Monday, August 31, 2009

Back to School in England: So Now What?


We have a small group of "Fabulous Flexible 15" teachers who arrived last week to start teaching in London, England. I select these teachers based on their experience levels, references and whether I think they will be able to hit-the-ground-running in London this week and in the next few weeks to come.

Most of these 15 can teach across all ages, from primary to secondary as well as Special Educational Needs. They truly are flexible and fabulous!

I select 15, which really means 5 primary, 5 secondary and 5 SEN teachers. We also have a few more teaching assistants to make for a group of around 20 Canadians who all arrived last week, to add to our teachers that were there last year and stayed this year, as well as the teachers from around the world that we already have in London with Classroom Ltd.

So now what do they do?

Well, so far, they've been sightseeing and meeting their new friends and flat-mates with Classroom Canada. They've been moving into their new apartments at Oxford Circus if they chose our accommodations, or they've been madly flat hunting around London themselves.

Today is a bank holiday in London, which means that it's the last day of summer for most of our teachers and schools. On Tuesday, the schools re-open and the madness begins.

So what do these teachers do? Well, some Canadian teachers start their full-time teaching jobs tomorrow, which they secured with us last academic year (usually in June and July, when the schools hire for September).

I will focus here on the new arrivals instead.

They get ready, they call our office in London and they patiently wait for their phones to ring. Schools will have last minute needs for full-time teachers and our teachers need to be ready & waiting for interviews and trial days. There will be some supply teaching, which will be spread around amongst the teachers who have just arrived, but also with our other teachers with more London experience.

Last year, we thought it would be really slow for supply teaching at this time of year. Just like in Canada, September is historically a slow month for supply teaching. I was pleasantly surprised when my teachers phoned me to say "Thanks so much! I am working every day!" That was a real shocker, as the schools should have less needs for supply teachers in September.

I'd say that about 90% of the new arrivals last year got full-time days within their first few weeks of arriving, and the ones that didn't struggled with behaviour management or couldn't teach as many areas and grades. By November, even the teachers who had less days in the beginning were happy with the amount of work they were getting (for us, it's an average of 3-5 days/week).

So, let's keep our fingers crossed for these new arrivals and hope that this year is similar to last. We have some really outstanding teachers and so if there are supply days and trial days to be had I am very confident in their abilities to make that valuable positive first impression.

In October, we have another group of teachers arriving from across Canada. This group is mostly made up of new teachers, who are also very flexible and eager to teach across different age groups and subjects. They mostly arrive in the last week of October and will start teaching November 2nd.

So watch this space over the next two months as I report back on the progress of the teachers and let you know how things are going for teachers in the UK. I will interview these teachers and ask for their honest feedback for you, dear readers. You can also read interviews with last year's teachers on the right hand side of this blog.

Some of our teachers & teaching assistants write a collective blog, which you can read here. I recommend that you visit it often as they report back on their lives in London.

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.

Friday, August 28, 2009

And so it starts again...Last Minute Teaching Jobs in London, England

Over the summer months, my colleagues in London have shorter hours, and I get the luxury of sleeping in til about 8am as a result. It's been glorious.

Well, those days are over and the madness of filling jobs that have just been announced is in full-swing. I received a phone from the primary team at Classroom Ltd (our London office) at 5am this morning, in regards to a position they were trying to fill by Monday morning. It's manic to say the least!

This happens every year. We slow down in the summer, focus on getting teachers ready to arrive for teaching jobs in London and then bam! A couple of days before schools re-open, the Head Teachers (aka principals) return to school and discover that they need a last-minute hit-the-ground-running teacher to fill a role they didn't know they had.

Well, we're ready for them! We have our incredible, flexible, experienced, ready and waiting teachers who arrived this week and last. We call them, give them as many details as we can about the jobs and get their CVs into the Head Teachers hands. Interviews are arranged, and jobs quickly filled with our outstanding teachers.

This is my favourite time of year. I love the energy and the speed at which we have to work. I love that we're ready for it. And I love that we have a handful of amazing teachers there and ready for this very moment. So, despite losing sleep, I still love this job.

Questions, comments, wanderings? Please leave your thoughts below.

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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Teaching in the UK: Multiple Intelligences & VAK Approach


One of the things I love about teaching in the UK is that the schools are really keen on multiple intelligences and theVAK approach. VAK stands for Visual, Auditory & Kinesthetic and it simply means that you plan for all three teaching methods in your lesson plans.

