Saturday, December 26, 2009

Commonwealth Youth & Teaching in the UK: The Queen's Christmas Speech 2009




Every year, the Queen of England gives a Christmas Speech which is broadcast throughout the UK.  This year, her message focused on three themes: the financial tough times for many, the war in Afghanistan and the power of the Commonwealth Youth.

Most of our teachers and teaching assistants with Classroom Canada are under the age of 31 simply because the most common visa is the Youth Mobility Visa.  It's a visa for some Commonwealth youth to encourage us to work abroad, gain experience and travel.   As young Canadian teachers and teaching assistants, we usually fit this criteria.

What do you think of the Queen's message this year?

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.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays from Classroom Canada


Linda, the fabulous Teaching Assistant Recruitment Consultant, and I met for our Classroom Canada Holiday Party last night.  Yes - there are just the two of us here in Canada!  My colleagues in London went for a very posh lunch downtown London today and many have now started their holidays.

Many of our teachers & teaching assistants in London got to start their holidays early because of a London Snow Day, which is a laugh for most of them being from Canada.  London gets an inch or two and it shuts down my friends.  Just like over here on Vancouver Island. 

Here are some of the places our teachers &teaching assistants will be visiting this holiday: India, Thailand, Paris, Ontario (to see their family & friends), BC, Alberta, Spain, Portugal...and so many more!  How amazing is teaching in London?

I'll be taking the next 2 weeks to build gingerbread houses, skate with my niece and nephew, go to the gym, eat far too much with family & friends, and all 'round be merry!

I hope to write a New Year's Reflection Post, but we shall see.  Have a FANTASTIC 2 weeks and see ya'all in January. 
Ho Ho Ho,
Victoria

PS) My inbox is filling up with applications from teachers & teaching assistants who want to teach in London in May or September, so apply now and I'll call you in 2010.

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.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Holidays & Coffee Time with Classroom Canada



Happy Almost-Christmas-Holidays Everyone!

Joann is one of our fabulous teachers in London and she recently secured a full-time teaching position in one of our secondary schools. She started supply teaching (aka day-to-day or TOC) in October and will be teaching full-time starting in January. 

I thought it fitting to share her Coffee Time interview with you today as Joann discovered Classroom Canada online last year on Christmas Day.  So, Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Coffee Time With Classroom Canada

Name: Joann Liu
University: University of British Columbia
Subjects: Drama and English
Ages You Teach: Secondary


1. How long have you been teaching in London?
A month and a half. But let me tell you, it feels like eons.
2. What do you teach?
I'm trained to teach the fact that "It worked out good" is not a proper sentence. I teach about juxtaposition and metaphors. I teach about using your voice to create a character. While I've been in London, however, I've taught the previous things, but also Maths, Science, Special Needs, singing, how to raise your hand before speaking, Brazil, how to color within the lines--you know, the basic stuff any teacher should teach on a given day.

3. Why did you chose to work with Classroom Canada?
It started on Christmas Day, 2008. I was researching on the internet about teaching in Japan, because I knew that after graduating from the Education program, I wanted to be abroad. And I was a little grumpy, because I didn't exactly want to be in Japan. I had been in love with London for a decade, you see. So whether by chance, or coincidence, or fate, when I stumbled upon Victoria's blog, I literally yelped really loud, fell out of my chair, and proceeded to get shivers that IT IS INDEED POSSIBLE FOR A CANADIAN TO LIVE IN LONDON AND TEACH! (They don't tell you things like this in Teacher's College).
4. What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
To be redundant, and echo all the other teachers that have answered this question: classroom management. Do you know what my students in Vancouver used to do? Buy me ice cream cake, and write me poetry and tell me every day that I was awesome. Here? Someone wrote on the board a couple weeks ago, that "Miss Liu is a WITCH". And my back hurts from all the bending down I have to do to pick up paper airplanes and pens that have been used as attack missiles. That's the sort of respect you get as a supply teacher. But really, it opens your eyes and thickens your skin, and you need that.
5. Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.
On a weekday, I hear my alarm go off, and I let it go on Snooze for a while. Then, in a panic, I wake up and get ready: teacher clothes, check. Lunch packed, check. Canadian stickers/worksheets, check. Oyster card, check. Then in a frenzy, I walk the ten minutes it takes to the tube, get to school, teach a bunch of things, answer a bunch of ridiculous questions about my ethnicity and Canada, and finish the day. I go home and make dinner with Maggie (my flatmate and fellow Classroom teacher), watch an episode of True Blood, read, and bed by 10:30.

