Monday, December 29, 2008

Education in the News: UK students to mentor each other

The UK government is pumping money into a program to train pupils to mentor each other. Jessica Shepherd wrote in the Guardian Newspaper:

"English schools will receive almost three-quarters of a million pounds over the next two years to train their pupils to listen to one another's problems.

Pupils in secondary schools and colleges will be taught to help classmates who struggle to form friendships or find it hard to express themselves.

Ministers hope the "peer mentors" will defuse arguments through discussion, reduce bullying, improve behaviour and raise attainment."

To read the full article, please click here.

What do you think? Can secondary school students really help each other or is this just another big ol' waste of education funding? Have you seen anything like this mentoring program elsewhere? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Stumble Upon, Interactive Whiteboards & You Tube - How to Use Technology in Any Classroom

Do you know about Stumble Upon yet? It's a website you can use to "stumble" through the web looking for sites that match your interests. So, for Classroom Canada, I state that I am most interested in education, and therefore teaching, teachers, teaching in London, England, schools, and so on. I then click on the stumble button on my tool bar and quickly flick through websites, videos, images and blogs & either give a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Many of the videos I've added to this blog were found through using Stumble Upon. If you want, you can see which websites & videos I've enjoyed by clicking on this link. Some are just silly, and some are really useful.

I found the above video in stumble upon this morning. I decided to share it with you for 2 reasons:

1. I wanted to tell you about Stumble Upon since it makes 10 minutes of random web searching much more interesting.

2. I wanted to tell you how easy it is to use Interactive Whiteboards in London schools. Let's say you have to teach your students anatomy, whether it be grade 1 or grade 11. A silly video like the one above can be found through using stumble upon, or teacher tube or you tube. You start the lesson with the video on the IWB, and bam. Your students are hooked. It's so easy! Then, you can carry on with your lesson with a class that is more engaged. Of course, you will need to have them using more hands-on tools as well, but this type of video is a fabulous lesson starter anyway.

Like this post? You might also like:
Mind Maps & Interactive Whiteboards
My Top 14 Favourite Movies Set in London
Teaching Math in London Schools
52 Reasons to Teach in London, England

One last thing: The statistics for this little blog are outstanding! Since I first started writing in August 2008, this blog has had: 6496 page views, 3410 unique visitors, 2642 of those were first time visitors & 768 regular returning visitors.

So here's my question for you dear reader. How can I make this blog more welcoming to you to leave comments? I'd like there to be more discussion & networking in the comments, but need your help. Any suggestions or advice for me? I'd love to hear it! Please let me know below & thanks so much for your continued support & encouragement.

Monday, December 22, 2008

100th Post: 100 ways to Say "Well Done!" to Students

This is our 100th blog post. Wow. When I started this little blog in August 2008, I had no idea if I could actually have enough to say about teaching in London to keep up with a blog. Turns out I do. Well how 'bout that?

So to celebrate, I thought I'd include
100 Ways to Say Well Done to Students. There are plenty of these lists out there on the web. Most are 50 ways, and tend to be fairly American in their statements (there's nothing wrong with that, but when teaching in the UK you should try to use more British terms). I found this handy list of 90 ways on a Surrey UK website, so I wanted to share it with you & add 10 more of my own.

Primary Schools

Social Rewards
  1. verbal praise, stating what the pupil has done that was good, and why
  2. making eye contact with a smile, wink, or nod of the head
  3. putting a hand on the pupil's shoulder, ruffling the hair, or pat on the back (NB some children do not like physical contact)
  4. quick hug (where age or maturity appropriate for a teacher to do this)
  5. handshake: soul shake (“Give me five”); finger handshake (hook one finger with one of the pupil's); group handshake
  6. calling the pupil's parents to tell them something positive
  7. telling another pupil something positive about the pupil (so that the pupil can hear)
  8. telling the headteacher something positive about the pupil (so that the pupil can hear)
  9. asking the pupil to show other pupils how to do something s/he can do well
  10. eating with the pupil at lunchtime
  11. going out at playtime with the pupil
  12. working with the pupil
  13. playing a game with the pupil
  14. letting the pupil spend time with the caretaker, school secretary, or headteacher
Special Responsibilities
  1. student chooses the next activity for the class
  2. student chooses a game for the class to play
  3. student feeds the class pet
  4. student waters the class or headteacher's or secretary's plants
  5. student reads to the class or to a younger class
  6. student controlls the video
  7. student gets to be the door monitor for the day
  8. student gets to pass out and collect in special equipment
  9. student gets to be a team captain and choose a team
  10. student gets to give the questions in a class test
  11. student gets to be the headteacher's or secretary's special assistant for half a morning
  12. student gets to put up a display with an adult or on their own
  13. student gets to choose the next book for story time;
  14. student gets to choose the next song to sing
  15. student can take the class pet home for the weekend
  16. student can take a note or message to other teachers in the school
  17. student takes a note or the register (aka attendance) to the office
  18. student can open or close the curtains
  19. student can be the book monitor
  20. student can use some special equipment not normally available for pupil use. . .
  21. student can be assistant referee in a game
  22. student can blow the whistle at playtime
  23. student can do something only teachers or older pupils are usually allowed to do. . .
Special Activities
  1. student can sit in the teacher's chair
  2. student can have extra free time; free choice activity
  3. student can play with puzzles
  4. student can be the leader of the line
  5. student can paint, draw or model
  6. student can watch a film or television programme
  7. student can play with a ‘bumper fun book’ type puzzle and activity sheets
  8. student can have extra playtime
  9. student can have extra P.E.
  10. teacher reads to the class a story the pupil has written
  11. student can have extra time to read a book to him/herself
  12. student can write on the blackboard
  13. student can wash equipment or clean
  14. students can play team games within the classroom
  15. student can choose the place to work at
  16. student can play the piano, keyboard or other instrument
  17. student can choose to not wear uniform for a day
  18. student can put head down and resting for 10 minutes
Tangible Rewards
  1. achievement award
  2. special badge
  3. special headband
  4. special note to headteacher
  5. name on roll of honour in class or in the hall
  6. sticker
  7. comment on the pupil's work
  8. item of school equipment (eg pencil case)
  9. sweets, biscuits or cake
  10. nuts, crisps (aka chips), etc
  11. helping to plan a party
  12. going to the library
  13. playing board games
  14. being the last in the line
  15. using modelling clay
  16. using a tape recorder
  17. colouring in pattern sheets (eg Altair patterns)
  18. staying in at playtime
  19. extra time on the computer
  20. choosing a book to read from the ‘special’ library section
  21. using a stopwatch
  22. cleaning the blackboard
  23. sharpening the pencils
  24. enacting a play
  25. being the chair for the class debate
  26. going on a field trip or excursion out of school
  27. extra time on a favourite subject
  28. tidying up a special area
  29. certificate
  30. special sash
  31. special armband
  32. special note to parents
  33. name on special poster
  34. stamp on work or on hand
  35. toy or game
  36. book, comic, magazine
  37. drink
  38. fruit
My 10 Ways
  1. Have the students who went above & beyond in an assignment get to stay in and have Hot Chocolate with the teacher. I did this for a Mind Map project and 5 of my year 6 students stayed in. They loved it!
  2. Have a friendly chat with the student about one of their favourite interests to show you really are impressed with their work & can now talk about other things. I had a student who had carrier pigeons at home so when he did well, I'd ask him to tell me more ab0ut them.
  3. Have a special hat that the student can wear during story time, while they help you turn the pages. I had a great big gold sparkly hat one student could wear during our Roald Dahl story time. Boys & girls loved it.
  4. Hold a raffle, and students can earn raffle tickets. The grand prizes can be special pencils, stickers, or anything that students love.
  5. Send the student to one of the other teachers to show off their work. Make sure you do this when you know the other teacher won't mind the interruption.
  6. Have a giant puzzle in the classroom that the whole class is working on, and when they've done a great job at their work they can work on the puzzle. I did this with a London puzzle that the students loved to work on. They could find their neighbourhood & landmarks they knew. It worked like a charm!
  7. Say "well done" in their language.
  8. Have the student help you with the register (attendance sheet).
  9. Each morning, say "good morning" in a different language. Have the student choose the language for one day.
  10. Do a "Star of the Week" as many primary schools do. Celebrate that student's success in their behaviour or academic achievements.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Teaching in London, England: Our 10 Most Popular Blog Posts

