Saturday, December 26, 2009

Commonwealth Youth & Teaching in the UK: The Queen's Christmas Speech 2009




Every year, the Queen of England gives a Christmas Speech which is broadcast throughout the UK.  This year, her message focused on three themes: the financial tough times for many, the war in Afghanistan and the power of the Commonwealth Youth.

Most of our teachers and teaching assistants with Classroom Canada are under the age of 31 simply because the most common visa is the Youth Mobility Visa.  It's a visa for some Commonwealth youth to encourage us to work abroad, gain experience and travel.   As young Canadian teachers and teaching assistants, we usually fit this criteria.

What do you think of the Queen's message this year?

If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays from Classroom Canada


Linda, the fabulous Teaching Assistant Recruitment Consultant, and I met for our Classroom Canada Holiday Party last night.  Yes - there are just the two of us here in Canada!  My colleagues in London went for a very posh lunch downtown London today and many have now started their holidays.

Many of our teachers & teaching assistants in London got to start their holidays early because of a London Snow Day, which is a laugh for most of them being from Canada.  London gets an inch or two and it shuts down my friends.  Just like over here on Vancouver Island. 

Here are some of the places our teachers &teaching assistants will be visiting this holiday: India, Thailand, Paris, Ontario (to see their family & friends), BC, Alberta, Spain, Portugal...and so many more!  How amazing is teaching in London?

I'll be taking the next 2 weeks to build gingerbread houses, skate with my niece and nephew, go to the gym, eat far too much with family & friends, and all 'round be merry!

I hope to write a New Year's Reflection Post, but we shall see.  Have a FANTASTIC 2 weeks and see ya'all in January. 
Ho Ho Ho,
Victoria

PS) My inbox is filling up with applications from teachers & teaching assistants who want to teach in London in May or September, so apply now and I'll call you in 2010.

If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays & Coffee Time with Classroom Canada



Happy Almost-Christmas-Holidays Everyone!

Joann is one of our fabulous teachers in London and she recently secured a full-time teaching position in one of our secondary schools. She started supply teaching (aka day-to-day or TOC) in October and will be teaching full-time starting in January. 

I thought it fitting to share her Coffee Time interview with you today as Joann discovered Classroom Canada online last year on Christmas Day.  So, Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Coffee Time With Classroom Canada

Name: Joann Liu
University: University of British Columbia
Subjects: Drama and English
Ages You Teach: Secondary


1. How long have you been teaching in London?
A month and a half. But let me tell you, it feels like eons.
2. What do you teach?
I'm trained to teach the fact that "It worked out good" is not a proper sentence. I teach about juxtaposition and metaphors. I teach about using your voice to create a character. While I've been in London, however, I've taught the previous things, but also Maths, Science, Special Needs, singing, how to raise your hand before speaking, Brazil, how to color within the lines--you know, the basic stuff any teacher should teach on a given day.

3. Why did you chose to work with Classroom Canada?
It started on Christmas Day, 2008. I was researching on the internet about teaching in Japan, because I knew that after graduating from the Education program, I wanted to be abroad. And I was a little grumpy, because I didn't exactly want to be in Japan. I had been in love with London for a decade, you see. So whether by chance, or coincidence, or fate, when I stumbled upon Victoria's blog, I literally yelped really loud, fell out of my chair, and proceeded to get shivers that IT IS INDEED POSSIBLE FOR A CANADIAN TO LIVE IN LONDON AND TEACH! (They don't tell you things like this in Teacher's College).
4. What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
To be redundant, and echo all the other teachers that have answered this question: classroom management. Do you know what my students in Vancouver used to do? Buy me ice cream cake, and write me poetry and tell me every day that I was awesome. Here? Someone wrote on the board a couple weeks ago, that "Miss Liu is a WITCH". And my back hurts from all the bending down I have to do to pick up paper airplanes and pens that have been used as attack missiles. That's the sort of respect you get as a supply teacher. But really, it opens your eyes and thickens your skin, and you need that.
5. Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.
On a weekday, I hear my alarm go off, and I let it go on Snooze for a while. Then, in a panic, I wake up and get ready: teacher clothes, check. Lunch packed, check. Canadian stickers/worksheets, check. Oyster card, check. Then in a frenzy, I walk the ten minutes it takes to the tube, get to school, teach a bunch of things, answer a bunch of ridiculous questions about my ethnicity and Canada, and finish the day. I go home and make dinner with Maggie (my flatmate and fellow Classroom teacher), watch an episode of True Blood, read, and bed by 10:30.

Weekends are different. Weekends mean I get up at a shameful hour, and EAT at one of London's amazing markets. For example, today I think I'm going to Borough again, and then wandering over to the British Museum.
6. What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?
Come with an open mind and an open heart, and remember that kids are kids.
7. Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far.
I don't know if this is funny, but... I was at an all girls school where some students could not get over the fact that I'm Chinese, and wanted to know if I know King Kong. (This is the part where you scratch your head, like I did). I was like "Are they confusing being Chinese with Japanese, and King Kong with Godzilla??" But no, it's because King Kong rhymes with Hong Kong. Duh.
8. Describe the worst thing:
The feeling that no matter what you say or do, the students see the day as being a "free day" because you're a supply teacher. It certainly is not why I want to be a teacher, and can be frustrating when you know you could really be enriching their learning, rather than policing them. Thank goodness I'll be starting a long term contract in January, and the days of hyena behavior will be behind me (......hopefully).
9. What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
I feel supported by Classroom. I haven't needed to think about switching to another agency because I've never really had to worry about getting work. They keep me pretty busy!
10. What qualities do you have that make your teaching in London enjoyable?
Patience, compassion and a sense of humor.
Any other questions or comments for Joann?  Please share your thoughts below.

