Monday, July 30, 2012

Great Resource for Teaching History

Here's a 2 minute video that covers the history of earth & humanity with still photographs and some pretty powerful music.  This would make an excellent introduction to a history class, and could be used as a sample for students to see imagery & its emotional effects.

Hope you are all enjoying the London Olympics!  We're busy getting teachers ready for teaching in London this upcoming September, but still managing to keep the Olympics on our radar.

PS) The video above was made by a high school student! Amazing.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Awesome Summer Olympics Printables for Kids

Summer's officially here now that the London Olympics are starting.  For teachers with kids in their lives in the summer, here is an awesome resource that I just stumbled across: Tinyme Games Printables

We're doing the Opening Ceremonies Bingo tonight with my nieces & nephews and a few family friends who are coming over to watch the games. I figure the best way to keep the kids involved is to actually give them activities to engage them during the tv time (otherwise, they'll be running around driving the adults nuts!).

Have fun watching the ceremonies everyone!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

120 of the Best Resources to Prepare to Teach in London, England

Here are my 120 favourite resources to help Canadian (and any other foreign) teachers prepare to teach in London, England:
*please note: I've updated this post for our new readers. The original was published in 2009.

  1. Youth Mobility Scheme (formally known as the Working Holiday Maker Visa) is for Canadians under the age of 31. This visa allows you to work in the UK for 2 years.
  2. UK Ancestry Visa is for Canadians with parents or grandparents who were born in the UK. This visa allows you to work in the UK for 5 years.
  3. Highly Skilled Migrant Visa is for everyone who doesn't fit into the top 2 categories and is considerably harder to get. Check to see if you qualify by going to the site.
  4. EU passport - if you have an EU passport then you shouldn't need a visa.
  5. Canuck Abroad - UK Visas and Immigration Discussion Forum - ask for advice and share your own.
  1. How to Find an Apartment in London
  2. A Canadian Teacher Does Research on Areas of London
  3. HostelBookers - hands down, the best online place to book hostels anywhere in Europe
  4. Gumtree - Do not, I repeat, DO NOT send any money to anyone to reserve an apartment through a gumtree listing. There are plenty of professional scam artists on there who say they have apartments, take your deposit and you never see it again. One of my teachers lost $1300 by doing exactly that. But, still look at the site to see what is available.
  5. Moving2London - 2 Aussies write about moving to London, England.
  6. MovingtoLondon - TNT magazine is a paper magazine in London for Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans (no, they don't really include us Canadians or Americans! Not sure why not...). This website is their primer on moving to London and where to live.
  7. Where to Live in London - brief explanations about the areas of London
  8. UK Easy Roommate - You can find a flatmate through this site. I've never used it though so can't say if it works well or not.
  9. Spareroom - Again, just like #8.
  10. Chard - There are literally hundreds of letting agents that will help you find an apartment, but I only recommend Chard because I used them to find my amazing little flat in Notting Hill for 100 pounds/week. They are young, hip and in great areas of London so you can't really go wrong.
Bank Accounts & Money
  1. How to Open a UK Bank Account
  2. Insert "Catchy Title About London & Money" here - one of our teachers tells it like it is.
  3. XE Currency - check the exchange rate here
  4. My Key - register with Key to pay less in taxes, and claim back some of your expenses (flight, rent, travel etc).
  5. Canuck Abroad - online discussion about opening UK bank account
  6. Cost of Living in London
  7. Cost of Living in London & the UK
  8. How Much Do Things Cost in London? An award winning junior school explains the costs of living in London.
  9. More about how much things cost in London
  10. Ryan Air - okay, this is an airline and really doesn't fit in with this section, but after 9 posts about money I wanted to show you how ridiculously cheap it is to fly within Europe. Go on, check it out. I bet you can find a flight a penny.
  1. Cheap Flights to London, England
  2. Air Canada - most luggage and most pricey way to get to London.
  3. Air Transat - least luggage but cheap.
  4. Flight Centre - travel agents, well known, good but watch the adverts as they tend to mislead.
  5. Travel Cuts - known for student travel, but ask them if they have any teacher discounts. I love these guys and tend to book through them even though I haven't been a student in over 5 years.
  6. Canadian Affair - specialists in booking flights between the UK and Canada.
  7. Ryan Air - Cheap flights within Europe. You get what you pay for though! Kind of like taking the greyhound bus rather than Via rail. But you can't complain when you get a flight for a penny (I am the queen of the penny flights!).
  8. British Airways - expensive but good. Lots of luggage room.
  9. Easy Jet - Ryan Air's competition.
  10. Kayak - good for comparing flights, particularly from the states. If you live near the border with the US, it is better to fly from America to England to save money.
Resources for the Classroom
  1. TES - the Times Educational Supplement online forum for educators to share resources.
  2. Sites for Teachers
  3. Canteach - Canadian teaching resources
  4. BBC for Teachers
  5. TeacherNet - free teaching resources for the UK
  6. Lesson Plans - more resources for any classroom
  7. Staples - online store for buying resources (don't buy too much! You won't need it in London)
  8. Scholars Choice Teachers Store - same as above, don't buy too much stuff!
  9. Free Stuff for Canadian Teachers
  10. Smile Makers Canada - this is where I get cheap Canadian stickers and maps for my teaching.
Primary Supply Teaching
  1. How to Survive Supply Teaching in London
  2. TES online resource sharing for Primary Teaching
  3. Primary Supply Teachers - practical tips video
  4. Primary Supply Teachers - covering the basics, video.
  5. TeacherNet - primary supply teaching & how to be successful.
  6. A Simple Guide to Supply Teaching
  7. How to Survive Your First Week as a Supply Teacher - good tips from a fellow blogging teacher.
  8. TES Supply Teaching Survival Guide
  9. Tips from the Behaviour Advisor
  10. Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians - by Victoria Westcott (that's me!)
Secondary Supply Teaching
  1. TES - Supply Teachers Survival Guide
  2. Tips from the Behaviour Advisor
  3. Behaviour Management & Secondary School Teaching
  4. TES - resources section, for every subject
  5. Secondary Supply Teaching Video - Running for Cover
  6. Secondary Supply Teaching Video - A Day in the Life
  7. Teacher Net - videos re supply teaching in secondary schools
  8. Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians - by Victoria Westcott (that's me!)
  9. What Makes a Good Supply Teacher? - former Head Teacher shares his advice.
  10. Diary of a School Supply Teacher - from the BBC in 2004.
IWB (aka Interactive Whiteboards, aka Smart Boards)
  1. Teaching with Interactive Whiteboards (Aka Smart Boards)
  2. Smart Board Lessons Podcast - facebook group about using smart boards
  3. Stumble Upon, Interactive White Boards & You Tube: How to use technology in the classroom
  4. Mind Maps & Interactive White Boards
  5. Online Resource Sharing for IWBs
  6. MA research into IWBs - online forum
  7. Primary ICT - Creating a Whiteboard Lesson video
  8. Primary ICT - top tips for teachers
  9. Primary ICT - advanced whiteboard tips
  10. ICT for the Non-Specialist
  1. Teaching in the UK: Assessment for Learning Explained
  2. Teachers TV: Videos about Assessment for Learning
  3. Beyond the Black Box - information about assessment in the UK, dense but good.
  4. TES online forum about assessment in the UK
  5. Teachers Banned from Using Red Ink - a funny blog post about this issue.
  6. BC government explains AFL
  7. AFL by Anne Davies - good, clean website about using AFL
  8. Classroom Assessment for Student Learning - textbook, expensive but good for the person who prefers books over reading online.
  9. Assessment for Learning: Putting it into Practice - again, textbook.
  10. An Introduction to Student Involved AFL - textbook.
Canadiana in London
  1. Canada Shop - in Covent Garden. They support our Classroom Canada Scavenger Hunt so please do visit them & buy your KD and PB there!
  2. Network Canada - a business & social group for Canadians in London.
  3. Classroom Canada on facebook.
  4. Classroom Canada - recruitment company for Canadian teachers with jobs in London, England (that's us!)
  5. Maple Leaf Pub - in Covent Garden, our one and only Canadian pub in London, owned by a Londoner and really, not as good as it was 10-20 years ago. But hey, they show hockey and have poutine.
  6. Canuck Abroad - Canadians in the UK online forum
  7. Canada House - Canadian High Commission in London
  8. Where to get Tim Horton's in London
  9. Living in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians - essential reading! Written by Network Canada.
  10. Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians
Online resources – for the technically inclined
  1. Delicious - the place to store all your bookmarks online so you can find your favourite sites from any computer and share with others. This means you can leave your paper at home!
  2. Squidoo - check out our squidoo page where we share resources.
  3. Stumble Upon - a great way to surf the web with specific key words
  4. Facebook - the best way to keep in touch with your family & friends and brag about all your travels.
  5. Twitter - follow teachers as they tweet about teaching in London. Create your own twitter page & share your thoughts & resources.
Behaviour Management
  1. Behaviour Management in London Schools
  2. Behaviour Management in London Schools Part 2
  3. Behaviour Management: What Secondary School Teachers Can Learn from Primary Teachers
  4. Behaviour Management Advice from 1947, video.
  5. How will you get the meanest, nastiest kid in your class to listen to you?
  6. Music in the Classroom
  7. Teachers TV - 118 videos on behaviour management in UK schools.
  8. TES - online forum about behaviour in UK schools.
  9. Behaviour Advisor - old school web design but if you can get past that, the site is really good.
  10. Assertive Discipline: Positive Behaviour Management in Today's Classroom - great book.

 10 Books Teachers Should Read Before Moving to the UK

  1. Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians by Victoria Westcott (that's me!) 110 page ebook filled with everything you could possibly want to know about teaching in London, England.
  2. Living in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians by Network Canada My book (#1) is about teaching in London as a Canadian, and this book is about moving to London as a Canadian. Combined, they are the 2 most important books you will read before you depart for teaching in the UK, and specifically for London.
  3. Time Out London I just picked up a cheap copy from Costco and highly recommend it. The Time Out is a weekly magazine that Londoners read to keep their social calendars filled. It's a valuable resource to say the least! The Time Out guide books are very good, geared towards a young & professional crowd and light enough to carry in your purse or bag.
  4. Frommer's London Day by Day This was another good Costco find. Cheap ($7.99), light and with a good pull out map. Well worth the money.
  5. Any book by Lee & Marlene Canter - the Canters write books about Assertive Discipline, a behaviour management approach that is becoming more & more popular in London schools.
  6. Any book by Nick Hornby - Nick Hornby is a London fiction writer and wrote Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, About a Boy, A Long Way Down, How to be Good, and more. He tends to be enjoyed by men & women alike, and I've lived in one of the neighbourhoods he describes in A Long Way Down. It's great to read novels set in London!
  7. A Small Island by Andrea Levi - What a great read! If you want to know more about Jamaican-Londoners and enjoy novels, this one is the perfect book for you. I loved it, and can't recommend it enough.
  8. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson An easy, light, comical read.
  9. Confessions of a Shopoholic by Sophie Kinsella. It's set in London. It makes the list because everyone needs a good light read every once in a while. Bridget Jones Diary is another good light read based in London of course. Now, before the male teachers think I'm just being silly, keep in mind that Nick Hornby is the male equivalent here. ;-)
  10. The Guardian Book Club - not one book, but many. You can follow along and read one book a month, and listen to the podcasts as well. When you are actually living in London, you can join the bookclub and get invited to meet the authors and participate in discussions. With wine ta'boot! I met Margaret Atwood and Zadie Smith. Very cool!
Do you know of any others? Please share below! Also, please let me know if any of these links are broken. Thanks!

Monday, July 23, 2012

How to Survive Your Absolute Worst Teaching Day Ever

This is my 600th blog post about teaching in London from a Canadian perspective. I really can't believe I've written so much! So to honour the new readers of this little blog, I've decided to visit some of the older blog posts that are still relevant & useful for Canadian teachers moving to London, England.

This particular post could actually help teachers working anywhere in the world, as we've all had bad days! One thing about teaching that we know to be true: we've all been there.

Read on for my tips & tricks on how to survive your absolute worst teaching day ever: 

We've all had those days.

And if you haven't yet, be sure it's coming.

You've lost control of your class. Your students are going crazy in the classroom - fighting, throwing things, listening to not a single word you say. You feel like you've lost all authority.

What do you do?

It all comes down to attitude. 

You can blame the school. You can blame the children. You can blame their "irresponsible parents". You can blame England, its educational policies, its backward class system. And you can even blame the Queen.

But none of your blaming will get you anywhere other than teacher burnout and possibly the end of your teaching career.


You could choose to take control of the one thing you do have control of: YOU. 

You can tell yourself, "I can turn this around. I can get through this. I'm the one in charge. I am the grown-up here and this is my classroom." Then draw on everything you've learned in teachers college, in practicum, from other teachers, from this blog, the books you've read and your own common sense. And get control of yourself and your classroom.

You may not get through the lesson. You may not get through the objective. But you will get through the day and you will have earned your students' respect (maybe not much, but every bit makes a difference!)

It's all about T-Cup. Total Control Under Pressure. Make it your mantra. Your creed. You can't go wrong with T-Cup as your guide.

Then go home, have a bath, a glass of wine...whatever you do to relax. I went to the gym almost every day in my first year of teaching in a particularly challenging school. It was the only way I could get my frustrations out.

Sometimes you can vent to your other teacher friends. Use their support & words of advice. But to value your friendship and yourself, don't vent all the time! 

My Australian flatmate & I had a rule in our home - for every negative statement we made about our day, we had to come up with 2 positives. At first, it was pretty tough. We both had our hands full, and needed to get all the negative thoughts out of our systems. But the positive thoughts helped us 100 times more.

One of my teachers writes the Canadian value of her daily rate on her hand. So, for example, if she earns 120 pounds/day, she would write $230 on her hand. She looks at her hand when she's having a particularly crummy moment in teaching. It calms her down, reminds her that she's doing great & earning good money. Then she thinks about going to Paris on the weekend. Or maybe this weekend she'll go to Barcelona? Or how about Brussels? Not a bad life after all!

Do you have any advice that you can offer teachers? Please help us by leaving your comment below. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Survive September as a Supply Teacher in London, England

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about surviving September as a supply teacher in London.  September is the first month of the new academic year, and it's always a really tough month for new teachers.  This post was written specifically for Canadian teachers making the move to London, but this could apply to any supply teacher in the first month of teaching anywhere

I've adapted the post a bit to make it more relevant for 2012.

Read on to see my advice on surviving September as a supply teacher:

I received my first "OMG Victoria! This city is expensive, and school has started and I haven't had a days work yet, so is it just me? Did I do something wrong?" email yesterday. Not in so many words of course, but that's the gist of the email. I get one of these at the start of every year.

So, I send a polite "Please relax, enjoy this free time, do free things in London, and the work will come" email back. It was only the second day of school after all.

Here are my top tips to help you survive as a supply teacher in September:

1. When you start to get that panicked feeling, ask yourself, "Would I be getting any work in ______?" Insert your home city and ta-da. Instant relief. Your friends are back home and not even on the supply lists (which are over-flowing with perfectly capable teachers desperate for work in most parts of Canada).
2. Do free things! The museums in London are free. Hyde Park is free. Camden Market is free. Jogging along the Thames is free...London is filled with amazing free activities.

3. Wake up early, just in case you get work for the day, and when you don't, just go back to bed
and enjoy the luxury of sleeping for a few more hours. Make breakfast at noon. You will miss these lazy mornings soon enough.

4. Remember, it's not you. It's September!

5. When your teacher friends tell you they got work for the day, be happy for them
. Don't immediately ask yourself "Why didn't I get that day?" My colleagues in London get one day and look at a massive list of teachers who are all desperate for that one day of work. It's tough. They ponder, fret, worry and finally make a call. They lose sleep when you don't get work - they really do. So please, please, please don't add more stress to their day by asking if it's you. It's most likely not.

6. Always remember: The work will come.
It always does. London has a shortage of teachers, and that's not changing because of the financial crisis. Schools are tightening their belts, but they will always need good teachers. You're in the best city to be in for picking up teaching work.

7. Don't run around registering with a million and one agencies.
It happens. You get worried, so you think: Okay, well if this agency doesn't have work, then I'll register with a few more to increase my odds. 
Why not? Well, it often backfires. For example - we had a trial day for a teacher on Tuesday, all lined up for an amazing job at a school I've personally taught at and would accept in a second. It's an ideal situation. Like I said before, we have plenty of teachers who would love work right now. So, we pick the right teacher (who we will call Teacher A) with experience in that year group, set up the trial day, and then find out that Teacher A has "an appointment" lined up already.

An appointment - now, that could mean they have a day out teaching with another agency but they don't want to tell us, or it could mean that they are registering that day with another agency and don't want to tell us, or it could mean they genuinely have an appointment that they can't possibly change.
Regardless, we sent Teacher B, who had no appointment, wanted an interview and was ready, eager and more than capable. Teacher A missed a great opportunity. Teacher B is ecstatic.

So, yes, you can increase your odds by signing on with more than one agency, but that lack of honesty will get you in the end. It always does. Lying doesn't work!!! Just be honest. If you're freaking out and need to sign up with another agency, be honest about your intentions and tell both agencies what you are doing.  The agency will always give out work to teachers they know are 100% available at all times, so you reduce your odds of being the first pick for the agency, but if you feel like you need 2 agencies then that's what you need to do.  Registering with 3 or more is bad form and pushes you even further down all the lists, so I wouldn't do it myself, but people do it all the time.

8. Make new friends. Get to know them, and appreciate that they are in the same boat as you. If you're one of our teachers in London, we have a great network of teachers for you to get to know. Take advantage of that free time & spend time getting to know your new community. These are the people who will travel with you, be your shoulder to cry on, and take you to the pub when you just need a night out.

9. Spend time outdoors in the beautiful autumn weather that will very soon change to rainy-London-winter-blues.

10. Take off! Go to Paris, or Barcelona, or Amsterdam, or Prague...Use that credit card and spend the same money you would spend in London over the weekend in another city in Europe. Sure, it's spending money you don't have (yet), but hey, if you've got the time, why not? You can stay at the cheapest hostels, or even camp-out, buy food to prepare yourself and pinch pennies as you go, but at least you can travel while the work is slow. If you don't get a call on a Friday morning, then you have 3 full days of adventure! Just be back in time for Monday morning in case you do get that important call at 7am.

11. Read, read and read some more. Read blogs about supply teaching, read about the UK curriculum, read about behaviour management and just keep reading. It will only improve your teaching when you do get work. Sign up with your local library. Research is fun. Do it!

12. When should you panic? If not now, when?  November. If you still don't have a steady stream of work and it's the middle of November, then yes, now you can start to worry. Ask others what you're doing wrong. Ask your consultant if they've had any feedback from schools about your teaching. Go to PD sessions and become a better teacher.

Any other tips you can share to make this time a little easier for supply teachers? Please share your thoughts below!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Moving to & Living in London - Life a video guide on moving to the uk

I really like Belle & Nick, of Moving2London - they are 2 Australians that walk you through everything you need to know to move to London.  I've chatted with them a few times (through email as I'm currently in Canada), and I feel like these 2 really have it going on.  They're young, they've made the move to London themselves & it looks like they're trying to make a solid side business helping people from around the world make the big move to London.

I just discovered that they also have a Guide for those of you that are in a hurry to just get the info & don't want to spend hours on the web navigating your way around.  It's called Survive & Thrive in London and it answers:

How do I actually get there?

How good will things across the pond actually be?

How can I get a visa?

Do I need any permits to live in London?

What accommodations are available and are they affordable?

How can I get a job in London?

What is the best way to send money back to your loved ones in your motherland?

What exactly is the social scene there?
And definitely a lot more!

Check it out & let me know your thoughts so I can know if I should be recommending this to the Canadian teachers who move to London with us.  Thanks! Happy researching, reading, dreaming & scheming.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Supply Teachers Tips & Tricks: Top 50 Drama Games

Top 50 drama games

Our Canadian teachers are enjoying summer with their families, while also preparing for the big move to London to begin their new teaching careers.  I'm going to try to post as much as possible this summer to provide reviews & links for valuable resources for these teachers.  Everything I post will be affordable for new teachers, and incredibly useful for both supply teachers & long term teachers.

In my ebook, I write quite a bit about how supply teachers need to know quick games & activities to keep the class occupied and learning at all times. Drama games are often the most fun for the students, and once you know a few you can use them in any classroom, with any age group.

Here's the best resource I've found for drama activities for teachers of all subjects: Top 50 Drama Games Unpacked.  It costs $29.95, and provides you with:

  • 50 plus lessons already planned for you
  • 50 guaranteed popular drama games
  • Resource lists for many activities
  • Easy to photocopy cards and pictures
  • Simple tactics to ensure success
  • Activities to link in with other studies
  • Adaptable for older or younger kids
  • How to make cheap costumes/ puppets
  • Stress free drama classes/ activities
  • Tasks for relief teachers (*aka supply teachers, day-to-day teachers, daily supply teachers*)
  • Fill in activities if you have spare time
Click here to check out the resource, and be sure to look around the site as I found quite a few sample drama games that I love to use in my classrooms.

Also, please do let me know if you end up purchasing Top 50 Drama Games Unpacked as I'd like to hear your 2 cents on which games work well in your classrooms & why.  Happy planning this summer! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guide to Getting a Teaching Job

I just stumbled across this resource for teachers that are job hunting & thought I'd share it with you here.  The ebook, Guide to Getting a Teaching Job is jampacked with useful information for teachers.

From the Guide to Getting a Teaching Job website:

You'll learn everything you need to know about finding and landing the teaching job you want. 

Inside you'll find:

  • The 50 Most Common Teacher Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
  • Information, Tips, and Advice about the Teacher Interview Process
  • What to Include on Your Teaching Resume
  • Secrets to Making your Cover Letter stand out
  • Sample Resume, Cover Letter, and Thank You Letter
  • All About References and Letters of Recommendation
  • Seven things you should avoid saying at an interview
  • How to Prepare and Present your Teaching Portfolio
  • Go inside the minds of two interviewers as they describe what an interview committee looks for, what they notice, and how to impress them.
  • A candidate describes her struggles and successes throughout the job hunting process. She explains what worked and what didn't
  • And lots, lots, more!
I've conducted thousands of interviews with teachers who want to teach in London, so I figured I'd check out the interview chapter first.  The author is spot-on with the questions we always ask!  What I really like is that he guides you in what you should answer, and perhaps more importantly what not to say in an interview.  I could write a whole book on what not to say in an interview, but luckily - I don't have to.  Thanks Tim!

Let me know if you purchase the ebook & what you think of it.  I love to share valuable resources here, and would love your feedback on whether this one is useful to you or not.  Happy reading & job hunting!


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