Friday, November 27, 2009

Coffee Time with Classroom Canada - Kirbie from New Brunswick

Today's Coffee Time interview is with Kirbie from New Brunswick, a primary teacher, fellow blogger and fabulous teacher.  Enjoy!

Coffee Time with Kirbie
Name: Kirbie Silliker
University: University of New Brunswick
Subjects: Primary, French as a Second Language
Ages You Teach: Key Stage 1 and 2 (aka K-6)
How long have you been teaching in London?
I have been teaching here for two months.
What do you teach?
I teach a Year 5 class in a Primary School.
Why did you choose to work with Classroom Canada?
I really liked how attentive Victoria was, and how she actually took the time to figure out my strengths as a teacher. Whenever I had a question, I usually had a response within hours. Classroom Canada pays attention to each teacher as an individual, and really prepares their teachers for teaching in London.
What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
Definitely behaviour management. In Canada, I wasn’t very strict, but the children really didn’t take advantage of me. I learned really quickly that this was not the case in London. After teaching a couple days that felt too “out of control” for me, I became much more strict with my class. It definitely paid off. My students needed to know the limits that I have set for them, and they respond well to having very precise rules and routines.
Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.
I wake up at 6.00am and get ready for the day. I leave my place at 7.00am and catch a tube and a train to get to work. I arrive at school at 8.00am and prepare my lessons for the day and collect the children at 9.00am. Sometimes I have a staff meeting or professional development after school, and if I don’t I stay after school to prepare my lessons. I get home in the evening, and usually cook supper with some other Classroom Canada teachers, or sometimes I go out to eat or for a run around Regent’s Park.
What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?
Keep an open mind and be ready to learn. You will work in a completely different environment than you likely did in Canada, but it’s a really amazing and rewarding experience. It’s the best decision I ever made, for myself and for my career. Also, be sure to pack lightly because the shopping here is incredible!
Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:
I was teaching the children how to write an instructional text, so we were focusing on writing step-by-step instructions. I asked the children to write instructions for “how to make a peanut butter sandwich”, something every Canadian child would know how to do. When I asked the children what the first step would be, they gave me answers like “crush the peanuts” and “mix the peanuts in with butter”. I realised that the majority of my students had never even tasted peanut butter before, let alone made a sandwich with it. My TA’s still tease me about loving peanut butter so much.

Describe the worst thing:
I supply taught for my current class before taking them over as their regular teacher, and I can honestly say it was the worst teaching day in my life. Despite that I stayed calm and did all the right things, the children still misbehaved, throwing chairs, running down the fire escape and spitting on each other.

I learned that it will take time for you to see progress with your class. Now, I have children who sit quietly and produce amazing work! It will take time, but it’s definitely rewarding to teach children who have the reputation of being “hard to teach.” Sometimes I have to remind myself that I would have hard days in Canada too, but at the end of the day, I’m helping children who need support and guidance.
What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
I think Classroom Canada prepared me really well for my move to London. They responded to all of my questions straight away, and provided lots of information. Classroom also listened to what I wanted for my career and took my strengths into account when matching me with a position.
If you would like to become one of our outstanding teachers or teaching assistants in London, just apply through our website. Also, be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. Sign up for our newsletters and help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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