If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Free Hugs - My friend Andy gives hugs for FREE!



Okay, I know this has nothing to do with teaching in London, but I "ain't bovvered."

This is my good friend Andy hugging folks in Florida for the first time with a Free Hugs sign.  My other good friend, Carol Miller, organizes Global Free Hugs Day with her work with Positive Focus, a nonprofit run from Chicago.  I love these guys.  So simple, so good.


So, I had my own first free hug in Hyde Park in 2007 at Speakers Corner.  It was the first time I had seen anyone with a sign like this, and in Speakers Corner it was a real relief.  Everyone there shouts on soap boxes, giving speeches about how to save the world, destroy the world or find religion in the world.  And this one guy, standing quietly with his sign spoke the loudest to me.

What do you think?  Would you ever consider standing on a corner with a Free Hugs Sign?

I promise to return to my "teaching in London" theme tomorrow. ;-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Classroom Canada Teachers in London Rock - And Here's Why

As the owner of Classroom Canada, I'm ridiculously proud and grateful for our teachers and teaching assistants.  They are amazing teachers and I'm not alone in thinking this.  Schools in London are consistently impressed with their professionalism and teaching abilities.  The feedback is outstanding.



You see some of them here, all dressed up? Well, a group of them organized a Christmas Dinner for Canadian teachers & TA's in London this past weekend.  What a great example of Canadians in London taking initiative and getting out there.  Thanks to Ron and Charmine for the photos shown here.



Apparently, the 5 course meal (organized by Shannon) only cost 13 pounds - that's a bargain and a half. And they all look so lovely.


For those of you who don't know us, let me explain what we're all about. 

Classroom Canada is a teaching agency that helps Canadian teachers & teaching assistants relocate to London, England for work and pleasure.  We organize their housing right downtown in Oxford Circus area so our teachers and TA's have an instant community and group of friends from coast to coast. 

We place our teachers and teaching assistants into full-time jobs, daily supply teaching positions and short & long term contracts.  At the beginning of the school year we hold PD sessions and socials to help them adjust to teaching and living in London.

Our teachers & teaching assistants are:
  • flexible
  • easy going
  • outgoing
  • creative
  • adaptable
  • passionate about working with inner city students
  • love travelling
  • have great senses of humour
  • love learning
  • love their jobs
If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.
PS) We're expanding to include Classroom America as well.  So, American teachers can apply and have the same quality experiences as their neighbours to the North.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How to Teach the 9 Times Table




What do you think? Would you use this in your teaching?


If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How to Write A Cover Letter to Apply for Teaching Jobs Abroad



I have to be honest, most of the cover letters I read are exactly the same. I spend less than 30 seconds skim-reading them and skip ahead to the resume or CV.  But this one made me stop, read it slowly, read it again, and then remember why I do what I do with Classroom Canada

So, I asked the teacher if I could share it with you and she agreed. I've made some changes to make it anonymous, but I hope it helps you when writing your own cover letter. 

I am currently accepting applications from teachers & teaching assistants who wish to work in London, England in April/May 2010 and September/October 2010. 

My edits & comments are in blue.

Dear Ms. Westcott,

Thanks for finding my name and using it.  "To whom it may concern," is a personal pet peeve of mine, especially when it's so easy to find the employer's name online these days.  So already, I'm happy to read this cover letter!

I am currently a B. Ed. student at ABC University in Canada, and I will be completing my program in Elementary Education in May 2010. I stumbled upon your blog this past summer while researching job opportunities for after graduation, and Classroom Canada really caught my attention.

This is a great introduction paragraph for a couple of reasons:

1. It's clear what she is studying to teach.  You won't believe how many cover letters don't state what the teacher actually teaches.

2. She makes it clear that she's done her research, and specifically wants to teach with Classroom Canada.  I want to know more so I read on.  That's the sign of a great cover letter!

Since returning to ABC University for my B Ed, I have continued to try to learn more about life teaching in inner city London. I have subscribed to TES Connect updates, watched Teacher.tv videos, read your “Guide to Teaching in London”, and followed blogs by current Classroom teachers making the move to London. A friend and I also did a research project for our Individual Differences Conference in which we worked on strategies for teaching English Language Learners, and with London in mind, I chose to focus on strategies for teaching in linguistically diverse classrooms.

I want to clone this teacher.  She has done her research and shows me what she reads.  Already I know we're going to have great discussions about teaching in London and I haven't even spoken with her yet.  You don't have to say the exact same thing (in fact, if you do, I'll know you just copied this one!), but showing that you have done your research into teaching in London & our company really helps your application. It saves me time from having to teach you, plus I have written it all down here in the blog & ebook so it is really easy for you.

Although I may not have experience teaching in an inner city context, I do have ample experience working, studying and volunteering abroad, which I believe reflects my ability to adapt when faced with new and challenging situations. Most recently, I spent a year studying in Africa, during which time I volunteered in a Grade 1-2 class at a local school for street children. In January I will leave my comfort zone in the ABC Region, to move to the Really Remote Area of Canada to complete my final 13 week practicum for my B. Ed. I am flexible, I am a quick learner, and most importantly I love teaching and learning, and pushing myself to take on new challenges.

This paragraph shows that she's adaptable, flexible, eager and has experience abroad.  Any experience abroad will help your application to teach abroad.  Obviously, working with street children is going to spark my interest, particularly since we recruit for teachers in inner city London, but any volunteer or work abroad will do this equally well.

