Friday, July 31, 2009

My Favourite Blog Posts About Teaching in London

Well, it's official. I'm on holidays!

I'll be back in our Canada office on August 12th so until then I'm leaving you with my personal favourite posts about teaching in London, England:
  1. Our 2nd Birthday Party - all those comments our dedicated readers and teachers left made me so happy to celebrate with ya'all. The comments are actually spread over 2 posts, so here's the day before as well.
  2. Reason #56 to Teach in London: Online Grocery Shopping - I love the comments left for this piece. It seems like everyone loves shopping for food!
  3. 52 Reasons to Teach in London - Can you tell that I love lists?
  4. Classroom Canada's London Scavenger Hunt - I love these photos of our teachers taking over the streets of London to win awesome prizes.
  5. Teacher Photos for Resumes & CVs - This piece was by far the silliest and most fun to make.
  6. Mr Teacher Interviews Me! - I really enjoy conversing with fellow education bloggers so this interview was quite fun, and I hope it helps you understand more about why I do what I do.
  7. Run With Richard - I had no idea so many of our teachers are joggers! I'm on week 7 of the Couch to 5km program so hope to not be too far behind the group when we do our London 5km.
  8. Our 200th Blog Post: 200 Resources for Teaching in the UK - I didn't actually make it to 200, but I came pretty close.
  9. Teachers & Facebook - How to Protect Your Privacy & Your Teaching Career - this one generated a lot of discussion later on. I hope you like it as well.
  10. Teach in London: The Do's and Don'ts of Teacher Career Fairs - If only everybody knew this stuff.
I hope you enjoy these posts and go through the archives to see the others. See you on August 12th!

To become part of the Classroom Canada team, 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.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Guest Bloggers Invited To Post About Teaching

I'm officially taking holidays from August 4th until August 11th, which means this little blog will be fairly quiet for about a week. It's the first time I've done this since I started the blog on July 19th, 2008. I love what I do, so I don't feel the typical, "OMG I need a HOLIDAY!" feeling, but I know I need one, so here I am, taking one week off.

Anyone out there care to fill the space left by my blogging absence?

If you're one of our teachers, great! But you don't have to be. Basically, anyone who would like to share their advice, tips, stories, insights, questions, jokes...whatever you want to share that fits into the general theme of teaching abroad, and if possible, specifically teaching in London, England. Maybe you think there's something missing from this blog & would like to share your two cents?

If so, please leave a comment below & let me know what you'd like to do and/or email me directly at victoria at classroomcanada dot com. I'm working tomorrow (Friday) and since Monday is a holiday, but not my official holidays, I will still check my email on Monday.

Thanks so much! I'm excited to see what you come up with.

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, July 29, 2009

How to Book a Cheap Flight to the UK from Canada or the USA


Some of our teachers are preparing to arrive in London for the upcoming academic school year and they want to know how to get the best, cheap flights to London from wherever they are in Canada or the USA.

I wrote this piece a while back, but much of the information is out of date already, so here's an update:
  1. Sarah Buchan from Flight Centre has agreed to give our teachers at least a $25 discount for any international flight that they book through her. Just say "Classroom Canada" when you call her and she'll set you up with a good deal.  You don't actually have to be one of our teachers to benefit from this, so if you're with another agency but read this blog, feel free to say "Classroom Canada" to get the deal anyway. I don't mind! Call 1 866 552 4050 and ask for Sarah and say "Classroom Canada" so she gets you the deal.
  2. If you live near a border state, it's worth looking into flying from America rather than Canada. Many of the teachers from Victoria last year booked their flights to depart from Seattle and saved a few hundred dollars. It added a few hours to their travel time, but when you are on a budget, those hours are still worth the savings.
  3. Try to think outside the box. Ron is one of our teachers from Toronto, and he really wants to go to Iceland on his way to London. He found a deal through Iceland Air where he can have a one week stopover in Iceland on his way to London for only $400 (including taxes) - that's a steal and a half!
  4. Sign up to receive weekly newsletters from Flight Centre and Travel Zoo. I find most of my flights this way. Seat sales are often announced & if you pay attention you can get better deals this way.
  5. Canadian Affair is a website for travel between Canada and the UK. I check there first and then call Sarah at Flight Centre to book the flights I see that are cheaper than most.
Have I missed anything here? Please share your travel tips below!

