Thursday, November 27, 2008
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 email@example.com. 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
"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
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:
SECONDARY TEACHER JOBS IN CENTRAL LONDON:
Science - 5 positions
Math - 6 positions
English - maternity leave until July 2009
English - 3 positions
Drama - start as soon as possible
History and Classics
Psychology (A Levels, which is grade 12)
Sociology ( A Levels)
ICT (Information & Computer Technology)
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)
PRIMARY TEACHER JOBS:
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
SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS TEACHER JOBS:
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't delay though as these jobs will be filled quickly.
Monday, November 24, 2008
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
I am staying at Earl's Court because I found a fabulous deal on Hotwire for a Holiday Inn for only 20 pounds/night. It's usually 100 pounds at this time of year. Earl's Court is considered Central London and the UK office is at Oxford Circus, right in the centre of London. It should have only taken about 20-30 minutes on the tube. It took an hour & a half. Oh London! The reason? Someone under the train at Oxford Circus.
Sadly, this is normal here. It's terrible, and terribly irritating for all the Monday morning workers trying to get anywhere in London on time. People are very used to delays on the underground, so it's not usually a big deal to be late because of train troubles. Teachers usually leave home around 6:30 or 7:00 am so they make it to school on time (most travel in London is about an hour or an hour and a half to get anywhere in the city).
While waiting in the train I got to thinking about Canadian teachers and how to spot them on the tube. It's a funny little game I play with myself. There are so few Canadians here compared to every other culture represented in London. It's very difficult to spot us!
Here's how I try to spot a Canadian on the tube:
- Canadians often carry Nalgene bottles
- MEC gear, whether it be clothing or backpacks or hand bags
- Canadian flag on their MEC backback
- sensible shoes
- Roots clothing
Now, sensible shoes could really be anyone, so I know that one seems a bit silly. As a Canadian who spends part of my life in London, my feet really have to adjust every time I come here. In Victoria, I never wear high heels and certainly not to go shopping or teaching! But here, it's heels every day. It's just that most women in London wear them, so I feel underdressed if I am in my flats. Most of my teachers wouldn't wear heels to teach, but I'm never surprised if they start to change that after a year of being here.
When I spot a Canadian on the tube, I have to say hello. It's rare, but keeps me entertained anyway! We are a friendly bunch after all. Do you have any ways to spot a Canadian that I haven't mentioned?
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Both have a cold. It's the first half term break so of course they have a cold for the holidays. It's the classic scenario - teachers wear themselves down, pick up all the bugs from teaching children and just when they have time to catch up on much needed sleep & rest, they get sick.
I am facebook friends with my teachers, so when I log in to write posts for our Classroom Canada group, I see their status updates. Most are saying that they're just back from traveling (Italy, Greece, Wales, Ireland, Germany...) but quite a few are also complaining that they're sick.
So, I thought I'd share a little tip.
Here's what I do: I take berocca every day when teaching in London, and also when I visit. I know my immune system is a bit weak (from traveling for so long from Canada, having jet lag, taking the underground and going out much more than I do at "home"). So I take one tablet every day. I buy it from Boots or any chemist in London ("pharmacy" for Canadians).
The closest thing we have to berocca in Canada is "C plus", which is a powder that you add to water and gives you loads of vitamin C, b vitamins etc. Berocca is like this, but so much more!
It's well known to cure hangovers or at least make them more bearable, so when you're living in London you might hear people commenting that they'll "just take a berocca!"
It's basically just a good multivitamin, packed with magnesium, zinc, b complex (B12, B6...), and vitamin C.
I don't quite know why the stuff works, and it could just be physcho-sematic, but I do recommend that you take some when you first arrive, and when you feel yourself getting a bit run down.
The positive side to this is that the more teachers get sick, the more supply teaching days you will get! That's why September is always the slowest month for supply teachers, and why November is much anticipated to be a busy time. Teachers also take more courses in November and throughout the year, but sickness does play a big part in the increase in supply teaching days.
So take your multi's and get out there to enjoy teaching & traveling in Europe.
For more information about teaching in London, see our website and buy the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
It is safe to say that I am officially jetlagged. It's the strangest feeling because on the one hand, it's so exciting to be in London. But on the other hand, I'm exhausted - physically drained and mentally sloooooow. I'm certainly not complaining, but it is something to prepare for, especially for those of you traveling from the West Coast of Canada. Those traveling from the east don't experience jetlag to the same extent, as the flight is about 6 hours and the time change is only 5 hours. So your body will adjust quite quickly.
I gave myself a few days before going into our UK office, because I know this jetlag well. On Monday, I'll be back with my favourite co-workers of all time in the London office. I can't wait to catch up with our teachers & see everyone in person. Most of our teachers are away this week for half-term break so I know they will have plenty of traveling stories to share.
We're running Professional Development sessions in the evenings and the Classroom Canada Scavenger Hunt is on Friday. Can't wait!