Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"It Gets Better" - the book is now available!

Earlier this week I was listening to CBC radio's program "Q" with Jian Ghomeshi. Jian was interviewing Dan Savage, the creator and founder of the "It Gets Better" campaign, and they were discussing the recent publication of the "It Gets Better" book. Tears filled my eyes as Dan described one of the stories in the book about how a father finally, after 10 years, came to accept his son - and his boyfriend - for being gay.

For any of you who may be unfamiliar with the "It Gets Better" project, it started out as a simple YouTube video that Dan Savage (a Seattle-based author) and his partner Terry created to inspire hope for young people who face harassment for being lesbian, gay, bi, or trans.

Less than two months after their original post, the "It Gets Better Project" (TM) became a worldwide movement inspiring over 10,000 additional video posts - from the kid across the street to celebrities, activists, and media personalities - that illustrate to LGBT youth they are not alone and that they can achieve levels of happiness, potential and positivity if they can just make it through their teen years.

Below is the video from Dan and Terry about their stories as well as how this project got started:

The book, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living is on-sale wherever books are sold. It includes essays and new material from more than 100 contributors, including celebrities, religious leaders, politicians, parents, educators, youth just out of high school, and many more. All proceeds from the book will be donated to LGBT youth charities. For more details and to purchase the book, visit

You can also donate $25 USD to the campaign and they will send a free copy of It Gets Better to the school of your choice. I just had one sent to the high school in my hometown in small-town Iowa.

Whether you teach in London, Canada, the US or elsewhere, as educators, I feel it is important for us to always foster positive environments for our students, and to respect friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, and students for who they are.

What better way to put this pledge into motion by making these positive stories accessible to young people who really need to read them.

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Billy Elliot - educational materials, the musical, the movie


I was listening to CBC the other day and heard news that one of my all-time favourite movies - "Billy Elliot" - is now touring North America as a musical. When I looked it up online, I discovered it has actually been in London's West End since May 2005. So much for ground-breaking news here....but since I love this movie so much, I thought I'd write about it today.

I wanted to share with you all who teach in London information about the education pack that was developed to accompany school tours to the musical. I don't know if any of you are able to attend the musical as the ticket prices are quite steep - 22 GBP per student ticket - but the education material could be adapted for the movie in case any of you KS 3 and above teachers are looking for interesting materials for history lessons.

Although the education pack is aimed predominantly at teachers of students in Year 10 and 11, studying GCSE and vocational courses, when you download the free materials, you will find suggestions that can be utilised for students at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 5.

Subject suitability: Citizenship, Drama & Theatre Studies, English, History and Politics, Music, Performing Arts, PSHE, Dance students.

MOVIE SYNOPSIS: Yorkshire, during the endless, violent 1984 strike against the Thatcher closure of British coal mines: Miners are on strike and the atmosphere is tense. Eleven-year old Billy Elliot, whose father and brother are participating in the strike, whose mother has died quite some time ago and whose grandmother is not completely aware of what's going on, doesn't like the brutal boxing lessons at school.

Instead, he falls for the girls' ballet lessons. When his folks find out about this unusual love of his, Billy is in trouble. Being supported by the ballet teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, he keeps on training secretly while the work situation as well as the problems at home get worse. Finally, Mrs. Wilkinson manages to get Billy an audition for the Royal Ballet School, but now he also has to open his heart to his family.

View the trailer below:

Or click on the link below for the "unofficial trailer:"

The movie's story is also mirrored by the young actors who play Billy, whose own true-life experiences of coming from obscurity to command the West End stage are an inspirational demonstration of the power of dreams.

Even if you don't have an opportunity to view this movie within your classroom, rent it with some friends on a weekend. You won't be disappointed!

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Monday, March 28, 2011

Most Popular Teachers TV Videos of All Time & Some Sad News

We just received the email below from our friends at Teachers.TV in the UK.  For regular readers of this blog, this is very sad news indeed.  The cancellation of Teachers.TV means that we're all missing out on more amazing resources about teaching in the UK.  The silver lining is that their website will continue to have the 4000+ videos that they've already uploaded.  Just no new videos from here on out I gather. 

