Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How to Get a Teaching Job in London, England

Every once in a while I read my teacher's blogs and ask them if I can share their insights with you here. Reba is a teacher from BC with a great attitude towards teaching in inner city London. Her story is very similar to most teachers that do really well - she stayed positive, took the lead and got the job she wanted.

Before she tells you how she got a teaching job in London, here are some of her insights on London's duality:

"...And yet, I've managed to overcome my struggle with its duality. East London is very different, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. The multiculturalism of the area is incredible, but also at times disheartening when you feel like even more of an outsider, an intruder even, simply walking down the high street. It can be a little strange when you're on the bus, and are the only one speaking English, and yet it is still kind of neat to be the only one speaking English on the bus. While I still absolutely detest the dog poop on the sidewalk, and the fresh spit gobs everywhere I go, but my street, in reality, is actually pretty cute, and is nicer than a lot of the other ones that I've seen - it has trees! Our local shops and their keepers are beginning to get to know us (well, sort of. The movie store guy basically knows us, and the corner store guys at least recognize us). And I'm beginning to recognize (and I'm sure be recognized) the regulars at the gym."
Reba then explains to us how she went from supply teaching across London to having her own class in a school she really wanted to work full-time in.

'Where I'm going with this? Who knows. I just am getting to the point where I like living in London, save for the nasty weather. Am I enjoying teaching? Yup! Shocking isn't it? Even more shocking is that I was hired on at a school! I never would have thought when I first arrived that I would ever be in this position.

To rewind a bit, I ended up teaching the Year 5 class that I have previously mentioned until the end of the term (aka Christmas break). It continued to be a challenge up until the last day, but I really did enjoy being in that class. A whole bunch of the kids (actually probably close to half the class) gave me Christmas cards, and were really sad that I was not going to be teaching them after the break.

Anyways, on the last day of school I went to thank the Head Teacher (principal) for having me at the school that long, as anytime I'm in a school for longer than a couple of days, I like to thank them (even though for the most part, they aren't the ones who decide who they get!). She basically said that they'd ask for me if they needed a supply teacher. So I was stoked about that.

Well, at the end of the day, the Deputy Head Teacher (vice-principal) asked me to go see the Head Teacher before I left. When I did that, she asked me if I would be interested in a position that was coming up at the end of February, to which I replied, "OF COURSE!" Okay, so maybe I was a little more diplomatic than that, but basically, I had a job offer that I was not going to turn down.

You see, over the course of the month at this school, let's call it X Primary for the sake of the conversation, I began to feel like I was actually a part of the school, rather than a stranger at the school. Mind you it's not hard when a heap of other Canadians, most of whom are already your friends, work at the school, but that's besides the point :) I kept getting invited to school events, and eventually, I started going to them. By the time the last day of term rolled around, I had started to make friends at the school.

So now, here I am, knowing that from now until the middle of May, there are only two weeks where I am not booked. I start my new job at X Primary sometime in February, after the half-term break I'm assuming, and have been booked at a school way out in Zone 5 for the remainder of January. YAY! The best part is, the position ends after the Year 6 standardized tests are over, as I'm taking over a PPA (Preparation, Planning and Assessment) position, for a friend that is taking a position to help students prepare for the tests. That means that Reba's Eurotrip of Awesomness is still a go! But more on that later..."

What I really like about this story is that Reba took action. She didn't just supply teach & go home at the end of the day. She sought out the Head Teacher & said "Thanks!"

If you want a full time teaching job, follow this advice. That one kind word of thanks eventually turned into a job offer that Reba couldn't refuse. I am always amazed at how many teachers don't do this. Sure, it's a little intimidating, but how many times do you think a Head Teacher in a tough inner city school hears "Thanks for letting me teach at your school. I really enjoyed it!"? If you were in their shoes, would you hire that person? I know I would.

If you want to keep reading Reba's story, check out her blog. Some of our other teachers write blogs & I've posted them on the right hand side of this blog. Also, subscribe to our newsletters to read interviews with our teachers and get your copy of the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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