Weekends are different. Weekends mean I get up at a shameful hour, and EAT at one of London's amazing markets. For example, today I think I'm going to Borough again, and then wandering over to the British Museum.
6. What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?
Come with an open mind and an open heart, and remember that kids are kids.
7. Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far.
I don't know if this is funny, but... I was at an all girls school where some students could not get over the fact that I'm Chinese, and wanted to know if I know King Kong. (This is the part where you scratch your head, like I did). I was like "Are they confusing being Chinese with Japanese, and King Kong with Godzilla??" But no, it's because King Kong rhymes with Hong Kong. Duh.
8. Describe the worst thing:
The feeling that no matter what you say or do, the students see the day as being a "free day" because you're a supply teacher. It certainly is not why I want to be a teacher, and can be frustrating when you know you could really be enriching their learning, rather than policing them. Thank goodness I'll be starting a long term contract in January, and the days of hyena behavior will be behind me (......hopefully).
9. What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
I feel supported by Classroom. I haven't needed to think about switching to another agency because I've never really had to worry about getting work. They keep me pretty busy!
10. What qualities do you have that make your teaching in London enjoyable?
Patience, compassion and a sense of humor.
Any other questions or comments for Joann?  Please share your thoughts below.

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.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Free Hugs - My friend Andy gives hugs for FREE!



Okay, I know this has nothing to do with teaching in London, but I "ain't bovvered."

This is my good friend Andy hugging folks in Florida for the first time with a Free Hugs sign.  My other good friend, Carol Miller, organizes Global Free Hugs Day with her work with Positive Focus, a nonprofit run from Chicago.  I love these guys.  So simple, so good.


So, I had my own first free hug in Hyde Park in 2007 at Speakers Corner.  It was the first time I had seen anyone with a sign like this, and in Speakers Corner it was a real relief.  Everyone there shouts on soap boxes, giving speeches about how to save the world, destroy the world or find religion in the world.  And this one guy, standing quietly with his sign spoke the loudest to me.

What do you think?  Would you ever consider standing on a corner with a Free Hugs Sign?

I promise to return to my "teaching in London" theme tomorrow. ;-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Classroom Canada Teachers in London Rock - And Here's Why

As the owner of Classroom Canada, I'm ridiculously proud and grateful for our teachers and teaching assistants.  They are amazing teachers and I'm not alone in thinking this.  Schools in London are consistently impressed with their professionalism and teaching abilities.  The feedback is outstanding.



You see some of them here, all dressed up? Well, a group of them organized a Christmas Dinner for Canadian teachers & TA's in London this past weekend.  What a great example of Canadians in London taking initiative and getting out there.  Thanks to Ron and Charmine for the photos shown here.



Apparently, the 5 course meal (organized by Shannon) only cost 13 pounds - that's a bargain and a half. And they all look so lovely.


For those of you who don't know us, let me explain what we're all about. 

Classroom Canada is a teaching agency that helps Canadian teachers & teaching assistants relocate to London, England for work and pleasure.  We organize their housing right downtown in Oxford Circus area so our teachers and TA's have an instant community and group of friends from coast to coast. 

We place our teachers and teaching assistants into full-time jobs, daily supply teaching positions and short & long term contracts.  At the beginning of the school year we hold PD sessions and socials to help them adjust to teaching and living in London.

Our teachers & teaching assistants are:
  • flexible
  • easy going
  • outgoing
  • creative
  • adaptable
  • passionate about working with inner city students
  • love travelling
  • have great senses of humour
  • love learning
  • love their jobs
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.
PS) We're expanding to include Classroom America as well.  So, American teachers can apply and have the same quality experiences as their neighbours to the North.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How to Teach the 9 Times Table




What do you think? Would you use this in your teaching?