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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Working in the UK: What Visa Should You Get?

The photo above is of Amie & Morgan, and was just posted this morning on Amie's facebook account with the update "Visa Baby!" I asked if I could use it to inspire me to write this blog post about visas and teaching in the UK and Amie agreed. Thanks Amie!

That sense of relief when your visa finally arrives in the post and you can officially book your flights & prepare for the journey to the UK is amazing. I love the photo and just know these two will have a blast teaching & traveling in the UK.

So, on to the visas. There are a few different options for visas to work in the UK.

  1. UK Ancestry Visa - If you are a commonwealth citizen and are lucky enough to have a grandparent born in the UK, this is the visa for you. It gives you 5 years in the UK and you have to jump through a few hoops to get the correct paperwork, but it is by far the best visa for Canadians to get. No, it can't be a great-grandparent, and yes, it can be a parent. Although if your parent was born in the UK, you should just go for a UK passport. It takes a few months, mostly just for you to get your paperwork in order.
  2. Youth Mobility Visa aka Tier 5 and formally known as the Working Holiday Maker Visa - Again for commonwealth citizens, but this time with a few restrictions. You have to be under 31 years old when you apply and have 1600 GBP in your bank account. It gives you 2 years in the UK. This visa can take a few months to get, but most of our teachers & teaching assistants find they get their visas in hand (like Amie & Morgan above) within about 2 weeks of applying.
  3. If you don't qualify for either of the two above, then your only other option is the Highly Skilled Migrant Visa. This is for people who are very serious about being in the UK and requires you to jump through plenty more hoops. It's a points based system, which means that you get points for certain skills, education, language & age. Just do the calculator and work out if you qualify and then apply online. If you don't qualify, figure out what you can do to earn more points (ie - you can study in the UK and that will get you points for earning UK qualifications).
  4. Sponsorship (aka Work Permit) - If you can't get a Visa, then you can try to get sponsored by a school. Be warned though - it's near impossible these days & if you're not in the UK, the schools are highly unlikely to even look at your CV, let alone sponsor you. If they do, I would make the assumption that they can not get any of the thousands of teachers already in the UK to take the job. Read between the lines and then decide if that's the kind of school you want to work in.
If you have an EU passport, you don't need a visa. Lucky you!

Any other questions about visas? Please ask below. Also, if you have any advice for other Canadians or Americans applying for their visas, please let us know in the comments section.

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, July 27, 2009

Your Questions Matter: What to Ask During a Teacher Interview for Teaching Abroad

During a teacher job interview, you're inevitably going to be asked, "Do you have any questions?"

The best response? "Yes, I do," and then you look at your notes & find the most appropriate questions that have not already been answered in the interview itself. Ask 2-3 questions, no more, no less.

The worst response? "Nope."

With Classroom Canada, I don't actually write down the questions that teachers ask me unless they really stand out, for better or worse. So, for example, if they have no questions I'll write down "not prepared for interview," or if they have 10 questions that they could have found here on the blog, then I'll write, "asked 10 questions, not prepared for interview."

Harsh? Maybe. But let's be fair here.

I did write the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians, and this blog. If they can't afford the book, they can still find most of what they need to know here in the blog. When I decide to interview teachers, I tell them to please look at our website and the blog and type into the search on the top of the page the word "interviews" and they will find all the questions I will ask during their interview with me. I honestly don't think I can make it any easier to ace the interview, and I really do want teachers to succeed.