I have always been very involved outside the classroom, playing sports and participating in many community projects, and I look forward to becoming just as involved in the schools I will one day teach at. I also have an interest in learning different languages: I learned to speak French while studying and working in France, have a basic knowledge of Spanish, and picked up some Xhosa while in Africa. In addition I have taught ESL in Quebec for a number of years, on top of my practicum requirements for my Education program.

Great! I love to hear more about you as an individual.  What you love, what you do outside of school, what languages you speak - all of these factors in your life make you a better teacher, so I want to know more.

Although I had not initially considered teaching in London after graduation, Classroom Canada really caught my eye. You get so much positive feedback, and I love the supportive atmosphere and great advice you provide for your new teachers coming to London. I would really look forward to having the opportunity to speak to you about the possibility of joining your team in the near future, even as soon as May 2010.

Again, she comes back to Classroom Canada and specifically working with us.  This shows that she didn't just write the same cover letter & change the name above for the job.  She wants to work specifically with us, so now, we want to work specifically with her.  See how that works?  It's so easy when you really think about it!

Thank you for taking the time to consider my application,
You're more than welcome. Thank you for taking the time to write your cover letter!
Sincerely,
Sara Jones

The only changes I would make to this cover letter would be to remove the "Although I don't have..." statements.  It's clear that she's a new teacher from the first paragraph, so pointing out a lack of experience or specific direction isn't necessary.  But I didn't even notice that the first 3 times I read it, so it's not a big deal.
 
Any questions, comments, suggestions?  Please share your thoughts below!
 
Other Posts About CV's/Resumes/Cover Letters:
How to Write a Teacher CV/Resume
How to Write a Follow-Up Email After Submitting Your CV and Attending a Teacher Job Fair
Teacher Photos for CVs/Resumes
When Should You Apply for Teaching Jobs in the UK
 
If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2009 Edublog Awards: Best Corporate/Elearning Blog

Siobhan Curious over at Classroom as Microcosm has kindly nominated this blog for the 2009 Edublog Award - Best Corporate Blog.  Thanks so much Siobhan! I really appreciate it.

Voting begins tomorrow, so if you agree with Siobhan and want to show your support, please vote at the 2009 Edublog Awards website.  

Marsha Moore Interviews Me, Victoria Westcott about Teaching and Living in London and Writing the Guide to Teaching in London

If you’d like to know a bit more about me, my ebook and why I write these blogs, please see Marsha Moore’s blog today. She interviews me about living in London, what I do now and how I wrote my ebook, Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.


Plus, it’s a contest to win a free copy of the ebook, so get on over there right away to enter. Good luck!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Teacher Recruitment and Classroom Canada's Big Decision


I am taking a year out from the university job fairs.  This might mean forever, but for now, I see it as one year off from the career fairs.

Normally, I send one of our teacher-turned-recruiters or myself to university teacher job fairs across the country.  We speak with new teachers about what it's like to teach in London and hand out a bunch of brochures about Classroom Canada.  We literally meet thousands of new teachers in gymnasiums and basements, with hundreds of other recruiters for school boards and teaching agencies.   It's intense, costs a whole lot of money, and after 5 years and a lot of reflection and statistical analysis, I've realized that I don't need to do them anymore.

This means I will focus my recruiting of teachers and teaching assistants on:
  • word of mouth (which is where the vast majority of our teachers come from anyway)
  • this blog
  • my ebook
  • social networking
Let's face it - the best teachers and teaching assistants do their research. They find us because they're looking for us.  They always do.  Even the best teachers that I've met at university job fairs did their research first and found this blog online.  Check out Jenn's interview for a great example of this.

It also means that I will be more available in our Canadian office.  When I travel, it makes it hard for teachers to reach me, but now I'm here most of the time.

It also means that my competitors will jump up and down in their excitement that we're not going to the universities and they are.  Okay, maybe they won't jump up and down, but they will be very happy. I'm okay with that. 

I love what I do with Classroom Canada, and while I love our growth (it's HUGE!) I am also very aware that our success is based on the quality of our staff, not the quantity.  I could have hundreds of teachers and teaching assistants, and I have less than 100. That's the way I like it.  Next year, we will have more than that, but our quality will always remain the best. 

Linda is recruiting Canadian Teaching Assistants and Nursery Nurses so that division is growing quickly.  I will focus more on Classroom America as well.  I know there are amazing American teachers out there and I want to meet them too.

Also, I should say that I will continue to do presentations at universities.  My presentations cover: how to be a successful teacher, the power of positive thinking and the teacher job hunt, the power of positive thinking in inner city teaching and of course, Classroom Canada.  Linda and I will be doing presentations in British Columbia for Early Childhood Education graduates and Teaching Assistants. 

I am interviewing teachers who want to teach in London this January, next April and September 2010. 

If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Very Special Sunday Post: My 2009 Edublog Award Nominations Are...



The Edublog Awards are into their 6th year of celebrating amazing education bloggers, so I figure I better get in my nominations.  You have until Tuesday, November 8th to nominate (you can't nominate yourself though!) and then on Wednesday, the voting begins and ends on the 16th December. 

Best individual blog - With so many of our teachers and teaching assistants blogging these days, this was a really hard call to make, but  Bryn the Brit's blog stands out for a couple of reasons. She's a teaching assistant and a swing dance teacher originally from Ottawa and now living in London, England.  So, Edublog-wise, her blog is an interesting read on what it's like to be a teaching assistant for students with special educational needs, as well as dancing teaching, and what it's like to live abroad.  Keep on dancing Bryn!


