Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Changes to Classroom Canada's Website

We've made a few changes to our website & blog and wanted to let you know about them first.  I'd love your feedback & advice as well!

The website now includes the blog - which is the way most websites are now.  When I started this blog in 2008, I set it up on blogger, simply because I started with them with my personal blogs in 2005.  So it was easy for me to navigate the site, figure out how to post & include photos, videos, links, etc.  But now the thinking is that everything should be easy to access, in one clean site. 

I don't know about you, but my online experience is feeling uber-cluttered these days. Facebook, google+, twitter, blogger, wordpress, ebooks, websites... I can't keep up!  But more than anything, I find myself wanting one good clean space, where I can find what I need and don't have to click all over the place.

So - enter  It's a work in progress, but it's cleaner anyway.  You can head over there, find the blog within the site & see what it is we do.  I suspect I'll change the template (the look of the site), but the content itself should be better than our previous site. 

What we do is fairly simple - we recruit Canadian teachers to work in schools in London, England.  But there are so many teaching agencies these days, it's hard for teachers to figure out what's so different about each agency.  I think our Coffee Time interviews show what we're about better than anything I've written, and they haven't quite made their way to the new website yet.  It's going to be a long move over as I have to literally bring each post in.  I might publish the series of interviews with our teachers as an ebook and give each of the teachers a hard copy.  But we'll see how much time I have.  It's an ambitious project!

What do you think?  Any changes you'd like to see?  Please share your two pence below.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How to Teach Students with Autism - part 2

Earlier this month, we posted a topic on How to Teach Students with Autism.

As always, our fabulous teachers working in London, UK sent us a few more ideas for other resources to check out. I wanted to make sure they were posted here for everyone to see.

- - The story of a teenage girl from Toronto who, although unable to communicate via her mouth, is learning to communicate via her computer.

A video of her story is below, or you can follow her via
twitter -!/CarlysVoice/lists.

Dr. Temple Grandin - - Dr. Grandin is a noted autistic who is an author, speaker, cited expert in many publications and video producer. This site share her personal story as well as information and resources about autism.

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, September 20, 2011

What's the UK Curriculum and How do I Teach it?

In a recent blog post, we posted "survival tips" for our Canadian and American teachers who are beginning their teaching careers in London, England this September.

We solicited advice from our current teachers about what they might tell a first year teacher to survive the year abroad and one more important thought came in after the post went up:

Sam: Expect to do some research on how the curriculum all fits together. Keyword to google: national curriculum, primary framework, Early years foundation stage.
We do get this question a lot - "How does the Canadian curriculum differ from the UK curriculum?" When preparing to teach in London, one of your first steps should be to examine the National Curriculum. So, from the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians, here is a simple explanation of the UK National Curriculum for Canadian & American teachers.

National Curriculum applies to pupils of compulsory school age in community and foundation schools, including community special schools and foundation special schools, and voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools. It’s different from anything you’ve probably been exposed to in Canada, but it works.

It is organized on the basis of four key stages:

key stage 1:
Ages 5-7 (Years 1-2)

key stage 2:
Ages 7-11 (Years 3-6)

key stage 3:
Ages 11-14 (Years 7-9)

key stage 4:
Ages 14-16 (Years 10-11).

At key stages 1 and 2 all pupils must study Art and Design, Design and Technology, English, Geography, History, Information and Communication Technology, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Science and Religious education.

Like I said, it’s a little different.

Students in Key Stages 3 & 4 must study Citizenship, English, Information and Communication Technology, Mathematics, Physical Education, Science, Careers Education, Sex Education, Work-Related Learning and Religious Education.

The curriculum also includes non-mandatory programmes of study for Personal Well Being (which includes the requirements for sex and relationships and drugs education) and Economic Well Being and Financial Capability (which includes the requirements for careers education.)

And then there are “Entitlement Areas” (which are basically what we would call electives) that Key 4 students get to choose from – the Fine Arts, Design and Technology, Humanities (Geography and History) and Foreign Languages.

This all sounds daunting, I know. But no one expects you to have memorized all this – just be familiar with it. And the great thing about teaching under the UK curriculum? Most of your lessons are already planned! That’s right, no more frantic Sunday nights spent coming up with unit plans! It’s all done for you. You need to adapt the lessons for your class though.

A Note on Religious Education (RE)

One thing you will notice right away in London is the inclusion of religion in the public school curriculum.