To help some more, here are some of the questions you should ask during any teacher interview:
  1. What kinds of opportunities are there for professional development with _______ (insert agency or school board here). This shows your professional interest in the job, dedication to the field of education and is a very good question.
  2. What is the average length of time that teachers work with your ______ (again, insert agency of school board here.) This shows that you want to know more about the agency/board and the dedication of their teachers, without sounding too picky.
  3. I'd like to be involved in extracurricular activities. What kinds of contributions outside of teaching classes do your teachers make now? This is a really great way for you to find out how much the interviewer actually knows about their teachers, but also shows that you want to go above & beyond your role as a teacher. Great question.
What not to ask during a teacher interview, particularly for teacher jobs abroad:
  1. What's the weather like in _______ (insert country or city here)? Any question you can find the answer to in google just shouldn't be asked. Especially when it's that obvious. The weather in London? Hot, balmy, tropical! You'll love it.
  2. How much is the pay? Interviewers know that you want to know this. Of course you do. But it's usually not the best to ask during an interview. Wait until you get offered the job, then ask about the nitty-gritty like pay, cost of living, packing advice, etc.
  3. How much holiday time will I get? One of the big perks to teaching abroad is the travel. This is particularly true for teaching in London, England. You will get to travel all around Europe and parts of Africa, and you will have 13 weeks of holiday during the year. This question shows a lack of research on your part, and creates the wrong image of you as a teacher who is only interested in their holidays.
I hope this list helps any new teachers out there. Any other advice you'd like to share here? Or, any other questions for me? Please share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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 Canadiansto help you understand everything you need to know about teaching in London.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quotes for Teachers


"If kids come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important."
Barbara Colorose.

I found the quote this morning while on StumbleUpon and it really struck a chord with me.


What about you? Do you have a favourite quote for teachers that you'd like to share? Please leave your comment below.

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 Canadiansto help you understand everything you need to know about teaching in London.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reason #56 to Teach in London, England: Online Grocery Shopping

There are many things that I miss about living in London, England and grocery shopping is actually one of them. Let me explain.

I live in Victoria, Canada now and help Canadian & American teachers make the move to London with Classroom Canada. Although I am originally from Ottawa, I love living on Vancouver Island and for work, it makes the most sense. I can talk to teachers across the country and take advantage of the time zone difference by living in BC. But for my personal life, well....let's just say that I had much more of a night life living in London than I do here in Victoria. I'm not complaining, but just helping you to see the difference.

Back to groceries. Victoria has a few chain grocery stores, independent health food stores and of course, organic deliveries. Ontario has Loblaws & PC products - I love PC products, and now drive 40 minutes out of Victoria to get them at the Green Store in Langford. Not so green right?

But London is a whole different story. M&S Food - oh how I love thee! Tesco, Morrison's, Iceland, Asda, Sainsbury's...so many choices!

And the best part? You can order your groceries online and pay only 5 pounds for delivery. Go in with your flatmates, and it's cheaper to order your groceries online and have them delivered to your door than it is to actually go to the store yourself.

To help you, here is the Tesco site to register for online shopping. You can use my former postal code - W11 3LF, as you need a postal code to register, but can change it later when you actually do move to London.

Check the prices and work out how much you think you will be spending on food. I generally spent between 30 and 50 pounds/week, but did mostly buy organics and a few bottles of wine. Not bad I think.

Asda & Iceland are your cheaper grocery stores, Sainsburys and M&S Food are more expensive. You can also buy clothes in many of the stores, and they're not hideous! My gym gear is all from Tesco.

What do you think? Do you order your groceries online where you are? Would you like to?

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 Canadiansto help you understand everything you need to know about teaching in London.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Professional Development for Teachers in London: Special Educational Needs


Teachers in London can attend the Special Needs London 2009 exhibition on October 16th &17th. Professional Development sessions are only 9 GBP each, and you will meet other teachers and professionals dedicated to teaching children with SEN.