Best new blog - Brand New Socks There are so many amazing new bloggers out there! But this one reminds me why bloggers got started in the first place. Her writing is so reflective that I often feel like I am peaking into the secret diary of a stranger. If you have time to read only one blog, this would be the one that will keep you coming back for more.


Best teacher blog - Mr Teacher's Urban School Teacher blog. Mr Teacher says it like it is. Thanks for sharing with us!

Best elearning / corporate education blog - Sarah Ebner's School Gate Blog. Sarah's blog is a parent's perspective on education issues in the UK and I can't recommend it enough.

Lifetime achievement - Siobhan Curious' Classroom as Microcosm. I'm not sure how one would define "lifetime achievement" but in my books, anyone that's been teaching for ages and still makes the time to blog deserves this award. Plus, she's a brilliant writer! Check out her blog and I'm sure you will agree.

Want to nominate your own favourites?  Check out Edublog Awards 2009 and get your nominations in before this Tuesday. There's still time!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bits & Pieces: Announcements from Classroom Canada


Thanks to Ron Hamilton for the above photo of some of our fabulous teachers at Stone Henge. 

The winners of the Marsha Moore Book Contest are:
Lindsay, Bryn and Kirbie! Congratulations ladies. I've emailed all of you so check your email to find out how to claim your prize.

Also, congratulations to the following teachers for securing full time, long term positions in our London schools: Marianthe, Trumaine, Maggie, Joann, Samantha, Kristen, Jennifer, Jonny and Sam.  Wow! What a great week everyone.  Keep up the great work.

And finally, EduBlog Carnival is up at Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable and one of my blog posts is on there.  Please go check it out and read all the other fabulous education blogs.  If you'd like to submit one of your blog posts, please do!

If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Classroom Canada Around the World



Yesterday was one of my best days with Classroom Canada ever.

Every time I checked my email, I received more great news.  Every time I answered the phone, I was so excited to speak with the person on the other end.  What an amazing day!

What made me so happy, you might ask?

Well, I received incredible job applications from teachers across Canada who want to teach in London - honestly, some of the best cover letters and CV's that I've ever seen.  You might not realize this, dear readers, but I get a lot of applications, and just like you've heard before, I only spend a few seconds reading each one.

So when I get an application that stands out, I read it again.  And again.  Sometimes I jump up out of my seat and yell, "YES! This is why I do what I do!"  I'll be posting an example of one of these cover letters soon so watch this space if you want to learn what to do to be successful in your teaching applications.

I also spoke with a teacher who heard about us from one of our amazing teachers.  He's an experienced teacher and has done heaps of work with inner city "at risk" youth in Vancouver, so I'm stoked to meet him and get him a job in London in one of our schools.  Word of mouth is a wonderful thing.  It's where most of our teachers come from, and that's just the way I like it.

Then, I checked my email and saw two incredible bits of news.  Sarah Ebner over at School Gate mentions my blog in her post about the Edublog Awards, and we received an award for one of the best blogs about international teaching and study.  How cool is that?!  I'm honoured, humbled, flattered and so excited.

Which brings me to today.  Today, I spoke with one of my colleagues in the London office and found out that all of my teachers are working.  The average is 3-5 days/week for those that are doing supply teaching, but about half of my teachers are in full-time jobs now, so that also makes me very happy.  I love it when our teachers do well.  September was a rough month for Secondary School teachers in London, but it looks like it's all balanced out again.  Well done team Classroom Canada!

Questions? Comments? Please share your thoughts below.

If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Monday, November 30, 2009

WIN a free book! 24 Hours London by Marsha Moore



Marsha Moore is the author of 24 Hours London, a new book all about what you can do in London, hour by hour.  She's a former teacher and recruiter as well as a fabulous blogger, so I figured you might like to know a bit more about her. To win a free book, just read this Coffee Time and see the contest details at the end of this entry.  Good luck!



Coffee Time with an Author

Name: Marsha Moore

Educational Background: BA, English Literature (Dalhousie University); Masters of Journalism (Carleton University); Bachelor of Education (University of Ottawa)

Book: 24 Hours London

Publisher: Prospera Publishing

Congratulations on publishing your book. Can you tell us a little bit about it in a few sentences?
There's so much to do in London that it's hard to know where to begin! '24 Hours London' is an hour-by-hour guide to what's on, day or night, in one of the world's most diverse cities. From naked discos to an underground loo-turned-pub, just flip to the hour you're free and take your pick of the best London has to offer - both on and off the tourist track.

What made you decide to write this particular book?
I love London and I love to explore, so it just made sense to write about my adopted city! I wanted to show there's so much more to the city than Big Ben and St Paul's, and I wanted to make it easy for locals and tourists to find out what's happening without having to flip through lots of information, like in traditional guides. By breaking the book into hourly chapters, people can hit the places they want without worrying about whether they're still open. It's kind of like having a ready-made itinerary with lots of things to choose from. And it was a ton of fun to research!
How long have you been in London for?
I arrived in May 2004, just after I graduated with my Bachelor of Education.
It's hard to believe it's been five years! I met my husband here, got married here, and it's definitely home. I do miss Canada, though (but not the winters!).
Your background is really interesting, and actually, quite similar to mine.  Can you take us through your journey from teacher to recruiter to author?

