Thursday, January 13, 2011

Coffee Time with Classroom Canada - Tom from Victoria

Name: Tom
University: University of Victoria
Subjects: Primary/Secondary (English)

How long have you been teaching in London?
I've been in London for 2.5 months.
What do you teach?

I was trained as a generalist middle school teacher (usually grades 6-8) but I also have an English Lit degree, so my experience as a substitute has been all across the board. In Canada I taught anything and everything from primary French to grade 12 physics. Here in London I’ve been teaching supply in primary and secondary schools.
Why did you choose to work with Classroom Canada?

A friend suggested Classroom Canada to me, and I looked into it because I felt the need to experience a new culture before I got too comfortable living and working in Victoria, BC. I met with Victoria Westcott, and she was exceedingly helpful and informative. She gave me the impression that teaching in London was a rewarding and wonderful thing. And she was right.
What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?

The biggest adjustment has been in my classroom management techniques. I had heard “horror stories” about teaching in London, and so I knew I was in for a challenge right off the bat. As it turns out, most of the classes are just fine. A few classes have left me pulling my hair out, but the challenge is just an opportunity to
develop professionally.
Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.

On a typical weekday I wake up at about 6:45 to get to work for 8:00. That usually gives me time to figure out the day’s plan and meet the teachers in the neighbouring classrooms. Because I’m on call, I usually don’t have to mark or prep, so after the students leave I tidy up the room and write a note for the regular teacher. I’m usually
home by about 5:00pm. After dinner it’s off to the gym or the pub!
What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?

Definitely give it a try. You won’t regret it. London is an incredible place to live.
Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:

Almost every day I get asked if I know Justin Bieber. Usually I get a kick out of that. Also, young students ask the funniest questions about Canada. For example: “Have you ever been attacked by a bear?” “Are people in Canada big?” “Do they eat mice in Canada?” The list is endless.
Describe the worst thing:

Supply teaching has particular challenges. A few times I have come across classes that cannot be motivated to learn. On these days I spend the majority of time on classroom management. Though it can be discouraging, it’s an opportunity to improve existing management techniques and develop new ones.
What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
I have had VERY consistent work with Classroom. They are friendly, helpful, and personable.

What qualities do you have that make your teaching in London enjoyable?

My knack for focusing on the positive has really helped me in London. As I said above, it can be a tough job. But you have to focus on the successes and learn from the challenges. Also, I think it helps that I am pretty laid back. The hustle and bustle of London and unpredictable nature of supply could get to someone who is more high-strung. Be ready for adventure, and roll with the punches. You might just have the time of your life!

Thanks Tom!

We are currently interviews teachers who would like to work in London starting in April/May or September 2011. To apply, please submit your resume & cover letter to apply AT classroomcanada DOT com.

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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