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Canadian Teacher Interviews

We like to keep contact with Canadian teachers who come over to teach in the UK through Protocol Education. Recently we had some conversations with teachers who are currently working in the UK through us, and here is what they had to say!

Alana - a Primary Teacher from Edmonton living in London

Ashley - a Primary Teacher from Vancouver working in Essex

Jessica - an American Teaching Assistant working in London

Kristin - a Primary Teacher from Barrie, Ontario living in Chelmsford

Meagan - a Primary Teacher from Winnipeg working in London

Miriam - an American Primary Teacher working in London

Samara - a Primary Teacher from Edmonton living in London

Sarah - a Primary Teacher from Edmonton working in London

Shawna - a Secondary Teacher from Edmonton living in London

Jon - an Ontario Secondary Teacher living in London

An interview with Alana

Name: Alana
Occupation: Primary/Junior Teacher
Home Country: Canada
UK Home: London

How long have you been in the UK?

Since early September 2010.

What have you enjoyed the most about living in the UK?

I really enjoy the endless things to do and discover in London. I have been to many art exhibits, galleries, parks, pubs, clubs, cathedrals, markets and historical landmarks. It’s a great feeling to walk around in history. I also really love that it is so easy to travel within Europe!

What kind of teaching have you been doing since you arrived?

I have been doing supply teaching work, which has worked out great for me because it has helped me explore so many different parts of London.  I arrived at the start of the school year so I was able to slowly ease my way into a solid 5 days a week, and by the second week of October I was almost consistently able to work 5 days a week. Travel time to work can generally take you anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour but that is how London is! It takes a while to get anywhere, so enjoy the tube and bring a book with you for the ride!

What has your experience been like working with Protocol Education?


My experience has been really good, they have been getting me pretty much as much work as I have wanted!

What piece of advice would you give to overseas teachers thinking about coming over to the UK?

I would tell them to really research where exactly they would like to live because I think this can really affect their stay here for the better or worse, as it is quite time consuming to get anywhere. I am really happy about living in the west side of London and feel it has really made my experience very enjoyable.

Is there anything you miss from home?

My friends and family. Foodwise = Triscuits and cherry chip cake mix.

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An interview with Ashley

Name: Ashley
Occupation: Primary/Junior Teacher
Home Country: Canada
UK Home: Chelmsford

How long have you been in the UK?

I have now been in the UK for about 8 weeks.

What kind of teaching have you been doing since you arrived?

When I first arrived, I was fortunate enough to get a short term booking (3 weeks) at an amazing school in a neighbouring city. However, since then, I have been doing day to day supply work, which has been fairly steady.

Has your UK teaching experience helped you to develop your career?  

I think it has given me a new outlook on supply teaching as a beginning to my career. Things are quite a bit different here, and you can’t always prepare yourself for that. The experience has definitely taught me how to react quickly in different situations and taught me that I am not going to be an expert here and that I do still have a lot of learning to do.

All the skills and knowledge I have gained, I will be able to bring with me to any new job/career and so far, I would say that teaching in the UK has helped to develop me as a person, and to help with my career.

What is the best thing you have done/gone to see since you have been in the UK?

There are too many to choose… and so many more still to come. I think probably the best experience so far was over the half term break; I travelled to Belgium and Amsterdam and just immersed myself in the culture and the history. It was amazing and met some of the best people you could ever ask to meet. I would definitely recommend going on some guided tours at first, just so that you can meet a lot of people who are doing similar things to you.

Is there anything from home that you wish you would have brought with you?

Clothes. I was definitely not prepared for the fluctuations in weather so far. I did not bring enough warm clothes to start out the first few weeks, and now I do not have enough summer clothes to keep cool in while teaching. So definitely better packing on my behalf. And the other thing, oddly enough, would probably be salad dressing. They just aren’t the same in the UK!

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An interview with Jessica

Name: Jessica
Occupation: Teaching Assistant
Home Country: United States
UK Home: Shepherds Bush, London

How long have you been in the UK?

I arrived in London in February 2010 and had an interview set up for a Long Term role the week after my UK Induction with Protocol Education.

Have you noticed any differences between schools in the UK to your home country?

One major difference in my school is we have morning meetings with the entire staff every day. It is a really good chance for the staff to talk about any issues that they have, to discuss upcoming events and to introduce any supply teachers or support staff in the school that day. The employees at my school are so supportive and friendly towards new staff and/or supply staff that are in the school. It is a very welcoming and warm environment to work in!

Why did you decide to come to the UK?

There are so many reasons why I decided to come to the UK and live in London! The theatre is amazing! So many great plays and musicals to see! London is a very multi-cultural city and it is amazing to see all the cultures intermingled together! You can ride around on the tube and just listen to people speak in many different languages, reading books and chatting on the phone. It is such an interesting place to experience a variety of cultures in one space! Of course the proximity to Europe is great and provides great travel opportunities. One last thing is the public transport system. The tubes are really clean compared to other places in the world and it is so easy to navigate the city on the tube, trains or buses!

What do you wish you had brought with you from home?

Cookie Dough! It is such a comforting food and reminds me so much of home. The first time I was in the UK I was feeling a bit homesick so decided to go to the supermarket to buy some and there was none! At home you can walk into any supermarket and you have a wide selection to choose from.

What piece of advice would you give to Canadians thinking of teaching in the UK?

Two important things to have with you in the UK are an umbrella and a map! It is pretty rainy here and not great to be caught in the rain without one! An A-Z is a book of maps of London that is really helpful when you are trying to navigate the city. You can pretty much get one at any major bookstore.

What did Protocol Education do well?

Protocol Education were in very close contact with me before I came over to the UK. I had no idea that they were such a big company! When I arrived in London I was pretty nervous about my UK Induction in the Chancery Lane office but everyone was really friendly and easy to speak to. A lot of the staff at Protocol Education are close to my age and I felt like I could go have a drink with them. At my induction one of the Consultants spoke to me about a couple of Long Term positions and I left feeling pretty good about the opportunities they could offer. Very quickly after that an interview was arranged for the following week and I have been at that school ever since!  


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An interview with Kristin

Name: Kristin
Occupation: Primary/Junior Teacher
Home Country: Canada
UK Home: Chelmsford, Essex

How long have you been in the UK?

I’ve been in the UK for almost 2 months now.

Why did you decide to come to the UK?

I wanted to gain some valuable teaching experience and to travel around the UK and Europe.

What kind of teaching have you been doing since you arrived?

I have mostly been doing day-to-day supply teaching in all different years across primary and junior schools.

What has your experience been like working with Protocol Education?

I have had a good experience working with Protocol Education. It seems like they always try their best to find work for me. They are also very helpful with the day to day things like filling out paperwork and giving directions to different schools, but also help with the adjustment of moving to a new country.

What are the biggest differences you have noticed between living in Canada to the UK?

The biggest differences I notice are often in the classroom. The education system is pretty different from Canada’s. Also, the language is sometimes very different, i.e. pants = underwear! Otherwise, the one difference I am really enjoying is that each different place I go to in the UK and Europe is steeped in history. There’s so much history here to discover that you just don’t find in Canada. I love seeing all the castles in different cities and towns.

What is the best thing you have done/gone to see since you have been in the here?

Stonehenge was a pretty cool experience, as well as Bath. It was also fun touring the Tower of London.

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An interview with Meagan

Name: Meagan
Occupation: Primary/Junior Teacher
Home Country: Canada
UK Home: London

How long have you been in the UK?

I have been living in London for the past 3 months.

What have you enjoyed the most about living in the UK?