With two parents as teachers, I grew up always wanting to teach. But I also loved writing, and at the last minute I decided to do a Masters of Journalism. I worked as an editor and then in PR for awhile, but the teaching (and travel) bug refused to die! So I packed in my corporate career and headed off to Poland to teach English. It was an incredible experience, and it definitely convinced me that I wanted to teach. I returned to Ottawa to complete my teacher training... and this time the travel bug wouldn't let me be! England needed teachers, so as soon as the school-year finished I moved to London.

I knew right away I'd made the right decision. I loved the city; I was constantly in awe of all there was to do. Supply teaching was challenging but I looked it as a good introduction to London's different boroughs. I found a full-time job in a secondary school for the following year and taught there for two years. Like any job, it had a variety of highs and lows but it was a great experience. I think teaching gives you unique cultural insight that no other position allows. After a couple years I wanted to try something that would combine my corporate skills with education, and recruitment seemed a natural choice. It was really rewarding helping teachers get settled in a new life overseas.

All of this time, I'd been trying to write but getting side-tracked by my job commitments (and generally being lazy!). I got to the point where I knew I really had to give myself the chance to have a go at writing. I'm extremely lucky that my husband was willing and able to support us in the meantime. So I quit my job (scary!) and hunkered down in my flat to try! Two years - and six books - later, I finally got published.
So, now that you're a published author, do you have any advice for our readers who might be considering making the same leap?

It is very hard to make a living as a writer, so unless you have someone who can support you I wouldn't recommend giving up your day job! In fact, I recently read an article that you'd have to write one New York Times best-selling book a year just to stay above the poverty line. If you do want to get published, you have to be persistent. Keep trying - and be prepared to get a lot of rejection letters! Write every day and set yourself a target. Don't just wait for 'inspiration' to strike. Writing is something that can be improved with practice, and you really need to be prepared to work at it. Even if the rejections keep rolling in, when you see how much you've improved it's hard to get depressed.
Okay, it's 2:00pm. What can I do in London right now? What about 2:00am?

If you're around Buckingham Palace, trot over to St James's Park to watch five pelicans have their daily fish feed. The park's pelican tradition was first introduced in 1664 when the Russian ambassador presented Charles II with the birds. Fancy some food for yourself? Head to Time for Tease for a 'dollop of burlesque' with your scones. If the weather's not great, take a tour of the BBC or see where old sewing machines are laid to rest at the London Sewing Machine Museum.

The night's no less interesting: you can get steamy at Club Aquarium, the only club in the UK with a pool; eat some tardy Turkish at Somine; hit the dance floor to Bollywood beats at Mango's; or club with an eco-conscience at Surya.
What's next for you? Any plans for writing and publishing another book?
'24 Hours Paris' is due out in Spring 2010, and we're planning more in the series! I've also just finished a young adult novel and I have my fingers crossed it may actually see the light of day!
Anything else you'd like to add for our readers?

If you do get the chance to travel - whether it's for a week or a year - take it! It'll definitely be a worthwhile experience. And the marketing spiel: my book is available on Amazon or through my publisher (http://www.prosperapublishing.co.uk/) with free shipping and delivery to Canada. I blog about my ups and downs in the publishing world at http://marshawrites.blogspot.com/ if anyone would like to follow along!

Thanks to Victoria for hosting me here!

Contest Details:
 
To win one of 3 copies of 24 Hours London, email me (victoria at classroomcanada dot com) with the answer to this question:
 
"How High is the London Eye?"
 
You have until Friday morning at 7am Pacific Time and I will then announce the winners on this blog and on my second blog about moving to London.  The contest is open to residents around the world.
 
The first three people to answer correctly win!  Good luck!  Questions? Comments? Please share below.
 
If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Coffee Time with Classroom Canada - Kirbie from New Brunswick

Today's Coffee Time interview is with Kirbie from New Brunswick, a primary teacher, fellow blogger and fabulous teacher.  Enjoy!



Coffee Time with Kirbie
Name: Kirbie Silliker
University: University of New Brunswick
Subjects: Primary, French as a Second Language
Ages You Teach: Key Stage 1 and 2 (aka K-6)
How long have you been teaching in London?
I have been teaching here for two months.
What do you teach?
I teach a Year 5 class in a Primary School.
Why did you choose to work with Classroom Canada?
I really liked how attentive Victoria was, and how she actually took the time to figure out my strengths as a teacher. Whenever I had a question, I usually had a response within hours. Classroom Canada pays attention to each teacher as an individual, and really prepares their teachers for teaching in London.
What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
Definitely behaviour management. In Canada, I wasn’t very strict, but the children really didn’t take advantage of me. I learned really quickly that this was not the case in London. After teaching a couple days that felt too “out of control” for me, I became much more strict with my class. It definitely paid off. My students needed to know the limits that I have set for them, and they respond well to having very precise rules and routines.
Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.
I wake up at 6.00am and get ready for the day. I leave my place at 7.00am and catch a tube and a train to get to work. I arrive at school at 8.00am and prepare my lessons for the day and collect the children at 9.00am. Sometimes I have a staff meeting or professional development after school, and if I don’t I stay after school to prepare my lessons. I get home in the evening, and usually cook supper with some other Classroom Canada teachers, or sometimes I go out to eat or for a run around Regent’s Park.
What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?
Keep an open mind and be ready to learn. You will work in a completely different environment than you likely did in Canada, but it’s a really amazing and rewarding experience. It’s the best decision I ever made, for myself and for my career. Also, be sure to pack lightly because the shopping here is incredible!
Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:
I was teaching the children how to write an instructional text, so we were focusing on writing step-by-step instructions. I asked the children to write instructions for “how to make a peanut butter sandwich”, something every Canadian child would know how to do. When I asked the children what the first step would be, they gave me answers like “crush the peanuts” and “mix the peanuts in with butter”. I realised that the majority of my students had never even tasted peanut butter before, let alone made a sandwich with it. My TA’s still tease me about loving peanut butter so much.

