I graduated in April 2011 with my teaching degree in Early Childhood Education. I thought that I would work as a teacher after I graduated in Utah and I started the process of applying for jobs. In June, we found out that Nate was accepted to The London School of Economics so we packed up our things and left the country in September. Anyway, I didn't know if teaching in London would be a possibility or not.
When I got here, I found out about Supply teaching, which is similar to substitute teaching in the states. However, in London, it is a MUCH bigger deal. What you do is register with different supply teaching agencies. There are a ton! Then you get signed up with them and they work with the schools. They find you work and call you from day to day to let you know when they need you. You actually have to be a certified teacher with a degree in education to work as a supply teacher in London. Not just anyone can substitute, which makes sense to me. Anyway, it has been a super long process getting all of my paperwork together. It seemed like I would never get everything that I needed. I had to get an American police check, UK police check, order my BYU transcripts, send for a marriage license, register for a GTC number which is like a teacher credential number, register for a National Insurance Number which is similar to a Social Security Number, find 2 proofs of address and the list seems to go on and on........I didn't realize what a long hard process it would be!
On Thursday of this week, I finally got my first teaching job! I woke up at 6AM and left the house by 7AM. It took me about 50 minutes to get there, riding the tube and a walk from the tube to the school. I rode the District line all the way up and then got off at East Ham station. I realized on my walk to the school that I really don't have a comfort zone anymore. I left it in Utah. Being here has stripped me from it! :) Here I was walking somewhere where I have never been, to a London school, and about to teach my first class.....
I taught Year 1 for the entire day. When I got to the classroom, I realized that the teacher had left me NO PLANS! This was my worry, but I had heard that it rarely happens, so it isn't a big deal. The other Year 1 teachers were trying to help me and tell me kinda what was going on with everything which was sweet, but there just wasn't enough time. It was only about 5 minutes till the kids were coming in and I had no idea what I was going to teach! I had to think on my feet!
The entire class of 30 kids were all Indian. I could have guessed because of my walk to the school, everything including restaurants and grocery stores was Indian style. They were super cute and dressed similarly in nave and white. But their accents were hard for me to understand. Sometimes they would say something to me about 3 times, and I would have to say, "I am sorry sweetie, but I don't understand what you are saying." It was kind of sad.
Taking role was interesting and humorous.......so I grab the role and we are sitting at the carpet. I realized that I couldn't pronounce a single one of their names! I seriously couldn't even tell which was the first name and which was the last name. It was written (name, name). So I told them, "Ok, well I might say your name wrong, but raise your hand if you are here." I would attempt to say the name. They would look confused. I would retry. Then someone would timidly raise their hand like they weren't sure if it was them or not. Sometimes I would say a name and the entire class would start laughing and say, "It isn't _____ it is ______!!!" Finally after realizing this would take forever, I started spelling the names out. Sometimes two kids would raise their hands, or a child who raise their hand and I would say, "Didn't you already raise your hand earlier?" Their names were all very similar and there were about five kids with the name Muhammad. So they would go by Muhammad ________ _________. It was crazy. So I just marked as best as I could and moved on. The bad part was.....I had to take role after lunch as well! :)
After role was done and I had introduced myself to the kids and told them a little about me, a teacher comes into the class and hands me a stack of papers and a book with some notes attached and says, "Here, you can do this for the morning." So I had the kids talk about something they did the day before to their neighbor while I quickly scanned over the book and notes. Crazy! The book was called, "Frog is Sad." We talked about feelings. I asked them to close their eyes and and think about a time that they felt sad like Frog. Then I had some kids share with the class. The first little girl raised her hand and starts talking about how someone in her family died, and this really detailed sad story about it and how sad she was. Then the second child raises his hand and said, "Sometimes my mom hits me and I get really sad." I quickly realized.....hmmm....this isn't going too well, kinda going in the wrong direction, I should probably change to something a little more positive.
For snack, they got big carrots that didn't have the end chopped off or even peeled. They were so excited about them though. They reached in and grabbed a big carrot stick out of the bucket and then ran off to recess. I was thinking, What kid in the US would be excited to eat a whole carrot? None! At least not many, or without dip!
All the kids called me "Miss" instead of calling me "Teacher." It was very cute. When they raised their hands, they would put their pointer finger up in the air instead of their whole hand.
I figured out what I was going to do in the afternoon about 10 minutes before the kids came back from Lunch. It was crazy. Plus, usually there is a teacher's aide in the class, but they were gone today, so I didn't know where anything was. We ended up doing an art project and making a crazy forest of "Where the Wild Things Are." Chaotic but fun.
All together, it was a fun experience. Very different than teaching in Utah though that's for sure! At the end of the day I was completely exhausted, but it was still a great day. Stay tuned for more teaching stories! :)