Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Coffee Time with Classroom Canada alumna - Shannon Mullen

In the past, we have highlighted through our regular Coffee Time interviews our wonderful Classroom teachers as they are experiencing life and teaching in London, UK.

Today I'd like to introduce you to another Classroom Canada alumna, Shannon Mullen. Shannon was a teacher in London in 2009. (You can read her original coffee time interview here.) She has since returned to Canada, received her M.Ed. and is now headed to British Columbia for a full-time teaching job.

But she will tell her own story below.

So sit back, relax, grab a latte and enjoy the chat as Shannon tells you about life after London.

Name: Shannon Mullen

University: OISE/UT

Your current job:
Full-time M.Ed. student and fitness instructor in Toronto but am moving to BC at the end of the summer for a teaching job!

When did you teach in London with Classroom Canada?
September 2009-July 2010

What subjects and age groups did you teach?
I started out doing daily supply- all ages and grade levels, both primary and secondary. I taught Year 9 and Year 11 English at one school from November to April, and taught Year 8,9,10 English, Year 8 &9 Drama, and Year 10 Citizenship at another school from April to July.
So, what are you doing now that you’re back in Canada?
I'm doing my Master's of Education and working as a fitness instructor in Toronto.
What was the biggest adjustment for you to make when you returned to Canada from your time in London?
I LOVE travel and it was hard for me to be stuck in one place. In London, I literally spent every penny I made travelling and took every opportunity to explore and visit new places. Since I'm a student, I'm not making any money, so don't have an income to spend on adventure!! But, I've enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with the people I missed while I was away!

How do you think your experience teaching in London influenced your job hunt in Canada?
I actually was just hired as a full-time teacher (high school Phys. Ed. and Outdoor Ed.) in BC, so having the year of experience definitely helped!! Having one year of teaching experience was also a requirement for my Master's program, so the year in London really helped me.
What skills did you gain from your experience teaching in London?
I'm a pretty laid-back and flexible person, but being in London taught me to just "go with the flow." Especially when I did daily supply teaching, I was often thrown into situations completely unprepared. This has made me so much less stressed about my upcoming teaching position, which I'll actually be able to plan ahead for. I also taught many subjects that were out of my comfort zone (ie. Drama), but found that I actually was quite good at it. I think being a Phys. Ed. teacher, I'm used to a bit of "controlled chaos" and active games, so was able to apply these experiences to the drama class. I guess my experience in London taught me to be open to new experiences and opportunities that I may have not anticipated.
What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?
I would suggest having a bit of money saved up. I did not. I actually spent the summer backpacking in Alaska before moving to London, so my London funds were very minimal. I survived and got through it, which was part of the adventure, but it definitely made it very stressful at first. If I were to do it again, I'd probably would have worked the summer before coming.
Describe your best memory from teaching and living in London.
My best memory in London was when my position ended at one school, a group of Year 7s were so upset (I'd started up a basketball club at the school) that they started a petition to keep me at the school and gave it to the headteacher. I cried. It was cute.
Would you do it again and why (or why not)?
Yes, I would definitely do it again. I learned alot about myself and travelled to 20 countries in one year!!!

What piece of advice do you have for our Canadian teachers who will be returning to Canada from London soon?
Make the most of your time there and see as much as you can. Like I said, I maxed out all financial resources before returning to had to sleep on my brother's couch when I got home until I saved up enough rent money...but you are there for the experience! Make the most of it. It will all work out in the end!!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I absolutely loved my time in London. It is an amazing city. There were definitely ups and downs, especially in the classroom, but I came out of the experience as a stronger teacher and person.

Thanks, Shannon!

We are currently interviews teachers who would like to work in London starting in October 2011 & January 2012. 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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