Canadian and American teachers heading to teach in London should definitely use their website to explore all the issues around teaching in the UK - from behaviour management to curriculum to school issues like bullying - this website really does have it all.  I wish there was something we could do to help the good folks at Teachers.TV. 

Please read on...
This is a message from Teachers TV
Hi Classroom,

Many of you will be aware that the Teachers TV contract has been  terminated by the Department for Education - here's the official statement if you haven't already seen it.

We are continuing to work with the Department to ensure that you will continue to have access to Teachers TV programmes so please keep checking our email updates to get the latest news on what's going to happen.

In the meantime, below we've selected some of the most popular Teachers TV videos of all time for you.
Most Popular Classroom Resources
KS3/4 Antarctica - A Future in the Balance

Designed to stimulate debate in KS3/4 citizenship lessons, this programme explores the key political and environmental issues that continue to surround Antarctica.

KS3/4 Science - Periodic Table: Ferocious Elements

In this programme, we use the periodic table to explore some of these elements and discover why some are more reactive than others.

Learning From The News

Short, topical classroom resources designed for use with pupils, based on the latest news, the videos are accompanied by curriculum-based KS3-4 lesson plans.

Most Popular Lesson Ideas

Secondary ICT - Web Literacy

This programme reveals the critical importance for teachers to provide guidance to their pupils when using the internet for research.

How Many Peas fit in the Classroom

This fun and active maths lesson for KS3 students involves measuring, estimating and calculating.

Grammar in Secondary English

Teacher Liana Swanton takes the fear out of grammar by breaking it down in a simple way that's fun for pupils.

Most Valued Top Tips

Teaching with Bayley (series)

In this series, educational behaviour expert John Bayley covers praise, positive language, developing your persona... The aim is to "teach your socks off".

Behaviour Challenge

Your task is to manage the behaviour of a difficult class. For each disruptive student choose which strategy you think will work best.

Body Language Techniques

Get expert advice from teacher trainer Chris Caswell, on how body language or non-verbal communication can improve your teaching.

Most Popular Teaching Learning Videos


Maths teacher Jonny Heeley inspires a group of Year 10 students from several London schools with an active lesson about algebra.

Phil Beadle's Masterclass (series)

Phil Beadle works with groups of Year 10 students in poetry master classes, using interactive and memorable methods to help the students really understand the power of verse.

From Good to Outstanding - Rebecca Wills

Can MFL teacher Rebecca Wills become outstanding with the help of pedagogical and professional development experts?

I've recommended the Phil Beadle, Teaching with Bayley and Rebecca Wills' videos in the past in this very blog, and also in my ebook, Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians.  I'll be checking out the others in the above list and hope to comment on them in the future.  Any other recommendations?

Please share your two pence below.

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Friday, March 25, 2011

Funny Friday: Funny Things That Teachers Do

I'm going to try something new on this little blog of ours: Funny Friday! Funny things that teachers do and are they actually funny?

So here goes.  Our first Funny Friday video from youtube.  I chose this video because it's quite a popular topic on you tube - teachers that rap math.  I've never rapped in front of a class myself, nor can I imagine ever wanting to, but I have noticed that there are an awful lot of videos showing (usually male) teachers rapping to illustrate a certain equation or formula in math, particularly for things that the kids just need to memorize. Like the guy above - Soh Cah Toa.  

But is it actually funny? Or are we as teachers just putting on a performance to try to get the students to like us?  Are we pandering?  Is this how students learn? 

I'm curious. What do you think? Have you ever rapped in front of your primary or secondary class? Did it work? What did the students learn?

Leave your comments / stories below!
Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"This is better than recess!"

One thing I love about my job as a recruiter for Classroom Canada is that I get to talk with inspired - and inspiring - teachers every day.

Just last week I was speaking with an applicant and she was describing a math lesson she did recently with her grade 2/3s. She explained the wonderful, creative activities in which her students were involved. As she walked around the groups, she kept hearing comments like "This is fun!"

Then she heard one group exclaim:

"This is better than recess!"

We both agreed that was probably, thee ultimate compliment.
So..I'm curious to hear from all of you teachers out there what your "This-is-better-than-recess" moments have been or, if you have received other clever compliments from your students recently.

