Monday, May 9, 2011

Coffee Time with Classsroom Canada - Theresa Heppler (Nipissing)

Name: Theresa Heppler
University: Nipissing
Subjects: Geography and Accounting
Ages you teach: Nursery-Year 10

How long have you been teaching in London?

I have been teaching in London since January 2010 (nearly 16 months). I supply taught for 6 weeks when I first arrived. I then had a three-month placement doing a maternity cover, and following that I had a trial work week for my current full-time position.

What do you teach?

I have my own Nursery class (which is comparable to Junior Kindergarten).

Why did you choose to work with Classroom Canada?

I spent a lot of time researching different agencies months before my planned departure. I had it narrowed down to 3 agencies based on different qualities I was looking for when a friend from teachers college told me that she was living in London and working through Classroom and they were fantastic. It was an easy decision once I started emailing back and forth with someone from Classroom Canada.

What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?

I would say the biggest adjustment would be having a teaching assistant in the classroom. It is great having that extra support, but it does mean larger classroom sizes in the primary grades. Another major adjustment is classroom management. I would say the most important thing is having great management skills. If you go into a class as a supply and you are too nice they will walk all over you, the key is starting your day off tough/mean and then lightening up if they prove to be a well-behaved class. Each class in each school has completely different levels of behaviour, you never know what you are going to get.

Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.

Wake up at 6:30, get on the train for 7:30, arrive at school for 8:00. Set up my classroom activities for the day (with TA help), welcome the children in at 9:00, carpet time at 9:15(story/songs/phonics/reminder of rules), focus activity/free play. Children go home at 3:30 (parents must pick them up from the door, no school buses, children in primary must have a parent pick them up). I stay back after school anywhere until 4:30-6:30 for planning, completing display boards, organizing student portfolio folders, etc.

What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?

I know everyone who fills out this survey says " just do it," but seriously DO IT. I had no experience beyond what I got in teachers college and I love teaching in London. It is a jump into the deep end, but you will learn a lot of great skills and live in an amazing city while doing so. Classroom Canada has a great network of Canadians living in London, you will make great friends in no time at all. I moved here during the month of January, and there was full-time supply work right away. From other things I have heard, October is also a good time to come over to ensure work. July and September are slower months for supply work, but if you want time to get settled before teaching 5 days a week those would be great months for you to move.

Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:

By far the funniest thing happened to me on my first day teaching in London. I was teaching a reception (senior kindergarten) class and it was time for P.E. I was told by the TA that if the children did not have their P.E kit (gym clothes) that they could take part in gym by wearing their shirt and then taking their trousers off and just going in their underwear. I thought that was a bit weird, but I went along with the rules. The children were changing (they do so in the classroom, which is also odd to me) and a child told me she didn't have her P.E kit. At this point I thought of the rule and told her to "take off her pants and go to gym without them." Sounds ok right?! WRONG! In England, trousers = pants, and pants=underwear. I didn't notice that this girl had taken off her underwear (pants) until I had the entire class doing the crab walk across the gym floor. Lesson learned.

Describe the worst thing:

I can't think of anything specific, but definitely the foreign germs have gotten the best of me. I lost my voice for over a week and have had more sinus infections than I can count. Take your vitamins!

What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?

They have provided consistent work and listened to my needs throughout the time I have been here.

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

I think you have to be able to separate your work life from your home life. I try really hard not to take my work home with me. If I have had a stressful day I leave it at the door when I get home. It is really easy to focus on the bad parts of your day, but to really enjoy being a teacher you must focus on the great moments.

In addition I just love my job! The moments when you see a child do something that they weren't able to do the previous month is truly an amazing feeling. Lastly, I absolutely love traveling. Every long weekend or break I get off from work, straight to the airport I go exploring Europe. A two hour flight in Canada doesn't get you very far, but here in two hours you can go from London to Germany, Spain, Italy... the choices are endless.

Thanks Theresa!

We are currently interviews teachers who would like to work in London starting in 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
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Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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