How do you start teaching abroad in the UK? I interviewed Stephanie who moved from Canada to the UK years ago and… never left! She shares tips and thoughts on how she made the move to teach in London.
The traveling teachers series is all about people who travel and you guessed it – teach! Each interview features a different teacher, traveling to a different place, and teaching a unique group of students. So often we hear of people teaching abroad, but what is it really like? How do you find opportunities?
There are many questions surrounding traveling and teaching. Through this series, I hope you are inspired by the good work going on around the world, learn, and start to think about ways you can travel and teach abroad yourself. I’m excited to share a story about teaching abroad in the UK with you.
If you plan to be a traveling teacher, a TESOL certification is a great way to start. I got mine through International Open Academy for just $19! Highly recommend this as a first step in your traveling teacher journey.
This week I am excited to bring you a story about Stephanie’s experience teaching English in the UK! Stephanie and I connected via Clubhouse recently and she has lived in amazing places in Europe working as a teacher and running hostels! I’m excited she can share her experience teaching abroad in the UK with us today.
What inspired you to start teaching?
My mom and my step-mother are both preschool teachers who have worked in both preschools and home preschools. I was very lucky to be surrounded by a career I genuinely loved for my entire life.
How long have you taught and where?
I’ve been teaching ever since I could remember. My best memories are during my primary years. Every day off I had, I would help my mom teach her classes. I officially taught in Montreal for about 4 years before moving to London in 2017.
How did you find the opportunity to start teaching abroad in the UK?
The start of my London teaching opportunity is actually a funny story. In 2016, before I ever thought about moving to the UK, I was in Edinburgh and met another Canadian educator. She told me that if I ever decided to move to London, she could introduce me to her now husband who worked in the field! My last stop on the trip was London and I got offered a job to work in a hostel.
Six months later, I packed my bags, quit my job, and made the move! Six months after that, I missed my kiddies too much so I decided that it was time to contact her now husband. He works for a substitute teaching agency in Central London which worked out perfectly for me. I was able to make great money and make my own schedule which facilitated my travels!
Were any of your expenses covered with the teaching experience?
Unfortunately, I didn’t get any expenses covered since I moved over for another job but I do know they offer relocation grants for those who are looking to jump straight into teaching.
Were you able to spend time traveling and exploring the country while teaching?
Yes! I was so lucky to be able to make my own schedule since I wasn’t contracted with any specific school. I was working 3 days a week with Monday and Fridays off which allowed me to jet away for a long weekend and if I had nothing happening, I would let my boss know I was available and he would find me work. I was also able to take 3 months off to travel to Australia and my boss encouraged it, I was really lucky with how accommodating my company was.
What were interactions with students like?
It was such a different dynamic than I’m used to, students in London are a lot more advanced than in Canada. Their Kindergarten (reception) starts at 3-4 years old and they are already doing maths and writing which blew my mind! It was always fun being in a new classroom because the second I would speak for the first time, they would be shocked when they heard my accent (I once got told I sounded like a robot hahaha).
What is your favorite part of your teaching experiences?
My favorite part about teaching abroad is the fact that every day was a new day. I learned so much by being thrown into such an array of different situations that I feel like I have become a better educator because of it.
What is one piece of advice you have for someone who wants to teach abroad?
Every day is a new day being a substitute teacher, so if you’re a person of habit, a full-time position would be more suitable for you. I believe because I am a traveler, I adored going to different schools and meeting different children.
Overall, I would just say go for it!! Although some days were difficult, it was all worth it with the amount of teaching tips I picked up. Working with such an array of teachers under such different teaching styles, I feel like I have grown so much and have developed my own style and I owe it all to teaching abroad.
Want to hear more stories of teaching in Europe? Here are some to consider: