This article draws on data from two separate qualitative research studies that investigated the experiences of Indigenous teachers and ethnic minority teachers in Australian schools. The data presented here were collected via in-depth individual semi-structured interviews with teachers in 2004 and 2005. Data analysis was informed by post-structuralist discourse theory and the data were examined for broad themes and recurring discourse patterns relevant to the projects' foci. The article explores how teachers who are not from the Anglo-Celtic Australian 'mainstream' use their cultural knowledge and experiences as 'other' to develop deep understandings of ethnic minority and/or Indigenous students. I suggest that the teachers' knowledge of 'self' in regards to ethnicity and/or Indigeneity and social class enables them to empathise with students of difference, to contextualise their students' responses to schooling through understanding their out-of-school lives from perspectives not available to teachers from the dominant cultural majority. I raise in this paper a number of important implications for teacher education including the need to recruit and retain greater numbers of teachers of difference in schools, the need to acknowledge their potential to make valuable contributions to the education of minority students as well as their potential to act as cross-cultural mentors for their 'mainstream' colleagues.