Monday, April 2, 2012

What's it really like to teach in London, England?

Coffee Time with Jonathan

From small town Nova Scotia to London, England

Who is successful in their teaching in London? I've said it a million times, and I'll say it again: the most successful teachers and TA's are positive thinkers. They see every challenge as an opportunity to grow, expand and explore. They love learning, life and laughter. They carry on doing what they love most in their free time, whether it be playing rugby, swing dancing or jogging along the Thames River.

Jonathan hails from Nova Scotia and taught in Korea and Canada before moving to teach in London with Classroom Canada. We first published this interview a couple of years ago, when Jonatha had first arrived in London. He stayed for a couple of years and loved it!

Name: Jonathan Bartlett
University: University of Maine at Presque Isle
Subjects: Elementary Education
Ages You Teach: Key Stage 1 and 2 (aka K-6)

How long have you been teaching in London?

I have been teaching here for just over a month.
What do you teach? 

I teach elementary, which are called primary schools here, and have a particular focus on key stage 2 (grades 3-6). I have been lucky enough to teach every year level at multiple primary schools in London so far. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed teaching every level from reception to year 6.
Why did you choose to work with Classroom Canada?
I chose Classroom Canada because I felt like I was being treated as a unique individual. Some companies simply view you as another cog in the wheel and do not take the time to converse on a personal level. Any correspondence before I departed for London, via email or phone conversation, was helpful and I felt like I was being recognized for my individual characteristics as a teacher. I also like that Classroom Canada focuses on teaching in London, whereas other agencies will try to convince you that teaching in a small rural town is the way to go. I cannot imagine living anywhere else in England rather than central London.
What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
My teaching in Canada has been, for the most part, in smaller towns and suburbs. London is a vibrant and extremely diverse city. I would say the biggest adjustment, and also the greatest source for potential growth as a teacher here, is understanding the issues that inner-city London students deal with everyday. Obviously, behaviour management in London and Canadian schools is different. This is nothing new. The main thing I try to do, even as a daily supply teacher, is attempt to understand where each student is coming from. This can make a world of difference in your classroom environment.
Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.
I wake up around 6:30am, head to the tube station and enjoy a cozy train ride to the school I am with for that day. Finish teaching around 3:30pm and head for home. Go to the gym for a workout or a swim and then home for a nice dinner and conversation with the people from all walks of life that live in my building. Friday evenings are spent socializing at the local pub with fellow teachers and locals, aged 20 to 77, that we have befriended.
What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?
I would suggest being yourself yet also being very open to new ideas and teaching styles. Go with the flow of life in London and within the schools you are teaching with. Remember you are not in Canada anymore and things are bound to be different, sometimes drastically different. Then again, that's why I think most of us are here.
Describe the funniest thing that's happened to you in your year so far:
After telling a year five class that I am from Canada, a girl with a puzzled look on her face says, "Sir, I'm confused. How can you be Canadian if you have an American accent and Australian hair?"
Describe the worst thing:
I have been lucky and haven't had to deal with any really negative situations in any schools or with life in London so far. "The only difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude." Difficult to swallow at times but it works for me.
What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
I plan to stay with Classroom Canada as long as I am teaching in London. Since I arrived, the staff at the London office have been more than helpful and a pleasure to work with. Whenever I speak with them, even at 7:00am on a Monday morning, they are cheerful and eager to get me in a class for that day and for every day that week. I really feel as though they take pride in their work and go out of their way to find great schools that are a good fit for me. That's what I think sets them apart from other agencies.
Resources for Teaching in London
Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
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1 comment:

Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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