So you want to teach in London, England but don't know where to start. So many teaching agencies, so much research to do right? Look no further!

Here are the 10 Most Popular Blog Posts about teaching in London, England:

1. 52 Reasons to Teach in London, England.

2. 10 Myths about Teaching in London, England.

3. Pros & Cons to Teaching in London, England.

4. Money, Money Money: How to Open a UK Bank Account & Send Money to Canada

5. Behaviour Management in the Toughest Class

6. How to Find an Apartment in London

7. A Funny Teaching Story & Interview with an OISE Teacher in London

8. American Teacher Recruitment for London, England

9. Cheap Flights to London, England and How to Book a Hostel

10. Typical Interview Questions for Teaching in London, England

For books, start with the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.
Check out the interviews with our teachers & recruiters on the right hand side of this page and sign up for our newsletters here.

FYI: Classroom Canada is heading out on the road again. We're traveling to Ontario, Quebec and BC to meet with new & experienced teachers. If you'd like to meet us in person, please see this post to see if we're coming to a town near you.

Apply for teaching jobs that start in April & May 2009 or September 2009 in January and February.

Happy holidays everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Teaching in London, England - The Queen's Christmas Video

Every year, the Queen of England has a Christmas video. Most of our teachers travel at Christmas so they miss this event, but with You tube & Blogging you can watch it here. This is last year's address, but I will be sure to post her 2008 video once it's up on You Tube.

I emailed our BC teachers to ask if they'd be home for Christmas this year and not one of them is! I am so impressed with their travels. They are off to Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Scotland and Ireland instead. So, while Vancouver Island is covered in a blanket of snow our teachers in London are off traveling Europe and enjoying the holidays they deserve.

If you want to see where you could travel while teaching in London, check out this post about Flights to England & How to Book Cheap Hostels.

Be sure to get your copy of the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. I know a few of our readers purchased the guide as a stocking stuffer. What a brilliant idea!
Sign up for our newsletters here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Teaching in London, England with Interactive Whiteboards (aka Smart Boards)

Picture this. It's Monday morning and you want your students to feel inspired to write a short story.

You could start with your own short story & read aloud to the students. You could read them a story by Robert Munsch or Roald Dahl. You could write a half completed sentence on the board & tell the students to finish it. You could show them interesting photos to get their creative juices flowing.

All of these ideas are fine, but ...

Well, let's face it. Students want more than a flat picture to look at, or a story read to them aloud.

In London, the vast majority of classrooms from year 1 all the way through to A Levels have Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs), which you may know as Smart Boards. This technology will change your teaching & make it much more interactive for the students. The VAK (Visual, Auditory and Kinestetic) approach is made much easier with the use of the technology.

Here's a set of sample Story Starts compiled by Teachers TV. In the video, you'll see how to use the IWB to inspire your students in their writing. Check it out, watch it, use it & spread the word.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One Laptop Per Child

I wrote a little while ago about Support for Non-Profits and Education Around the World, and have since learned about this One Laptop Per Child program. I will be getting involved in this in some capacity and would love your thoughts and ideas.

One reason our teachers really enjoy teaching in London is that the use of technology is outstanding. Almost every classroom has an interactive white board (which you may know as a Smart Board). Students grow up logged on, tapped in and clued in. You can learn more about Smart Board resources if you join this the SmartBoard Lesson podcast group on facebook.

So in the spirit of giving back, I think it's only right that we help promote One Laptop Per Child as well. What do you think? Do you know any more about this program that I should be aware of before I take the plunge and sign a cheque? I prefer to support organizations that I know well, so any feedback you have for me will be great. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Teaching Jobs in London, England

Teaching with Bailey - Chatty Students from Efl Classroom on Vimeo.

