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.


  1. That's so encouraging to know that an English teacher is working hard in London, and secured a position! I hope to do the same in London!

  2. Yes! She's great too - you will really get along well. Definitely find her in our FB group and say hello!

    Almost all of our teachers now have full-time jobs, so no worries there. Only a handful are doing daily supply teaching, and most of those prefer it over long term anyway.

    London is excited to have you back Ann!

  3. this was my favorite interview so far!

  4. Joann is very talented! Now, we just need to convince her to write more on her blog. Clearly, she has a great blogging voice. :-)


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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