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.

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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