The above video will help teachers considering the move to teaching in the UK. What better way to learn what it's really like than to watch it on television?

In the above video you will watch former teacher & now behaviour consultant, John Bayley. He has a regular spot on Teachers TV with a program called "Teaching with Bayley" - I recommend that you watch as many of these as you can before you look at specific teaching jobs in London. Bayley is considered an "outstanding" teacher (by the government agency, Ofsted) and is brilliant to watch in action.

To read more about Bayley, please see this website.

If you do want to know more about teaching jobs now, please read this post. Also, get your copy of the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians by yours truly.

Here's an email I just received from one of the readers of the guide:
"I just finished reading the guide, thank you so much! It was extremely enjoyable to read and clearly answered many, if not all, of my questions (from how the British school system works to what to bring to London).

has definitely helped to solidify my decision to move to London and has got me very excited! My biggest question and concern was whether to apply with an agency or not. I've done a lot of research online and through talking with friends who have gone to Europe to teach but there's not a lot of clear information out there about agencies and their pros and cons, but you've totally convinced me!

Once school and work have calmed down a bit during the Christmas
holidays you can expect to receive my cover letter and resume!

Thanks again,
Wow - Thanks Amie! I really appreciate your feedback & am so pleased to read your thoughts on the guide.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

University Job Fairs 2009 - Update

Classroom Canada is leaving the sunny shores of Victoria, BC to venture east and meet the teachers in Ontario and Quebec. New & experienced teachers should apply now for jobs starting in April/May 2009 and September 2009.

Here are the dates & locations of the job fairs we will be attending:

  • University of Toronto (OISE): December 12, 2008
  • University of Victoria (for a presentation): December 16th, 2008
  • York University: January 6th (book launch) and January 8, 2009 (job fair) - CANCELED DUE TO STRIKE ON CAMPUS
  • Brock University: January 9, 2009
  • Queens University: January 13, 2009
  • Western University: January 16, 2009
  • Trent University: January 17, 2009
  • UBC: January 23rd, 2009
  • Nipissing University: January 29th (book launch) and January 30, 2009 (job fair)
  • McGill University: February 2, 2009
  • Concordia University: February 4, 2009
  • University of Ottawa: February 6, 2009
  • University of Victoria: March 5 & 6, 2009
You should also buy the ebook, Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians (the American edition will be out soon). To apply, please click here.

If you don't see your city or university on the list, don't fret! Apply anyway. Canada is just so big! It's hard for us to go to every city, but that won't stop us from interviewing you on the phone.

Here's a video I thought you might find funny. It's Student Rush Hour at Cambridge, in the UK. It's shown here at 4 times the speed. Check out all those bikes!

Monday, December 8, 2008

York Teachers Should Apply Now - York Job Fair Cancelled

I just received an email to say that the York Education Job Fair has been canceled due to a strike on campus. York University Teachers should apply to teaching jobs with Classroom Canada now if they want to be interviewed in person.

I had planned to be at York on the 8th of January to meet the new teachers & discuss teaching in London, but we'll have to find another way. I'm at OISE (U of T) this Friday (December 12th) and will be conducting interviews all day Saturday in Toronto. Most of those interview spots have been taken, but if you apply now, I might be able to fit you in or interview you Sunday morning.

York may reschedule the job fair for the end of January or early February, but to be safe you should still just apply now. I have a few brilliant teachers from York who are teaching in London with us now, so it really is a shame that the strike is lasting this long. To read an interview with a York teacher just click here.

We also planned a book launch at York for the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians for January 6th. This may have to be canceled as well. I'll keep you posted through this blog, so watch this space.

To see what other cities & universities we are visiting, please see this blog post. We've also decided to add 2 more universities: Trent (Jan. 12th) and Western (Jan. 16th). If you don't see your area on the list, please apply anyway.

Friday, December 5, 2008

How to Survive Your Worst Teaching Day

We've all had those days.

And if you haven't yet, be sure it's coming.

You've lost control of your class. Your students are going crazy in the classroom - fighting, throwing things, listening to not a single word you say. You feel like you've lost all authority.

What do you do?

It all comes down to attitude.

You can blame the school. You can blame the children. You can blame their "irresponsible parents". You can blame England, its educational policies, its backward class system. And you can even blame the Queen.

But none of your blaming will get you anywhere other than teacher burnout and possibly the end of your teaching career.


You could choose to take control of the one thing you do have control of: YOU.

You can tell yourself, "I can turn this around. I can get through this. I'm the one in charge. I am the grown-up here and this is my classroom." Then draw on everything you've learned in teachers college, in practicum, from other teachers, from this blog, the books you've read and your own common sense. And get control of yourself and your classroom.

You may not get through the lesson. You may not get through the objective. But you will get through the day and you will have earned your students' respect (maybe not much, but every bit makes a difference!)

It's all about T-Cup. Total Control Under Pressure. Make it your mantra. Your creed. You can't go wrong with T-Cup as your guide.

Then go home, have a bath, a glass of wine...whatever you do to relax. I went to the gym almost every day in my first year of teaching in a particularly challenging school. It was the only way I could get my frustrations out.

Sometimes you can vent to your other teacher friends. Use their support & words of advice. But to value your friendship and yourself, don't vent all the time!

My Australian flatmate & I had a rule in our home - for every negative statement we made about our day, we had to come up with 2 positives. At first, it was pretty tough. We both had our hands full, and needed to get all the negative thoughts out of our systems. But the positive thoughts helped us 100 times more.

One of my teachers writes the Canadian value of her daily rate on her hand. So, for example, if she earns 120 pounds/day, she would write $230 on her hand. She looks at her hand when she's having a particularly crummy moment in teaching. It calms her down, reminds her that she's doing great & earning good money. Then she thinks about going to Paris on the weekend. Or maybe this weekend she'll go to Barcelona? Or how about Brussels? Not a bad life after all!

