Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Canada in the UK News: "Best Prepared Country Going into the Crisis"

Stephanie Flanders, the BBC's economics editor, wrote a blog post today about Canada. She gives us an award for the "Best Prepared Country Going into the Crisis."

My friend Paulo sent the link to me as a follow-up on a discussion we had way back in November. Paulo is an architect. The last time the UK had a recession, 40% of architects were laid off. So, he's naturally quite stressed about the financial crisis. But teachers are safe, as the UK has a shortage of teachers and that's not changing any time soon.

Anyway, in our discussion, I insisted that Canada was fine. I was surprised at how the media in the UK seemed to be encouraging a panic about the "credit crunch" and insisted that we just weren't in the same situation. Paulo, being the sensible guy that he is, told me that I was wrong and that Canada's time was coming. We'd see house foreclosures, massive lay-offs and a public panic just like the UK and the USA. How could we not? We're not all that different, right?

Well, Paulo then sent me the link to the aforementioned blog post about Canada being the most prepared and the least affected by the global financial crisis.

We are, of course, affected by the crisis to the south so we're not in a complete bubble up here. There have been lay-offs, and people do feel stress about the future. But, it does feel good to have a reporter in the UK say that we're the most prepared. I have to admit, I felt some good ol' Canadian pride while reading the article.
You see, we're not often in the UK news. So, to be in the news for being sensible, prepared and "the best"...well, that's pretty darn good!

But what do you think?

If you'd like to become part of the Classroom Canada team, please 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.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Important Words for Canadian Teachers to Know in England

This is a re-post of one of our first blog posts. It's one of my favourites and I know most readers haven't seen it yet as it's more than a year old. I hope you enjoy it! Please watch the videos as well - the first one is filmed within a school we've worked with for a few years and you will learn plenty just by watching it.

After teaching in London for a few months, you'll quickly learn the lingo of Londoners and particularly the slang of the children.




Here's a handy little list of words you need to know to make it through your first week anyway.

British Term – Canadian Term

Alright? How are you? (note that this is a rhetorical question and you'll get strange looks if you actually start saying how you are!)
asbo
anti-social behaviour order
bird girl or chick
cash pointATM or cash machine
chavequivalent to “trailer park trash” - not PC but you're bound to hear it
cinemamovie theatre
cuppa- cup of tea
dinnerlunch
fagcigarette
fancy dress costume party
fringe
bangs (hair)
guttedsad
local pub (as in “Meet me at my local”)
mate/sfriend/s
mingerugly
over the moonpleased or happy
pantsunderwear (can also be used as a negative adjective, as in “my job is really pants”)
puddingdessert
shattered/knackered very tired
snog kissing
subway underground path (allows you to cross from one side of the road to the other)
take-awaytake-out or food to go
traffic warden meter maid/man
trainerssneakers, running shoes
trousers pants
tube subway train
rubbish bingarbage can
pavement sidewalk
vest tank top

The above list is taken from Living in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians, written by Network Canada.




Here, we've added a few more words for
Canadian teachers in London:

registerattendance
rubber - eraser
break recess
holidayvacation
“cussing my____” (fill in the blank with Mum, or name, or mate...) - making fun of, putting down
innitisn't it?
footballsoccer
taking the mick (or mickey)making fun of (teens and adults might say “taking the piss” instead)
chuffedhappy, excited
to pull or to be pulledto pick up or get picked up (at a bar/club)
corridor - hallway
Head Teacher - principal
Deputy Head Teacher - vice-principal
SENCO - Special Needs Coordinator
Key Stage (1, 2, 3, 4) - primary, junior, intermediate, senior
Early Years (Nursery & Reception) - Junior Kindergarten, Senior Kindergarten
Hall - gymnasium (usually also where the children eat lunch in primary schools)
Jumper - sweater

Can you think of any more that we've forgotten? Please add them to our comments.

If you'd like to become part of the Classroom Canada team, please 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.

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Google Maps Allow You to See Street by Street in the UK

My co-worker, Nicole, just told me how amazing these new google maps are. I heard about this, but didn't realize just how useful the street view would be until now.

Check it out. I typed in: Classroom Ltd, 296 Regent Street, London. That's where our London office is. The photo above is a screen shot of the first image I saw. Walmar House is the building we work in out of London. Pret is where most of my co-workers grab a quick bite to eat. Oasis sells clothes, and I think I've even bought a pair of shoes there on my lunch break when I worked in London.

But then I looked to the left, and could see everything I would see if I were actually there in person.

See that long steeple/church thing at the end of the street? That's the landmark I use to tell teachers when they have gone too far. In the bottom right hand corner, you can see a little orange man. If you click on him, you can move him around and change your view when you're in google maps.

I then had some more fun and searched for my old apartment, 149 Notting Hill Gate. You can go check it out if you want to see where I lived. How weird is this?! I'm not sure if it's just plain creepy, or incredibly useful.

In terms of being useful, I imagine that you could search for your new school, see what the neighbourhood is really like and see if you really want to work in that kind of area. You can also check out your local area and see how close your grocery store is, the tube stop, the bus stops, the laundrette, your new "local" (pub) and so on. Isn't that amazing?

But then, of course, there are some people who will try to get "captured" in google earth. Just see this teenager's art work to see what I mean.

As far as I can tell, we don't yet have street view in Canada. I'm sure we will eventually though.

