Friday, August 29, 2008

Mind Maps, Interactive Whiteboards and Teaching in London



I stumbled across this little video and thought I should share it with you, dear readers. And here's why: it shows two teaching tools that you need to know about if you want to teach in London.


1. Interactive Whiteboards

You may know these as "smart boards" or "IWBs" or "those crazy cool computer screens that they use in London instead of chalkboards." This video shows some of the changes that you will make in your teaching. I'm not sure if ConceptDraw is a particular program for IWBs, but I have used similar programs at the schools I've worked at in London. You can also even have a hyperlink directly to a website that you want to use in your lesson.



Just imagine using the above video in your next math lesson. It's Darth Vadar explaining the Pythagorean Theorem. That's some funny stuff.

Do you think your students would learn and remember the formula after watching this?

2. Mind Maps

Mind Maps have become more & more popular in the past few years in London schools. I've personally used them to introduce topics in math and then again as a plenary (or conclusion) to a unit.

I once held a contest with year 6 students, where they had to mind map every thing they had learned in math class with me. It was a huge project that took them about a week to complete.
They thought it was very cool because they got to use coloured pencils and design their own however they liked.

The prize? Hot chocolate over their recess with me, which the whole class won of course.

The learning? Well, it was a basic exercise in review. In drawing their mind maps, they showed themselves and the teachers what they had learned, how they applied it and what they still need help with. It was actually fun as well.

If you don't know much about mind maps yet, here's some good links for you:
Mind Map Examples
What is Mind Mapping?
Mind Maps Are Rubbish

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Zoom Airlines Bankrupt



This just in: Zoom Airlines has gone belly up.

According to their website:

"Zoom Airlines sincerely regrets to advise its customers that it has suspended operations with effect from 18:00 UTC on Thursday 28 August.

All flights scheduled to depart from have been cancelled and Zoom's aircraft have been grounded.

Both Zoom Airlines Inc and Zoom Airlines Ltd, the Canadian and UK airlines, will be filing for insolvency proceedings in their home countries today.

For customers who have future travel plans involving a Zoom flight for which reservations and payment have been made, you should refer to your credit or debit card company to apply for a refund. We have set out details of other airlines who operate the same or similar routes to those flown with Zoom in the hope that this may assist you in making alternative travel plans to replace the flights that you had booked with Zoom."

Many of our teachers have already purchased tickets with Zoom, and some are even at the airport right now trying to get on flights to London with other airlines. Here are some websites to try if you are in this same situation:

British Airways
Air Canada
Air Transat
Travel Zoo

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

UK Curriculum Finally Includes History of Slavery

The History Curriculum in the UK is finally going to include the history of slavery and Britain's involvement. Starting this September, all students between the ages of 11 and 14 will learn about the slave trade, including the nature and effects of it, the resistance to it, and its eventual abolition.

They will learn about slavery in America and how Britain impacted slavery overseas. The triangle trade is finally a part of teaching history in UK schools. To be honest, I had assumed it already was!

Check out this article on the issue.

Are you already teaching the history of Slavery in Canada? It will be interesting if you can provide us with links to resources in order to better help each other when going to teach in London. Any advice you can offer will be useful. This will be an exciting time in History departments across the UK as they introduce the important and difficult subject matter.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Movies About Teaching in London: Fever Pitch


Fever Pitch
is a book written by Nick Hornby in 1992 about an Arsenal Football fan that is fanatical for football. It was turned into a film in 1997. Colin Firth plays the main character, and it's a brilliant film for teachers considering the move to teaching in London. Firth happens to play a high school teacher, so you will see plenty of scenes set in a North London school.

Here's why I think you should watch Fever Pitch:

1. It presents a realistic view of London life.

2. If you know nothing about football and the extreme enthusiasm you will encounter while living in London, then you better learn now. Arsenal is the team that the vast majority of my students in London support. I taught in a few schools around the Arsenal stadium, and they even rent out their parking during game time to fundraise for the schools! The Arsenal players sometimes visit the schools as well. This team is BIG for the students in North London in particular.

3. If you hate soccer, then watch this film. It will warm your heart and make you love the sport.

4. Colin Firth is in good form in his early acting years.

5. You can see the inside of a secondary school in London and what the students are like. The students in this film are quite well behaved (it is a movie after all) and you will likely encounter more low level behaviour issues than is presented here. It's still good to watch anyway.

It's also a good idea to read Nick Hornby's books that are mostly set in North London. Remember High Fidelity? Also a Hornby book originally. About a Boy is another Hornby book turned into a movie (with Hugh Grant).