Leave your comments / stories below!

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Communicating with friends and family while overseas

"How do I communicate? With Beepers! Beepers!"

Ok, so I'm dating myself here...but my husband (who seems to have a little rap diddy for any subject that comes up in our household) often sings this little tune from Sir Mix-a-Lot - yes, it's from the late 80s...

Anyway, with all the talk these days about the horrible disaster in Japan it's made me think about how fortunate we all are to have such a wide variety of sophisticated ways to communicate with loved ones who find themselves living around the world. I hear over and over how Canadians are using facebook to keep in touch with loved ones who are in Japan, particularly when cell phone technology has failed in regions devastated by the tsunami.

How lucky we who travel overseas today are!

I remember when I was a teacher in Bulgaria in 1994 - 1996, I lived in a really comfortable two-bedroom apartment that was equipped with all the modern conveniences of the day - oven, indoor plumbing...I think that was it. I didn't have a phone in my apartment (or a washing machine or a reliable heater for that matter!) and email didn't even exist.

I think back to those days when I used to huddle in my kitchen with the oven on high, door open, and at my side, a cheap bottle of Bulgarian wine and a box of stationery upon which to write my friends, boyfriend (who is, by the way, the aforementioned husband) and family back home. Ahhh...those were the days! I used to wait anxiously every day for a letter to arrive in my mailbox. I still remember the feel of that little wooden hole of my mailbox against my finger as I anxiously checked the contents each day after returning home from a long teaching day.

Oh how happy I would be to get a letter - any letter - from back home. My most reliable letter writers were my boyfriend (who wrote at least once a week - who says long distance relationships do not work??), my grandmother and my great aunt Mildred.

I actually still enjoy writing letters to friends and love sending handmade birthday and holiday cards. As each year progresses, however, I find the act of letter writing more time-consuming, though, and the rewards of receiving something in return are getting less frequent, but I persist.

Old habits die hard.

Recently, though, I had the opportunity to discover the power and wonder of Skype when my husband, myself and our two kids (then aged 3 months and 3.5 years) moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for 3 months. Skype was a godsend! I couldn't imagine being in KL without my family and friends back home being able to see the growth of our kids and connect with them in that way.

I'm curious to know from all of you living in London:

How do you communicate with loved ones back in Canada? Any old school letter writers out there or is technology the only way to go?

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all of our great teachers in London!

How are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day?

No plans yet? Well, at least get out there and do a little jig!

Enjoy your day everyone!!

If you'd like to get to the UK in time for next St. Patrick's Day, send your cover letter and resume to: apply [AT] classroomcanada [DOT] com.

We are currently accepting applications for positions beginning May and September 2011.

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Start planning your May break travels today with this exciting offer from

I don't know about you all, but this month has been flying by! Spring is definitely in the air here in Victoria and hopefully the flowers and trees in and around London are starting to bloom as well. (They have to be in full bloom by the time of the royal wedding, no doubt!)

With this spring weather, comes the spring break travel bug and we just recently learned of an exciting deal - beds for 20-cents EURO - offered by Hostel Bookers - an online hostel reservation system.

Information about their exciting offer is below - let us know if any of you are able to take them up on it (unfortunately the May break doesn't exactly coincide...) and, if so, where you go!

Happy travels!


In ten of our top hostels
we are selling 500 beds for just EUR0.20 each - now that´s budget travel.

From Monday 21st March to Friday 25th March, 100 beds will go on sale everyday at 16.00 GMT.

Hostels that are a part of this promotion are located in the following cities (among others):

Rome, Dublin, Edinburgh, Barcelona, London, Lisbon

Be quick – Bookings are processed on a first-come-first-serve basis!
  • Between 21st and 25th March 2011, 100 '20 CENT BEDS' will be available to book everyday from 16:00 GMT.
  • Valid on any night(s) between 9th and 13th May 2011. Travel outside these dates will be charged at the normal hostel rate.
  • You can book up to two €0.20 beds per night in any of the hostels below.
  • Only rooms labelled "20 CENT BEDS" are included in the offer.

