I'm always excited when I see an application from a teacher who already knows one of our other teachers in London. Referrals make up the vast majority of our teachers, which is just how I like it. This year, we're seeing more jobs being filled at the last minute as well. Just last week one of our Canadian teaching assistants went out for a trial day in a school she loves, and already she's been hired as a full-time TA.
Here are a few bits of advice for those of you who are considering applying to teach in London:
- Try not to send emails with a lot of questions before you've applied to teach with us. I know it's tempting to just fire off an email (much like texting) and I'm happy to help...but...And this is a big but - you are showing us that you aren't quite ready to take the leap to teaching abroad. You are bound to have a LOT of questions of course, but try to wait until your interview to ask these questions. Try to do some research on your own first (which shows us that you're the capable teacher ready to teach abroad!) and if you're not sure where to start - how about this blog? Or my award winning ebook? Or ask a teacher you know is already teaching in London. Remember -- you are not the first Canadian teacher to move to teach in London and you won't be the last!
- Be ready to leave right away and follow the instructions for your visa, your bank account, the accommodations and take advantage of the social media networks that exist to help. The more you can follow instructions, the easier it will be. I personally applied to teach in London at the end of July 2004 and was on a plane to my first teaching classroom by the end of August. It was fast & furious! It's a challenge certainly, but not impossible. Most teachers need about 6 months to emotionally prepare for teaching abroad, but the actual paperwork can take just a month if you do it right the first time.
- Be flexible. If you're a secondary teacher of history and English, be prepared to teach math and science and SEN and primary. If you're a primary teacher and you prefer teaching kindergarten and grade 1, be as flexible as possible and take on grade 5 and 6 teaching too. Sure, you might be a bit nervous at first, but "fake it til you make it" really does work.
- Know that you will likely supply teach for 2-3 months before landing a full time job. This works in your favour as you get to know the city and the new curriculum, make new friends and get accustomed to teaching in London in general.
- Don't panic. Breathe. Slow down. And then apply when you know for sure that you are ready to teach abroad. There's no point applying before you know you're ready!