I am from a small town so living in London is a very different experience for me! There are so many different people from different cultures and backgrounds. it is great to be able to learn about all the different cultures that are alive in the city. The food choices in London are amazing! You can walk into a supermarket and buy almost any ingredient. There are so many different restaurants you can get almost any kind of food you want!   

What kind of teaching have you been doing since you arrived?

Since I have arrived in the UK I have been doing mostly day-to-day supply teaching although I would like to get a long-term teaching position for September. I think it is important to do some supply work when you first arrive in the UK as it is good to experience a number of different schools, areas of London and types of schools.

What has your experience been like working with Protocol Education?


Before I came to the UK I was worried about getting enough work. But since I have been here I have worked every day that I have been available. I really enjoy working with the Consultants in the East London office as I feel comfortable with them and we are honest with each other (when giving and receiving feedback).

What piece of advice would you give to overseas teachers thinking about coming over to the UK?

It is a good idea to arrive during the holidays so then you are ready to work when the school term begins. It is also important to consider that when you come over with a big group of people it can be more difficult to find accommodation all together.

Don't take the first day as what it is going to be like. There can be good schools in areas where you wouldn't think they would be good. There are a lot of good schools on the outskirts of London (Walthamstow). Live close to a tube line. Bring a lot of jackets! It is colder in London than you think!

Is there anything you miss from Canada?

Dinner at the Keg, BBQ's and customer service!

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An interview with Miriam

Name: Miriam
Occupation: Primary Teacher
Home Country: America
UK Home: London

How long have you been in the UK?

I have been in the UK for six weeks.

What kind of teaching have you been doing since you arrived?

Since I have arrived I have been doing day-to-day supply teaching. I have also had a weekly short-term half-day booking each Tuesday morning. I am now booked for a longer-term booking for the upcoming fall term.

What has your experience been like working with Protocol Education?


Protocol Education has consistently provided opportunities for me to work in a variety of schools within the central London area. The consultants have been supportive, friendly, helpful, and honest.  Also, Protocol Education ’s UK Induction process made it easier to handle the paperwork involved in becoming an overseas trained teacher/supply teacher in the UK. Furthermore, the teaching resources available are easily accessible and useful (various websites with ideas for lesson plans, tube information, etc.) when starting out in a new place or as a supply teacher.

Have you noticed any major differences between teaching in the UK to teaching in America?

There are some significant differences, however it is more similar than I expected. Aside from language differences there are some differences in the set up of the classrooms, the materials, the schedule, and of course the UK School Curriculum. Schools here are smaller and seem quite community-based which surprised me in a big city like London.

What is your favourite thing about living in London?  

My favourite thing about living in London has been the travel opportunities in London, the UK, and in Europe. London has easy access to so many interesting destinations.

Is there any advice you would give to teachers thinking about coming to the UK?

I would advise teachers thinking about coming to the UK to come with an open mind, favourite books/lessons, a good pair of walking shoes, and a tube map!

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An interview with Samara

Name: Samara
Occupation: Primary/Junior Teacher
Home Country: Canada
UK Home: London

How long have you been in the UK?

I arrived in February 2011

What kind of teaching have you been doing?

I have mostly been doing supply teaching but have done a block booking of two weeks as well.

What is your favourite thing about living in London?

There is so much to do in the city! On the weekends I like to go to one of the many markets in the city or  spend the afternoon on a patio. There is so much to see and do....

What has your experience been like working with Protocol Education?


I was really surprised at how much teaching work there is! For the most part as long as I have been available to work I have worked. Although Protocol Education is a big company everyone is really friendly and helpful.

What advice would you give to those newly arrived in the UK and looking for accommodation?
 
I guess the most important thing would be to wait until you get here to find your flat. Once you are here you will be able to ensure that your flat is near a tube station or good public transport links. You can meet your flatmates and make sure that they are like minded people.

One more tip would be to try to find a flat that is "all inclusive" (your monthly rent includes bills).

Protocol Education's UK Accommodation Page.

