My London School – Differences to Aus (so far)

Today I went for a quick visit to the school I’ll be teaching at for the year. The purpose of the visit was to get to know the school and it’s expectations a bit better before we start up in a little over a week. The Head of Science walked us around for a bit, we met up with the Headmaster and a few of the deputies.

As the time progressed and we learnt a but about our daily life there, I couldn’t help noticing the stark differences to my old school back in Aus.

First off, I get my own classroom. It is mine for all but 3 of my lessons, which had to be moved to a different room purely because there are too many students in those classes to fit in that room. This is the opposite of what I had back in Aus, where each class was in a different room – lots of running around between lessons, but a dedicated work space in a staffroom. Here I will have my own classroom as my space, and will use the staffroom just to eat lunch. But it also means I can decorate and set up my room as I like – I’ve never experienced that before! I’m going to have fun finding posters, student work etc to plaster the walls. It is expected that you will do your planning etc during your spares in your classroom (if no one else is using it at that time) or in another free room.

This brings me to another big difference – back in Aus I had a school laptop I took to my lessons with me and did all my planning etc on. Here there is a desktop computer in each room, and your login is linked to your own domain. This means no matter which school computer you log in to, you will have your own background, screensaver, documents folders etc. I can also access this domain from home – no more lugging a laptop to and from school when I need to work from home!

Speaking of working from home, I’m expected to do a lot more marking here than what I’ve experienced before. Here they have a three week marking cycle – every three weeks each student should be given formalised feedback that they are expected to respond to (by correcting their work based on what I’ve said basically). This, along with the expected daily homework, is going to lesson my weekday free time quite significantly, at least until my lazy-economic self kicks in and I work out how to work in the most efficient way possible.

The school has split junior science into the three strands – biology, chemistry, physics – to see if this makes a difference to interest, enjoyment and engagement with science. To make the separation more explicit, each strand for each class has a different teacher. This, for me, means teaching more different classes.

The lessons here are 100mins long, and on a two-week rotation – meaning if I see a class first thing Monday morning week one, I’ll see them again for that same lesson in week three, then week five. It’ll take me a while to get used to that difference, but the longer lessons will be a positive difference I feel.

I am also taking on a Friday afternoon activity lesson, where I take a group of students for the afternoon and am able to teach them any topic I like. Some examples they’ve done in the past include swimming, survival skills, crochet, farm studies, etc. I’ll be thinking very hard over the next week or so what I’d like to do (any suggestions are more than welcome!).

A very big difference is the fact that I’ll be taking 15 unique classes this year, not including the Friday afternoon activity. Back in Aus I had 6. It’s going to be extremely difficult adjusting to that change, especially learning upwards of 3-400 names (along with that many personalities, home lives, interests, friendship circles etc). I may well go insane. I’ll keep you posted about that!

The dress code for teachers here is a lot more formal than I’m used to – no more nice skinnys and tops for me! No, it is now smart business attire. I’ve never really worn that type of clothes before – even when I’ve worked in an office we had a set uniform. It’ll be fun shopping for clothes that’ll make me look dapper!

Overall, feeling slightly overwhelmed at the moment. There are a huge amount of very big differences for me to get used to, not just the different curriculum, which I haven’t even started on yet. Hopefully I adjust quickly!

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