Go to for more information and to book your bed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nikki Yanofsky will be singing at a theatre near you.

As part of International Women’s Day celebrations, CBC radio last week celebrated various women musicians on their “Canada Live” program. It was on Thursday, when I heard, for the first time, the amazing vocal talents from Nikki Yanofsky – a young Canadian jazz singer.

I found out that Nikki will be on tour in London in May, and thought I’d just help spread the word. She’ll be at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on May 8, 2011.

Not only is this young woman an amazing artist, but she is also using her art to help make the world a better place. So far, she has helped raise over $10M for local, national and international charities. She lends her name and cachet to the Montreal Children's Hospital, The Children's Wish Foundation and MusiCounts, and she's contributed tracks to numerous compilation CDs for various causes.

Turns out she also has a sense of humour. Check out this video which shows off her talents, as well, makes all of us teachers out there remember - intelligence comes in many forms:

Not bad for a seventeen-year-old.

Anyway, let me know if any of you out there are planning to go to this concert while in London.

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Resources for Teaching

No doubt teachers are entering their schools today wondering how they'll address Friday's earthquake & tsunami in Japan.  It's a subject on everyone's minds and a very sensitive one to address as a teacher.  How do you talk about the science? How do you address the emotion?  How do you talk with a class of inner city students of diverse backgrounds?  There's probably at least one Japanese student in the class, or at least one student with family in Japan.  What to do?

The TES (Times Educational Supplement) has assembled a good list of resources for teachers in primary & secondary schools to teach their students about the Japan earthquake and tsunami.  You can find it here.

The Learning Network, a supplement to the New York Times, has also assembled a good list of resources:

The UN has a "Stop Disasters Game" where your students plan and construct a safer environment for various populations at risk of natural disasters.  Looks interesting!

To address the human side of the disaster, I would use this list of tweets translated from Japanese to English:
The tweets show that in the midst of the sadness & devastation, people are still helping each other.  It's a really wonderful document.

Any other great sites or lists that I've missed here?  Please add your thoughts in the comments section.  We'd also love to hear what it was like in your classroom today, wherever you are in the world. 

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Like this blog? Be sure to flick "follow" on the right hand side so you're the first to get our blog posts.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Guide to Teaching in London Wins an Award

I'm so proud!  The little ebook I wrote last year, called Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians won an Honorable Mention from Writer's Digest this year. 

I wrote the ebook in 7 days (literally for 12 hours/day).  My sister, Jennifer Westcott, editted the book in 7 days.  And our cousin, Caroline Bishop, did the graphic design in 7 days.  It was online and for sale from start to finish in 21 days.  I'm not saying it's a literary work of genius or anything, but this award does prove that anyone can sit down and write a book if they have the focus & support to do so.

I wrote about what I know, and I knew that the book didn't exist yet so it would be really helpful to other Canadian teachers wanting to make the move to teaching in London.  The book is not a sales tool. I hardly talk about Classroom Canada at all in fact.  It's 110 pages all about what it's really like to teach in London, regardless of how you get there and which agency you teach with. 

If you haven't read it yet, you can download a free chapter here.

Resources for Teaching in London

Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Like this blog? Be sure to flick "follow" on the right hand side so you're the first to get our blog posts.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

See "London in a Day!"

Classroom Canada recently learned of an exciting new tour company that opened up in London, UK. It’s called “London in a Day.”

London in a Day” is a private tour company owned by Wendy, an American expat currently living in London. Wendy has a passion not only for discovering unique bits of London, but also for sharing her finds with others. Her affordable themed tours (Landmarks and More, London’s Markets and Shopping or “Create your own”) are geared for small groups of between one and four person(s) and include tube/bus fares and one tour guide.

Sounds to me like a great, stress-free way to get to know “the best city in the world” – like a local! Or, better yet – a terrific way to entertain visitors while you are teaching in the classroom!