When I taught in primary schools in London, I had to show in each lesson plan what I intended to do for all three learning styles and then evaluate my lessons later and include notes on how I thought the lessons went. It's a bit more paperwork than you might be used to, but it does help you to focus on what your lessons should include.

It's fairly easy to do this with the Interactive Whiteboards and the manipulatives you will have in your London classroom. The lesson planning is mostly already done for you, so that helps reduce your work load as well. (I explain this further in theGuide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.)

Here are some more resources to help with Muliple Intelligences & the VAK approach, including one that disagrees & debates the idea.

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.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Behaviour Management in the UK: Help!

I love it when teachers send me emails to share great resources.

Here's one I just received today:

Hi Victoria,
Here is a Teachers TV video that I watched today. It described some of the positive ways schools across England were managing behavior or intervening for students that had behavior problems. I found all the ways they described positive and helpful. It was a good preparation for me as I look to applying again soon.


Thanks Ann! As always, your guidance, advice & comments are really appreciated.

Any other thoughts on behaviour management in the UK? Watch any great videos or read any brilliant books lately? Please share below.
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.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Get Organized! How To Decorate Your UK Classroom

I was inspired to write this post after reading Mr. D's post on "I Want to Teach Forever." He shares 20 cheap ways to decorate your classroom today.

But for Classroom Canada, as Canadian (and a handful of American teachers) who are teaching in London, England we have a different set of priorities in decorating our classrooms. Many are new teachers, who have never taught in the UK. So how do they decorate their classrooms?

Here are my top tips & tricks to decorating your UK classroom:

1. ASK! Ask your team teacher, or leader, or Head of Department. It is very likely that your school has policies in place for how you should decorate your classroom and you should follow those.

I made the mistake of going in all gung-ho to my first UK classroom and spent weeks before planning, cutting, arranging and all 'round getting ready. Then school opened and I quickly learned that all my hard work was for nothing. My school already knew how they wanted their classrooms organized, and I should have waited to find that out. So, be patient, lay low, and wait. Then ask.

2. Bring some Canadian or American displays to show off where you come from. It's more than likely that your new class is completely unaware of your country. So, for Canadians, that means they will assume you're American, or even Australian, New Zealander or South African because they see more of those nationalities teaching in their school.

I recommend that you purchase (or make your own!) a display like this one from Smile Makers Canada. Here's another one I like.

For Americans, I'd focus on the people and how there are so many different types of Americans. They don't usually know that! It helps the students to see that America isn't just a white/black country and there are many languages spoken, just like London itself.

3. You can assume that you will have a Book Corner. How will you decorate this corner? What you teach will make a difference. I teach primary, so here's my example:

I decided to make mine a football pitch theme, and stapled astroturf to the wall. I made soccer balls and hung them from the ceiling. Each time a student finished a book, I gave them a piece for a 3-D soccer ball that they would eventually make into their very own soccer ball to hang from the display. They loved it and I liked that math, physical education and literacy were all linked together. On each blank section, they would write the book name & author. So in the end, their soccer balls showed what they finished and helped motivate them to read more.

You don't have to put this much work into it! Be creative & have fun with it. It's your reading/resource corner so make it your own.

4. Don't assume you will have a teacher desk. In fact, many Head Teachers (aka Principals) are anti-teacher-desk. They think it means you will spend your teaching time sitting at your desk, when you should be moving around the classroom interacting with the students. But you do need a place to store your things. Work around it, and find somewhere in your classroom where you can find your plans, assessments, calendars, etc. Your plans need to be on display for the Head to find, as well as cover teachers and your team teachers and teaching assistants. So don't lock them away!

5. Your students need to find their things easily, quickly & quietly. For primary, the students usually have little buckets, or cubbies. But at their desks, they won't have much in terms of storage for pens, pencils, rulers etc. It's not like Canada! They don't bring their own supplies, so you have to have a place where they can find these things.

Most teachers use small containers on each table group where they keep pencils, rubbers (aka erasers) and rulers. BUT if you have a tough time with behaviour management, and your class is particularly unruly, don't assume that they will take care of these supplies.

I gave my students their own pencil sharpeners, and assumed that they would understand when to sharpen their pencils (they were in Year 5 and ten years old). They sharpened them into tiny little stubs and I had to run and ask for more. I was horrified when I was told that it was my responsibility to make sure they didn't ruin the pencils and my class could have no more. How embarrassing! They also ripped the rubbers into little bits and every time my back was turned they had these things flying around the room. The other teachers just took away the rubbers and didn't allow them in their rooms at all.