What do you think? Useful or creepy?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

10 of my favourite Quotes for Teachers


  1. Good schools, like good societies and good families, celebrate and cherish diversity. - Deborah Meier
  2. That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.- Doris Lessing
  3. Don't set your wit against a child.- Jonathan Swift
  4. The secret of teaching is to appear to have known all your life what you learned this afternoon.- Anonymous
  5. I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand. - Chinese Proverb
  6. Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way.- George Evans
  7. There is a brilliant child locked inside every student.- Marva Collins
  8. Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.- Gail Godwin
  9. Children need models rather than critics.- Joseph Joubert
  10. It's okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are our teachers -- they help us to learn. -John Bradshaw
For more quotes like the above, see this site.

If you'd like to become part of the Classroom Canada team, please 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, March 25, 2009

Coffee Time with Graham Glass, Founder of edu2.0

I wrote a blog post a couple of days ago about Twitter and how I learned about edu2.0 from a friend who tweeted about it. I am so excited about this new site & so I asked the founder if I could interview him for the blog here.

One of the toughest challenges I face in my job is providing professional development (on behaviour management, the UK curriculum, adjusting to life in London, and so on) for teachers from across Canada and the States who want to teach in London, England. The most obvious issue is one of geography, in that our country is just too massive for me to offer PD sessions in every city prior to departure for all of my teachers.

Usually I just fly to London and give workshops there. But then the issue becomes one of timing. Teachers arrive throughout the year, usually in August, September and October but also in January and April. So it becomes increasingly difficult for me to provide workshops at the right time of year for every teacher.

So, here's the deal. I love edu2.0 and can really see how it will be useful for teachers with Classroom Canada. I hope I can develop an online class before the summer that teachers can take from wherever they may be. Best of all: it's free! And I can use it without being a techie-whiz-kid. I just need the time to come up with the content, but that's another story.

I also need your help. First, please read more about Graham's ideas below. Then share your ideas for how we can use this with Classroom Canada in the comments section.

On to the interview with Graham:

Name: Graham Glass
Company: edu2.0
Position: Founder
Education: BSc and MS in Computer Science

Background:
This is my fourth startup. My first was ObjectLesson, a hi-tech training
company. My second was ObjectSpace, a training/consulting/products company specializing in object-oriented technology. My third was The Mind Electric, which specialized in web services infrastructure and was bought by webMethods in 2004. I served as the webMethods CTO for two years and then founded edu2.0 in 2006.

What is Edu 2.0?
It's a web site that provides a free and easy way to teach and learn
online. It's an attractive alternative to systems like Moodle and Blackboard because it's completely free, easy to use, and web hosted so there's nothing to download or maintain. Some people might call our site a "Learning Management System", but it includes many features that go beyond that definition.

As a teacher yourself, why do you think the world needs Edu 2.0 right now?
It makes good sense for a teacher to have their materials available
through the web so that they and their students can access them anytime, anyplace. edu2.0 makes it very easy for a teacher to upload lessons, videos, audio, pictures, quizzes, and other educational materials. In addition, edu2.0 makes it easy to set, track and grade assignments, as well as utilitize modern educational tools like blogs, forums, chat rooms and debates.

How do you see teachers in the public school system using Edu 2.0?
They are using edu2.0 to make teaching more efficient and enjoyable. Over
1,000 teachers are currently using the system and it's growing fast.

You taught in the states but are British yourself. Do you have any insights about teaching abroad that our readers may like to know?
I taught computer science at the University of Texas at Dallas, but it
wasn't particularly different from Southampton University in the UK. So I don't really have any insights.

What kind of response have you had so far in regards to Edu 2.0?
It has been terrific. I frequently get emails from enthusiastic teachers
and students. I recently visited some universities in the Philippines who are using edu2.0 and they're already teaching a wide range of subjects using the Internet. The site has over 40,000 members and is growing at 3% a week, so we must be doing something right!

In terms of organizations & companies like Classroom Canada, where do you see Edu 2.0 fitting in with our needs?
edu2.0 is a great system for individual teachers or schools who want to
teach online. Each school gets its own custom URL, customizable home page, and a space for their banner, so you can set up an online school in a matter of minutes. Hopefully http://classroomcanada.edu20.org will be online soon!

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I have some ideas that challenge the traditional ways of teaching and
learning, and I plan on implementing them over the next two years. None of these ideas is currently part of edu2.0, but stay tuned......

Any more questions you'd like to ask about edu2.0 or about the Classroom Canada online class idea? Please share your thoughts below. Your ideas will help to shape our use of online professional development for teachers interested in teaching in London, England. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is QTS and Do You Need it as a Canadian Teacher in London, England?


QTS stands for Qualified Teacher Status.

It’s the UK’s way of dealing with their teacher shortage and their need for overseas trained teachers. They have teachers from all around the world teaching in the UK. But how can they tell if one country’s education system
is the same as the UK’s? What if someone can become a teacher in another country without having any training whatsoever?

To make it fair and legally acceptable, they came up with the QTS system.

Every teacher that works in the UK is legally allowed to teach on their overseas teacher qualifications for up to 4 years. Within their first four years, they must take their QTS training, pass the course and receive their QTS.
Then, they become an “Overseas Trained Teacher with QTS,” which puts them in the same pay category as UK trained teachers.