Canada doesn’t really teach religion, and if anything we avoid discussions about religion in our public school system. In the UK, the approach to this controversy is to teach the students from a very young age about all major world religions. It is a part of the national curriculum and you will have to teach it if you are a primary school teacher.

For example, in my Year 5 Class, we did a unit on Hinduism that lasted 3 weeks. If you’re a secondary school teacher then you will need to understand that your students have been taught all about religions. It will be a part of the school assemblies, and you’re expected to know some basics about world religions.

To see the National Curriculum online and look at specific subjects, see this
web site:

If you'd like to become part of the
Classroom Canada team, please sign up for our newsletters & apply through our website. Be sure to read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians to help you understand everything you need to know about teaching in London.

We are currently accepting applications for teaching positions beginning January 2012.

Send your cover letter and resume to: apply[AT]classroomcanada[DOT]com

Monday, September 19, 2011

10 Myths about Teaching in London

This blog was originally posted in July 2008 and again on February 2009. With several thousand new readers and applicants since then, we figured we should re-post it. We hope it helps you in your research into teaching in London, England.

1. It's beneficial to sign up with lots of agencies.
A common misconception with teaching in London is that signing up with a plethora of agencies will guarantee you a steady stream of work and multiple opportunities for long term placements. The reality is, supply agencies are looking for loyal and reliable teachers with whom they can form strong working relationships. The more agencies you sign up with, the more you show that you lack confidence in your teaching capability and in the agency's ability to find you a job. If you are looking to supply teach, then by all means keep yourself covered by joining two agencies, BUT don't expect either agency to bend over backwards for you, because they will have a bank of other teachers that are working exclusively with them and those teachers are seen as more dependable than you. Try to put yourself in their shoes. It's not Canada. They have a teacher shortage, not a job shortage. They call the first teacher they know is available to them and them only; the first teacher to answer the phone is the one to get the job. Just remember - it’s important not to underestimate the importance of your teacher-agency relationship – it’s a valuable commodity!

2. It's advantageous to lie to the different agencies, so you get the best deal.
Sadly, this happens all the time. Some teachers show up in London, move into the agency's accommodations, make friends with their teachers (and have an instant community) and then turn around and work through another agency. The teachers who do this just want to get as much as they can from wherever they can. Frankly, its bad form. Choose your agency carefully, and if you're not confident that they can find you a job and help you in your transition to London, then politely tell them and find another one.

I have also experienced teachers who lie about their rate of pay in order to strike the best deal for themselves. I recall an Australian teacher who was keen to register but for a rate of 145 pounds per day. When asked what experience she had, she replied "None, but I'm Australian and I know another company that will pay me 145 just for that!" To this, I secretly giggled, because that simply isn't true and it's commercially unethical to pay people more based on their nationality. So, she walked out and searched for that elusive company that would pay her more just because she's Aussie. Well good luck to her. Very simply, pay comes down to your experience and flexibility as a teacher – be suspicious of anyone that tells you otherwise!

3. The kids are horrible.
Yes, the teaching is hard. It's different than teaching in Canada. But they're still kids. And if you think that the "kids are horrible in London," then perhaps you should a) consider a career other than teaching or b) do some research on why the behaviour of the children is different than you're used to. The kids behave in ways that we're not used to, but that doesn't make them horrible. 95% of the kids I taught were not from England originally. They were from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia (particularly Bangladesh & India) and across Europe. If you think that makes for "horrible kids" then London isn't for you. Neither is Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or Ottawa for that matter.

4. Teaching in the outskirts is better (aka easier) and you save more money than in the centre of London.
Ah this one is fun to de-bunk. There are a lot of agencies that now specialize in bringing Canadians over to the "outskirts" of London. They know that's where there is a serious shortage of teachers, so they can place Canadians into jobs fairly easily. And if you're in the outskirts, you won't know any better.

Well, where better to hear the reality than from the horse’s mouth. At the time, prior to arriving in London, my thought pattern went, "Well, I just want a job. I'll go anywhere. I don't want to go all the way to England and not have secured a long-term job. What if I don't get enough work? It's only 30 minutes into the city. It'll be fine."

Boy was I wrong. The image of the suburbs that a movie like The Holiday may portray will undoubtedly not match up to the kind of suburbs that an agency may send you to. ‘The Holiday’ is set in Surrey. - the middle-upper class outskirts that, for sure don't have a shortage of teachers. Why would they? What a pretty wonderful place to live and work. So, remove those rose-tinted specs, turn the image of the Holiday on it's head, and NOW you have the kind of outskirts towards which your agency may be enticing you. My advice? Think very carefully about where you want to be.