Like this blog? Be sure to flick "follow" on the right hand side so you're the first to get our blog posts.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Coffee Time with Classroom Canada - Dunja from Windsor

Name: Dunja Bejtic
University: University of Windsor
Subjects: All
Ages You Teach: Primary/Junior

How long have you been teaching in London?
I have been teaching in London for 4 months.
What do you teach?
I teach in a Nursery classroom.
Why did you choose to work with Classroom Canada?
I heard about Classroom Canada from a friend and decided to apply and send my CV. I immediately heard from their recruiter and the ball was rolling. Their recruiters were extremely nice to chat with and ALWAYS there to answer questions or inquiries that I had via email or phone call. This agency also provides applications for accommodation and a bank account making the transition overseas easier.
What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
I had never used a Smart Board before moving to England. Technology scares me most of the time but I have learned that all it takes is familiarity and practise.
Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.
I wake up at 6:30 and I am out of my room by 7:20. I take the tube as well as the overground train and I usually arrive to the school by 8:05. The children come in at 9:00 and leave at 3:30. I leave the school anywhere between 4:30-5:45 depending on the amount of work I have to do. In the evenings I enjoy having tea and dinners with my friends, shopping, watching movies, and reading.
What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?
JUST DO IT! What have you got to lose? I have met amazing new friends, and traveled to three different countries in such a short amount of time. This experience has been unbelievable and the memories will last a lifetime. I have been given an incredible opportunity to do what I love in one of the most amazing cities in the world. Not much to complain about!

Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:
I can't think of anything specific, however, my TA will often laugh or make fun of the way I speak and the children will give me strange looks as I tell them to put their lovely artwork in the bin. After four months I still struggle with that word.
Describe the worst thing:
I wouldn't say this is the worst thing but definitely challenging. English is an additional language to many of my students and their parents so it is often hard to communicate with them. Providing a welcoming, safe, exciting, yet motivating environment is all you can do at the beginning and hope that their transition is as smooth as possible from that moment on.
What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
Classroom Canada has had me working full-time since the moment I arrived to London. I started out with a month and a half long position in one Nursery classroom and followed right into my second Nursery position which is still ongoing. The Classroom team is extremely friendly, and very easy to talk to.
What qualities do you have that make your teaching in London enjoyable?
I like to think that I am flexible and that I have a positive attitude along with a great sense of humour. You have to be able to laugh at yourself or you won't get too far.
Thanks Dunja!

We're currently interviews teachers who would like to work in London starting in September/October 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
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Like this blog? Be sure to flick "follow" on the right hand side so you're the first to get our blog posts.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What makes Classroom Canada unique? We offer competitive wages and lots of holidays!

OK, so offering competitive wages doesn’t necessarily make us unique – all agencies offer competitive wages and all schools generally offer the same holiday schedule. But almost all teachers we interview ask us “how much money can I make as a teacher abroad?” so I felt the question needed to be addressed in this, the final day of the “unique” series.

For teaching jobs in England, many applicants particularly worry about the cost of living and if they will earn enough to survive living there. We completely understand. We've answered this question a thousand times and will likely answer it a thousand more and it is a legitimate concern. Before I go on, however, here are some past blog posts I recommend:

So to answer the question: Yes, you'll earn decent money. Yes, you may be able to pay off some debt (especially if our Canadian dollar gets weak again!) and yes, you'll travel heaps.

The most important thing for you to remember is that when you are in London you must stop converting prices to Canadian dollars. You will be living in London and one latte will cost 4 pounds. In Canada, it costs 4 dollars. Now that you are getting paid in pounds, the prices are the same. See how easy that is?

If money is your goal, you may want to reconsider London as your destination and instead go to Asia and teach ESL. But if gaining invaluable teaching experience in inner city schools and amazing life experiences being in an exciting, thriving, culturally-rich city such as London, then Classroom Canada is your agency.

Typically our teachers start out working supply for 2-3 months, getting 3-5 days per week. We have found this to be a good work scheme as it allows you to get experience in a wide variety of schools and settings before you end up in a long-term position. It also helps you to be a bit choosy about the kinds of long-term positions you might accept.

To work with Classroom Canada and get called for teaching jobs, you have to be a good teacher, in inner city schools, in London. How do you do that? Read our book, follow our advice, get along with everyone and don’t do anything stupid. After a year, you should have schools calling for you.

So now enough about work, because that’s not the only reason you are going to London, right? You also go for the 13 weeks of holidays that are spread throughout the year!
The school holidays are different for each borough, but they all follow a general pattern. Here's how we break it down for our teachers:

Sept. 1st - mid October = Autumn 1st Half Term
mid-October = 1 week break, called "Half term break"
mid-October - December 22nd (ish) = Autumn 2nd Half Term
December 22nd(ish) - January 5th (ish) = Winter holidays for 2 weeks

January 5th (ish) - mid-February = Winter 1st Half Term
mid-February = 1 week break, again "Half term break"
mid-February to April (Easter) = Winter 2nd Half Term
Easter Break = 2 weeks

May - mid-June = Spring 1st Half Term
mid-June = 1 week break, another "Half Term Break"
mid-June - July 22nd (ish) = Spring 2nd Half Term
July 22nd (ish) to Sept. 1st (ish) = Summer holidays for 6 weeks

Your school will give you specific dates, but this is a good guide to follow. Some schools and LEA's (Local Education Authority) will arrange their school holidays around Muslim holidays depending on the size of the Muslim population.

There are always 195 teaching days in the year. If you expect to make 115-125 pounds/day (a good starting rate for a Canadian teacher with no UK experience), you just take that number and multiply it by 195. That will give you a salary of 22, 000 - 24 000 pounds (approximately). Keep in mind you will pay 22% in taxes in the UK but you will not be double-taxed in Canada.

So what to do on these holidays? Our teachers travel - to Italy, Germany, France, Scotland, Ireland, all throughout England, Portugal, Tunisia…you get the idea.

I hope you have enjoyed learning more about this fabulous agency that I work for and more importantly, I hope that you have been inspired to check out opportunities to teach in London with us.

We are currently recruiting for teaching positions beginning in April/May and September/October 2011 so please send us your resume if you feel that teaching in London, UK is for you: apply AT classroom Canada DOT com.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What makes Classroom Canada unique? Our professional development opportunities!

At Classroom Canada we understand that our teachers are passionate about lifelong learning and we like to support them in this area with our professional development opportunities. Not only do we plan annual professional development opportunities for our Canadian teachers, but we also do our best to keep you abreast of other pro-d opportunities for educators that may exist in and around London.

The pro-d workshops that Classroom Canada coordinates generally take place the first week of November after our new fall group of teachers has had a chance to arrive and settle in. In addition to the serious pro-d workshops, we also organize social events during the week too – everyone knows you gotta keep learning fun!

Here’s a sampling of the pro-d workshops and socials we ran last year:

Classroom Canada's 2nd Annual 5km Run With Richard
Get your running shoes (and possibly raincoats depending on the weather!) and meet us at the London office to Run With Richard.

Richard Gilbey, one of the founders of Classroom Ltd, will be taking us on a 5km tour of his favourite jogging route near our London office (Oxford Circus). He's an avid runner, and often jokes that he wants to take the Canadians on a little tour of the neighbourhood. Slow or fast, all are welcome!

Primary & SEN Round Table Workshops
* See description below.

Secondary & SEN Round Table Workshops
This year, our workshops are being led by Canadian teachers who have been teaching in London with us for a year or more. They're fabulous teachers, and just like you. They know what you need to know, and have the experiences to share with you.

The workshops will be focused on issues like behaviour management (tips, strategies that work in London, successes & failures), and adjusting from Canadian teaching to British teaching.

Classroom Canada's 3rd Annual London Scavenger Hunt & Teacher Social
Take over the streets of London England with other Canadian teachers & win fabulous prizes (like Canadian food, Top Deck Travel Vouchers, Flight Centre Vouchers, PC Organic White Cheddar KD...), meet other great teachers & have fun!

Our Guide to Teaching in London also has great advice, tips and a list of resources to consult for those of you wishing to enhance your teaching skills (the awesome site for educators that I mentioned yesterday is one such resource).

One other topic I’d like to mention in this area – and a question we frequently get – is “what is the difference between the UK curriculum and the Canadian curriculum?”

When you are accepted into our program, you will receive a free copy of our Guide to Teaching in London which contains detailed information about the UK curriculum, but in general you will find that the Canadian curriculum:
· is more individualized;
· has objectives and you come to the objectives through your own research, lesson planning and creativity; and
· requires you write 3-4 report cards per year.
By contrast, the UK curriculum:
· is more prescriptive;
· is interactive;
· is visual, auditory, kinesthetic;
· requires less time to be creative on the front end, but requires that you plan and adapt the prescribed lessons according to your specific class and IEPs; and
· requires you write usually only one report card a year and typically at the end of the year.

The biggest difference between teaching in Canada vs. London is that your skills will develop more in behaviour management. We hear this over and over again from our teachers. In Canada, as a teacher it’s more about planning. And so we keep this in mind as we develop and create professional development opportunities for our teachers.

Please comment below if you have any ideas or special request for pro-d topics for this November 2011.

We are currently interviews teachers who would like to work in London starting in April/May or September/October 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
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What makes Classroom Canada unique? Our awesome schools and variety of jobs!

Any teacher doing their research about teaching in London, UK will soon discover there are many different agencies that place teachers in the UK. Classroom Canada stands out for all of the reasons I’ve discussed over the past few days, and also because we place teachers solely in a inner city London schools.

If you are looking for a true city experience, in classrooms filled with students from culturally and socio-economically diverse backgrounds, then Classroom Canada is for you.

Most of our schools are located with zones 1 & 2 (out of 6 when consulting the London tube map) with a handful scattered throughout zone 3. The schools can be anywhere from a 10 minute walk, 20 minute bus ride or 1.5 hour commute from our accommodations (also in zone 1 @ Tottenham Court Road).

There are 32 different school boards in London and we work with schools from all of them. We are central, downtown, urban and inner city.

Walking into one of our classrooms, you may face 22 students – each from a different part of the world and each of whom may speak a language other than English in their home environments. This cultural diversity is an AMAZING environment from which to teach, as well as learn.

Almost all of the classrooms in our schools are equipped with smartboards and most classrooms will also have at least one teaching assistant.

But what are our schools really like? They are awesome, really. The students are curious, smart, interested and unique. That said, they are kids and many of them have lots of energy so you can probably expect an environment (especially at the primary level) of low-level disruptive behaviour. By this I mean students who may talk while you are talking or tap their pencil on their desk while you are trying to give instructions. Nothing you can’t handle, without patience, a sense of humour, and emergency learning activities to get the kids back on track!

Classroom Canada offers a wide variety of jobs in primary, secondary and special needs for our teachers as well as our teaching assistants. Currently our needs are greater in primary and special needs, so all you secondary humanities teachers out there should stay adaptable, openminded and be willing to take jobs in primary as well as special needs. Who knows? You may find a different area where you love to work!

With regard to special needs, most of our teachers interested in this area work with students with emotional behavioural disabilities. Sometimes this means working one-on-one or in small classes of 10 students. In the UK you do not need special certification to work in this area. It’s more about who you are (open-minded, flexible, adaptable), less about your qualifications.
We also offer day-to-day supply and longterm positions.

Day-to-day supply can be a great way to teach in a variety of schools and gain invaluable and wide-ranging experience. Daily supply requires a great deal of flexibility and quick thinking but brings its own rewards and is an excellent way to gain a great deal of London experience in a short period of time. We find that teachers are requested back after initial day-to-day assignments often taking a longer-term position in a school with which they have built a relationship. Also, gaining experience in UK schools before you take on your own class will only improve your teaching.

Long-term positions are usually a term or more and are for those wanting to take on the whole role and responsibilities of a full-time teacher with the planning and commitment that it requires. Working in one school for an extended length of time often sees teachers becoming intrinsically involved in the school community, attending Parents' Evenings and events and taking on other roles, e.g. as a Form Tutor in Secondary schools.

To get an idea of life as a supply teacher, check out the "Day in the Life of a Supply Teacher" video on, which is, by the way, an amazing resource for you whether you teach in the UK or any other country around the world.

Stay tuned – tomorrow I’ll be discussing our professional development opportunities and some differences between the UK and Canadian curricula.

As always, if you have any specific questions about who we are or what we do – or if you are ready to apply – please contact us at: apply [AT] classroomcanada [DOT] com.


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