Some of the Classroom Canada teachers will be there. Whether you're one of our teachers or not, I recommend that you sign up now before the workshops fill up. You can see the list of courses on offer here.

If I were there, I'd attend these workshops myself:

  • How to Raise the Achievement of Pupils with Diverse Learning Needs: "Notice and Adjust" Strategies for Busy Classroom Teachers
  • Building Schools for the Future, ICT and SEN
  • Is our Screen-based Culture Damaging Children's Brains?
  • How to Build Relationships with Challenging Pupils
We also run our own PD workshops for teachers, and for the Canadian teachers we have a week long series November 2nd-6th to help the new arrivals. Click here to see the details of our PD week from last year.

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 Canadiansto help you understand everything you need to know about teaching in London.

Monday, July 20, 2009

And the winners are...


Yesterday's virtual party was a huge success! Thank you so much for stopping by & sharing your story & experience with Classroom Canada. What an amazing bunch of teachers and teaching assistants we have.

I've randomly selected the winners. If you see your name on this list, just email me to claim your prize (victoria at classroomcanada dot com). I will need your complete mailing address and email address in order to send through your prize. Please send this to me by Wednesday, July 22nd at 12 noon BC time. After that, I will have to give your prize to someone else.

Congratulations everyone and a BIG thank you to our sponsors!


Prize #1: $100 from Flight Centre towards your next flight purchase for an international flight

Winner: Erika 0.

Prize #2: Luggage & a travel adapter from Flight Centre

Winner: Shannon M.

Prize #3: 4 X $50 vouchers from Topdeck towards your next travel adventure with them. See this post to see an example from our teachers from last year's Classroom Canada Scavenger Hunt prizes.

Winners: Jennifer M, Charmine R, Meghan C, Amy S

Prize # 4: Umbrellas from Lloyds - perfect for anyone moving to teach in London. I am not sure how many umbrellas Tony has to give away, but he did mention that he has calendars, pens etc so this list may not all get umbrellas but they will get something cool from Lloyd's anyway.

Winners: Kirbie S, Bethany P, Tyson J, Joyet C, Meghan D, Alison T, Karin T, Ken

Prize # 5: 10 X Memberships from Educator.com

Winners: Alifia D, Jodi B, Destiny F, Mackenzie L, Bryn M, Ken D, Amie S, Tarrah M, Alex M, Kaari N

Prize # 6: SUMS PSP Math games

Winner: Heather McF.


Winners: Jessica C, Shauna P, Tim in Vancouver, Sarah in Wien

I'm already looking forward to next year's party. What do you think we can do to make it even better?

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.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Celebrating 2 Years of Helping Teachers Move to London, England




It's our Birthday! Thanks for swinging by our little virtual party.

Please leave your comment below with "Happy Birthday", tell us a bit more about yourself and don't forget to include your name to be entered to win any of these prizes:
I'll be here all day to answer your questions, participate in discussions and all 'round celebrate the last 2 amazing years of helping Canadian teachers move to teach in London, England with Classroom Canada.

Tomorrow morning I will post the winners, so be sure to pop by this blog again and see if/what you've won! Thanks for all your support. I love what I do and it's all because of you. Happy Birthday!

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.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Classroom Canada's Virtual Party - Celebrate 2 Years of Helping Teachers Move to London, England

I just recorded my first ever YouTube video and I'm posting it here for you today in case you swing by our little virtual party before I wake up tomorrow morning.

The contest starts Sunday July 19th, anytime after 1am (BC time) and finishes up at midnight. Please watch the video & tell me what you think. Remember, it's not today - I just did this video now because BC time is different than where most of you are, so you'll probably be here before I get up. See you tomorrow!