See what I mean? It's not Canada! So, you need to think this through. How will they sharpen their pencils? Will you label each pencil with the student's names? My Head Teacher suggested I do this.

How will you determine what the tables are called? For math, you might want to label the tables "squares, triangles, circles" etc and then label your containers accordingly. For literacy tables, you can call them "question marks, full stops (aka periods), exclamation marks..." and label the tables just like you did with maths.

For secondary, hopefully you won't need to micro-manage to this extent! But again, they won't have pencils & pens (although they should at this point) so you need a good stock that you can keep track of. Know how many you give out and how many get handed back in.

For me, this is the kind of stuff that I am really bad at. So, if you're like me, take the time this summer to find other teachers who are the opposite and ask them what to do. The micro-managers do these things naturally and their lives are made much easier when schools starts because of it! So just ask, and if you think it's too silly or too much, do it.

6. Hang pictures of home. When you're having a horrible day, there's nothing better than looking up and seeing your loved ones staring out at you, reminding you that you are loved and you are a dang good teacher. Don't forget it!

That's all I can think of for now. What about you? Any other advice for our readers who are about to teach in London? Please share below!

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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How To Write A Resume/CV For Teaching Jobs in the UK

I receive hundreds of resumes and CVs a year. Maybe even thousands at this stage. Some are great, and many aren't.

Here are my top 13 tips for resume writing for teaching jobs in the UK:

1. Your Resume/CV should be 2 pages.
No more, no less.

2. Ditch the objective.
It's obvious. Unless of course, you only want "daily supply teaching" and don't want a long term position. In that case, you should include a short statement that makes this clear. Otherwise, we can assume that you are applying for a full-time, long term teaching position that suits your experience & skills. Please don't say that you "want to be challenged." You are a teacher right? We get that.

3. Both pages of your resume/CV should include your contact details, specifically: your landline and/or cell phone number and your email address. You'd be surprised how many people leave this information out.

4. Use a professional email address, not "sexythang@hotmail.com."
Your first and last name @ _______.com is fine. Your first impression needs to be that of a professional teacher, not a fun student with a silly email address.

5. Avoid paragraphs. It hurts our eyes and stops us from reading past the first paragraph.

6. Don't write "References Available Upon Request." Again, you're stating the obvious.

7. Teacher Job Details
We need to know what grade you taught, and if it's not obvious, then tell us what subjects you taught. So, if you're a primary school teacher, then I already know you taught math, science, English, PE, etc. That's obvious because that's what primary teachers do. But if you taught Grade 10, then I need to know what you taught. I also need to know the type of school (ie Catholic, public, private, Jewish, etc).

8. Extracurricular Activities
Did you go above & beyond your role as a teacher? If so, tell us about it! Did the team you coach come in 1st at nationals? Bragging about your involvement in your student's success is perfectly acceptable!

9. National Test Scores
Did you raise your class performance in the national or provincial tests? Tell us about this. For example, I taught Year 6 Math SATs in England and 9 out of 10 of my students achieved one grade level or more than what was expected. This is HUGE! You bet that's on my Teacher CV.

10. Just graduated?
We need to see more than just your practicum placements. We also need to see some life experience. Since you were a student for so long, and now you're not, you need to prove to us that you have worked other jobs, ideally in an education related area. So, if you are the Camp Director for a camp for kids with disabilities, get that in your resume. But if you worked at summer camp when you were 16, please leave this out! Show your Professional Development workshops, extra courses, summer employment and if you have already taught abroad. That shows your maturity.

11. Experience Abroad
If you have volunteered abroad, speak other languages or taught abroad, get that in your CV. We love this!

12. Volunteer Experience
Again, if you volunteered in an educational setting, let us know. Even if you only spent one summer with kids with intellectual disabilities, and you think that's not relevant, you're wrong. We love to hear more about your involvement in your local community, and particularly with kids and SEN.

13. Interests
If you're really keen on music, art, drama, theatre, sport, coaching etc then yes, get this in your CV at the bottom of page 2. But if your interests are "reading, writing, watching movies, hanging out with friends, travelling..." then don't bother. Think like a Principal and ask yourself, "What skills do I want my teachers to have?" Reading is obvious! Of course you read!
But coaching gymnastics? Now, I want that on my staff team. If you do parkour, or hip-hop dance, or can teach yoga...all of these are unique skills that can add to any teacher staff team.

