Before moving to London, my family and friends had mixed emotions. There were positives and negatives to the idea, as there is with everything. I had just graduated Teacher’s College and was ready to begin my career, however, there were no jobs here and I felt there was no good reason not to go teach in London. Now looking back, I am SO glad I stuck with it and took the chance of teaching abroad as it is something I will never regret.
Teaching is mentally and physically exhausting – anyone who thinks otherwise has NO idea what they are talking about. Imagine teaching a class of 32 students with a teaching assistant who constantly leaves the room, and you have no lesson plans left for the day… the struggle is real.
My days teaching in London were very hectic and it was difficult to keep up with the different classes, Year groups and lessons I was responsible for. The lessons were usually already planned ahead of time by the classroom teacher, however, I had no more than 5-10 minutes to learn the material and plan how I was going to deliver the lesson. I definitely learnt how to use time more wisely!
Here are 5 “Myths” I struggled with before moving to London:
~ You should always go with the agency that pays you the most money no matter what
You could definitely do that as there are some companies that may pay you more. But take a moment to think about why that agency may be offering you that rate? It could be because the agency is compensating for the terrible schools and/or area they are planning to send you to – they obviously won’t tell you that. Make sure you do your research, talk to other teachers registered through the agency and see what they have to say!
~ All agencies claim to offer new teachers support in setting-up, but no agencies follow through
Sadly, this is often true – but not always! Again, do your research, talk to other teachers registered with agencies about the level of support their agency provided upon their arrival. From my experience, I was provided with links to help me find accommodation, but no physical help. Use the networking websites they provide you such as Facebook groups, to get in contact with other teachers in the same position as you – you are all in the same boat, so use each other for help!
~ The kids are horrible
I honestly hate when people assume this. Even before I arrived or even started teaching in London, I did not believe this. Yes, the teaching is hard and it is very different than you may be used to, but kids are kids. If you think that the “kids are horrible in London” then you may need to consider another career or do some research on why the behaviour of the children is different. It is sad that we are blaming kids for their behaviour when in fact, it is due to a number of other reasons. The kids may behave in different ways but that doesn’t make them horrible.
~ You won’t get any references / they won’t count as acceptable experiences for your resume
I used to hear this one a lot and I don’t understand why people assume this. If you network and develop good relationships with teachers, teaching assistants and Headteachers, why wouldn’t you ask for a reference? Teaching abroad provides real international experience that is highly sought after by many businesses and industries in today’s world. Teaching abroad also proves your ability to adapt to new environments and to live and work with people from different cultural backgrounds. Therefore, I believe it is a great way to enhance your resume and set you apart from other applicants.
~ London is far too expensive to live there. You must be stupid to even consider it
This is a comment I often heard and it made me really nervous about moving to London to teach. But this comment was also made by people who heard from others and/or who visited London for a few days. I heard a story that a man was buying Starbucks coffee and food for a few people and the bill came up to 80 dollars! Well, yes, if you are using Canadian dollars. If not, it costs 40 pounds. I found you really need to change your mindset and stop thinking of pounds as dollars – just stop doing the exchange rate and you will feel better! If you are working and earning pounds, life is good!
Have you heard any other myths or comments about living and/or teaching in London? I would love to hear about them and answer any questions that I can!