Describe the worst thing:
I supply taught for my current class before taking them over as their regular teacher, and I can honestly say it was the worst teaching day in my life. Despite that I stayed calm and did all the right things, the children still misbehaved, throwing chairs, running down the fire escape and spitting on each other.

I learned that it will take time for you to see progress with your class. Now, I have children who sit quietly and produce amazing work! It will take time, but it’s definitely rewarding to teach children who have the reputation of being “hard to teach.” Sometimes I have to remind myself that I would have hard days in Canada too, but at the end of the day, I’m helping children who need support and guidance.
What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
I think Classroom Canada prepared me really well for my move to London. They responded to all of my questions straight away, and provided lots of information. Classroom also listened to what I wanted for my career and took my strengths into account when matching me with a position.
If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Teachers & Teaching Assistants in London, England with Classroom Canada


 I just made the above photo montage for our Classroom Canada teachers and teaching assistants. 

What do you think?  I'm contemplating using this in the presentations I do across Canada for teachers who are thinking about moving to London to teach. 

Any feedback you can offer would be great!  Thanks so much.

If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spreading the Bloggin' Love: Teacher Blogs About Teaching in London, England

Every few months I like to update ya'all on the blogs I read, particularly written by those amazing Canadian and American teachers and teaching assistants working in London, England with Classroom Canada.

Some reflect on their adventures in teaching, but most just write about what it's like to live in London, where they travel and what they get up to on their weekends.  Some use their blogs to share resources and information to help others make the move to teaching in the UK.


Here's the current list of blogs I read on a regular basis, in no particular order:

Mike's Blog - Mike is new to blogging, and shares his stories of life in London from a football-loving- Torontonian's perspective.   It's refreshing to read a guy's perspective (most of our teachers are women, simply because 80% of teachers in Canada are women.  Weird right? Where are all the male-teachers?)

BangersNMash -  Shannon is a new teacher and she's doing exceptionally well in our schools.  She has an upbeat, outgoing personality that shines through her writing.  Please leave comments and encourage her to write more.

Brand New Socks - This blog reminds me why bloggers got started in the first place.  Her writing is so reflective that I often feel like I am peaking into the secret diary of a stranger.  If you have time to read only one blog, this would be the one that will keep you coming back for more.

Britain and Beyond - Bryn is a teaching assistant, a swing dance teacher, a drama specialist and so, so much more.  Her writing is fresh, young, upbeat and also quite reflective.

Get an Eyepatch, Man - Amie and Morgan are on a mission to post every day that they are living in London as a teaching assistant/teacher team.  Love it!

Heather in the UK - This is Heather's second year teaching in London with us, and she only posts once a month or so, but every post is a delight to read.

Jessica and Grant in London - Yet another teaching assistant/teacher team, Jessica and Grant have recently arrived in London and post their pictures and stories to share with us all.  You might recognize them from the Scavenger Hunt pictures that I posted last week - Grant looks particularly sharp in his winning sunglasses.

Just Take Me Where I've Never Been Before - Erika is also in her second year teaching in London with Classroom Canada, and while she thinks she's "boring" (read her most recent post), I think her writing gives us an insight into what it's like to live and teach in London over time.  Eventually, it stops being so new and scary, and everyone gets settled into life in London.  I absolutely love Erika's writing and think she should publish a book at some point.

Jodi And Tyson - Jodi and Tyson have been blogging for a while now and share heaps of resources and advice for other Canadians considering the big move across the pond.  Scroll through their older posts to see their advice about how to make the move easier as they literally walk you through the steps they took before moving to teach in London.

Mike and Heather Save the World - Hmm...another teacher/teaching assistant team. I sense a theme here.  Check out their pictures of Scotland - they're stunning.

Phoebe, All Over - Phoebe's blog has a fresh, pink, girlie vibe with a strong history focus.  Or should I say herstory?

Songs of Innocence - Joann and Maggie are two teacher friends from Vancouver and their photos are amazing!  Joann started reading my blog last year during teacher's college and eventually managed to convince Maggie to leave the comforts of Vancouver for the excitement of London life. They're both doing exceptionally well in our schools and their positive attitudes shine through their photos.

Where is Kirbie?  Remember Kirbie from her comments on my blog?  Well, she's now teaching in London and working full-time. Drop by and see how she's doing now.

Are there any blogs you would like to recommend?  Please share your two cents below.

If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blogs About Teaching: EduCarnival and You


We are not alone.

There are others just like us.  Teaching, writing, reading, reflecting, researching, blogging.

Educarnival is a blogger's paradise, where education bloggers submit their favourite posts and readers like you and me can enjoy them collectively.

This week's carnival is up at Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable, which I have to say, is my favourite title for a blog. Brilliant! 

To see past educarnivals, check out this link.  You can also host the event at your blog, a great way to support the education blogging community while attracting new readers.

If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jobs for Teachers in London: Just What Are We Recruiting For Now?

Now that most of our teachers for the 2009/2010 academic year are settled into life and teaching in London, it's time to look ahead to next year.  We are currently arranging interviews with teachers and teaching assistants for positions that start in April 2010 and September 2010.