What piece of advice would you give to overseas teachers thinking about coming to the UK?

Definitely do it! Teaching in the UK can be challenging at times but it will make you a better teacher in the end!

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An interview with Sarah

Name: Sarah
Occupation: Primary/Junior Teacher
Home Country: Canada
UK Home: London

How long have you been teaching in the UK?

I have been in the UK for about 3 months.

Why did you decide to teach in London?

There are a few reasons. I guess the first one would be the lack of teaching opportunities back home. Currently in Canada there are few opportunities for newly qualified teachers. By coming to the UK I can get the experience I need to eventually get a job back home. Another very different reason is the opportunity to travel. It is really easy to travel to a number of different European cities from London.

What kind of teaching have you been doing since you arrived?

I have mainly been doing day-to-day supply teaching since I arrived although I have had a block booking of 2 weeks. I have also been pre-booked for work quite a bit.

Has your UK teaching experience helped you to grow as a teacher?

It definitely has. From teaching in the UK I feel much more confident as a teacher. I feel as though I could walk into any classroom and teach the students...no matter what grade!

What has your experience been like working with Protocol Education?


My experience has been great! The consultants have been really helpful. I have had a lot of pre-bookings which is nice as I know in advance where I will be going and that I will have work!

What is the biggest difference between teaching in Canada to teaching in the UK?

The kids are more challenging but that is a good thing as it teaches you behaviour management skills and how to manage your classroom better. I have found the way the school day is run in the UK to be a bit more structured. One thing I really love are the breaks in the school year! The holidays are more frequent then they are back home.

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An interview with Shawna

Name: Shawna
Occupation: Secondary Teacher
Home Country: Canada
UK Home: London

How long have you been in the UK?

I have been in the UK for about 3 months.

What kind of teaching have you been doing?

I have been doing supply teaching work which has been a mix of pre-bookings and early morning bookings.

What is your favourite thing or things to do in London?

I love the fact that London is such a busy city! There is always something to do and see. I love going to the markets and spending sunny afternoons on a patio.

What has your experience been like working with Protocol Education?


I have really enjoyed it - the experience has been good from the beginning. Shawna in Canada was really helpful and always got back to me quickly with any questions or concerns I had. When I arrived in the UK my UK Induction was really helpful and answered a lot of my questions about living and working over here. Since I have started doing supply teaching work I have been given the chance to try teaching at the Primary/Junior level despite being Secondary trained. I have been able to try different things and always felt really well supported throughout it.     

Is there anything from home that you wished you had brought with you?

I wish that I had brought more of my own lesson plans and resources from home.

What piece of advice would you give to Canadian teachers thinking about coming to the UK?

I would recommend that they make sure to bring some lesson plan ideas and resources with them. It is always good to have a back up plan in case the classroom teacher has not left enough work to cover the day. From my experience supply teaching I have found that behaviour management is a very important skill to have. I would recommend that teachers who are thinking about coming to the UK try to read as much as they can about behaviour management strategies and/or take any additional courses to strengthen your skills.  

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An Interview with Jon

Name: Jon
Occupation: Secondary Teacher
Home Country: Ontario, Canada
UK Home: London

How long have you been in the UK?

I have been in the United Kingdom since 5 October, 2011.

What helped you settle in once you arrived in the UK?

When I first arrived in London, it was 10 p.m., overcast, and I had not yet secured accommodations for the night. My bachelor party had ended not 36 hours before in Grimsby, Ontario, Canada and I was feeling rather lagged by the jet, and yet I was expected at Protocol Education’s office on Chancery Lane the next day, where I was to undergo the so-called ‘Induction Meeting’.