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.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How to Write A Cover Letter to Apply for Teaching Jobs Abroad



I have to be honest, most of the cover letters I read are exactly the same. I spend less than 30 seconds skim-reading them and skip ahead to the resume or CV.  But this one made me stop, read it slowly, read it again, and then remember why I do what I do with Classroom Canada

So, I asked the teacher if I could share it with you and she agreed. I've made some changes to make it anonymous, but I hope it helps you when writing your own cover letter. 

I am currently accepting applications from teachers & teaching assistants who wish to work in London, England in April/May 2010 and September/October 2010. 

My edits & comments are in blue.

Dear Ms. Westcott,

Thanks for finding my name and using it.  "To whom it may concern," is a personal pet peeve of mine, especially when it's so easy to find the employer's name online these days.  So already, I'm happy to read this cover letter!

I am currently a B. Ed. student at ABC University in Canada, and I will be completing my program in Elementary Education in May 2010. I stumbled upon your blog this past summer while researching job opportunities for after graduation, and Classroom Canada really caught my attention.

This is a great introduction paragraph for a couple of reasons:

1. It's clear what she is studying to teach.  You won't believe how many cover letters don't state what the teacher actually teaches.

2. She makes it clear that she's done her research, and specifically wants to teach with Classroom Canada.  I want to know more so I read on.  That's the sign of a great cover letter!

Since returning to ABC University for my B Ed, I have continued to try to learn more about life teaching in inner city London. I have subscribed to TES Connect updates, watched Teacher.tv videos, read your “Guide to Teaching in London”, and followed blogs by current Classroom teachers making the move to London. A friend and I also did a research project for our Individual Differences Conference in which we worked on strategies for teaching English Language Learners, and with London in mind, I chose to focus on strategies for teaching in linguistically diverse classrooms.

I want to clone this teacher.  She has done her research and shows me what she reads.  Already I know we're going to have great discussions about teaching in London and I haven't even spoken with her yet.  You don't have to say the exact same thing (in fact, if you do, I'll know you just copied this one!), but showing that you have done your research into teaching in London & our company really helps your application. It saves me time from having to teach you, plus I have written it all down here in the blog & ebook so it is really easy for you.

Although I may not have experience teaching in an inner city context, I do have ample experience working, studying and volunteering abroad, which I believe reflects my ability to adapt when faced with new and challenging situations. Most recently, I spent a year studying in Africa, during which time I volunteered in a Grade 1-2 class at a local school for street children. In January I will leave my comfort zone in the ABC Region, to move to the Really Remote Area of Canada to complete my final 13 week practicum for my B. Ed. I am flexible, I am a quick learner, and most importantly I love teaching and learning, and pushing myself to take on new challenges.

This paragraph shows that she's adaptable, flexible, eager and has experience abroad.  Any experience abroad will help your application to teach abroad.  Obviously, working with street children is going to spark my interest, particularly since we recruit for teachers in inner city London, but any volunteer or work abroad will do this equally well.

I have always been very involved outside the classroom, playing sports and participating in many community projects, and I look forward to becoming just as involved in the schools I will one day teach at. I also have an interest in learning different languages: I learned to speak French while studying and working in France, have a basic knowledge of Spanish, and picked up some Xhosa while in Africa. In addition I have taught ESL in Quebec for a number of years, on top of my practicum requirements for my Education program.

Great! I love to hear more about you as an individual.  What you love, what you do outside of school, what languages you speak - all of these factors in your life make you a better teacher, so I want to know more.

Although I had not initially considered teaching in London after graduation, Classroom Canada really caught my eye. You get so much positive feedback, and I love the supportive atmosphere and great advice you provide for your new teachers coming to London. I would really look forward to having the opportunity to speak to you about the possibility of joining your team in the near future, even as soon as May 2010.

Again, she comes back to Classroom Canada and specifically working with us.  This shows that she didn't just write the same cover letter & change the name above for the job.  She wants to work specifically with us, so now, we want to work specifically with her.  See how that works?  It's so easy when you really think about it!

