Monday, January 10, 2011

Coffee Time with Classroom Canada - Patrick from London, ON

Name: Patrick Briscoe
University: OISE
Subjects: I/S Politics, Social Science, Family Studies
Ages You Teach: 11-18 (Years/Grades 7-11, i.e. Secondary School)

How long have you been teaching in London?
I've been teaching since October 2010.
What do you teach?

Coming out of teacher’s college, I was qualified to teach Politics and General Social Science. Before coming to London, I picked up a Family Studies AQ to help my job prospects. Since arriving in London, I have been doing day-to-day supply, teaching mainly Food Technology. However, as a daily supply cover, you can expect to teach a range of other subjects—Math, Science, English, etc—since not all schools can match your subject each period. I have also done some Primary cover (from Year 1 through 6), which is a nice way to mix things up, broaden your teaching experience, and make yourself more available for work. In the New Year, I am hoping to find something long-term.
Why did you choose to work with Classroom Canada?

I first came across Classroom through a Google search that lead me to Victoria’s blog. The information was fantastic and, at first, I didn’t even realize the blog was part of an agency. The very open and friendly nature of Classroom is what drew me to them.
What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?

Without a doubt, behaviour management is number one. You’ve heard it before and I will confirm that, yes, students in London are more challenging than in Canada. Although some days can lead to your doubting yourself as a teacher, there are others where you walk out of the school at the end of the day feeling like you were on top of your game. This is a good time to plug the benefits of being a supply teacher: you are able to start fresh with a new class each day and also get to see a range of schools and behaviours. If you haven’t watched Victoria’s “Why Supply Teach?” video, I highly recommend it. [Note: To see other videos and resources regarding supply teaching in the UK, visit our popular "200 best resources" blog post from May 2009.]
Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.

If I have not already got a booking for the day, I wake up at 6:55am just in time to call Classroom at 7:00am to let them know I am available for work. I check the forecast for any sign of sun then start to get ready as I wait for a return call letting me know which school I will be teaching at and how to get there. Out the door I go; I head to the “Tube” station to join the other commuters on their trek to work, arrive at the school with a quick introduction by the school contact, am delivered to my classroom, given any cover work that has been left, and am wished good luck as the students enter the classroom—let the school day begin! After the bell has rung and my timesheet has been signed, I’m back on the tube, arriving home before most people have ended their workday—I can now enjoy some of the sights and activities that the great city of London has to offer.
What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?

Head across the pond open to new adventures and experiences. London has so much to offer and, from the UK, you are able to connect with the rest of the world so easily. Make the most of your time here and be willing to go out on a whim and try something new. One Saturday, my girlfriend and I went to a travel show and came home with an unexpected tour of Egypt that we bid on at an auction. These are the types of things you can easily do once over here. Finding work and expanding your skills as a teacher is an important part of the experience, but I would also recommend taking advantage of what the UK has to offer.
Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:

I think the day-to-day sayings of the students are what make me chuckle the most. I frequently hear the questions: “Are you from Canadia?” “Are you related to Justin Bieber? How about Drake?” “Can you speak Canadian?” “Canadia isn’t part of America?” When they ask where in Canada I’m from and I say “London” they really start to get confused.
Describe the worst thing:

The worst was a supply day for a year 3 class that had been without its teacher for over a week and had lost most of its structure. From a soccer ball being kicked around to one child trying to stand on a chair to turn off the projector while another ran out of the room to flush someone’s playing card down the toilet, this was one of those days you like to forget about!
What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
Classroom is a personable agency. They actually care about you as a person and don't seem to herd teachers together for their own benefit like some of the other agencies do. We came to London with another agency, which quickly put their priorities first once we arrived in the country. After a couple weeks of very little work and poor communication, we decided to contact Classroom. We were promptly asked to come in for an interview, welcomed by the staff, given steady work, and felt like part of the Classroom "family." Since then, we have had great support for the staff and have been able to meet other Classroom teachers. The teaching experience is much better when you have an agency that you feel comfortable with and Classroom has done that for us.

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

I would say that adaptability is a key quality. Life moves at a fast pace in London and being flexible makes things much easier and also brings about opportunities that may not have come about otherwise. Enjoy your time here; you only live once!

Thanks Patrick!

We are currently interviews teachers who would like to work in London starting in April/May 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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