Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Teaching Fellow Teachers: Reflections of a Former Teacher Turned Recruitment Manager

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to teach current student-teachers at the University of Victoria in two different classes, with my new colleague Anissa Paulsen.  We chatted about teaching abroad, with a focus on teaching in London, England and the kinds of jobs and experiences that our teachers have.  We also did a short session on cover letter & CV writing, as well as my advice on how to ace the dreaded teacher interview.

The morning class ran from 11 until 12:50 and the afternoon class was from 2:30-3:50.  I thought I'd share my thoughts on how my "classes" went:
  1. First off, I love morning classes that start at 11.  I had plenty of time to drink my coffee, reply to emails, make a few phone calls and get ready for the day.  That was a total score in my mind, and I'm sure the student teachers love it too.  Especially on a Monday morning.
  2. Is it me, or are student teachers really just big kids?  I found the morning class full of energy, enthusiasm and laughter whereas the afternoon class was sluggish and frankly - they seemed a bit bored.  I even had the student-teachers open a couple of windows!  Anissa & I talked to their professor afterwards and discussed the difference in the two classes.  Don't get me wrong - I liked both classes, but I worried that my own teaching was really boring.  What was I doing wrong?  I told funny stories (or at least I think they're funny!) and tried to make the workshop as engaging as possible.  But the professor advised me on what I could have done with the afternoon class.  She explained that she always has them moving around, up out of their seats - just like primary kids.  She was a Primary School Principal so she uses the same tricks with her student teachers as she does elementary aged students.  Well how 'bout that.  I didn't even think of that!
  3. I love the enthusiasm that our teachers have for traveling the world, and love meeting new teachers with that same enthusiasm.  Our conversations are so much more meaningful to me.  In contrast, I find it hard to relate to teachers who don't want to leave the comfort zones of what they know at "home."  Huh?  You don't want to spend your weekends in Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Prague...?  Really? 
  4. Sometimes I can be a bit too honest.  But I won't change that anytime soon. Whether that be in a teacher's interview or during a presentation at a university - sometimes I shock myself with what I actually say outloud  -- and now you're thinking - "what did she say?!"  I will never tell.
  5. I like giving teachers unexpected freebies.  For every teacher that showed up to class yesterday we gave them a free copy of my ebook, Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.  It saved each student $29.95 so that felt pretty cool.
  6. It's all about the little things.  Anissa and I gave the workshops at no cost to U. Vic or the student-teachers, partly because we're here in Victoria so it was no big deal for travel and partly because we figure it's good to give back to our local uni.  I knew that would feel good.  But I didn't know that the student-teachers would give us each a little gift and a signed card by everyone in the class.  Good thinking U.Vic!  Really appreciated that simple gesture. 
Tomorrow we're giving two more workshops at U.Vic, this time for 2 hour sessions with more in depth chats about teaching jobs in England, resume and cover letter writing, and how to rock the teacher interview for going abroad.  The first one is at 9:00 am, so I won't have them up and moving around too much (wouldn't want them to spill their coffees!), but the second one isn't til after lunch so...guess I'll plan to move them around a bit.  Maybe I should even bring some of my "supply teacher tips & tricks."  Fireball anyone?

What would you do?  Have you ever taught grown-ups?  If so, please send me your advice on how I can improve my afternoon sessions!  Thanks.

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
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  1. i love the idea of getting us adults up and moving, because it is a nice break. but be VERY careful about how you speak to adults. 4 out of 5 of my Ed classes this semester drove me absolutely CRAZY because the profs talked to us/treated us like elementary students. i understood that they were trying to "model" different teaching techniques, but i really resented the fact that they "talked down" to us. so that's my one word of advice! talk to adults like they're adults!!

  2. Good point Amie! I remember having to make collages and mobiles in teachers college. It drove me nuts. Why do we have to do the activities?

    But at the same time, if student-teachers want to be treated like adults, they should also act like them. I know you do, but...well, without being too harsh, I'm sure you know what I mean. There's a bit of growing up that has to happen. As someone who's already been to London, worked there as a TA and then returned to Teachers College - you must find it hard at times to relate. Even though you're not actually that much older than your classmates, you have more life experience already.

    Are you blogging about your experiences this year? I'd love to read more!

  3. you are SO right. i totally feel way older than the rest of my classmates even though i'm the same age or even younger. there's a lot of naivety in ed land! the other day we had a whole session on "what to do if a student swears at you" and i just had to laugh.

    thinking about starting another blog but havent gotten around to it yet!


Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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