Monday, October 12, 2009

Another Interview with a Canadian Teacher in London, England

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone! Thanks to Shannon for completing this Coffee Time interview in time to share it with you all today.

Name: Shannon Mullen
University: Queen's, OISE
Subjects: Physical Education and English
Ages Taught: Intermediate/Secondary

How long have you been teaching in London now?
Since the beginning of September, 2009.

What do you teach?
My preference is Secondary PE but since I've been here, I have taught English, Religion, Food Technology, Geography, Math, French, and Spanish (which was interesting because I have never taken a Spanish course myself!) When you cover Secondary classes, the teacher usually leaves seat work for the class to do, so you don't really have to be an expert in that particular subject. Instead of teaching new information, you tend to guide students through their work and answer questions. It had been great because I have actually learned alot about topics that I am not too familiar with. I have also done a few primary teaching days, which I love too.

Why did you choose Classroom Canada?
I did research on many different agencies and really liked the "feel" I got from Classroom. I loved how Classroom seemed genuinely interested in making sure that its teachers were set up for the full experience of living in London (helping to make social connections, accommodations, suggestions for things to do).

Other agencies seemed to strictly focus on helping me get a job. I came to London only partly for teaching- I wanted to travel, meet new people, and experience a new city and culture- and Classroom Canada seemed to care about these aspects of my life as well.

What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
I'm a P.E. teacher and had never played some of the sports that are part of the curriculum here: netball, cricket, I had to spend time learning how to play them. It's a great opportunity for me to expand my knowledge of sports- hopefully, I'll be able to teach my students some new games when I come back to Canada (uh...if I come back?).

Also, I have been able to teach the students here some new games. For example, I played soccer-baseball (I called it football-baseball though!) with a class and they loved it! I couldn't believe that they had never played it before since soccer (football) is so popular here!

Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences:
I get up at 6:30, and get ready for work. If I am not already booked, I wait for a call from Classroom (which usually comes between 7-8). If I'm working, I go to work, come home and go for a run in Regent's Park, have dinner, and then usually go for coffee or do something with a friend. If I'm not working, I try to take advantage of the time off- I either go for a bike ride, do some errands, or explore the city.

What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?
You will be living here, not simply travelling. It is important to incorporate things that you value into your life when you get here and get involved in activities that you enjoy.

For example, I joined a rugby club, which has been a great way to meet people and continue to be involved in sports. I also brought my road bike over with me (yes, it was a struggle getting all my luggage from the airport to my residence, but so worth it!). This has been a great way to explore England!

Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:
One student asked me if I could speak "Canadian." It is really funny to learn the misconceptions that people have about Canada.

Describe the worst thing:
A Year 7 student in one of my classes kept spontaneously dancing during the middle of class, which was obviously distracting for everyone. I made a deal with her that if she sat and did her work for the rest of class, that she could could have "the floor" for the last two minutes and dance for the class. She seemed to like this idea, and actually did her work!

Unfortunately, during her "performance minute", another teacher walked into the room to ask me how the class had behaved. It looked like I had absolutely no control over the class because the girl was breaking out her best dance moves while her classmates cheered her on. The teacher looked at me like I was a complete idiot when I said that the class was great! She laughed when I explained the deal to her, but I can imagine what was going through her head when she entered the class and saw a dance party.

Why did you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than with any other agency?
Everyone at Classroom is super positive and I feel that they are working really hard to get me work that I will enjoy and benefit from. I also like how easy it has been to network with other Classroom Canada teachers- it is so nice to have Canadian friends here! (I am going to attempt to make some sort of Thanksgiving dinner on Monday...the only problem is that I haven't been able to find a turkey...I'll probably just cook a chicken!)

To apply for teaching and teaching assistant jobs with Classroom Canada, please see our website and sign up for our newsletters. Don't forget to check out the Guide to Teaching in London.

Questions? Comments? Please share below!

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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