Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Who Writes Your Letter of Reference When You Return to Canada After Teaching in the UK?

Here's how it works.

You apply for a teaching job in London, England. A recruiter (called "recruitment consultant") contacts you & asks you a few questions, usually about why you want to go, when you want to go & what visa you can teach in England with. If all that goes well, you should be offered an interview with said recruiter.

You have your interview & hopefully ace it. See my blog post on typical teacher interview questions for more help in this.

Then, your recruiter will check your references & all your documentation to make sure that you are indeed a qualified teacher or about to become a teacher.

If selected, you will be informed by phone or through an email. They should provide you with contracts, and information about the agency's services. In a few weeks or a few months, you should be on a plane to your new home in the UK.

In our case, we have an office here in Canada as well as in London. So, you'll meet with recruitment consultants in our London office & they will take care of you from then on. I'm still here in Canada so when you need me for advice or support or just to have a quick chat, you can always contact me and know that a friendly, experienced teacher is here to help. I also go to London to give professional development workshops from a Canadian perspective.

For the most part, you will be working in London with my colleagues in the London office. I step in when I can, especially when I see that someone is struggling & needs some good advice to help ease the transition into teaching in inner city London schools.

So who writes your letter of reference when you return to Canada? Your recruitment consultant! In the case of Classroom Canada, that'd be me.

I know this might seem a bit strange, but school boards in Canada want to know where you have taught, how many days total (this is usually to calculate what your pay scale should be) and how you did in general. I get asked every year to complete forms about my teachers' experiences in London.

The only reason this would be different is if you have a full-time teaching position in a school for a year. Then you should ask your senior management for a letter of reference.

Otherwise, your recruitment consultant will be the one school boards turn to for recommendations. We can't say that we've seen you teach, but we can say how you were received by schools. This will include the feedback we receive about your teaching, whether schools ask specifically for you to teach in their school again, or on the flip-side if schools asked you not to return. Luckily, negative feedback is very rare for Classroom Canada teachers.

What does all this mean for you? Be nice to us! Just kidding. Sort of.

Be professional. Be yourself.

Edit your emails and please use capital letters when you should. This might seem really nit-picky, but you want the impression you give to be positive and professional. It's not that your recruiter is always judging you (we aren't) but in the end you will have developed a strong working relationship with someone who will know you on your bad & good days. Isn't it better to always give the impression that you are a dedicated & professional teacher rather than a student-teacher who writes in text-message format all the time?

Also, make sure that you write more than one-line emails. One-line emails are perceived as rude and can really leave a bad taste in the receiver's mouth. It's so easy to say, "I hope you are well," or "Enjoy your week!" and no, it's not sucking up. It's being polite, friendly and still professional. It makes a huge difference in how you are perceived and in the end, you'll get a much more positive & glowing letter of reference. And that's ultimately what you want right?

Please share your thoughts below! I'd love to hear what you think about all this.

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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