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
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Canadians & Americans in the UK blog

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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