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.

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