Thursday, April 25, 2013

Interview with a Canadian Teacher in London: Coffee Time with Katie

We like to ask our Canadian teachers what it's really like to teach in London so the new applicants can be fully prepared.  Read on.

Name: Katie Koskinen
University: University of Alberta
Subjects: Primary Education
Ages You Teach: Primary

How long have you been teaching in London? 
Exactly 3 months.

What do you teach?
I teach both key stage 1 and key stage 2 (K-6) in mainstream schools.

Why did you chose to work with Classroom Canada?  
I liked the fact that they were based in Canada and I wouldn’t have to deal with any significant time differences if I needed to get in contact with them. Also I found their website/blog super helpful in answering any questions or just giving me a good idea about what it’s like to make the move to London. They also seemed the most genuinely interested in making sure my transition went as smoothly as possible.

What was the biggest adjustment for you to make in your teaching in London compared to Canada?
I know most people say classroom management, but I found that so far it hasn’t been much different than Canada.. kids are kids anywhere you go. For me it was probably getting used to the lesson structures and day plans of every school. In Canada, I found that I had much more freedom to change the plans of the day as I saw fit. Here, in every school I’ve been to, you start with literacy and then go into maths pretty much every morning. And they also have different “sets”, so you’ll have a different group of students for literacy as you will for maths.

Describe a typical London day in 3-4 sentences. 
Wake up around 6:30 and get ready to leave by 7:15. I almost always get prebooked through Classroom (usually at the same school), so I know where I’ll be going. I usually get home around 4:30, head to the gym, then back home to make dinner or grab take away with another classroom teacher. Then I pack a lunch, get myself ready for the next day, and tuck myself into bed with some good old British reality TV. Weekends are a different story..

What is the one piece of advice you can offer a Canadian teacher considering the move to London? 
Just do it! Be confident in the teacher you are, and don’t over think it. If I can do it, you can do it.

Describe the funniest thing that’s happened to you in your year so far: 
I had to administer a spelling test to a year 5 class. Sounds easy but strange spelling words like “cuckoo” mixed with my Canadian accent made one student actually offer to repeat the words to the class, claiming that he “understood Canadian”. During another spelling test in a year 1 class, I said the word “author” and the students as well as the TAs in the class thought I was saying “Arthur”, as if I was using a British accent!

Describe the worst thing: 
Probably losing control of a class. It only happened once in a challenging year 4 class. I don’t know if there is anything more frustrating!

What made you stay with Classroom Canada, rather than any other agency?
I stayed with Classroom because they truly do try their best to get you the jobs that you want. I haven’t had any trouble at all getting full time work, and have been given jobs that they know I prefer. I really enjoyed one school in particular, and after letting them know, I am always getting calls for work at that same school. They also often call me just to see how my days are, and to make sure I’m still happy!

What qualities do you have that make your stay more enjoyable? 
It’s important just to be able to go with the flow when teaching in London. I have a pretty laid back personality, and am able to take everything as it comes. Lots of times as a supply teacher, no matter how early you show up to the school, you will get your lesson plans 5 minutes before the kids show up. I don’t over think it and find that a lot of the times I have to just wing it!

To join Katie in teaching in London, just send your resume & cover letter to apply AT  You can read more Coffee Time Interviews here.

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Thanks for sharing your two pence!


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