Saturday, June 2, 2012

Southbank International School

Moving to London was a huge step and came with a lot of stress. The first two weeks were the worst, and looking back, I don't really know how we got through it. We didn't know anyone and didn't know who to trust or ask questions to. We couldn't find a place to live or anything that was even in our original budget. It seemed like everything was taken. We were paying so much money in hotels and jumping from hotel to hotel dragging our luggage all around the city. We couldn't register for cell phones and cell phone plans because we didn't have a permanent address. We didn't have Internet to look stuff up on or do any research with. We were constantly lost without GPS so we wasted a lot of time. We couldn't get a bank account without a permanent address as well. It was all just a huge mess......Good thing we had each other or I think we would have cracked!

Once all that was settled, finding a job was my next stress. Registering with the teaching agencies took a while and was a pain but finally happened. Before I new it, I was out teaching in the London state schools. Some days were easier than others, but there were definitely some rough ones. 30 children per classroom with 1 teacher can really take a toll on you at times, especially when they are disrespectful and defiant!

Then Southbank came around, the hugest blessing in my life here. It has been so much fun to work here and to be involved in this amazing school environment. 

Southbank International School is amazing. It is unlike any other school that I have come across, and also unlike any other tuition fee per child that I have come across! :) (Like over 20,000 pounds per student) In the picture above, it is the white house in the middle. It is an old victorian house that is gorgeous. All the classrooms are odd shapes and it doesn't have your typical "school building" feel to it. The children do a Suzuki music program and each child is required to pick either violin or cello to study. They do group music lessons as well as private lessons throughout the school day and after school. Also, each class studies Spanish at least twice a week. They also have amazing art, music, P.E., and library programs where they kids get to explore and learn with hands on activities. Each class is only 12-15 students so there is a lot of room for one-on-one attention to each child. They teach the children to become little adults through independent learning and problem solving, where they are allowed to discover for themselves and do their own research and findings. The teacher is more of a guide than a dictator. 

The think the one thing that I love most about this school is how International it is. The students are from everywhere and most of them speak at least one other language other than English. Most come to school their first year without knowing English at all and they just pick it up from their peers and from being in school. It is amazing. It blows my mind to hear all of these students speaking different languages and sharing with each other about their home countries. I can now say that I have friends from literally all over the world!

They hold this fun event called, "International Night," and the students look forward to it all year long. They all bring food dishes to share from their home countries and dress up in costumes. They have a big social gathering and perform dancing and singing to represent their native culture. The kids get so excited to be able to share their culture with others. 

Here are some pictures of the event while they were setting up:
Then just today while I was at school, the children participated in a, "Home Language," town meeting. They all sat together in their language groups from their home countries. Then they shared a movie that some teachers made of recording some different students of all grade levels speaking in their languages and telling about how their culture is important to them. Then the music teacher led all the students in the song, "Are you sleeping, are you sleeping? Brother John, Brother John....." We sang this little song in all the languages that are represented at the school. It was a really neat experience.

Working at Southbank has surely been one of the best experiences of moving to London. I see teaching in a new way now and hope to use what I have learned in my future classrooms. What a blessing to be able to work here in London at Southbank! I have loved every minute of it!


  1. Hi, I saw your post because I was looking into teaching possibilities at Southbank. If you wouldn't mind talking more indepth about your experience there I'd love to chat more. I'm also an American. We recently moved to London because of my husband's job so I'm looking around for possibilities for me. I can give you my email if you're open to it. Thanks! Irene

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