The QTS program is fairly simple, and is certainly works just fine for Canadians because our training is actually very similar. You will have to take a few courses (on UK curriculum, behaviour management, assessment for learning, etc), create a portfolio of evidence of your teaching practice, and be assessed a number of times (through observations of your teaching). It is time consuming, but a necessary step in your career should you wish to stay more than 4 years.

So how does this affect you?

In your wallet.

See, schools have to follow their own pay scheme for teachers. Agencies don’t.

So agencies charge schools a certain rate (usually between 160-189 pounds/day, and no, they won’t tell what they charge schools) and then pay their teachers a certain rate (anywhere from 90-150 pounds/day). This pay will depend on how many years experience you have, where you are teaching & if you are a specialist in your field. Science teachers can expect to be paid at the higher end of the scale.

When schools go through agencies, they expect the agency to verify your:
• CV
• References (at least 2, and they have to be in positions of power
and have seen you teach)
• Qualifications (Bachelor of Education at a minimum)
• Police Record Check for vulnerable persons
• List 99 check (which is a UK database check of child molesters)

They also expect the agency to deliver professional development workshops to their teachers, carry out social events (particularly for the foreign teachers to find friends), and generally support the teachers.

Schools pay more for this service because they don’t have the time to deal with staffing on their own. In Canada, we have a job shortage whereas in the UK they have a teacher shortage. It is incredibly time-consuming for the management of each school to do their own hiring. So they pay a higher
rate for agencies to find them the best teachers, support them and clear them for teaching.

This usually means you end up getting paid more through an agency than going the independent route. I’ve worked with teachers who were making 26 325 pounds/year with an agency, then went on their own to schools where they were only making 21 000 pounds. That’s a big drop in pay and not unusual.

So, what should you do? Apply for teaching jobs through an agency until you have obtained your QTS. If you'd like to apply to teach with Classroom Canada in London, England, please see our website for the application process.

Any questions? Please share them here.

If you'd like to become part of the Classroom Canada team, please 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.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Search This Site: Finally, a google search engine that works on here

I post every day of the work week so I know it's hard to keep up with everything I write about teaching in London, England. The search box above works so please use it!

Here are some good keywords to get you started in your searches:
  • behaviour management
  • teaching in London, England
  • interview questions
  • assessment
  • planning
  • PD
  • professional development
  • socials
  • apartments
  • accommodations
  • flights
  • jobs
You name it & I've probably already written about it on here (as long as it has to do with teaching in London that is!). So please do use that handy little search box above to help you wade your way through this blog. Thanks!

If you have any suggestions for more improvement, I really appreciate the feedback.

Teachers & Twitter

Hey teacher! Do you tweet?

Twitter is growing fast & furiously, and facebook is changing its face to keep up. I'm not sure if I'm all that impressed yet, but I'm on there.

In the last few days I've discovered a few things about Twitter and how I can use it with Classroom Canada.

  1. Companies seem to be using it as an easy way to "spam" without actually spamming. People follow you, so if they choose to follow a company, it seems to be okay to just blast them with messages about said company. I'm not into that approach and will avoid it at all costs.
  2. If I check in daily, then I'll find at least one resource that's been shared through Twitter ("tweeted about") that I'll use at some point.
  3. Some people share better resources than others. I am learning who is who on there, and have found some fabulous resources from a long lost friend who is now a community-activist-techie-geek. Here's one I love - www.Edu20.org. I will be interviewing the founder of Edu 2.0 next week so watch this space to learn more.
  4. Some people share a bit too much information (much like Facebook). I just "unfollow" when I see a tweet that's just a bit too much if you know what I mean.
  5. You can join groups like the Teachers Twitter group. Presumably this means you can meet other teachers, but I have yet to do this through the group.
  6. You can do real time searches by entering the keywords you care most about and see what people are saying right now. For example, If I enter "Classroom Canada" I can see what people are saying about us, if they're saying anything on Twitter at all.
  7. Say something you might regret and you'll regret it forever.
All things told, Twitter might become something every teacher uses just like facebook. Your school board and teachers college will tell you not to be on there as you might jeopardize your career (just like they said about teachers & facebook) but I know you're smarter than that. So, let's just assume you are going to use Twitter.

Use it wisely and it might just improve your teaching and increase your social network of teachers around the world. Use it to announce that you have the world's biggest hangover and can smell the beer on your breath while you're teaching and uh. Yeah. You get it right?

What do you think about all this twitter-stuff?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How to Survive Supply Teaching in London, England

Most teachers from Canada want to teach full-time and go to England because they know the job opportunities are plentiful. I did exactly that in 2004 when I first graduated from my Queen's B.Ed. But after teaching year 5 (grade 5) for two terms, I decided to take some time to do daily supply teaching (aka T.O.C., day-to-day, emergency cover...). I was shocked at how much fun I could have supply teaching! It was great pay, way less stress and I always got 5 days/week teaching in a handful of schools that I loved.

Sure, there were tough days and certainly tough classes, but when you get to leave after marking & leaving a note for the regular teacher, who wouldn't be happy? I suddenly had an amazing social life and could sleep through the whole night without waking up stressed about lesson planning, meetings, how I could help my students, time management worries and so on.

So, here are a few tricks of the trade that I picked up along the way in my supply teaching days in London:

Activities to Fill the Time –Less than 5 minutes to spare
The Alphabet Game

This is a great game to focus the students, keep them in their seats and get their brains working. Great for years (grades) 3-11.

• Find scrap paper and give each student 1 piece with a pencil or pen.