Friday, July 17, 2009

Party, Party, Party: Classroom Canada Celebrates 2 Years of Helping Teachers Work in London, England

Preparations are under way for this Sunday's virtual birthday party for Classroom Canada. Participants will swing by this blog, leave a comment to say "Happy Birthday!" and be entered to win some amazing prizes, offered by our friends at Flight Centre, Topdeck, Lloyds, Educator.com and SUMS Online.
We'll be giving away lots of great teacher stuff including, but not limited to:
I will be thanking everyone involved in our success over the past two years, including our teachers, Classroom Ltd in London, our business friends and contacts who help us do what we do best, our blogger friends and so many more. It will be like an Academy Awards speech - cheesy, long-winded, and awesome!

I will literally be on this blog from the moment I wake up on Sunday until the time I go to bed. So swing by, leave comments, participate in discussions, ask questions, etc. I hope you can make it.

Just think: you can wear whatever you want to this party! How many birthday parties let you wear whatever you like? Okay, don't answer that...

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.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Canadians in London: Not Just Teachers!

Network Canada is a non-profit organization that helps Canadians to mix & mingle in London through their various social events. They have a book that helps Canadians move to London and I highly recommend that any Canadian considering the move across the pond purchase it and read it over a few times. It really does answer every question you could possibly have about moving to the UK.

They hold the London Vandoos, which are socials that happen on the 22nd of every month. Canadians of all backgrounds attend, including some of our teachers of course. The events are a great opportunity to meet the other types of Canadians who live in London - lawyers, bankers, doctors, accountants, bartenders, servers...you get the idea.

One of the many events that happened this year for Canada Day in London was the Canada Cruz, a boat ride that happens every year along the Thames to celebrate Canada Day. Dave Mathews put this video together of the most recent Canada Cruz that he and Matt Glynn organize and run each year. Some of our teachers are there, celebrating in style!

This Sunday, Classroom Canada is holding a virtual party for teachers across Canada, the UK, America, and the world over to celebrate our 2nd birthday. Swing by this blog on Sunday, July 19th at any time and wish us a Happy Birthday. Win prizes just for stopping by - including flights, tours, luggage, umbrellas, teacher-stuff...

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, July 15, 2009

Classroom Canada Turns 2: Party Plans in Progress...

You're all invited to a party!

Our 2nd birthday party is this Sunday, July 19th in this virtual world of ours. It's the anniversary of the day that I flew back to Canada from London, England to open the Classroom Canada office. I can't believe it's been 2 years already!

So, to celebrate, we're inviting you to participate in a virtual party on this little blog of ours. I'll be online all day, having conversations, discussions, drinking virtual cocktails and giving away awesome free stuff to random visitors who pop by, leave a comment and wish us a Happy Birthday. I was inspired to throw this virtual party by another blogger who turned 96 and threw herself a virtual party a few years ago. I wish I could remember her name, but anyway, it was a lot of fun.

We'll be giving away lots of great teacher stuff including, but not limited to:
If anyone wants to throw in any other prizes, please contact me (victoria at classroomcanada dot com) and I'll be happy to share the love.

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.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Socials & Parties for Teachers in London & Abroad




Our teachers in London are finishing up their last week of school for the 2009/2010 school year. My facebook friends who are teachers are a'flutter with the countdown - "4 more days of teaching!" and "4 more days with my first real class ever!"

Some of our teachers are off to interviews and trial days at schools for jobs that start September 1st, and plenty already know where and what they will be teaching. We also have a handful of teachers who are returning "home" this weekend after being in London for 2 years already.

Classroom London had their end of the year party last weekend and started a facebook group just yesterday where they posted photos for us all to see. The images are not the best quality as they were taken on Richard's camera-phone (someone stole the Classroom digital camera last week - argh!). I'm posting them here anyway since they show that we do indeed throw awesome parties in London.

Classroom Canada is throwing a virtual party this Sunday on July 19th on this very blog for our 2nd birthday. Swing by, win free stuff (travel vouchers, possibly even free flights, teacher-stuff...) and have fun online. All you have to do is come to this blog and wish us a Happy Birthday at some point on July 19th. You don't even have to get dressed up. That's my kind of party!

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.

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