Marijka and her friend Alison graduated from the University of Victoria in May 2008. They started teaching in London with us in September and have been getting 4-5 days/week of supply teaching since they arrived.
How long have you been teaching in London now?
I teach primary but I also teach in secondary schools when they ask, as I have some experience. (After graduating in the spring of 2008 I went to Prince Rupert for 6 weeks and often taught in secondary schools because less teachers were willing to go there--I enjoyed it though!) At both levels I teach a mixture of everything--whatever the main teacher asks.
Out of the 10 interviews with different districts in BC, a few international schools/agencies, I found Classroom to best meet my ideals for working after graduation. I really wanted to travel before I got too comfortable; Classroom, and more specifically, Victoria Westcott, made it very evident that they took great care in helping teachers find their strengths while also providing a diverse range of teaching opportunities.
On a personal level the agency seems to genuinely care about my well-being, which is simply lovely when you're experiencing new things in crazy London!
The biggest adjustment I had to make in my teaching here, compared to Canada, was my classroom management strategies. I am still adjusting them, and will be for a long time I'm sure!
While some classes I have had have been fantastic, others have required me to transform into something of a drill sergeant--not something I typically identify with! I found it startling at first at how incredibly disrespectful some students could be.
I am determined to figure out more effective ways of dealing with that. Believe me, it is hard, and you realize how tame the "worst offender" in your practicum class was, and want to hug him/her. On a positive note, I see how my management is becoming more smooth, so that you can actually get into the learning! Baby steps...
Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences:
Wake up sometime between 6 and 6:45 am; at 7 am make a call to the office if you haven't got pre-arranged work (which, thankfully, has often been the case--4 out of 5 days this week are pre-scheduled); be ready to be out the door by 7:30 am to be on the safe side (depending on where you are called you may need up to 1.5 hours to get to where you're going); try to be at the school by 8:30 am, earlier is obviously better; teach all day, mark whatever necessary; make sure you get your timesheet signed (pay day is every Friday); take the bus or train home, and relax/get ready for the next day! Honestly, aside from exercising, I haven't desired to go out at night because the day can be fairly tiring--I save sightseeing and exploring more for the weekends.
What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London:
Don't overthink it! You may stay in your familiar, comfortable place and regret never trying this. I am very glad I have come--already I have learned so much. It is a fantastic city to get to know--and so easy to get around!
I have never been lost, and people are so kind (there are always the exceptions, but they are rare). Hopefully you'll love the diversity and creativity here; the city has a definite buzz. It's amazing to me how pretty much anything goes--especially style-wise!
One more thing: I would have liked to come here completely alone, just to be totally out of my comfort zone, but it's been great to have some friends over here too! You figure things out together.
Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:
So far, the funniest thing happened the first or second day supply teaching. I was in a year 4 class for a bit (I was "floating"--covering various teachers as they went to do prep that day), and I told the students, facing them at the front of the room, that when I raised my hand and placed my hand over my mouth I wanted them to copy what I did to be quiet.
Without hesitation a boy got up and faced the class, doing what I did, very seriously (not) and quickly two more boys jumped up and did the same--I had to laugh because I did say to copy me...But had to put a stop to it before the whole class caught on. I learned my lesson.
Honestly, the worst thing that has happened was being in a class where the students simply disregarded everything I asked, and literally did whatever they felt like. It was super tough feeling like you had no control, unless you had them sitting with their heads down on their desks while you gave them a lecture on how they need to listen to each other and to me, and learn to consider others, not just themselves, etc.
It is really the worst thing for me when I see that there is absolutely no remorse or apparent desire to even try to respect someone else. No matter how much you may exemplify or attempt to instill those principles, if the desire isn't coming from within, the student won't change.
1. A willingness to be challenged
2. A desire to try new things in general, but also to go into any school
I'm called to
3. A positive attitude (e.g., not allowing a rough day to get to me, not
taking students' disrespectful manners personally--just jumping back the
next day, knowing it's a new day)
4. Easily adapting to different ways of doing things here
5. A desire to have fun!