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.

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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