Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Are Classroom Canada Teachers & Teaching Assistants so Outstanding?

I'm back in our Canadian office after a couple of weeks in London with our teachers and teaching assistants.  It was a whirlwind tour to say the least, but I loved every minute of it. 

I heard a lot of feedback from schools, my colleagues and Sophie Walker (a workshop leader) about the Classroom Canada teachers & teaching assistants.

Here's what they had to say:
  • The Canadian teachers and teaching assistants in London this year are much more prepared than any other group, including the Australians, South Africans and New Zealanders.
  • Our teachers are more adaptable, more flexible and more easy-going than any other group.  Less work in secondary schools? Not a problem! Our teachers can teach primary, secondary and special educational needs. They adapt. They learn. They just "get on with it."
  • Teachers who arrived in London with other agencies are desperately trying to join Classroom Canada.  They say the others promised "guaranteed work" and they still haven't worked yet, nor are they getting paid.  I have taken a few bright sparks under my wing, but to be fair, I have to prioritize the teachers that have been with us for months.
  • The teachers and teaching assistants who read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians are doing exceptionally well in our schools as they use the UK terminology and have the basic understanding they need to excel in London schools. 
  • Our teachers and teaching assistants have an instant community with each other, as most live in our accommodations in Central London.  This means that they aren't in a panic to meet others in the same boat.  If anything, they seek out other friends besides Canadians!  Some join Rugby or Football teams, some swing dance, some jog in groups, some join London book clubs. Whatever they do, they get out there and enjoy their new lives in London.
  • The one common theme is that our teachers are ridiculously positive people.  They see the cup as half-full, take every "challenge" as an opportunity, and realize how amazing their adventure in teaching in London really is.  This attitude spreads to their teaching and their students.  Head Teachers (aka principals) pick up on it instantly and request our teachers back day after day.  Or they offer them full-time teaching contracts on the spot.  They make room for our teachers.  Oftsed even gave one of our teachers an "oustanding" review just a couple of weeks ago, and this teacher had only been in the UK for a few weeks.  Now, that's what I'm talking about.
So, this brings me to next year's group of teachers. I'm already receiving applications from teachers wishing to work in London in September 2010.  I'm also interviewing teachers for May 2010, and I must say, the CV's I've received have been very impressive.

Here's what I'm looking for in teacher applications:
  1. Cover letters that state why the teacher wants to work in London and why they want to work with Classroom Canada.  Put that in there and you're sure to get a phone call from me offering an interview.  It really is that simple!  Trust me, most people don't bother to write a good cover letter, and the whole "to whom it may concern" or "dear timeplan" thing gets a little tiresome.  Read this blog post to learn more.
  2. Experience abroad in some capacity is a definite asset.  International development, volunteer work, teaching ESL, teaching abroad, even just traveling abroad is better than nothing.
  3. Show me more than your teaching life.  I want to see your excurricular involvement and your life outside of teaching.  Play sports? Tell me about it.  Swing dance?  Hip-hop-belly dance?  Tell me about it.  Active member of your book club?  What are you reading now? I want to see the whole person, not just the teacher.  The best teachers love learning!  What are you learning about right now?
  4. Inner city teaching experience.  Classroom Canada recruits teachers to work in inner city London schools.  Not rural.  Not the outskirts.  Inner city London schools. That's what we do.  So, what does that mean? Diverse, multicultural, some rich, some poor, intense inner city schools.  If you have experience (or even just did your teaching practicums) in inner city schools, then tell me about it. Toronto? Montreal? Vancouver? Ottawa? New York? LA? Chicago?  Tell me about it.  Why do you love it?
  5. How did you hear about us? I used to advertise in all the typical places, apply to teach (now called "applytoeducation"), facebook, google. But now I don't.  In fact, I haven't advertised in about 8 months.  Why not? Because the vast majority of our teachers come from word of mouth, and to me, that means more than anything else.  The feedback about our teachers has never been so positive, so obviously it's working.  So, if you know someone with Classroom Canada, tell me!  If you don't, but you read this blog, tell me!  How did you stumble across this little teaching agency that could?
That's about it folks.  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.

Questions? Comments?  Please share your thoughts below.

Other posts you might enjoy:
Teacher photos for CVs/Resumes
Do's and Don'ts of Teacher Career Fairs
Typical Interview Questions for Teaching Abroad
How to Write a Resume/CV for Teaching in London

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