Monday, January 18, 2010

The Great Canadian Moose Racing Championships aka Another Coffee Time Interview with a Canadian Teacher in London, England

Today, I'm excited to have Eric Adams here to share what it's really like to teach in London, England

Name: Eric Adams
University: Brock University
Subjects: Geography, Science
Ages You Teach: Key Stage 3 and 4 (Years 7-11)

1. How long have you been teaching in London?
Since mid-September, about 3 months now.
2. What do you teach?
I started off doing cover work for all subjects for years 7 to 11 and now teach maths full-time to bottom set classes in an all boys comprehensive secondary school just outside of London in Kent. Bottom sets can be very difficult and consist of a huge range of students in terms of academic performance and additional needs.
3. Why did you chose to work with Classroom Canada?
The interview and application process was very personable compared to other agencies that had contacted me. The majority of my first phone chat with Victoria was spent talking about music and sports, which made it much easier for us to relate. She was supportive throughout the process of helping me to prepare to make the journey across the pond and was prompt on answering any questions that I had. More importantly, she was honest. She will give you a down to earth truthful answer to all of those questions that you may have but aren't sure if you should ask.
4. What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
You're going to hear it once again. Behaviour management! London kids can be tough and they will challenge you at any opportunity that they can get (especially if you have bottom sets). Every class brings on a brand new set of challenges and it's the ability to adapt to each class that will make you successful.
No two classes will react the same way to any strategy that you use. It's trial and error and getting to know the students. Some classes will go horribly wrong, so go home and try something new the next day.
Also, teaching maths (yes, its pronounced with an 's' on the end over here) and trying to make it interesting for my classes. I've never taught maths before so i'm always looking for new ways to make it relevent to their daily lives. You wouldn't believe how interested they become when they have to calculate the percent increase of xbox games or find me the best deal in town on a t.v.!
5. Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.
I'm up at 6 a.m. and get to enjoy the thought that my flatmates get to sleep for another hour. Out the door by 7, hop on a train and get to school around 8. Teach until 3 and if there are no after school activities, get home at about 4:30. Unwind for a bit while I wait for my mates to finish work and then go to our local to share some stories and have a few refreshments, or do a little bit of exploring around town. Then, head home and relax in my flat wondering why I still don't own a t.v. Weekends are a different story though.
6. What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?
You just have to dive right in. It's not easy starting off teaching, let alone living in a new country. You'll have some terrible days and you'll have some great ones. You're coming over for the experience. Not only the teaching, but the city itself. Do some travelling, go to the pubs, enjoy concerts and sports events. If you still really don't like it and think that you made a mistake, then home is only a short flight away. Give it a try.
7. Describe the funniest thing that’s happened to you in your year so far:
There's another Canadian teacher at my school who had broken his ankle during a staff basketball game. However, he decided to tell all of the students in the school that it happened when him and I were involved in the Annual Great Canadian Moose Racing Championships.
The story goes that he was in the lead and I cut him off, causing him to fall off and get trampled by my moose. On the bright side, I did allegedly win the race and become the Canadian Mooseracing Champion, but now the students won't leave me alone until I show them pictures and teach them how to ride one!
8. Describe the worst thing:
This was an odd experience, but when the school hired me, I was walking down the hall one day and another teacher stopped me and asked me if I was the new teacher who is taking all of the bottom set classes. I replied yes and introduced myself to her. She then said "Oh lovely! I'm going to speak to the department head and see if you have room to take my year 9's off of my hands, I can't stand them!" So what do you do when you're the new guy in the school? You smile and nod and take everything that gets thrown your way. Boy am I regretting that now!
Or, perhaps a worse experience was when I covered a year 10 PE lesson and took them outside to play football. Everything was going smoothly until two students had a little tif over a handball and one of them decided to pull one of the temporary goal posts (which are very similar to javelins) out of the ground and try to impale the other one! It's a good thing that the student on the receiving end was a faster runner! I caught up to the aggressor in time and was able to get the goal post away from him so thankfully nobody was injured.
9. What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
The consultants are very helpful. Any questions that you have about schools or London in general, they are there to answer them for you. They also really care about getting to know who you are. You're not just one of their teachers, you're their friend and colleague with a unique personality and interests. The consultants want to get to know you so that they can find a school for you that suits your needs and where you will feel comfortable to make your experience much more enjoyable.
10. What qualities do you have that make your stay more enjoyable?
I'm very laid back and easy going. You never know what kind of experiences that London is going to bring your way next, especially in the schools here and I just go with them. That's life - a series of experiences, so take the good for what it's worth and learn from the bad. I can also think on my feet. So you're in a new school doing cover for a year 11 music class, have no music experience and the teacher didn't leave any work? No problem! Let's get out some instruments and see if we can put a tune together.
Finally, I have a very good sense of humour. This one is a necessity here. Play up your stereotypes. Sure we all drive dogsleds, live in igloos, have pet beavers, and drink maple syrup. Who doesn't? That will always get some laughs from your students. Tell them a funny story about yourself and watch how every single one of them hang on to every word that you're saying!
Thanks Eric! I think I need to improve my own Moose Racing skills and challenge you to a race sometime soon.  Questions for Eric or Classroom Canada?  Please share your thoughts below. 

Useful Resources:

Classroom Canada Website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians by Yours Truly
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1 comment:

  1. I see that you have England listed as one of your interests! Perhaps you would like my blog:

    http://picturesofgreatbritain.blogspot.com/

    As often as possible I will post photographs of glorious vistas, charming close-ups, and interesting tidbits of life in Great Britain for the pleasure of Anglophiles everywhere!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for sharing your two pence!

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