You’ll need a timer (use the Interactive Whiteboard timer, a sand timer or a watch.)

•Tell the students:
— “I will give you each one minute to write down as many words as you can that start with a certain letter. This is a competition against yourself and not anyone else. It needs to be completely silent for this game to work.”
— “At the end, I will tell you to put your pencils down and start counting how many words you found. Then, I will give you another minute and a new letter and let’s see if you can beat yourself.”
— “Remember not to tell anyone else what you got. It’s only for you to know. Ready? Write down as many words as you can that start with the letter A. Silence now please.”

• The students will madly start writing down words. Remind them that they can use ANY words (names, countries, foods...) and to look around the room at the displays to find other words that can help them. The
least able students (or ESL) can use dictionaries if they have to, but discourage this as dictionaries take too long and the others will argue its unfair.
• You can always start talking about random things using words that start with that letter – this will help the less able to “steal” your words. “I love to eat apples” works every time.
• After you do about 3 letters, tell them that you are now going to challenge them to write down as many words as they can that end in a certain letter. Try S to start with (plurals are nice and easy once they figure
that out).

This game LOOKS great. Remember, you want the Head Teacher or Deputy Head Teacher to walk past your class and see an active, engaged, quiet classroom. That’s what they like to see. The game is a literacy one, it gets their brains going and makes you look like a brilliant teacher.

I have easily done this game a thousand times in my experience and the only time it fails is if I raise my voice & have an over-excited room. Keep your voice calm, quiet and in control and your class will follow.

Silent Ball

I learned this game from a brilliant Year 6 teacher and have since used it hundreds of times, with all age groups. It’s a great game to finish off the day and to celebrate the class’ success. This is best for Years 3-9.

• Have the students stand behind their desks. Tell them that this game is silent and if they talk, they are out and have to sit back down. Tell them that you will throw a soft ball (or stuffed animal, or whatever you
can find in the classroom that is soft enough to throw) to a student. If the throw is rubbish, then I’m out. If the throw is fine, but the student drops the ball, then they are out. The student throws the ball to another
student, in less than 5 seconds.

• And on it goes.

• Once they get the hang of simply throwing, catching and being silent, tell them you will be changing the rules now. Only boys can throw and catch now. Then only girls. Then anyone with black shoes. Then the ball
is on fire, throw it as fast as you can.

The beauty? Eventually almost everyone will be sitting down. If you have a particularly rowdy class, then have them doing a silent activity at their desks while you finish the game. Or you can use the game to line the students up for the end of the day.

Remember, keep them calm and occupied! That’s your job in these games.

Less Than 10 Minutes to Spare
Around the World
This is a popular game in Canada, and one that they tend not to play in England. So you will have to teach them the rules, but once they play it once or twice they tend to love it!

• All students sit in their seats. Choose a corner table to start the game.

Tell one student to stand behind the chair of another student in the same corner. Tell them that you will ask them a question and the first one to answer correctly gets to move to the next student.

• You can do this game for virtually every subject, and all ages love it (the younger ones can’t last as long with it, but the older ones can play it for 20-30 minutes even). Most teachers just use the times tables. I’ve done
this game for spellings, geography (name a country that starts with “A”), science (name a reversible reaction) etc. The whole class needs to be totally silent and can’t give any answers away.

• Ask the question, the first student to have the correct answer gets to move to the next student. If the person sitting down is correct, they get up and move to standing behind the next students chair. The person
wrong then takes that first correct students chair.

The objective of the game is to make it “around the world”, all the way around the room and back to their own chair. Kids love this game and can get a bit loud, so make sure you are reinforcing the need for silence. You will need to change the questions quite often. For example, if you know one student is particularly strong in their times tables and the other isn’t, then throw in an easy “2 + 2” but say it very quickly. The student who is always right will probably get flustered because they expect more difficult questions.

Play with it, but don’t make it stressful for them!
www.teachernet.gov.uk/supplyteachers/ is a very good web site for more suggestions for supply teachers.

What about you? Do you have any great games that work in any class? Please share them here.

If you'd like to become part of the Classroom Canada team, please 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, March 18, 2009

Red Nose Day & Classroom UK

Here are my colleagues in the London office on Red Nose Day last week. They're all horribly embarrassed that I'm posting this photo here, but I think it's great. I love working with this team & miss them every day. What a bunch of goofs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's the UK Curriculum and How Do I Teach It?

When preparing to teach in London, one of your first steps should be to examine the National Curriculum. So, from the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians, here is a simple explanation of the UK National Curriculum for Canadian & American teachers.

The National Curriculum applies to pupils of compulsory school age in community and foundation schools, including community special schools and foundation special schools, and voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools. It’s different from anything you’ve probably been exposed to in Canada, but it works.

It is organized on the basis of four key stages:
key stage 1: Ages 5-7 (Years 1-2)
key stage 2: Ages 7-11 (Years 3-6)
key stage 3: Ages 11-14 (Years 7-9)
key stage 4: Ages 14-16 (Years 10-11).

At key stages 1 and 2 all pupils must study Art and Design, Design and Technology, English, Geography, History, Information and Communication Technology, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Science and Religious education.

Like I said, it’s a little different.

Students in Key Stages 3 & 4 must study Citizenship, English, Information and Communication Technology, Mathematics, Physical Education, Science, Careers Education, Sex Education, Work-Related Learning and Religious Education.

The curriculum also includes non-mandatory programmes of study for Personal Well Being (which includes the requirements for sex and relationships and drugs education) and Economic Well Being and Financial Capability (which includes the requirements for careers education.)

And then there are “Entitlement Areas” (which are basically what we would call electives) that Key 4 students get to choose from – the Fine Arts, Design and Technology, Humanities (Geography and History) and Foreign Languages.

This all sounds daunting, I know. But no one expects you to have memorized all this – just be familiar with it. And the great thing about teaching under the UK curriculum? Most of your lessons are already planned! That’s right, no more frantic Sunday nights spent coming up with unit plans! It’s all done for you. You need to adapt the lessons for your class though.

A Note on Religious Education (RE)
One thing you will notice right away in London is the inclusion of religion in the public school curriculum.
Canada doesn’t really teach religion, and if anything we avoid discussions about religion in our public school system. In the UK, the approach to this controversy is to teach the students from a very young age about all major world religions. It is a part of the national curriculum and you will have to teach it if you are a primary school teacher.

For example, in my Year 5 Class, we did a unit on Hinduism that lasted 3 weeks. If you’re a secondary school teacher then you will need to understand that your students have been taught all about religions. It will be a part of the school assemblies, and you’re expected to know some basics about world religions.

To see the National Curriculum online and look at specific subjects, see this web site: http://curriculum.qca.org.uk/index.aspx

If you'd like to become part of the Classroom Canada team, please 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.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Canadian Teachers in London Celebrate the Arrival of Spring



After months of teaching through the drizzle and grey clouds, teachers go outside & revel in the beauty that is London in the spring.

Erika agreed to share the above photos with you, dear readers. The top photo makes me a little bit teary actually. When I started Classroom Canada it wasn't only to help other Canadian teachers make the transition to London. I also wanted to help teachers make friends with others from across this massive country of ours. I know from my own experience just how important those friendships are. They get you through a tough day of teaching and stick with you for life.

Well this year, the teachers have really done it up. The jumping girls above are from Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto and Thunder Bay. Only 2 of them actually knew each other before arriving in London and the rest met through our accommodations & teaching in our schools. What an amazing bunch of teachers.

If you'd like to become part of the Classroom Canada team, please 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.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Behaviour Management in London Schools

So you want to teach in London but you have heard a million horror stories about how tough the kids are. Maybe you've read the Coffee Time series (the interviews with our teachers on the right hand side of this blog & through our newsletters), and noticed that all of our teachers says that the biggest adjustment they made in their teaching is in behaviour management. Did you notice that they never explain what that actually means?

The teachers aren't trying to be vague. It's just really hard to explain what it's like to teach in London until you're there doing it yourself. Yes, the behaviour will be very challenging compared to what you're used to in Canada. Even teachers with experience in downtown Toronto (Jane & Finch) and Vancouver (Hastings & Main) agree that it's tough to teach in London. It's also incredibly rewarding and the holidays around Europe make the experience more than worth it.

Those same teachers that say it's tough agree that every teacher should experience teaching in London if they have itchy feet to travel & experience something completely different than they're used to "back home."

So, what can you do to prepare yourself? Do your research of course!

Here are some fabulous resources to help with behaviour management in London schools:
  1. Six Ways to a Calmer Classroom
  2. Praise, Acknowledge, Encourage
  3. Teachers TV - As of today, there are 117 videos on classroom management to help you understand teaching in the UK. Watch one a day and you'll be more than ready to teach in London schools.
  4. Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians
  5. Assertive Discipline by Lee Canter - plenty of schools use this approach so it's a good idea to read up on it now.
  6. Assessment for Learning - If you don't know what AFL is, do some research. I wrote a chapter on AFL in the Guide to Teaching in London, and you should find a million and one resources online about AFL. This is crucial to understanding the behaviour management approaches in most London schools.
That should get you started anyway!
If you have any other resources you'd like to share, please post them in the comments section.

Related Blog Posts:
Assessment for Learning Explained
How will you get the meanest, nastiest kid in your class to behave?
10 Myths About Teaching in London

Thursday, March 12, 2009

More Resources for Teachers About to Move to London, England

Here is a list of great resources that will help you prepare for teaching in London, England.

1. Teachers TV - hands-down, the best possible resource to prepare for teaching in the UK. Teachers TV will help you in a million different ways. Watch teachers doing it right, and teachers doing it wrong. Watch, learn, discuss. Brilliant.

2. Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians - 110 page ebook that explains everything you could possibly want to know about teaching in London, from a Canadian point of view.

3. ClassTools.Net - as recommended by Mr. Teacher -"www.classtools.net is a new favourite of mine. It has some cool, fun stuff that can be used to liven things up a bit and keep those crazy kids from crazy chaos." You should expect to use an IWB (Interactive Whiteboard) in your class, so knowing what resources to use to prepare fun, interesting & engaging lessons will help you prepare.

4. TES online - The TES is a newspaper for teachers & administrators and most schools post their job vacancies on this website. Don't bother applying from Canada as that's what agencies like Classroom Canada do best for you, but it's still a good idea to look at the jobs & get some ideas. There is also a great community forum on there where you can discuss, share ideas & gain some insight into teaching in the UK.

5. Gumtree -This site was originally an Australian website to help other Aussies in the UK find apartments, travel buddies and jobs. Now it is used by everyone and is like Craigs List over here. It's jampacked with good stuff, useless stuff & spam so be cautious. You'll find heaps of apartments for rent & get some idea of the cost of renting in London. Just don't sign a lease until you've actually seen the place first!

This list will get you started anyway. Please feel free to add more resources in the comments section. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Teaching Jobs in London, England: What to Expect

This blog post is an excerpt from the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians by yours truly.

So, what type of teaching do you want to do in London? There are plenty of options, so let’s break them down one by one.

Day-to-Day
Day-to-day supply can be a great way to teach in a variety of schools and gain invaluable and wide-ranging experience. Many schools require supply cover (you may know it as relief, substitute, T.O.C. or emergency teaching) at the last minute for absences and illness. Cover for courses are usually booked in advance, but sickness cover is often only reported that morning, requiring both the agencies and you to react instantly!

Daily supply requires a great deal of flexibility and quick thinking but brings its own rewards and is an excellent way to gain a great deal of London experience in a short period of time. Agencies also often find that teachers are requested back after initial day-to-day assignments, sometimes taking a longer-term position in a school with which they have built a relationship.

Long-term
Long-term positions are usually a term or more and are for those wanting to take on the whole role and responsibilities of being a full-time teacher with the planning and commitment that requires. Working in one school for an extended length of time often sees teachers becoming intrinsically involved in the school community, attending Parents’ Evenings and events and taking on other roles, e.g. as a Form Tutor in Secondary schools.

Permanent
For those teachers interested in permanent placements, agencies typically work with schools looking to recruit permanent staff who have years of experience in the UK.

Special Needs
Some teaching agencies have Special Needs divisions as well - Classroom has an excellent Special Educational Needs department with a very good reputation in London.

SEN offers the exciting opportunity to work with students with different kinds of Special Needs in both Special Schools and Mainstream.

Their needs may include:
  • Severe or Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties.
These children may require individual support and even help with feeding or toileting. They will follow an IEP (Individual Education Plan).
  • Autism
Autistic children find it difficult to relate to others. Severity varies.
  • Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
Students with these needs may find it difficult to cope in the mainstream school system and may be referred to Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) where they can receive the support they need.
  • HI or VI
Hearing or Visually Impaired children may be educated in either mainstream or separate centres.
  • Learning Support in Mainstream
Pupils with a Statement of Special Educational Needs, or at Levels 1-4, will be allocated extra support for a set number of hours a week.

You may have worked with young people with Special Needs during your teaching career or as part of your studies. You may have worked with adults or even have personal experience. Even if you do not have a specific qualification, this area of teaching may be open to you. Many teachers in fact find a niche within SEN and if you have an interest, usually your agency’s specialist Consultant will spend some time with you at interview.

Related articles:
Spring Teaching Jobs in London, England
School Term Dates & Holidays
When Should You Apply for Teaching Jobs in London, England?
10 Myths About Teaching in London

To apply for any of these positions, please send your resume to victoria at classroomcanada dot com. Interviews are being scheduled for next week for positions that start in April, May and September 2009. Read more about teaching in London by reading through the interviews at the right hand side of this blog.

Please leave your questions below as well - chances are someone else has the same one, so please don't be shy.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What is Red Nose Week and How Does it Affect Teachers in the UK?

Here's something we don't have in North America: Red Nose Day. Red Nose Day is on March 13th and is a national day for people to wear a red clown nose to work & school in order to raise money for charity. It's only in the UK and for us teachers it can be a whole lotta fun.



To watch Teachers TV shows about Red Nose Day, just click here. Also, watch through to the end of the above video and you'll see plenty of famous faces (Jamie Oliver, Sir Bob Geldoff, Bono) - there's some heavy swearing though so you might not want to watch it in school!

On a side note, I am still interviewing for teaching positions in London that start April 20th, May 1st and September 1st. To apply, just check out www.classroomcanada.com and send me your resume.

Don't forget to Sign up for our newsletters to read more about teaching in London, England.
Download a free chapter of the ebook,
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.

Any questions? I'd be happy to answer it in our comments section below. Chances are someone else has the same question as you so please don't be shy!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Yet Another Interview with a Canadian Teacher in London, England


I met some incredible new teachers at U.Vic over the past couple of days & I'm excited for tomorrow's full day of interviews. I've had to add a second day to my Victoria interviews which I'll do over March Break.


So, to enlighten, entertain and enlist you, here is Erica Ott, a fabulous teacher from Ontario who loves teaching in London with us.


Name: Erica Ott

University: Lakehead, HBA and B.Ed

Subjects: History & English

Ages Taught: I teach primarily Years 7 - 8, but cover classes from Year 7 to Year 11 (Grades 6 - 10 in Canada).


How long have you been teaching in London now?

I've been teaching in London since the beginning of September 2008, six months now!


What do you teach?
I teach at a secondary school in North London, in a really interesting position. I teach Year 7 and Year 8 English, and do in-school cover the rest of the time. It means that I have the responsibility of planning and marking for a few classes, but definitely not the same as a regular teacher! It also means that I can be covering really random subject areas, like Design Technology and Business studies.


Why did you choose Classroom Canada?
I chose Classroom because the whole process was just more personable than any of the larger agencies. Victoria was very good at checking in every month or so to have a telephone chat about the process of moving overseas, teaching, and general London stuff. It was nice to have someone available that could address my concerns, even if they seemed trivial!


What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
Not to sound like a broken record, but classroom management is definitely the biggest adjustment. Behaviour in classrooms here are rarely seen in Canadian classrooms, so being challenged daily by student's behaviour is something that I still continue to deal with, even six months in. Beyond the typical classroom management answer, becoming familiar with the British school system is a huge adjustment, particularly if you haven't been exposed to it before. I never knew what a GCSE was before I moved here!


Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences:
Wake up at 6:30 and am out the door at around 7:10. My school isn't geographically far from my flat but with public transit, it can take 40 minutes to an hour to get there. I get to school around 8:15 and do last minute prep stuff for my classes and relax before briefing. School ends at 3:10 (3:00 on Fridays!) and if I've had some non-contact time that day to get planning and marking done, I can usually be out of the school fairly quickly. Monday to Thursday, I usually chill out at home in the evenings with my roommate and am in bed by 10:30pm, but the weekends are saved for social outings, sight-seeing and possibly travel!

What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?

Just give it a go. You'll know if it's right for you or not when you get here, but you'll always regret it if you never even try. There are days that you can be so homesick, and teaching days that are hard, but they're balanced by the great days of teaching and good times that London can offer. Be flexible, but be determined and you'll be just fine.


Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:

The snow day was pretty hilarious (early February). After getting confirmation from the school that it was indeed closed, I was up and going for a walk at 7:30 and I couldn't stop chuckling at all the people who were either desperately trying to figure out how to get to work or the people who were so filled with glee at the sight of "so much" snow. It was just so amusing to watch London and Londoners struggle with daily tasks because of a few inches of snow!


Describe the worst thing:
The worst thing that has happened that really isn't too bad is just dealing with students that are completely disengaged and not even interested in being particularly decent human beings. Luckily, these incidences are fairly rare in my situation. I have a few chatty Year 7 classes, but they're good kids in general, so it's very rare that I have an awful day of teaching.


A really hard period for me personally was back in October when I came down with a very nasty chest infection that took me out of work for 5 days. I had just moved to a new flat at this time too, so I was disoriented, and unable to physically do what I needed to do to make my new flat "homey". My poor (and amazing!) roommate took care of so much those few weeks. It was just so hard to be away from home, ridiculously ill, without anything to really occupy your mind besides the thought "I want my MOM!"

New arrivals - take loads of Vitamin C! You will need it! Do not let yourself get as sick as I was - my friend Jaime refers to one of those days as "The day Erika almost died". It's a bit of an exaggeration, but not much.

What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than with any other agency?

It was just more of a personal experience with Classroom, and I felt like people were looking out for me when I made the move over - particularly with a disorientating first few hours in the country which led to me crying on the telephone with a member of Classroom UK - someone who I had never talked to before but was still wonderful!


What qualities do you have that make your stay more enjoyable?

Quirky sense of humour, easy-going and a love of traveling and random adventures! A good stubborn streak is helpful too!

To apply for teaching jobs in London, England with Classroom Canada, please submit your resume and cover letter to victoria at classroom canada dot com. I'm booking phone & in person interviews for positions that start in April, May and September 2009.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

World Book Day


It's World Book Day! I'm running around like crazy trying to get ready for my final University Job Fair of the year (U.Vic) so here are a few great blog posts and resources that I thought you'd enjoy.

  • On World Book Day: We ask how to help a reluctant reader, by Sarah Ebner. As always, Sarah's writing is so clear, informative & helpful to teachers & parents alike.
  • Free Technology for Teachers - Winner of the 2008 Edublog awards for Best Resource Sharing Blog. This blog is jam-packed with technology resources for teachers, and hey, we all know kids love technology so why not use technology to help them love reading?
  • Teachers TV - This particular video is of a grade 6 teacher and her literacy lesson on narrative structure. I can't praise this website enough. It is the #1 resource to help you prepare for teaching in London, England. Hands-down.
If you have any others you'd like to share, please leave them in the comments below. I'm sure others will want to know about your resources for World Book Day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another Interview with a Canadian Teacher in London

It's that time again! I'm swamped with interviews, and off to U.Vic tomorrow & Friday, then interviewing more teachers all day Saturday. So, here to entertain, enlighten and enlist you is Jaime, one of our fabulous Toronto teachers currently teaching in central London. Thanks Jaime!


Name: Jaime Lyons

University: York University

Subjects: Elementary Education


How long have you been teaching in London now?

Almost 6 months now (really?? That long??)


What do you teach?
I started in London doing day to day supply but fortunately I did most of my days at one school in Newham. It is a really great school so when they offered me a full time year 2 booster position I jumped right on it. A booster position includes taking students out in small groups who need a little extra support during core subjects like literacy and numeracy.


Why did you choose Classroom Canada?
There are many benefits to going with Classroom Canada. When I began my London inquiries I was emailing and calling many agencies. Victoria personally emailed me back very quickly and we spoke on the phone many times before I had even made the decision to come here. Knowing that someone cared enough to help me with concerns and answer all my questions before I had even committed to something was great, I knew that how I felt really mattered to her. Also Classroom Canada (like no other agency) arranged housing for their teachers, so no matter how alone I felt, I knew that there would be other Canadian teachers there that probably shared my feelings, another selling feature :)


What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
You have heard it endless times and I will just say it again.... Classroom management! I have never been a yeller but sometimes you have to yell just to be heard over a room full of shouting children. Oh and class size! In Ontario we have a 20 cap on primary classes here, most classes have 29-30 students. BUT, every class has an amazing and helpful TA (teaching assistant) who really helps relieve some of that pressure!


Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences:
Wake up for work around 6:30 and leave at 7:15 for my 35 minute trek to work (I'm actually lucky to be so close). My school finishes at 3:00 so I am usually out by 3:30-4:00 but not always home right away... I teach with a lot of great people who I genuinely get along with so a few nights a week we grab drinks at the pub near our school. Home for dinner, make lunch for the next day and then to bed by 10pm. Weekends, well that's a whole other story. Even when it rains there is stuff to do!


What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?

London is a great city but it is also an expensive city, don't come unprepared! Don't forget that you will shop here and eventually you are going to have to get all of your old stuff and your new stuff home so my advice: don't bring much, you WILL buy more (hmmm I see a relationship between the broke comment and a shopping addict confession).


Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:

I think that something like this has been mentioned before, underwear here is called pants. On one of my supply days in early September I was in a year 5 class while trying to rush them to get ready for PE when I shouted "Come on year five! You're wasting your PE time. You, hurry, take off your pants and get those shorts on!" Well, telling a year 5 boy to take off his pants had 30 kids screeching and giggling and some even told me that I was gross.


Needless to say, we were late for PE but only because I made the class sit down so I could explain some of the things that we had different words for in Canada (ie pants and trousers). The last thing I wanted on one of my first days of teaching was some kid's Mom calling in to say that his teacher had shouted at him to strip down!


Describe the worst thing:
Although I have had many positive experiences I have found that at a few schools the staff had made me feel incompetent because I am still learning the British system. In October I had a job lined up for my own reception class (aka Kindergarten) and on my first day I went and taught with the classroom teacher for what would be a hand-over week.


Anyways, I was a little overwhelmed at the end of the day when we started discussing my planning for the following term and I started to cry (not because I couldn't handle it but because I am just a crier... it's what I do when stressed).


So I took the planning home, looked at it all, came up with what I thought were some great ideas and started planning my unit. I spent about 3 hours on it only to come in the next day and have the head teacher (aka Principal) tell me that they had found someone with more experience teaching in UK schools.

It was a real kick in the pants but on the bright side, that same day I got the call for my job at the school I am in now and I love love love my job now :)


What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than with any other agency?

Victoria was always just a phone call away even from the other side of the world, dealing with work problems, housing problems, whatever. Also the Classroom staff here in London are amazing!!!! Matt and Nicole are wonderful people and they aren't just the people that find you work and call it a day. They are there to talk as well. I think that I have talked and complained poor Matt's ear off more times than he deserves. Classroom as a whole is a caring agency.


What qualities do you have that make your stay more enjoyable?

I honestly didn't think that I had any of the qualities that it took to live this far away from my comfort zone but I have amazed myself! I think that it just takes the type of person who knows that they want to be adventurous, travel and have fun but still make money to do all of those things.


To apply for teaching positions with Classroom Canada, please see our website & submit your resume & cover letter as soon as possible. Any questions for Jaime? Please leave them below & I'll be sure to pass them along.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spring Teaching Jobs in London, England: Apply Today!

I just got off the phone with my colleagues in our London office and have some fantastic news for you. 2 of the teachers that I sent over on Friday of last week are already working full-time. Lately, the teachers we send through Classroom Canada are getting placed into full-time positions so quickly that we can't keep up. We need more teachers in London and fast. How great is that?!

My colleagues have specifically requested more Canadian primary & secondary teachers to arrive by April 17th. This means, if you have your B.Ed or PDPP and are pretty much ready to go, I can guarantee you'll start working right away. Here are the qualities I am looking for:
  • flexible & adaptable
  • great people skills
  • outgoing
  • eager to get started right away
  • flexible with travel times (we are located at Oxford Circus, right downtown, but your travel time in London will be up to an hour on average - this is normal in a big city)
  • willing to teach anything from K-6 or 7-12 (or even better, K-12!)
  • willing to supply teach first to find the right school (this is what works for all of our teachers).
The "supply teach" part usually turns people off, but let me assure you that you will get at least 3 days/week if you are even remotely a good teacher. That's the honest truth! Just read the coffee times at the right hand side of this page, and you'll see all of the teachers reply that they work full-time. So if supply teaching scares you because you're worried you won't get enough days, then read up on it and see that this shouldn't be the case. It's never been the case for any of my teachers in the past 4 years anyway.

The reality is that most teachers start with supply teaching, and the teachers that arrive in April have a much better success rate in scoring the jobs they like for September. If you want your own class then April is the best possible time to arrive. The school year ends on July 20th, so you have a good 3 months of supply teaching or a short contract, then can start the year off as a classroom teacher in one school. At least you'll have options anyway. Most of my teachers find that they get at least 2 job offers from schools after they do a bit of supply teaching. When I say "a bit" I mean a couple of weeks. Some have to supply teach for a few months first, but because we have such a rigourous selection process, most of the teachers we send get full-time jobs right away. To top it all off, the Classroom Canada teachers over the past 2 years have been so fabulous that now we have schools who will hire our teachers right off the plane.

Sounds pretty good right? If you think you're up for an April departure and fit the list above, then please send me your resume as soon as you can. I'll interview you right away & help you to make the move. That's what I'm here for! I personally left for London after having my interview only 3 weeks before, so it's possible.

My email address is victoria at classroomcanada dot com. Feel free to call me as well (you can find the number on our website).

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