There are heaps of other great movies set in London to watch. I will try to present one every week or two here in this blog. Please provide your recommendations in the comments section. Thanks!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rules, Rules and More Rules: Setting the Tone in a New Class


So, it's your first day of teaching in a school, either as a full-time teacher or as a supply teacher. You've heard the horror stories about how naughty kids in London can be. You're scared, but determined not to show it. You're in your head, telling yourself that you
can do this. You're a teacher, you can teach.

Well, before you do anything you need to set the tone for your first day with a new class. Here's a simple idea that will work in every classroom:
rules! Make your rules clear, kid-friendly and consistent. Go through the rules at the beginning of your day (or lesson) and refer back to them throughout the day. Put them up on the wall at the front of the class where everyone can see them.

The easiest thing to do is to type up the following 3 sets of rules. Add some visuals cues (a child raising their hand works well for rule #1), print each page, laminate them if you want to get fancy, and bring them with you to every new class you go.

Our Learning Rules:
We put our hands up for questions and answers and if we need the teacher.
We use 'partner' voices in the classroom.
If our teacher wants us to stop s/he will say "Un, Deux, Trois" (1, 2, 3)

Our Respect Rules:
We listen when others are speaking.
We respect other people and their belongings.
We use language suitable for the classroom.

Our Safety Rules:
We keep hands, feet & unkind words to ourselves.
If we need to leave the room, we ask the teacher for permission first.
We move around the classroom sensibly and use equipment safely.

You should notice that each of these rules is very specific and written in language that children understand. I use these rules for teaching years ("grades" in Canadian-speak) 1 through 9. It's very important that you follow your own rules, refer back to them, provide the children choices and be clear on your expectations. Be clear and consistent.

You will hopefully find a set of class rules in the classroom anyway, especially if you are supply teaching. The children should be aware of them, and ideally know them off by heart. But if it's your first day, bring your own. You can use the ones above or write your own. Just remember, be clear, use positive, kid-friendly language (ie "We raise our hands" is much better than "Don't shout out").

What rules do you use? Are there any others that you would recommend? Please share them in the comments section.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Coffee Time!


Coffee Time with a Classroom Canada Teacher:

Every few weeks we will be introducing you to one of our teachers in London through these emails. So sit back, relax, grab a latte and enjoy the chat.

Jenn

Jenn graduated in May and was on the plane to London a couple of days after finishing her B.Ed. She has secured a full-time teaching position with one of our schools that runs from September until July and describes her first three months in London below.


Teacher: Jenn
Bachelor Of Education - Nipissing University
Ages taught: Junior/Intermediate
Subject(s): Math

How long have you been teaching in London now?
I have been teaching in London for almost 3 months.

What do you teach?
I took on a 3 day contract as a Physical Education Secondary Teacher within two weeks of moving to London and did some general supply teaching in the Primary Schools for the other two days.

Why did you choose Classroom Canada?
I did quite a large amount of research before moving to the UK. I interviewed with Time Plan as well as Impact Teachers, but no agency was as personal and friendly as Classroom Canada. Other agencies are solely run through the UK, but with Classroom Canada you have the opportunity to interview with a fellow Canadian who has experienced many years teaching within the UK. I chose Classroom because I didn't feel like another number in a data base of international teachers in the UK. They get to know you as an individual in order to find you the position that best suits you.

What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
The biggest adjustment that I have had to make in my teaching is definitely classroom management. Strategies that work in Canada do not always work in the inner city schools of London and I was therefore forced to adapt to the students at hand. It is just important to realize that some of these schools see different supply teachers every day. They need time to adjust to the situation at hand. You will not gain their respect right away. These students know their rights and the meaning of mutual respect between students and teachers and each student will come around on their own time. These students each have their own unique personalities and as difficult as they may seem at the time, they will come around.

Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences:
6:30am - Preparation for School
730am - On route to School (usually takes an hour commute, depending on where your school is located.)
4:30pm- Arrive home, hit the gym and eat dinner
7:30pm - Site seeing, cycle around town

What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London:
I've only been here 3 months and can already say that I have learned so much. If you take a fraction of what you learn in these classrooms back to Canada it will only make you a stronger teacher in the end. The reality is, that there are very few teaching opportunities in Canada right now and what better way to start your career than in London, England? There is always something to do, regardless of your interests.
On another note: do not bring any electrical appliances (besides a computer). Everything is cheaper and better over here. Girls I am talking to you - hair straighteners, blow dryers etc. Converters DO NOT WORK. You will need an adapter for your computer, but that is all :)



Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:

Myself, along with my two flat mates decided to go site seeing our first week here. Very typical, obviously. So we decided we were going to Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace for the day. Hyde Park - Beautiful. We finally arrived at the Palace and we did not even realize where we were. We thought the Palace was the Parliament Buildings!? So we asked someone where the Palace was, only to get a smart answer 'ummm right behind you?' Embarrassing, yet hilarious Canadian Moment.

