fan of Catia's papers. I agree that they're truly unique.
      And we can really feel her heart in everything she does and says!
      Thank you for reading, Jill!

  7. I don't know how I missed this one! I love Catia! She has been SO HELPFUL to me with starting a FB page and trying to work on my self-hosted blog. It is so nice to read more about her and her home country!

    1. Isn't she the best?
      I'm also trying to start a FB page, so I'll be asking you two for tips!
      Thank you for reading, Leslie!