Thank you for taking the time to consider my application,
You're more than welcome. Thank you for taking the time to write your cover letter!
Sincerely,
Sara Jones

The only changes I would make to this cover letter would be to remove the "Although I don't have..." statements.  It's clear that she's a new teacher from the first paragraph, so pointing out a lack of experience or specific direction isn't necessary.  But I didn't even notice that the first 3 times I read it, so it's not a big deal.
 
Any questions, comments, suggestions?  Please share your thoughts below!
 
Other Posts About CV's/Resumes/Cover Letters:
How to Write a Teacher CV/Resume
How to Write a Follow-Up Email After Submitting Your CV and Attending a Teacher Job Fair
Teacher Photos for CVs/Resumes
When Should You Apply for Teaching Jobs in the UK
 
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.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2009 Edublog Awards: Best Corporate/Elearning Blog

Siobhan Curious over at Classroom as Microcosm has kindly nominated this blog for the 2009 Edublog Award - Best Corporate Blog.  Thanks so much Siobhan! I really appreciate it.

Voting begins tomorrow, so if you agree with Siobhan and want to show your support, please vote at the 2009 Edublog Awards website.  

Marsha Moore Interviews Me, Victoria Westcott about Teaching and Living in London and Writing the Guide to Teaching in London

If you’d like to know a bit more about me, my ebook and why I write these blogs, please see Marsha Moore’s blog today. She interviews me about living in London, what I do now and how I wrote my ebook, Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.


Plus, it’s a contest to win a free copy of the ebook, so get on over there right away to enter. Good luck!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Teacher Recruitment and Classroom Canada's Big Decision


I am taking a year out from the university job fairs.  This might mean forever, but for now, I see it as one year off from the career fairs.

Normally, I send one of our teacher-turned-recruiters or myself to university teacher job fairs across the country.  We speak with new teachers about what it's like to teach in London and hand out a bunch of brochures about Classroom Canada.  We literally meet thousands of new teachers in gymnasiums and basements, with hundreds of other recruiters for school boards and teaching agencies.   It's intense, costs a whole lot of money, and after 5 years and a lot of reflection and statistical analysis, I've realized that I don't need to do them anymore.

This means I will focus my recruiting of teachers and teaching assistants on:
  • word of mouth (which is where the vast majority of our teachers come from anyway)
  • this blog
  • my ebook
  • social networking
Let's face it - the best teachers and teaching assistants do their research. They find us because they're looking for us.  They always do.  Even the best teachers that I've met at university job fairs did their research first and found this blog online.  Check out Jenn's interview for a great example of this.

It also means that I will be more available in our Canadian office.  When I travel, it makes it hard for teachers to reach me, but now I'm here most of the time.

It also means that my competitors will jump up and down in their excitement that we're not going to the universities and they are.  Okay, maybe they won't jump up and down, but they will be very happy. I'm okay with that. 

I love what I do with Classroom Canada, and while I love our growth (it's HUGE!) I am also very aware that our success is based on the quality of our staff, not the quantity.  I could have hundreds of teachers and teaching assistants, and I have less than 100. That's the way I like it.  Next year, we will have more than that, but our quality will always remain the best. 

Linda is recruiting Canadian Teaching Assistants and Nursery Nurses so that division is growing quickly.  I will focus more on Classroom America as well.  I know there are amazing American teachers out there and I want to meet them too.

Also, I should say that I will continue to do presentations at universities.  My presentations cover: how to be a successful teacher, the power of positive thinking and the teacher job hunt, the power of positive thinking in inner city teaching and of course, Classroom Canada.  Linda and I will be doing presentations in British Columbia for Early Childhood Education graduates and Teaching Assistants. 

I am interviewing teachers who want to teach in London this January, next April and September 2010. 

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.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Very Special Sunday Post: My 2009 Edublog Award Nominations Are...



The Edublog Awards are into their 6th year of celebrating amazing education bloggers, so I figure I better get in my nominations.  You have until Tuesday, November 8th to nominate (you can't nominate yourself though!) and then on Wednesday, the voting begins and ends on the 16th December. 