Describe the worst thing:
The feeling of losing control of your class. Every London teacher has and will experience at least one of these lessons throughout their time here. These students are different and each and everyone of them come with their own personal issues. You need to remember that there are support staff within the school that will help you and when all else fails, just stay calm. Shouting only makes things worse. I speak from experience when I say, just pick yourself up, and focus on a new day. Things only getting better in time. Never give up, these are the students that need you the most.

What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than with any other agency?
I remained with Classroom because when it came down to it, they never once disappointed me. It is the last week of school and I am still working 5 days a week. They have become my London family. They took the time to get to know me and have also created a great network of international teachers.

What qualities do you have that make your stay in London more enjoyable?
I am a very outgoing individual. Your experience will only be what you make of it and when it comes down to it, YOU ARE IN LONDON!!!!!!! The city, that I swear, never sleeps. As a teacher I also strongly believe in making a difference in childrens lives and the students over here need devoted teachers, that are willing to take the time to get to know them and understand them in order for them to fully reach their potential.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Coffee Time with a Recruitment Consultant


Every few weeks we will be introducing you to one of our Recruitment Consultants in London through these emails. These are the hard-working people that match the right teacher to the right position in the right school. They get to know their schools and their teachers incredibly well. Now it's your turn to get to know a bit more about them.

So sit back, relax, grab a latte and enjoy the chat.


Recruitment Consultant Name: Matthew Peck


Education - BA (Honours) Psychology

Position within Classroom: Manager of the Primary Division (Elementary Teachers)


So, what made you want to work as a Recruitment Consultant?
I taught in Japan for two years on the JET programme and then went travelling round Australia and did recruitment over there. When I returned I combined the two experiences and decided educational recruitment was for me!


Did you work with another agency before Classroom?

Yes I worked for 2 other agencies - we all make mistakes! At Classroom - there is a relaxed family feeling which is why I have been here for so long.


How long have you been working with Classroom for?

5 long years. I started out one of the youngest and am now one of the oldest!

What's your favourite part of your job?

Its the obvious answer but I get a real buzz out of seeing teachers secure the jobs they want and knowing we have contributed positively to their London experience.

What could you do without?

I can do without the 7am phone calls on a Monday morning when the teachers call in announcing they are sick to their stomach. Amazing how sensitive supply teachers stomachs are - especially when its a really sunny day......

Now that you know Canadian teachers as well as you do, tell us a common theme in their adjustment to teaching in London:

For Canadians I think the adjustment is the same as for anyone coming to a foreign city to live. Its the fear of the unknown and London can seem so vast. Its great however to see how all of the Canadian teachers within a couple of months become "London wise" and are soon immersed in the cities culture!

What advice can you offer a teacher considering the big move across the pond?

Be ready for an adventure, be open to everything and fight the home sickness at every turn because when you are in your thirties and running a job, family and home you will look back on your London adventure as the "time of your life" ... believe me - I know!

What personality traits do you think make for the most successful teacher?

There are so many but the number one trait would have to be resilience. Never give up however bad things may seem and be able to dust yourself down after a bad day and remember that tomorrow will be another much better day! A supply teacher has great days and not so great days - but never lose faith.


Tell us a story about something funny or heart-warming that has occurred in your time with Classroom.

Funny things and heart warming things happen all the time at Classroom - so its hard to pinpoint one particular story. Instead I will relay a couple of the more interesting excuses for taking a sickie that I have been given in my time as a recruitment consultant at Classroom.

THE TOP 3:

3. "I'm sorry I can't go in to school today - there is no one to look after my dog and it cant be left alone since we were burgled"

2. "I'm sorry I can't go in to school today - My feet are hurting so I need to go home and change my shoes"

1. "I'm sorry I can't go in to school today - I was preparing myself a boiled egg for breakfast when the egg exploded in my face and I have to go the Chemist to get cream"!!


To read more Coffee Times with Classroom Consultants, sign up to our newsletters here.


Or you can read past Coffee Times here:

Coffee Time with Deon

Coffee Time with Nicole


You can also read past Coffee Times with our teachers:

Coffee Time with Kiran

Coffee Time with Jenn

Coffee Time with Nathalie

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How will you get the meanest, nastiest, and rudest kid in the class to listen to you?

In a recent post, Miss Snuffleupagus says, "Good teachers know how to turn around the unteachable class: quickly determine who are the ringleaders, and get them on side. They will discipline the class for you. They will command the class' attention for you. They will even inspire the class to work for you." We couldn't agree more.

I interview hundreds of Canadian teachers a year for positions teaching in London, England. Each interview is a little different, but there is always the same theme. I ask the teacher what they do in order to teach in an incredibly diverse setting. I explain that a typical class in London will consist of 22-27 students, 90% may be from another country and a good 20-40% will speak another language at home. I explain that the classes are filled with different ability levels, and that their teaching will have to adapt to this type of classroom. Then I ask, "So, how do you teach in that kind of learning environment?"