For all those teachers and teaching assistants who are thinking about moving to London to teach, here's what we like to see:
  • Secondary Teachers with the following teachable subjects (at least 2 of this list): science, math, computers, design & technology.  There will be limited positions in: English, History, Geography and Modern Foreign Languages.  Secondary Teachers with experience in Primary Teaching and Special Educational Needs will be prioritized.
  • Primary Teachers - particularly those with experience across all age groups.
  • Special Educational Needs Teachers.  Mild Learning Disabilities, Emotional & Behavioural Difficulties and Severe Learning Disabilities.
  • Teaching Assistants & Early Childhood Educators.  Experienced teaching assistants, nursery & reception teachers (ECE's).
For all of these positions, we are looking for the following skills & experiences:
  • Experience abroad in some capacity is a definite asset.  Teaching ESL, volunteering abroad, working abroad. 
  • Flexibility, adaptability and a "can-do" attitude. 
  • Easy-going.
  • Inner-city teaching experience is a definite asset.
  • Outstanding references.
  • Ability to teach across various subjects and age groups.
  • Sense of humour.
  • Optimistic, positive approach to teaching and living in London.
  • Involvement in extracurricular activities (sports, drama, clubs, dance...anything that shows your interest in learning outside of the traditional classroom).
To apply to join our team of outstanding teachers and teaching assistants, just send your resume and cover letter to apply at classroomcanada dot com.  Be sure to outline why you want to teach in London, and specifically why you want to work with Classroom Canada.  You will need to be eligible to work in the UK, so be sure to check out the visa page on our website.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gratitude and the Positive Teacher: How to See the Silver Lining on a Tough Day


Regular readers of this blog will know that I often talk about "being positive" and that teachers who move to London to teach and keep that positive attitude strong do exceptionally well in our schools.  They love inner city teaching and can see every silver lining presented to them.

So what am I on about?

Today, Siobhan Curious over at Classroom as Microcosm sheds some light on gratitude and the positive thinking teacher.  She points out all the reasons she's grateful today, even though she could have woken up to think, "I have a nasty cold. I'm too busy. This one student is driving me nuts!"  Instead, she looks to all the reasons she's grateful and switches that Monday Morning Blues to a "YES! I CAN!" attitude.  This is the sign of a great teacher.

What I really appreciate about Siobhan's post is that she brings up the issue of that one naughty student.  One student can feel like the whole class if you don't keep it in perspective. I know, I've been there and done that many times in my own teaching in London schools.

In fact, I still do it with Classroom Canada.  This week, I asked for feedback from our teachers in London about how our Professional Development Week went. I wanted their honest feedback, and I got it. 

95% of the teachers who replied absolutely loved the week.  The teachers that attended every session, even though they were tired from teaching during the days, said they loved it.  They loved the Run with Richard, the PD workshops with Sophie Walker, the Bloggers Bash and the Scavenger Hunt.  Those that could only attend one session loved it and regretted not attending the others.

But then there's that one person who says "Well, I didn't like it at all!"

And who do I turn my attention to?  That one person. Of course I do!

So, I did some reflecting. I did some research. I looked inside my heart of hearts, and realized...negative feedback is a good thing.  I need it, I asked for it, and I can make changes because of it.  But it is just one person's opinion, and each opinion deserves to be heard including the others who loved it.  So am I listening? 

Are you?  When you look out at a classroom of students, do you see the students who are doing exactly what you asked?  Do you see the students desperate to learn? To listen? To engage?  Or do you just see the one that's driving you nuts?  Or the two?  Or three...

If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Are Classroom Canada Teachers & Teaching Assistants so Outstanding?


I'm back in our Canadian office after a couple of weeks in London with our teachers and teaching assistants.  It was a whirlwind tour to say the least, but I loved every minute of it. 

I heard a lot of feedback from schools, my colleagues and Sophie Walker (a workshop leader) about the Classroom Canada teachers & teaching assistants.

Here's what they had to say:
  • The Canadian teachers and teaching assistants in London this year are much more prepared than any other group, including the Australians, South Africans and New Zealanders.
  • Our teachers are more adaptable, more flexible and more easy-going than any other group.  Less work in secondary schools? Not a problem! Our teachers can teach primary, secondary and special educational needs. They adapt. They learn. They just "get on with it."
  • Teachers who arrived in London with other agencies are desperately trying to join Classroom Canada.  They say the others promised "guaranteed work" and they still haven't worked yet, nor are they getting paid.  I have taken a few bright sparks under my wing, but to be fair, I have to prioritize the teachers that have been with us for months.
  • The teachers and teaching assistants who read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians are doing exceptionally well in our schools as they use the UK terminology and have the basic understanding they need to excel in London schools. 
  • Our teachers and teaching assistants have an instant community with each other, as most live in our accommodations in Central London.  This means that they aren't in a panic to meet others in the same boat.  If anything, they seek out other friends besides Canadians!  Some join Rugby or Football teams, some swing dance, some jog in groups, some join London book clubs. Whatever they do, they get out there and enjoy their new lives in London.
  • The one common theme is that our teachers are ridiculously positive people.  They see the cup as half-full, take every "challenge" as an opportunity, and realize how amazing their adventure in teaching in London really is.  This attitude spreads to their teaching and their students.  Head Teachers (aka principals) pick up on it instantly and request our teachers back day after day.  Or they offer them full-time teaching contracts on the spot.  They make room for our teachers.  Oftsed even gave one of our teachers an "oustanding" review just a couple of weeks ago, and this teacher had only been in the UK for a few weeks.  Now, that's what I'm talking about.
So, this brings me to next year's group of teachers. I'm already receiving applications from teachers wishing to work in London in September 2010.  I'm also interviewing teachers for May 2010, and I must say, the CV's I've received have been very impressive.

Here's what I'm looking for in teacher applications:
  1. Cover letters that state why the teacher wants to work in London and why they want to work with Classroom Canada.  Put that in there and you're sure to get a phone call from me offering an interview.  It really is that simple!  Trust me, most people don't bother to write a good cover letter, and the whole "to whom it may concern" or "dear timeplan" thing gets a little tiresome.  Read this blog post to learn more.
  2. Experience abroad in some capacity is a definite asset.  International development, volunteer work, teaching ESL, teaching abroad, even just traveling abroad is better than nothing.
  3. Show me more than your teaching life.  I want to see your excurricular involvement and your life outside of teaching.  Play sports? Tell me about it.  Swing dance?  Hip-hop-belly dance?  Tell me about it.  Active member of your book club?  What are you reading now? I want to see the whole person, not just the teacher.  The best teachers love learning!  What are you learning about right now?
  4. Inner city teaching experience.  Classroom Canada recruits teachers to work in inner city London schools.  Not rural.  Not the outskirts.  Inner city London schools. That's what we do.  So, what does that mean? Diverse, multicultural, some rich, some poor, intense inner city schools.  If you have experience (or even just did your teaching practicums) in inner city schools, then tell me about it. Toronto? Montreal? Vancouver? Ottawa? New York? LA? Chicago?  Tell me about it.  Why do you love it?
  5. How did you hear about us? I used to advertise in all the typical places, apply to teach (now called "applytoeducation"), facebook, google. But now I don't.  In fact, I haven't advertised in about 8 months.  Why not? Because the vast majority of our teachers come from word of mouth, and to me, that means more than anything else.  The feedback about our teachers has never been so positive, so obviously it's working.  So, if you know someone with Classroom Canada, tell me!  If you don't, but you read this blog, tell me!  How did you stumble across this little teaching agency that could?
That's about it folks.  If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website.  Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.  Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

Questions? Comments?  Please share your thoughts below.

Other posts you might enjoy:
Teacher photos for CVs/Resumes
Do's and Don'ts of Teacher Career Fairs
Typical Interview Questions for Teaching Abroad
How to Write a Resume/CV for Teaching in London

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Armistice Day aka Veterans Day aka Remembrance Day



It's a holiday here in British Columbia for Remembrance Day, but I think the rest of Canada is still hard at work.  The UK calls the 11th of November "Armistice Day", and I believe the USA still calls it "Veterans Day."  Regardless of what we call it, we all take our moment of silence, wear poppies and remember.

I'm also hard at work, going through 467 emails (!) from new applicants trying to work with Classroom Canada as teachers or teaching assistants in London.  Wow.

For my grandfather - I love you and will always remember your courage and strength.  Thank you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Photos from the 2nd Annual Classroom Canada London Scavenger Hunt

Wow.  The Classroom Canada PD week has come and gone. It all happened so quickly!

Here are some photos from Friday night's London Scavenger Hunt - my favourite event that takes our teachers and teaching assistants to the streets of London.  Silly times were had by all!


 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Photos from Classroom Canada's PD Workshops, November 2009

Classroom Canada held 2 professional development workshops this week for our new arrivals in London: Primary & Secondary Teaching on Wednesday night and SEN Teaching on Thursday night.

We had even more teachers arrive than we expected, and were jam-packed into the Classroom boardroom with at least 27 teachers and teaching assistants at each event.  Outstanding!

The feedback from our workshop leader, Sophie Walker, is that this group is the most dedicated, loyal, flexible, adaptable and "switched on"  that she's ever seen.  Sophie's been doing these workshops for years, with teachers from around the world, so this is really BIG. 

Every day I hear positive feedback from my colleagues about the Canadian teachers and TA's in our London schools.  Well done everyone!

Tonight we have the Classroom Canada Scavenger Hunt, our most popular social event with silliness, drinks and laughter starting at the Maple Leaf Pub in Covent Garden. I'm excited!

To become part of the Classroom Canada team, sign up for our newsletters & apply through our website. Be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians to help you understand everything you need to know about teaching in London.




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Photos From Classroom Canada's Run With Richard & The Blogger's Bash

How amazing our the Classroom Canada teachers & teaching assistants in London?  Absolutely outstanding!

On Monday, we had our Run with Richard, a 5km jogging tour of our local area around Central London, including the London Eye, the Ritz Hotel, Green Park, Bond Street, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Leicester Square, Soho and the Thames River.  I am very impressed! 

Last night, some of our blogging teachers and teaching assistants got together at the Maple Leaf Pub, our only Canadian bar in London and home to poutine and Sleeman's beer.  We shared many laughs, blogging stories & advice and much praise all around for the amazing stories and reflections that our teachers have shared through their blogs.  Some even called each other the "famous bloggers", as they've followed their adventures from being in Canada to finally arriving in London and now their teaching stories.  Finally, they got to meet in person and away from their computers. 

Tonight, we have a Professional Development Workshop with Sophie Walker for Primary & Secondary Teachers, and tomorrow we have another workshop for Special Educational Needs teaching.  Then, on Friday we take over the streets of London with the famous and fantastic Classroom Canada Scavenger Hunt.  Not only are the teachers actually teaching in London schools, they also know how to go out, make new friends and have a great time living in central London. 

Here are some photos to show you the Run and the Maple Leaf event, in no particular order:



















To become part of the Classroom Canada team, sign up for our newsletters & apply through our website. Be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians to help you understand everything you need to know about teaching in London.

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