Having lived in the outskirts for several months and felt at times, both isolated and unsafe, I eventually made the move to London and didn’t look back. The highlight for me was being placed in the inner city schools & working with kids from around the world. I lived downtown and in North London (Islington, Finsbury Park area) and loved every minute of it. I made the same amount of money, paid the same in rent but had so many more weekend options on my plate than just visiting the local mall. Theatres, Museums, Galleries, Parks, you name it, I did it.

On the matter of money - sure I spent more living in a central location, but for me that was a compromise I was happy to make. If you’re thinking of coming to London to teach and "save money" I'd advise you re-think – if money is your goal go to Asia and teach ESL. It is worth mentioning however, that whilst living in London for those three years, I did pay off $15 000 of my student loans. Not bad considering I was out on the town every weekend, travelled various destinations across Europe and lived a darn good life by Canadian standards.

5. You should always go with the agency that pays you the most money no matter what.

Well, you can do that of course. But first, think hard about why that agency may be offering you such attractive rates? Quite often, and through experience it can be because the agency are compensating for the terrible schools they’re planning to send you to (it’s just that they don’t tell you that). It’s a good idea to talk to other teachers registered through that agency and see what they have to say. And don't just take the names & numbers of teachers the agency give you. Do some real digging & find the teachers they don't want you to talk to. They'll give you their story, and if they're making 10 pounds more per day and they're still not happy with the company, well there’s your answer. If you decide to join up with Classroom Canada, sign up to the exclusive network we offer – a great way to swap stories, experiences and general ‘London info’ with other teachers in the same boat as you.

6. All agencies claim to offer new teachers support in setting-up, but no agencies follow through.

Sadly, this is often true, but not always. Again, quiz other teachers working through particular agencies what level of support their agency provided on their arrival. If they say they helped with accommodation, does that mean providing the link to a property search website that they recommend, or actually allocating them an apartment to live in? These are two very different versions of offering ‘support’ so it's important that you clarify in advance exactly what assistance they can provide you with.

7. Agencies make a killing off your salary.

Agencies are businesses, and naturally will be making money from placing you into schools – that’s what they do. However, the following guide to approximately what rates you can expect upon registration will ensure that you have a benchmark to follow should you be offered an either unusually high or unusually low rate at any point. Rates of pay can vary from £120 per day to £150 per day dependant on experience and the nature of role that you may be applying for. The vast majority of agencies in London will pay between £120-£125 per day for an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) and possibly more for newly qualified Secondary teachers if their subjects are in demand (Science or Technology for example). Rates can also vary between positions – generally speaking long-term roles will pay higher than day to day, and class teacher roles will yield more than floating PPA (Preparation, Planning & Assessment positions). Money aside, it’s just as crucial to focus on the service the agency provide. Are you as the teacher just another number in a database, or do the consultants make the effort to get to know you, build a strong working relationship with you, and thus be better equipped to secure the right job for you? Agencies have long-standing relationships with schools that trust their judgements on teachers, so it’s worth your while registering with a company that are ready to listen to what you actually want.

You could always try to get a job without an agency, and you might succeed. The problem is that you will then make about 5000 pounds ($10 000 Canadian) less per year because the school will have to pay you as an "Overseas Qualified Teacher".

8. Teaching in London is great because you can like, totally just slack off.

Thankfully, I've only heard this a few times. I won't bother explaining it, because it's obvious to a good teacher that this isn't true.

9. The British education system is horrible. Why would you want to teach there?

Unless you can understand the history and the cultural context for the teaching system the UK have in place, this is an unfair judgement to make. I have found that most foreign teachers arriving in London make a whole host of comparisons to what they know "back home", which is only natural of course. A year or so into their UK teaching career, they begin to develop an understanding for the reasons the system exists as it does because it’s better than the other options. This one is complicated, so I'll write another blog entry at a later date to explain the differences between the Canadian and the UK education system.

10. London is far too expensive to live there. You must be stupid to even consider it.

This is a comment often made by people who have travelled through London en-route to another destination. They show up with Canadian dollars and complain that a cup of coffee costs $8! Well, yes if you are using Canadian dollars. If not, it cost 4 pounds. Just like a Starbucks coffee in Canada costs $4, a Starbucks coffee in London costs 4 pounds. So earn pounds. And life is good again.