Do you have any advice that you can offer teachers? Please help us by leaving your comment below.

Like this post? You might also like:
How Will You Get the Meanest, Nastiest, & Rudest Kid in the Class to Listen to You?
1o Myths About Teaching in London
Pros & Cons to Teaching in London
Rules, Rules & More Rules
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians

Check out this Teachers TV Video as well:

Teaching with Bailey - Class control Ecoutez! from Efl Classroom on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Support for Non-Profits & Education Around the World

One of the reasons I started Classroom Canada is that I used to work in international development. While teaching in London, England I quickly discovered that the vast majority of teaching agencies that bring foreign teachers to the UK don't really focus on teachers as whole beings. They focus on getting us jobs (which frankly, is not that tough considering the massive shortage of teachers in the UK), and forget to focus on accommodations and community for the teachers.

So, with Classroom Canada I'm pleased to say that our teachers make the move to London feeling supported & part of a community of teachers. You can read some of their stories on the right hand side of this blog under the sub-heading Interviews with our Teachers.

To support international development & global education, I give money to a couple of charities that I believe fit in with Classroom Canada's goals. I thought you might like to hear about these organizations.

The first organization is Amnesty International, which I support on a monthly basis. To learn more about Amnesty, please click here.

The second organization I give to is the Katine project, which was started by the Guardian newspaper. Here's what they say:

"In October 2007, the Guardian and Observer embarked on a three-year project to support development work carried out by the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) and Farm-Africa in Katine, a rural sub-county of north-east Uganda.

But the Katine project is more than just a fundraising push. On our dedicated Katine website you will get the chance to find out how the money is spent, how development works (the successes and the failures) and how the lives of the sub-county's 25,000 inhabitants have changed."

What I like about the Katine website is that you can actually see the changes happening in this small community. It's an interactive website that really helps readers to understand the issues facing the village. If you can, please support this project by donating here.

When I went to Queen's University for my B.Ed, I received a grant to complete one of my teaching practicums in Bangladesh. I did this practicum with Volunteers for Peace, which involved helping a rural community to build latrines, assisting doctors with eye cataract surgery and health education in general. It was an incredible experience & helped my teaching immensely. I encourage all teachers to get some experience working in a variety of settings world-wide, as our classrooms are becoming more diverse. You will only be a better teacher for it.

While teaching in London, teachers have 13 weeks of holiday a year. You can complete projects like the one I did with VFP throughout Europe & Africa and live rent-free while giving back to the community. Check out the VFP website here. You can search by country or type of project. For example, there were 47 projects (called "workcamps") in England for 2008.

If you know of a good non-profit organization that you think we should support, please leave your comments below. I'll be happy to do some research & see what I can do to help.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Funny Teaching Story & Interview with an OISE Teacher

Classroom Canada is hitting the road again! We're going to Toronto to meet with OISE teachers & interview teachers in the Toronto area on December 12th & 13th. Check out this post for more information about our Cross-Canada tour.

In honour of the OISE fair, we thought you might like to read this interview with Jessica, a graduate of the University of Toronto's OISE Bachelor of Education. Jessica taught in Toronto for a year before embarking on her adventure in teaching in London, England. She's an outstanding teacher so please read her advice & tips about teaching in the UK.

Here's a funny story from one of our teachers in London. Arlene writes this blog that she's agreed to share with you, dear readers. I laughed out loud, so hope you enjoy it as well.

"I had a lovely class of year fives on Wednesday outside of central London. They were really nice and well behaved. I have to say, though, I'm often amazed at some student's lack of knowledge about Canada. Each morning when I introduce myself I say that I'm from Canada and tell them how long it took me to get to London on an airplane and answer any questions they have about me or where I'm from.

Well, in this year 5 class (so, 10 year olds), after lunch the kids were working nicely on some writing when suddenly one boy puts up his hand. I figure he has a question about the work so I go over to help him. When I get to his table he puts his hand up to his ear (mimicking a phone) and looks puzzled as he asks,

"Miss, so did they call you in Canada this morning and tell you you had to come all the way to London to teach us?"

I honestly could not think of anything intelligent to say to that, so I just laughed. The TA started laughing, looked at her watch and said, "Well, you'd better getting going now, Miss, if you want to be home for dinner!"

Same kid, about twenty minutes later asks, "Miss, if we're good would you read us a story in 'Canadian'?"

After a brief explanation that 'Canadian' is not a language, and that we speak English in Canada just like in England, he then asks, "Well then Miss, could you read us a story with your accent on?"

My response: "Sure, I guess I can turn my accent 'on' for you guys... but only if you're really good for the rest of the afternoon."

Suffice it to say, we had story time and I read Robert Munsch... with my accent on."
Thanks for sharing this story with us Arlene! I love it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Interviews in Toronto for Teaching in London, England

Classroom Canada is coming to Toronto!

We're attending the OISE job fair for teachers on December 12, 2008 and have decided to stay an extra day in order to interview teachers who wish to work in London in the spring or autumn of 2009.

The response from teachers in the Toronto area has been overwhelming. Your applications are flooding my inbox, and your feedback about the blog & the book is incredible. Thank you so much! I'm excited to meet you all in person.

If you're interested in teaching in London, England with Classroom Canada, please send your resume to Don't forget to let me know that you'd like to be interviewed in Toronto to reserve your spot.

Don't live near Toronto? Don't fret! Here's an updated list of the universities we will be attending in the coming months.
  • University of Victoria (for a presentation): December 16th, 2008
  • York University: January 6th (book launch) and January 8, 2009 (job fair)
  • Brock University: January 9, 2009
  • Queens University: January 13, 2009
  • UBC: January 23rd, 2009
  • Nipissing University: January 29th (book launch) and January 30, 2009 (job fair)
  • McGill University: February 2, 2009
  • Concordia University: February 4, 2009
  • University of Ottawa: February 6, 2009
  • University of Victoria: March 5 & 6, 2009

If you still don't find your area on our list, apply anyway. I can always interview you on the phone & meet you in person at a later date. I am considering adding a few more universities to the tour, so please let me know if you'd like to meet me at a university near you.