Best individual blog - With so many of our teachers and teaching assistants blogging these days, this was a really hard call to make, but  Bryn the Brit's blog stands out for a couple of reasons. She's a teaching assistant and a swing dance teacher originally from Ottawa and now living in London, England.  So, Edublog-wise, her blog is an interesting read on what it's like to be a teaching assistant for students with special educational needs, as well as dancing teaching, and what it's like to live abroad.  Keep on dancing Bryn!


Best new blog - Brand New Socks There are so many amazing new bloggers out there! But this one reminds me why bloggers got started in the first place. Her writing is so reflective that I often feel like I am peaking into the secret diary of a stranger. If you have time to read only one blog, this would be the one that will keep you coming back for more.


Best teacher blog - Mr Teacher's Urban School Teacher blog. Mr Teacher says it like it is. Thanks for sharing with us!

Best elearning / corporate education blog - Sarah Ebner's School Gate Blog. Sarah's blog is a parent's perspective on education issues in the UK and I can't recommend it enough.

Lifetime achievement - Siobhan Curious' Classroom as Microcosm. I'm not sure how one would define "lifetime achievement" but in my books, anyone that's been teaching for ages and still makes the time to blog deserves this award. Plus, she's a brilliant writer! Check out her blog and I'm sure you will agree.

Want to nominate your own favourites?  Check out Edublog Awards 2009 and get your nominations in before this Tuesday. There's still time!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bits & Pieces: Announcements from Classroom Canada


Thanks to Ron Hamilton for the above photo of some of our fabulous teachers at Stone Henge. 

The winners of the Marsha Moore Book Contest are:
Lindsay, Bryn and Kirbie! Congratulations ladies. I've emailed all of you so check your email to find out how to claim your prize.

Also, congratulations to the following teachers for securing full time, long term positions in our London schools: Marianthe, Trumaine, Maggie, Joann, Samantha, Kristen, Jennifer, Jonny and Sam.  Wow! What a great week everyone.  Keep up the great work.

And finally, EduBlog Carnival is up at Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable and one of my blog posts is on there.  Please go check it out and read all the other fabulous education blogs.  If you'd like to submit one of your blog posts, please do!

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.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Classroom Canada Around the World



Yesterday was one of my best days with Classroom Canada ever.

Every time I checked my email, I received more great news.  Every time I answered the phone, I was so excited to speak with the person on the other end.  What an amazing day!

What made me so happy, you might ask?

Well, I received incredible job applications from teachers across Canada who want to teach in London - honestly, some of the best cover letters and CV's that I've ever seen.  You might not realize this, dear readers, but I get a lot of applications, and just like you've heard before, I only spend a few seconds reading each one.

So when I get an application that stands out, I read it again.  And again.  Sometimes I jump up out of my seat and yell, "YES! This is why I do what I do!"  I'll be posting an example of one of these cover letters soon so watch this space if you want to learn what to do to be successful in your teaching applications.

I also spoke with a teacher who heard about us from one of our amazing teachers.  He's an experienced teacher and has done heaps of work with inner city "at risk" youth in Vancouver, so I'm stoked to meet him and get him a job in London in one of our schools.  Word of mouth is a wonderful thing.  It's where most of our teachers come from, and that's just the way I like it.

Then, I checked my email and saw two incredible bits of news.  Sarah Ebner over at School Gate mentions my blog in her post about the Edublog Awards, and we received an award for one of the best blogs about international teaching and study.  How cool is that?!  I'm honoured, humbled, flattered and so excited.

Which brings me to today.  Today, I spoke with one of my colleagues in the London office and found out that all of my teachers are working.  The average is 3-5 days/week for those that are doing supply teaching, but about half of my teachers are in full-time jobs now, so that also makes me very happy.  I love it when our teachers do well.  September was a rough month for Secondary School teachers in London, but it looks like it's all balanced out again.  Well done team Classroom Canada!

Questions? Comments? Please share your thoughts below.

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.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails