Monday, April 22, 2013

Coffee Time with Classroom Canada: Interview with a Canadian Teacher in London

It's time for another interview with one of our Canadian teachers in London.  

Laura McDougall, Canadian Teacher in London, England

Name: Laura McDougall
University: Nipissing University
Subjects: Primary, Junior, Intermediate Geography, Special Education and English as a Second Language
Ages You Teach: Nursery to Year 6

1. How long have you been teaching in London?
I have been teaching in London since October 2012.

2. What do you teach?
I supply teach in Key Stage 1 and 2 (Nursery to Year 6)

3. Why did you choose to work with Classroom Canada?
It is overwhelming trying to find the right agency to come teach in London with. Fortunately, I knew someone who had come over with Classroom Canada two years earlier, who I was able to talk to. Their experience with Classroom Canada was very positive so I gave the agency a call. Victoria, the Canadian recruiter was great about promptly addressing all my questions and concerns and providing an abundance of information about anything and everything London. That sealed the deal!

4. What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
Coming from a rural town in Canada, it was easy for me to relate to my students and connect with them. We all came from the same town, went to the same grocery store and I usually knew their parents. However, teaching in a different class everyday in inner city London has been my biggest adjustment.  Not only am I in a new class most days, but in my classes I have different nationalities, ethnicities, first languages, and religions making it harder to connect and relate with all my students.  However, the students love coming up to ask me about Canada and I take that time to ask them about themselves. In these short six months I have been here, I have been able to learn so much from the students about their religions, languages and ethnicities that is has definitely enriched not only my teaching but my appreciation of the diversity of my schools.

5. Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences.
I have decided to stay as daily supply but am usually pre-booked for the entire week at one or two schools. In the mornings I leave around 7:30am, stroll down Tottenham Court Road, with the London Eye in the background, to the tube station and get to any of my schools within 45 minutes. Once at the school, I look at the lessons on the flipcharts (ie. Smartboard slides) and prepare for the day. Then I have a great day with fun children, who love telling me all the facts they know about Canada and asking me what “garbage” is. At the end of the day, I mark up their work and head home.

6. What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London?
My advice to teachers thinking about coming over to teach in London is: DO IT!  It is very scary when you first start thinking about moving across the pond and leaving your family and friends. And then there is lots of paper work and forms to get through before you even make the move. Once over you are in a very busy, very big, different city, it can feel very overwhelming! But it is definitely worth it. I have gained so much valuable teaching experience these last six months. As well, living in central London I get to experience everything this world class city has to offer and I do my shopping on Oxford Street – no big deal!

The Great London Snow Storm of 2013

7. Describe the funniest thing that’s happened to you in your year so far:
Just like other teacher’s posts, most of the funniest moments, to the students at least, are usually because I get lost in translation and say a silly word like “pants” or something Justin Bieber related. However, the funniest thing that has happened to me is when I was called in to a school during a “snowstorm.” I was told that many teachers couldn't make it to school because of the snow and some had even gone into the ditch. When I arrived in the town, there was a sprinkle of snow on the ground; I could still see the grass. I honestly thought they were joking a bit with me, until they closed school early. Before the students left I had one come up to me and ask if this was like Canada. I had to laugh, if only they knew!

8. Describe the worst thing:
I was covering a teacher’s PPA (Preparation, Planning & Assessment Time) in a new school one day and going through the day’s plan with her when she informed me that: “I will come back and teach Phonics, I don’t trust you teaching it.” I was really surprised when she said it and it made me feel like I was a bad teacher. However she had never seen me teach and didn’t know me so I didn’t take it personally but it was the one and only time in my London teaching career that I felt inept. Having said that, my London colleagues have been so supportive in welcoming me into their system.

9. What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
I have been very happy with Classroom. I started working my first week in London. I have about four schools that I go to regularly and am usually working five days a week and this is just as daily supply. Classroom is a great agency that is very approachable and personable and truly has my best interest at heart.

 10. What qualities do you have that make your stay more enjoyable?
There are a lot of qualities that have helped make my move to London enjoyable. However, the main one that has helped me thrive in London is being able to see each experience as a learning experience regardless of the situation. This mindset has allowed me not only to enjoy what London has to offer, but also helped me be able to deal and stay calm with the unexpected like last minute call-ins, tube delays, or different classroom assignments then expected.

To apply to teach in London with Classroom Canada, simply send in your resume & cover letter to apply AT   We are busy interviewing teachers for jobs that start in September and October 2013.

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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