And of course, get your copy of the Guide to Teaching in London so you can learn everything you need to know about teaching in London, England. Sign up for our newsletters and become a fan of Classroom Canada on facebook here.

An Email from a Canadian Teacher With Experience in London, England

I ran a contest yesterday for subscribers of the Classroom Canada newsletters and gave away 3 copies of the ebook, Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.

One of the winners sent me this email:

"I am so thrilled about the book!! I was just telling my mom a couple of days ago that I was going to buy it :))
I have been reading your blog for some time now, and let me tell you, it has been so helpful. Firstly, I have been teaching in London - and after a particularly bad day in the classroom (after which I felt like the most incompetent teacher ever!), I stumbled across your blog. The advice you give is great, and doesn't disguise the reality.
I made the mistake (?) of going to London with one agency, and ended up only getting 2-3 days of work a week. After stressing about money, I decided to return home for December, and also look for another (or an additional) agency.
I can't wait to return to England! So long story short, I will definitely be sending you my resume (from what I have read in your blog and on your website, I am impressed with Classroom Canada).

Wow - another story of a Canadian teacher moving to London only to discover that she's not supported by her agency. Sadly, we hear about this happening all the time. So thanks for the support of Classroom Canada! Your story is exactly the reason I started this little teaching agency that could.

Here's another email from one of our teachers telling a similar story.

To enter our contests & read more from our teachers, sign up to our emails. Get your copy of the Guide to Teaching in London here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Education in the News: UK vs. Canadian Newspapers

One of the reasons I love teaching in London, England is that education is talked about daily in the newspapers. It's a national issue and one that is debated and discussed on a very regular basis. Open any UK newspaper and you'll find an Education section, just like you would a Sports or Business section.

Canadians newspapers have occasional Education features, whereas UK newspapers have Education sections.

It's a good idea to start reading the UK education sections if you are considering teaching in England. Here are some links to get you started.

The Guardian Education Section

This is my personal favourite. Regular readers of this blog will notice that I am constantly referring to the Guardian. I was also a member of the Guardian book club when I lived in London, and got to meet Margaret Atwood and Zadie Smith through their author series. If you're an avid reader, join the club.

The Times Online Education Section
The best part of this section is Sarah Ebner's School Gate blog.

The Independent Education Section
Another good UK newspaper to follow.

Times Educational Supplement (aka The TES)
The TES is a weekly newspaper about Education. It's mostly read by teachers & administrators looking for new jobs, but it also carries a solid amount of news about changes to education as well. The online edition is excelent, and an incredible resource for overseas teachers to start their research into teaching in the UK.

Canadian Newspapers

The Globe & Mail

The Globe & Mail doesn't have an education section, but it does have articles related to education issues on a semi-regular basis. Today, I found a couple of good articles about Ontario teachers and their salary debates.

The National Post
The National Post barely touches on issues in education, at least if you judge today's edition. I couldn't find any articles on the Ontario salary issue, which surprised me.

Want more information? Read 10 Myths About Teaching in London, and 52 Reasons to Teach in London. Buy the Guide to Teaching in London or download a free chapter today!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nursery & Primary Education Matter More Than Home Environment

Here's an interesting article in the Guardian today. Researchers claim that attending a good pre-school (2-3 year olds) and primary school has more influence on children's academic progress than their gender or home environment.

This throws out the whole idea that it's the parents fault, or the socio-economic status of the children that is to blame for low-achievement in school.

I personally taught in 2 very different schools in Brixton, London. Brixton is well known in London as a pretty tough area to teach in, and has a bad reputation for drugs and gangs. It has a high population of African and Afro-Caribbean students.

The first primary school I taught at in Brixton fit the stereotype of a school out of control. I taught Year 6 my first day, and had 2 years experience teaching in London already.

Before I could say, "Hello my name is..." the students ran into the corridor to participate in and witness a massive fight between a few of the boys. Imagine my delight at teaching that class for the day! I eventually calmed them down and managed to get through the attendance, get them to assembly & start the day again.

Surprisingly, they loved me! They asked me back again & again. I suspect it was because I wasn't shocked at their behaviour, but didn't accept them either. I am firm but fair, an essential skill in all London schools.

The next school I taught at in Brixton was just a few blocks away. Same population, same backgrounds, same socio-economic status. But this school was different. It had been rated as "outstanding" by Ofsted, the government regulatory body that rates schools.

So what was different? Well, not the kids! They came from the exact same neighbourhood. The school itself was different. The expectations were higher. The focus on extracurricular activities was much stronger. These students could do steal-pan drumming at lunch, play football ("soccer" for us), learn Turkish cooking, have extra support for their studies, and so on. They had every opportunity to excel in school and in school life.

The teachers worked together. They genuinely believed that all students can achieve in school and in life. Students with special educational needs were encouraged and supported. Behavioural difficulties were dealt with straight away and not ignored.

So, for me, I agree with this article. We do make a huge difference. And that's why I adore our teachers and the amazing work they do in London schools.

But what about you? Have you taught in a diverse school? Can you share your story? Please leave your comments below. Don't be shy!

If you think you want to teach in London, whether at tough school like my first example, or an "outstanding" school like the second, you can apply by sending me your resume to Check out the website for more information about visas. Teaching jobs for January are being filled quickly, so apply today.

Get your copy of Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. The ebook is receiving rave reviews from all readers, so I know you won't be disapointed. If you are though, I'll give you your money back.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Teachers Blaming Other Teachers

Phil Beadle writes a very interesting blog post in today's Guardian newspaper. He wants to know who's to blame for the failure of his year 11's in their punctuation and writing. He admits that it's easy to blame last year's teacher.

"My year 11s can't tell a comma from a colon. They write in three different tenses in the space of a single sentence and think that a preposition is something to do with asking someone out. Of course, it's all their last teacher's fault. I blame him," Phil writes.

He goes on to explain that actually, their teacher from last year is a great teacher. So it must be the teacher from the year before that. And so it goes...

What I like about Phil's style is that he writes as if he's speaking with the reader. I can hear his voice as I read the article. And I completely agree - it's far too simple to blame other teachers.

One of the issues that foreign teachers face when teaching abroad is that they tend to want to blame & criticize the education system in their new country. They compare it to "home". The more experience they gain, the more they realize that the comparison just does not work.

Most of my teachers say they really struggle for their first 6 months, but once they get a handle on teaching in London, England they find it gradually gets easier. They all admit that behaviour management is way harder than they initially thought.

Some even admit they didn't believe other teachers when they said it would be tough. They thought, "Well, my behaviour management skills are great! It must just be that other teacher's fault,". Only to admit later that hey, this stuff is harder than it looks!

There's something rather humbling about teaching in inner city schools in London.

The point? Rather than blame other teachers, let's learn from each other and work together. Just like we teach the children right?

The great news? Our teachers live together & share their experiences at the end of the day so they are constantly learning from each other. It really helps to know that you're not alone & the challenges you go through are common and perfectly normal. It doesn't matter if you're a fresh graduate from teacher's college or if you have 10 years experience. We all have to adapt to teaching in London. After six months, you'll feel like a pro!

Want to learn more? Buy the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Buy it, read it and if you're not convinced that it's worth every penny, email me and I'll give you your money back.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jobs for Teachers in London, England

Teachers always ask me to tell them about specific jobs we have in London so I thought you might want to know more about jobs as well. It's hard to tell you about all the jobs, as they literally change every day.

The schools call us and tell us what teachers they need, and then we send them resumes for teachers we think will fit their school and the role well. The Head Teacher (principal) or Deputy Head (vice principal) or team leader then requests to see a few teachers in person. They interview them, and usually see them teach an actual lesson (or even for the full day).

Once they decide, the teacher is informed and they get to make their decision. This whole process can take only 24 hours, or it can take weeks. So, when you hear an agency talk about jobs they have at the moment, keep in mind that they mean just at that exact moment. Jobs change quickly!

Here is a list of today's jobs that we have available for January 1st, 2009:

Science - 5 positions
Math - 6 positions
English - maternity leave until July 2009
English - 3 positions
Religious Education
Drama - start as soon as possible
History and Classics
Psychology (A Levels, which is grade 12)
Sociology ( A Levels)
ICT (Information & Computer Technology)
PE (girls)
PE (boys)
Geography - immediate start
French and Spanish teacher
Catholic Religious Education
Head of English (for a very experienced teacher)
Head of Modern Foreign Languages (very experienced teacher)
Head of Science (very experienced teacher)
Head of Math (very experienced teacher)

Year 3 - North London
Reception (Kindergarten) - Central London
Year 6 - for experienced teacher
Float Teacher (teaches Year 1-6)
Year 4 - East London
Year 2- South West London
Year 3 - Church of England School
Year 5 - for teacher with Music background (plays piano/guitar & sings for school singing assemblies)
Float Teacher (years 4-6 only)
Year 5 teacher - North East London

SLD (Severe Learning Disabilities)
MLD (Minor Learning Disabilities)
EBD (Emotional & Behavioural Disabilities)
SEN positions in mainstream schools
SEN positions in SEN schools
Hospital based positions
Home Tuition
Small group work (3-5 students)

This is just what we have today! Really, it changes every day so no agency can give you an accurate list of available positions. You can apply to the agency and then once you are cleared to teach (have your interview, your references, your police check, visa and all documentation) then you will hear more about specific jobs that you are eligible for.

You can read more about the shortage of teachers in London here. You can also download a chapter for FREE from the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.

To apply for these positions (and more!), send your resume to Don't delay though as these jobs will be filled quickly.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hey Teachers: Watch More TV!

Teachers TV is a UK television channel that is essential viewing for all teachers to understand school issues. I find it particularly helpful for my teachers as they like to see inside schools to see what the teaching is really like.

You can watch all their programs online, and they tend to be 15 to 30 minutes in length.

Here's a show about Girls Bullying that I just watched. I actually taught in one of the schools that they filmed in, which was quite cool for me to see.

If you want to know more about teaching in the UK, or in London in particular then you should watch one of these shows every day. That's the best way to prepare yourself. You can search for specific issues (behaviour management, secondary school teaching, curriculum advice, assessment, report cards, supply teaching...).

Reading helps of course, so go through this little blog. We have heaps of information on here!

Also, sign up for our newsletters and buy your copy of the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians (the American edition is coming soon).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Classroom Canada's London Scavenger Hunt

A couple of weeks ago I got together with a group of the Classroom Canada teachers at the Porter House in Covent Garden. We met there to start the London Scavenger Hunt.

We had 4 teams of 5-6 teachers (and some teachers who just stayed at the pub). They were all competing to win a 250 pound voucher with Top Deck Tours and a Hamper of Canadian Goodies from the Canada Shop.

The event took 2 hours to complete and finished with dancing & drinks at the Porter House. The pub is down the road from the Maple Leaf Pub, and has Canadian beer as well. We decided to go there as the Maple Leaf was too small to hold us all. It was a huge hit! I don't want to give too much away here as some of you readers will get the chance to compete in next year's event.

As promised, here are some photos of the event from a few of our teachers, Alison & Alex.

Re-enacting a game of Twister in Covent Garden.
More twister.

Acting out a scene from Romeo & Juliet in front of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the South Bank. This team clearly loves teaching drama.
Fitting every team member into a London phone booth.
Making a map of Canada from their bodies in front of Canada House in Trafalgar Square. Can you see the Rocky Mountains? This was a long shot I admit.

Taking the tube and being stared at for the "I Love Hackney" shirts. This was their idea for their team, and it was hilarious. Well played ladies!

Alex's team at Trafalgar Square.

The team had to find a man to wear the Union Jack boxer shorts & get a photo of him in Leicester Square. I don't think this one minded much.
What I love about Classroom Canada and our teachers is that most of our teachers don't actually know each other before meeting for the first time in London. They're from coast to coast and eager to meet new people and teach children from around the world.

Judging by their photos, I'm sure you can tell how much fun they are having!

Be sure to get your copy of the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Buy it for Christmas for your teacher friends!

If you liked this post, check out Coffee Time with Alison, as well as the other Coffee Times on the right hand side of this page. Sign up for our newsletters & apply to teach with us in London, England.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Upcoming University Education Job Fairs

Most teacher candidates (also called student teachers) are starting to think about jobs for next academic year, but are busy preparing lessons for their student teaching. It's an incredibly busy & overwhelming time! Experienced teachers are also keen to get their jobs sorted for next year.

Here's a typical email that I just received this morning:

"I am currently completing the final year of my Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Alberta. I am so excited to finally become a teacher in April, and I am very interested
in teaching overseas. Something that I really like about Classroom Canada is that it seems to be composed of an amazing group of teachers.

Do you know it Classroom Canada will be partaking in the education job fair at the University of Alberta in January? Thanks, I hope to hear back from you soon!

Wow - thanks for the kind words. It's always good to hear from readers of this little blog. I completely agree - our teachers are fabulous!

Sadly, I don't think we're coming to Alberta this year. I wish we could! You can still apply for positions, and I'm happy to conduct phone interviews from Victoria. In fact, most of my teachers met me for the first time in person when I was in London just a couple of weeks ago.

Here are the dates & locations of a few of the job fairs we will be attending:

  • University of Toronto (OISE): December 12, 2008
  • University of Victoria (for a presentation): December 16th, 2008
  • York University: January 6th (book launch) and January 8, 2009 (job fair)
  • Brock University: January 9, 2009
  • Queens University: January 13, 2009
  • UBC: January 23rd, 2009
  • Nipissing University: January 29th (book launch) and January 30, 2009 (job fair)
  • McGill University: February 2, 2009
  • Concordia University: February 4, 2009
  • University of Ottawa: February 6, 2009
  • University of Victoria: March 5 & 6, 2009
You should also buy the ebook, Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians (the American edition will be out soon). To apply, please click here.

On a final note, if you are a teacher or student teacher in any other region of Canada and want us to come to your university or city, write a comment below & let me know! If enough of you request that Classroom Canada comes to your town, then I can see if I can squeeze it in, or if one of my teachers can visit.

There are more than 2000 people reading this blog now (can you believe that?!), so I know there are more of you out there that we'd love to meet in person. According to the recent poll that just closed, most of our readers are student teachers which makes me think that there are more universities that I should visit. Please let me know which ones! Thanks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2 Teachers, 2 Stories. Which one are you?

This is the story of 2 teachers from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I chose to write about Jane (name changed) and Erika because they are both so different and therefore so are their experiences teaching in London, England.

First, there's Jane. I met Jane when I visited Lakehead last year for their Teacher Education Job Fair. I go to most of the universities in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec every year to talk to new teachers about their job opportunities in the United Kingdom. When I met Jane, she was very keen to talk about teaching History and English in secondary schools.

After months of paperwork, interviews, reference checking, setting up her accommodations, bank account and networking with our other teachers, Jane flew to London to begin her new life & adventures in teaching abroad. She lasted one week.

It wasn't for her.

Jane didn't actually step foot in any London school (she arrived in August, before school started in September), so it wasn't the teaching that drove her away (phew!). She just discovered that London wasn't the right place for her. It was an incredibly expensive lesson to learn, and I know she doesn't regret it. She's now teaching in Northern Ontario in a remote area and loves it. Talk about night & day!

Then there's Erika. I also met Erika at Lakehead on the same day that I met Jane. She went through the same process, and arrived in London around the same time. Erika also teaches History & English in a London secondary school. She loves it! Erika posted her reflections on teaching with us in this blog post.

I sat down and chatted with Erika during the Classroom Canada Scavenger Hunt & we discussed the differences between her and Jane. She was shocked that Jane could travel all that way to only go home within a week, but agreed that it was for best for her. We all understand that teaching & living in London isn't for everyone.

But Erika is most grateful for the friendships she has made with our other teachers. She's been traveling around Europe & is filled with enthusiasm and humour. She is really having an experience she will cherish forever. Yes, she has stories to tell about her first year of teaching that would shock you, but that's also just the nature of a first year teacher in an inner city school.

The point? Well, which teacher are you?

If you worry that you won't enjoy teaching & living in London, then please do your research. Think long & hard about it. Are you excited by big cities like New York, Tokyo, Paris, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto? Then London won't be so shocking to you. But if the idea of teaching in Northern Canada is really more your kind of thing, they are always looking for teachers as well.

Like this post? You might also like 52 Reasons to Teach in London, Pros & Cons to Teaching in London, and Myths About Teaching in London.

Get your copy of the ebook, Guide to Teaching in London and sign up for our newsletters here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hey Teachers! Teaching Jobs in London, England for January 2009

More and more Canadian and American teachers want to teach in London, England this January. That's great news for us as we need teachers for full-time and part-time teaching, as well as supply teaching work.

It happens every year. Teachers arrive from around the world and we place them into supply teaching or full-time positions. The supply teachers find schools they like and stay on full-time, and then we're once again we need more teachers. January is a fabulous time to arrive if you are thinking about teaching abroad.

In January, the Australians, New Zealanders & South Africans tend to go home. That's summer for them, so they understandably want to go home. For those of us from snowy climates, London's weather is pretty good. It rains a lot (much like British Columbia) but rarely snows. If you're a snow-lover, you can still teach in London and go skiing or snowboarding in Switzerland and France during the school breaks (and there are plenty - click here for more on the school holidays in the UK).

Many North American teachers arrive in January to find themselves teaching right away. Our Canadian teachers have done particularly well and schools are asking for more to start in January 2009. Just today, I was contacted for a Special Needs teacher to start January 5th (grades 4-10) and an English teacher to start January 12th. I have schools asking me for strong primary teachers (grades 1-6), and for all areas of secondary school teaching. Science, Math, English, Religious Education and Gym teachers are very much in demand.