And I always get the same answer. They say they will modify their lessons, differentiate for the various learning styles and use more visual cues for the ESL learners. These are perfectly good answers. But what I really want to ask is, "Ya but...how will you get the meanest, nastiest, and rudest kid in the class to listen to you?" That's really a better question to ask. But of course, I don't want to scare the good teachers away.

The reality is that kids in London (in general) won't just give you respect because you're a teacher. We have it really lucky here in Canada. We have a culture that values education (again, in general). We have a middle-class work ethic that mostly believes that in order to do better in life (get a job, buy a house, raise a family) one must go to school. So, as teachers, we don't have
too many battles to face when it comes to education. There are always exceptions of course. But in London, the kids know their rights.

The ring leader in the class will either love you or hate you and your day will either be a good one or a bad one depending on how your interaction with that one student goes. If you're really lucky, you'll have
many ringleaders and they'll be battling over your attention as the day goes on. So, what are you going to do?

If you're anything like Miss Snuffleupegas, you'll know what to do from the outset. You'll have that "x-factor" for teaching in inner city schools. If you're anything like me, you'll learn it soon enough. In my first year, I went in head-strong, determined to survive teaching in one of the toughest schools by being louder, sticking to my decisions and being a "strong teacher". Boy, was I wrong. My ringleaders stood up to me every chance they got. They didn't respect me. Why would they? I had to earn their respect.

The qualities of a good inner city teacher are very different from the qualities of a good suburban teacher in Canada. An inner city teacher loves diversity and a challenge. They want to know more about the kids lives and teach
these kids. They believe that every child deserves a solid education despite their own personal set-backs in life. They are determined to teach. To not just "contain the kids" or "manage the class", but to provide the students with the education they deserve. But you can't teach without having the ringleaders on your side. So you better figure out how to win them over and fast. Unfortunately, there is no set rule for how to do this. Each ringleader has their own personality. Luckily, they tend to stand out pretty quickly.

This is the most important lesson you will learn before you depart for teaching in London:"Teaching the unteachable class is like going into battle. Win your ringleaders, and you will win the war," Miss Snuffy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Where the Hell is Matt?



Okay, so this has absolutely nothing to do with teaching in London. I'll be the first to say it. But the video made me giggle and cry. So here it is for you, dear readers. I love the idea of some random guy taking video shots of himself dancing around the world.

I know some teaching agencies have their teachers take pictures of themselves with their mascot in various locations around the world (for one agency it's a Teddy Bear, another has a Kangaroo). I have seen others participate in photo competitions, where the teachers wear the company logo t-shirts. To be perfectly honest, I'd much prefer to see our teachers dancing in different countries, but this guy Matt has already done it. Drats!

What will we do? Any ideas? I'll even throw in a prize to the person with the most popular idea. It might be a free flight or a box of Kraft Dinner. You'll only know if you comment here with your ideas.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Teach the World in London, England


Laura Potter wrote an article for the Observer newspaper about the 26 000 children that arrive in Britain every year. In it, she interviews 12 recent arrivals from different countries about what they love in Britain, what they hate, how they ended up there, where they came from, what they miss the most and where they hope to live one day.

It's a long read, but very interesting for someone from Canada to read about what the kids are like in Britain. I know I had a different idea of what the kids would be like when I taught in London. I watched movies based in England to prepare myself - movies like About a Boy. I thought the kids would be tough, because that's what everyone says anyway. But I never understood just why they would be tough. I still don't have any more answers on this subject, but now I know where the kids come from and that their lives are often more complicated than I could ever understand.

Laura Potter's article at least shows an outsider where the kids might come from and how they came to Britain. London is an incredibly diverse city, which is why we say "Teach the World in London, England." I don't believe there's any other city in the world with the diversity that London has. If you want to teach in another culture, London has them all in one small space. The teachers are also from around the world, making it a truly multicultural school environment.

But what do you think? I am very curious to read about other teachers' experiences in big Canadian cities as well. If you were to interview 12 students in your class, would you have similar replies as Potter has?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"There's just so much to do in London!"

One common statement made about London is that you can never be bored with life there. "There's just so much to do!" I completely agree. So, please allow me to show you what I mean.

I use StumbleUpon on a fairly regular basis, so that I can keep up with blogs, websites & videos about teaching in general.
Last week, I stumbled across this video.



I have never actually seen anyone practicing Parkour before, and had never even heard of it. It is also known as "free running". So, imagine my surprise to see this article in The Guardian online.

The point? There's just so much to do in London! Really, can you imagine a better place to practice running off the walls? Teachers: this is what your kids will be doing in their free time. I don't know about you, but this is all new to me!

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