To make a potentially long and agonizing story short, the wonderful people at Protocol Education (incidentally all helpful and beautiful ladies), were absolutely vital in reassuring my doubts about the whole affair. The staff at Protocol Education were and continue to be professional, ridiculously helpful, and extremely patient in their manners. I can tax even the most isolated monk’s patience with my innumerable inquiries and what not, but I receive the same thoughtfulness and kindness in all of my dealings with Protocol Education. Many of the ladies gave me invaluable tips and advice on temporary lodging (two-month rentals, hostels, etc.), cell phone inquiries (carphone warehouse worked swell!); and sundry other concerns were all well met with meaningful insight and consideration. Forgive me if I belabour the point, but Protocol Education truly assuaged 96% of the worries and concerns I had regarding teaching in the UK when I first arrived.

The only worry they couldn’t eliminate is my firm and justified belief that Justin Bieber is taking over the world – somewhat proved by the fact that this seemingly innocuous Canadian lad turned on the Christmas lights at the two massive Westfield malls in London and no one seemed to question why it should be him. Ah well, good on him.

What have you enjoyed the most about living in the UK?

What I have enjoyed the most about living in the UK…well forgive me, but my response may be long and convoluted. I suppose I must begin with the proximity to the European theatre of life in general. I am talking about the television reports, the newspapers (many top quality free newspapers in London), and in the general discussion with colleagues and everyday men and women. While I have only been here a short time, I love knowing I am but a wee jaunt from Paris, Edinburgh, and Amsterdam, to name a few old cities. I love knowing I can rent a car for the day or the weekend and tour the English countryside and visit the Lake District where the troubled Mary Wolstonecraft-Shelly wrote her tortured hero’s tale or travel with my vacationing brother to the highlands of Scotland where my surname stakes its claim – both to revel in ancient, fog-laden tarns and to tip red-haired bovines from their rocky perches.

But I must most enjoy her people – her everyday people, the people I am surrounded with. They are Londoners - yes, and perhaps now, so am I. I enjoy listening and speaking to the people that form my UK experience – the staff and students at my workplace, and the lovely folk at Protocol Education who both found me an excellent position in East London, but who also continue to keep in touch with me regarding new positions, dinner parties, social outings (theatre), and the like.

What kind of teaching have you been doing since you arrived?  

I have been teaching continuously at the same school since I arrived and I believe my form of work accommodation is called ‘temporary long-term’.  Either way, the placement has proven excellent and I look forward to spending many more months in my current school.

What has your experience been like working with Protocol Education?


Swexellent – a combination of swell and excellent. Again, I do not want to belabour a point, but I must reiterate in order to be very clearly understood – Protocol Education has been such a great help, not only in all of the countless practical concerns I had as a Canadian moving to the UK in order to teach, but perhaps most importantly in arranging work for me at a great school within several days of my landing in London.

Protocol Education has proven to me and continues to prove to me that they are truly dedicated not only to my economic and social success in London, but also to creating a fulfilling experience whether I choose to stay in the UK for many years to come or take the transatlantic back to Canada because no one here seems to care about the beautiful and awesome thing that is Hockey!

What piece of advice would you give to overseas teachers thinking about coming over to the UK?

I would say go for it. If you want a new and novel (and well-paid) experience but you don’t want it to be irrelevant and meaningless to the work expectations back home, then the UK is a great choice and perhaps the best choice if you are considering travelling abroad for work and life experience. Initially I was concerned about the amount of work available to a ‘part-time’ agency worker in London, but quickly I was placed in a long-term, work-every-day position at the same school and from there I have made some invaluable contacts. Protocol Education continues to work on my behalf to ensure my employment is secure for the future, that my income is satisfactory, and that new opportunities are capitalised upon as soon as they become available.

In sum, I would advise that potential or confirmed candidates, whether back in Canada or anywhere else in the wide world, consider very strongly Protocol Education’s offer of a work field abroad as it has proven to me to be a most amazing experience. If I could undergo the inaugural events again, I would gladly because I now have full and proven faith in Protocol Education – honestly, they didn’t even pay me a single pence to say that. Honestly!

Contact Protocol Education Canada here

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