Monday, March 8, 2010

Guest Blogger: "But Miss I'm Bursting!" from Brand New Socks


Aleks is one of our Canadian teachers in London and recently wrote the post below on her blog, BrandNewSocks.  I asked to "steal" it for this blog as I think you will enjoy it as much as I did.  I also interviewed Aleks for our Coffee Time series and will post it this week.  
Recently, I was asked to do an interview for my recruiter’s blog (Side note: No, it’s not up yet). One of the questions asked me what the biggest adjustment from Canadian to London teaching that I had to make was. I answered, but later realized that my answer was false. My biggest adjustment has been learning the teaching language of London.
So, for all of you prospective London teachers, I have put together a language phrase book to help you survive your first bit of London teaching:
Bin: Garbage Can. Do not call anything other than a garbage can a bin unless you want to hear hoardes of laughter from your students. No, they won’t be laughingwith you. In one of my first days, I referred to the large tupperwear container that held their notebooks as a bin. The students thought that it was hilarious that the Canadian supply teacher wanted them to throw their notebooks away.
Bursting: When a student is “bursting” it means that s/he has to go to the toilet so badly that they will literally burst if you do not say yes. Guaranteed that you will hear this phrase at least a few times a day if you are in a primary classroom and at least a few times a week if you are in secondary classroom. Why so often? Do British children have insanely small bladders? No. This is a lesson in bathroom exaggeration. When a student feels the slightest need to go to the toilet, to stand up and wander, is bored, or wants to cause a ruckus s/he will do the very dramatic pee dance while saying, “But Miss, I’m bursting!” at you over and over again.
Literacy: This subject will eat up a lot of your time if you are teaching Primary and it is what we refer to as English. But, forget about pronouncing it the way you normally would. If you want to fit in you have to learn to say it lit-ra-cee.
Miss: Typically this means an unmarried, female teacher. Not in Britain though. Here “Miss” refers to any supply teacher and boy do I mean any. Being male does not stop them from referring to you as “Miss”. If you are insecure about your masculinity, do not bother teaching in a London classroom.
Numeracy: This is the other subject that will take up a huge chunk of time in any given Primary teaching day. Numeracy is Math. If you want to call it math though, just make sure that you add an S to the end. Math will get you confused looks, but Maths will get you complete understanding.
Packed Lunch: A packed lunch is exactly what it sounds like: a lunch that was packed for the student at home to bring to school and eat. It means that they will not be receiving a lunch at school.
Play: This is the London term for recess. Just try threatening to take away a pupil’s recess. There will be no reaction. Take away a student’s play and their world comes to a screeching halt.
Rubber: This word can provide for some rather amusing incidents until you actually know what it means. It means eraser to the British children, which is amusing because it means condom to the Canadian supply teacher. Imagine my surprise when, on my first day of teaching, a Year Two student confidently walked up to me and asked me for a rubber. As I tried to compose myself enough to answer her question another student butted in with, “But Miss, we’re not allowed rubbers in school!” Quickly I pieced together what they were talking about as other students offered up bits and pieces of information: “Yah Miss, because they make a mess on our tables”, “Yah Miss, she has to just scratch it out instead”, and “Yah Miss, she’s not supposed to be asking.”
School Dinners: Is a term that can only be half figured out through logic. It takes place at school, but it is not dinner. School Dinners are hot lunches that are offered by the school to students who do not bring a packed lunch.
Sensible: This is a word that you will hear yourself say over and over again. Here are the most common examples of its usage by a supply teacher:
“Can I have a sensible student to help me and [insert request]?”
“Thank you [insert student's name] for being sensible”
“That is not sensible behaviour!”
If you were to receive a 10p coin for every time you said the word sensible, you would have enough money to buy yourself a plane ticket home on that truly awful day when not a single student is being sensible.
Thanks to Aleks for allowing me to steal her post and share with you here.  Please do visit her blog - she's a brilliant writer and blogger.

Resources About Teaching in London, England
Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog 
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