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, September 15, 2011

Coffee Time with Classroom Canada - Taylor (Nipissing)

Name: Taylor MacIntosh

University: Nipissing University

Subjects: Geography & Psychology (Bachelor of Arts) and Junior/ Intermediate – Geography (Bachelor of Education)

Ages you teach:

I am qualified to teach Junior/Intermediate in Canada, but since being in London I have taught reception (JK) to Year (Grade) 11. Something I really enjoyed about supply teaching, is the range of classes, ages, locations and types of schools you got to experience throughout the week.

How long have you been teaching in London?

I have been teaching in London for just over a year – I cannot believe it! It has gone by so quickly.

What do you teach?

I am teaching at a Special Needs School for children with severe learning disabilities (SLD). The individuals in my class have been diagnosed with being on the Autism Spectrum (ASD). This is my second school year at this school.

Why did you choose to work with Classroom Canada?

I chose to work with Classroom Canada because I felt like they had a genuine interest in ensuring I had an easy transition from Canada to London; they always made themselves available to offer advice, and lay things out in a very straight-forward manner. I also found the other agencies placed their teachers in the outskirts of London, and I wanted to be right in the centre of the hustle and bustle of the city!

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

I came from a small town in Northern Ontario to Central London - the dynamics of everything are much different to say the least. If you had asked me this question prior to September, it would be behaviour management. Now, with having my own class and it being special needs, which means I have several assistants, it would no longer be behaviour management of the children, but the management of the adults. I have been fortunate to have fabulous team members, but I still find it extremely challenging delegating tasks and managing other adults.

Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.

I wake up at 6 am, have breakfast and prepare myself for the day leaving my building around 7 am to catch the tube to my magical little school. I usually arrive around 8 and the children arrive at 9.15 am. This gives me time to sort out the class and have tea with my colleagues. The children leave school at 3.30 pm and I leave at 6 pm – there is a lot of preparation that I am unable to do at home. I usually get home at about 7.30 pm and often as I walk into the building the incredible Classroom Canada teachers I have met in London are all heading to the pub for a pint, to the park to play or go for a rollerblade around the city. After the pint I go home and do some planning and chatting to friends and family back home!

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

I definitely suggest to anyone that is thinking of making the ‘leap across the pond’ to do it! It is an absolutely incredible – once in a lifetime – opportunity that you will not regret! It is definitely not for everyone, but if you are an easygoing, spontaneous individual looking for an adventure then definitely come on over!!

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

With teaching there is never a dull moment and hilarious things are always happening… This is one of many things I have found myself busting up while in the classroom about… It was in my class last year and a child was getting a little too ‘excited’ and needed to calm down before he hurt someone or himself so I told him he needed to move himself to red (he was already on yellow) and calm down with the 5-minute timer. I went into the group room (where he was sitting) and he was still not listening so my mentor suggested for him to miss swimming. I asked her if he could sit in her office while we went to swimming, but she thought if I brought books for him he would sit on the edge of the pool with me and she told me to push the button to call her down if I needed any assistance.

The child was sitting on the edge and reading until the other children went into the pool at which point he looked up and me and said “I swim.” I told him, “well, you were not listening, so no swimming today.” He then leaped up off the bench, said “YES I SWIM TODAY!” and leaped into the swimming pool with all of his clothes on! I then pushed the button to call the senior staff member and when she arrived he was dripping with water saying “why would I do that… WHY would I jump into the pool with my clothes on”… Oh, children, as I said, never a dull moment!

Describe the worst thing:

As I said, I began teaching in London as a cover teacher which brought a lot of challenges, especially as a new teacher in a new country. I don’t necessarily think the experiences I had were ‘bad’ but I like to look at them as learning opportunities. On my first day of supply I walked into an all girls school in Brixton and two little girls had ice packs on their face because they had just had a tousle so I wasn’t sure what I was in for. Later that day while I was handing out maple leaf stickers to the year 10 girls, one told me she couldn’t accept it because she was going to ‘bomb my country one day’. That was a bit unsettling, but I just thought of it as her way of testing me or getting my attention.

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

Classroom has been an absolutely incredible agency to work for while in London; they are very helpful, genuine and honest. I forwarded them my CV and they sent it out to the schools they felt I would get on well with. They also kept me well informed with regards to potential positions and interviews and feedback from schools. They always make themselves available for you to chat about whatever your concern may be. Classroom offers professional development workshops throughout the school year that I have found very useful as well. All-in-all it’s a great agency to work for!

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

I am a patient, easygoing and spontaneous person so I think those characteristics are a good recipe for an enjoyable time in London. If you are an adventurer you will absolutely enjoy everything London has to offer from the park, travel, and pubs, to the life changing experiences you will have in the classroom!