To learn more about specific positions, contact me through the Classroom Canada website.

Be sure to buy the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians (the American edition will be out soon).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Does the Global Financial Crisis Affect Teachers in London, England?

I've been on holiday in Vienna, Austria for the past week visiting other teacher friends and relaxing after a very busy week leading professional development workshops & our Scavenger Hunt in London. While there, my teacher friend asked me if Canadian and American teachers are affected by this "Global Financial Crisis" or "Credit Crunch" (as they call it in Europe).

I discussed this issue with most of my teachers and co-workers in the London office and we all agree. We're not really affected by this change, except through the exchange rate with Canadian or American dollars. When I first started teaching in London, I was making $2.50 for every pound earned. That was in 2004. In 2005, the rate started to change, and it has remained around $2.00 for every pound since then.

Until the global financial crisis that is! Now the exchange rate changes daily, ranging from $1.81 to $2.04. For me, this matters a great deal. I get paid in pounds from our UK office every month in Canada. So every month is different because of the exchange rate fluctuations.

For my teachers, most of them admit that they teach in London in order to travel around Europe and pay off some of their student debt. When asked, they all say that the crisis doesn't really affect them - they are still getting heaps of work (whether daily supply teaching or in long term contracts) and earning pounds. The only time they worry is when they want to send money home, but they watch the exchange rates closely and send money on a good day.

The teacher shortage in London isn't about to change any time soon. The teacher job shortage in Ontario and British Columbia is also not about to change. If anything, I predict that less teachers will leave their positions in Canada, leaving more & more new teachers without work. So more teachers will move to work in London, which makes perfect sense to me.

For more information about teaching in London, please buy the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians and see the Classroom Canada website.

If you liked this post, you might also like this post about Sending Money Home, and this post about Teacher Holidays in Europe. Also, read 52 Reasons to Teach in London, England.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Teacher Holidays in Europe

The PD sessions last week went really well, as did the CLassroom Canada Scavenger Hunt. Watch this space for photos of the events. They are hilarious to say the least!

The winners received 250 pounds worth of travel vouchers from Top Deck Tours, and second place winners received a 50 pound hamper from the Canada Shop. The teachers were filled with enthusiasm and humour and had a fabulous time running through the streets of London. Michele from Top Deck was a blast to hang out with!

I am now officially on holiday in Vienna, Austria. Just like our teachers who travel all over Europe, I am taking this week to do some exploring myself. A good friend of mine from Queens teachers college is here (teaching at an International School) so its great to visit and catch up.

Since I am away, this blog wont be updated for another week. Check out all the popular posts on the right hand side of the blog, as well as the ebook, Guide to Teaching in London.

Friday, November 7, 2008

American Teacher Recruitment for London, England

Here's some exciting news for our American Teachers! We are expanding to the United States to create Classroom USA.

Traditionally, it's always been more dificult for American Teachers because they are unable to get the same visas as our Commonwealth teachers. With the changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant Scheme, we are happy to say that it should be a bit easier for American teachers to obtain permission to work in the United Kingdom.

There are already 250 000 Americans in London, England. It's dificult to say how many of these are actually teachers. I know many Americans have passports for EU countries as the American population is also incredibly diverse. If you have an EU passport, then you won't need a visa to teach in London. If you don't have an EU passport, you will have to apply for the Highly Skilled Migrant Program.

You can see if you are eligible by following this link. Don't pay any money upfront until you are certain that you qualify for the visa. There are literally hundreds of companies that help foreigners obtain visas to work in the UK, and I am not in a position to recommend one over another. But for now, you can certainly check to see if you are eligible.

The Classroom USA website will be up and running by January 2009. In the meantime, you can still apply through our Canadian site.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Guy Fawkes, Regent Street Fireworks, Special Needs and Scavenger Hunt

While the world celebrated Obama's election, England celebrated Guy Fawkes Night. I always find it funny that Brits celebrate a foiled terrorist plan to blow up the Parliament in 1605. If this were to happen today, I can't imagine anyone holding celebrations to remember it by.
In any case, it is good fun. Most of our teachers were "oot and aboot" watching the fireworks, but a small handful of dedicated secondary teachers spent the evening in our London office learning how to survive teaching in UK secondary schools. The workshop went brilliantly and the feedback has been incredibly positive. Success!

Tonight we have a workshop for Special Educational Needs, which is well over-booked. It promises to be an interesting evening as Regent Street turns on its Christmas Lights as soon as it gets dark. Our office is located at Regent & Oxford, right in the middle of the celebrations.

It's an exciting time!

We also have the Classroom Canada Scavenger Hunt tomorrow night after school. At least 25 teachers will be participating in the event, and competing to win a £250 travel voucher with Top Deck Tours. The runners-up will win a Hamper from the Canada Shop. Third place will be copies of the ebook, Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians by yours truly.

Rumour has it that some of the teams have already come up with team names, t-shirts and songs for the Scavenger Hunt. I know "Team Hackney" plans to win! Watch this space for photos from the event.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Primary Teachers with Specialisms Find More Jobs in London

More and more primary schools are looking for teachers with a specialism to teach PPA cover. PPA stands for Preparation, Planning and Assessment and is similar to what we have in Canada with French. The PPA teacher comes in and relieves the regular class teacher so they can do their planning and assessments.
Schools in London are looking for primary teachers with experience or a background in French, Music, Physical Education, Spanish and Drama. They also tend to offer PPA positions to good generalists who can handle the behaviours of children from Reception (Kindergarten) through to Year 6 (Grade 6). PPA is a great job for someone who is adaptable to any situation and any class.
We're also finding that more primary schools are happy to accept a Secondary trained Music specialist for these positions. So, if you are a Music teacher and keen to gain more experience with primary schools, don't worry if you are technically only trained in secondary. The same goes for the other subject areas as well.
Jobs are pouring in for January, so now is a great time to apply for these positions. See our website for application guidelines. Don't forget to buy your copy of Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.


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