I think I've covered everything here, but please let me know if I've forgotten anything. Also, if you have any great tips, advice or websites to share please leave your comment below.

Related Blog Posts:

To become part of the Classroom Canada team, sign up for our newsletters & apply through ourwebsite. 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, August 17, 2009

The New Plan: Blogging for Classroom Canada and Canadians & Americans in the UK

Last week, I told you that I started another blog to help Canadians & Americans move to the UK on top of writing this blog. I wondered how I would find the time to keep up with both blogs.

Over the weekend and between dragon boat races, I thought about how I could keep both balls in the air. I eventually came up with my new blogging plan.

I will continue to write my Classroom Canada blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I'll write the "Canadians & Americans in the UK" blog every Tuesday and Thursday. This way, I can still blog every day, but am able to give more information to even more people (not just teachers & TA's like I do now with Classroom Canada).

With the "Canadians & Americans in the UK" blog, I will donate money to www.kiva.org. Kiva helps entrepreneurs around the world with small loans that change lives forever.

I will match every dollar donated on the site, and will focus on education, housing and health projects where I can, unless the person donating would like a different project.

This Wednesday and on this blog, I hope to clear up the confusion about the new paperwork required from American & Canadian teachers who are moving to London to teach. I have to wade through a very text-heavy website to translate from British bureacratic-speak to Canadian layperson, but it is in the plan, so hopefully you'll find the new post up here on Wednesday morning.

In the meantime, please continue to share your comments, questions, suggestions, wanderings below with your comments.

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.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Blog to Help Canadians & Americans Move to the UK

I might just be crazy, but I started a second blog to help Canadians & Americans move to the UK.

It's called "Canadians & Americans in the UK" and it will be very similar to this blog, but with a more general focus. I realize that teachers aren't the only ones to move to the UK, and that I can help students, doctors, nurses, accountants, business-people, travelers, actors, artists, designers...you get the idea right?

The only issue is time. Where will I find the time to do this other blog? I'm not quite sure yet! But I do love blogging, and I'm so proud of the success of Classroom Canada and our teachers because of this little blog of mine, so why not share the same information for everyone else? I'll discuss banking, visas, flights, accommodations, job hunting and all that jazz.

Classroom Canada will still be my #1 priority of course.

What do you think? Is this crazy or brilliant? Any ideas for the blog & what else I should cover?

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, August 13, 2009

Facebook & Employers: Protect Your Privacy & Remember Who Your Friends Are

The above photo is circulating around Facebook today so I thought I'd share it with you as a good example of what not to do. As teachers, this is particularly important.

You might have to click on the photo above to read the print, and if swearing offends you, perhaps don't read it at all.

Related posts:
Classroom Canada on Twitter - follow me here!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back from Holidays!

I had a lovely vacation from Classroom Canada and am back to helping teachers move to London to teach and travel. I have more than 300 emails in my inbox (!) so this post will be short & sweet.

Thanks to all those teachers who sent me Happy Birthday messages and "Have a great holiday!" emails. I had a wonderful 33rd birthday, and reunited with friends that I met at Queen's during my B.Ed. Sophia teaches in Toronto, Nancy in Barrie and Adrienne in Vienna and we had a blast here in Victoria. We had lots of beach time, laughter and reminiscing. I miss them already!

Here at work, I am noticing that quite a few of the emails I have yet to reply to ask about registering to teach in the UK. It's a new process and one that I am researching to write about for you all this week.

In a nut shell, there is one more bureaucratic step in preparing to teach in the UK, but this won't affect our teachers arriving in the next few weeks or even 2 months. Some of the other agencies are getting their teachers to fill out the paperwork now, and telling teachers that they won't be able to teach in the UK without this done. That's not entirely true. It will be true eventually, but not yet.

The deadline isn't until November and my colleagues are excellent at keeping on top of these things, so I'm not going to panic about getting all my teachers to do it now. We have the Quality Mark, and go above & beyond so please don't stress. If you've been selected to teach with us, we'll make sure that actually happens!

Anyway, I will go through all the paperwork myself and will translate it from British bureaucracy-speak to Canadian lay-person.

If you have any more to add to this, please leave a comment below.

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.

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