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
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, September 13, 2011

How to Teach Students With Autism

I love the above video.  Do you know of any other videos that will help teachers work with students with autism?

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, September 8, 2011

Teaching Abroad? 11 Tips to Survive for First Year Teaching Abroad

Classroom Canada works with Canadian & American teachers in London, England, but "survival tips" for surviving your first year could be applied to any teacher working abroad.

I asked our teachers on facebook what advice they can offer a first year teacher to survive the year abroad and they replied:
Krystal: Be open to teaching opportunities outside of your normal 'comfort zone'- you may stumble upon your niche like I did :)
Kaari: Something that I did a lot of (and still sometimes do) not compare teaching in the UK to teaching in Canada....they are totally different!!! I STILL catch myself saying it wouldnt be like this back home....or this would never happen back home...
Taylor: ‎"Keep calm and carry on"... "Pick and choose your battles" and definitely what Krystal said - try everything...
Dawn: Go to the pub.
Lindsay: Make light of any situation, because well, I won't lie, it's tough sometimes. Don't foget to laugh!
I'm going to add a few more here, although I do love the ones above (especially Dawn's very honest answer!):
  • Don't forget what you love. If you love knitting, knit. If you love going to the gym, then find one & join it.  If you love dancing, dance! It's simple, but it's something that new teachers abroad often forget. Don't forget what you love & do it.
  • Plan your travels.  You will have a lot more holidays and opportunities to travel so live it up! Go to as many new places as you can, and get off the beaten track.  Your teaching will be better for it, plus you'll have more funny stories to share.
  • Get a skype account.  Or oovoo. Or Google+. I'm always surprised when teachers don't have skype accounts, and most of the teachers we interview don't have them already.  When you move to teach overseas, you will want to connect with your friends & family. Skype, oovoo, google+, whatever site you prefer.  Figure it out & spread the word to your friends & family so they can connect with you.
  • Start a blog.  Loads of teachers start blogs when they move abroad but don't keep them up.  A blog is a lot like a journal or diary, and you can choose to keep it private, open it up to a few of your friends, or just have it be wide open like this one.  It's best to commit to blogging and  book time to update it, otherwise it's easy to forget and will quickly become a task rather than a pleasure.  Having a record of your adventures, a place to post your photos & videos, and a place for your friends to comment is pretty cool. Yes, facebook can do this too - but a blog allows you to write or vlog about your experience too!  And you can even publish your blog as a book when you're all done. 
  • Don't forget that you're a person first, a teacher second.  Teach, teach hard, teach better - but remember to take time out for you.
Any others?  What advice would you tell a teacher who is moving overseas for the first time? Or, what advice would you give a new teacher no matter where they are?

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, September 6, 2011

Jobs for American Teachers in London, England: Interviews Along the West Coast of America

Classroom America is hitting the road again.  This time, we're driving from Seattle to Los Angeles and taking in a few places along the way, including San Francisco and possibly Portland.  The dates will be posted next week, but we know the trip will be from September 15-21st at least.

We'll be interviewing American teachers who want to teach in London, England as soon as November 2011 and January 2012.  Unfortunately, we're unable to obtain visas for American teachers, so the only teachers we can interview will have:
For experience & skills, American teachers need to have college/university degrees that allow them to teach in their home state.  This is not the same as teaching university students, but a specific teaching degree for teaching in primary and secondary schools.  The UK allows you to teach on your home teaching degree for up to 4 years before you need to obtain your British Qualified Teacher Status.  

We are specifically looking for American teachers to work as:
  • Primary Teachers (aka Elementary School Teachers) to teach Reception (aka Kindergarten) to Year 6 (Grade 6).
  • Secondary Teachers (aka High School Teachers) to teach all subjects. We have more needs for teachers who can teach science, math, ICT, design & technology, physical education, English and Humanities
  • Special Educational Needs Teachers - for mild learning disabilities, severe learning disabilities & emotional & behavioural difficulties.
The interview dates will be posted next week, so if you're eligible and live in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco or Los Angeles (or near enough to those cities to come in for an interview), please submit your resume & cover letter explaining why you want to teach in London to apply AT classroomcanada DOT com.

Due to the large volume of applications we receive, we're unable to respond to every application. If we think it's unclear how you will be able to legally work in the UK, you won't receive a response.  Best thing to do is make it very clear that you know what you need to do to work there. It's not enough to be American!  If you're not sure, see the link:

We're really excited to do this road trip, and meet the incredible teachers along the way.  Don't delay - get your application in right away. 

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. 


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