"Hall" means gym in England. The teacher was from Ontario.
Another class dissolved in giggles when their teacher mentioned pants. But their
teacher was talking about "trousers," not underwear.
These first-year teachers are not only adding new words to their vocabulary,
theyre adding classroom teaching experience to their resume.
There may be more teachers than classrooms in Ontario, but in other places, like the
U.K. and California, teachers are in short supply and well-educated Ontario teachers are
OISE/UT student services surveyed the teacher graduates who used its services. Of the
890 graduates who replied, 65 took jobs outside Ontario. Forty-two per cent responded that
they had full-time teaching jobs, up from 31 per cent last year.
Gary Hunt, director of student services at OISE/UT, reports that the international
sector is one of their largest employers. "We have a lot of schools, particularly
from South America and Mexico, that dont require previous experience to teach,"
In these international schools, instruction is in English and the teachers cover the
whole range of subjects, unlike schools in Japan or Korea, in which the teacher teaches
One alternative for the adventurous is to head for England, where there is a shortage
of teachers. Unlike being hired for an international school, jobs are not guaranteed.
Teachers pay their own way to London and register with one or more of the private agencies
that supply temporary teachers.
For several years now, British schools have been responsible for finding their own
supply teachers, spurring the growth of private companies that recruit teachers. Initial
Personnel Services is one company that actively recruits Canadian and other teachers from
overseas. Initial helps the new arrivals find accommodation, set up bank accounts and
generally provides support.
According to Amanda Brownell, director of development recruitment at Initial, British
schools have difficulty getting highly-qualified staff and Canadian-trained teachers are
in high demand.
"Most of our Canadian teachers are interested in longer-term placements,"
says Brownell. "Theyre very career-oriented, dedicated. In the classroom they
go above and beyond the call of duty as a matter of course. Theyre gaining a very
good reputation in London schools."
By and large, says Brownell, the classes are extremely multicultural, and can be quite
demanding, with a range of ability levels. The schools ask for Canadian teachers,
commenting on the calibre of their training and their thoroughness and dedication to the
Brownell is eager to recruit more teachers. Her company has placed more than 200
Canadians in long-term positions and another 350 are working ad hoc (supply).
THEIR OWN CLASSROOMS
Recently-graduated Ontario teachers Victor Dos Santos, Liette Nix, Tim Pace, and Paula
Turner are four of Canadians registered with Initial. They are all on long-term placements
in their own classrooms at De Beauvoir Primary School in Hackney.
De Beauvoir is an inner city, multicultural school, described as tough by some,
challenging by others. For these first-year teachers, its an opportunity to practise
their profession. When they arrived in London, they all started with supply teaching,
waiting for the 7:30 a.m. call from Initial, complete with instructions on how to find the
school by tube and bus. Unlike their experience in Ontario, the calls came every day.
Soon, they were being offered long-term placements. Liette Nix went in for an interview
and had the job that afternoon. "Contracts are a dime a dozen," she says.
All four comment on their surprise at the schools lack of resources. "Every
day, its an experience," Paula Turner says. "The second week, the school
ran out of copying paper. I was down to the point where I was breaking crayons into three
so I could have enough of a colour to hand out."
"Theres not much of a difference as far as the people here," says
Victor Dos Santos. Although, he says, the sheer size of London takes some getting used to,
as does the cost of living and crossing the street.
No one reports missing the snow, although Tim Pace admits he goes to an Internet cafe
to check hockey scores on the NHL web site.
TEACHING IN CALIFORNIA
Another part of the world without snow in which there is a growing enclave of Ontario
teachers is the small Newhall school district in southern California. About 14 per cent of
its 280 teachers are Canadian, mostly from Ontario.
This growth results from an initiative in California that offers incentives to school
districts to limit class sizes to 20 in the early grades. The shortage of well-qualified
teachers locally sent the school district looking for graduates of the best teacher
According to Anne Hazlett, who is responsible for personnel in the district, Canadian
universities ranked among the best. Contact with a graduate of Queens faculty of
education brought Hazlett and some principals to Ontario to recruit teachers.
"Everyone comes back (from recruitment trips) with great satisfaction," says
Hazlett. "Our schools are very highly ranked and our parents have really high
expectations." The districts principals find the training provided to Canadian
teachers to be of high quality.
The district copes with immigration, helps find housing and banking and provides
coaching and other support for the new teachers. "Its tough because
expectations are so high," says Hazlett, "but its very satisfying for all
The jobs outside Canada are not permanent, and the teachers expect to return to
Ontario. When they come back, if theyve been successful, says U of Ts Gary
Hunt, they enter the market as experienced teachers.
Tara Jack is back home in Bolton. Shes on the supply list with the Peel board and
will soon start working as a long-term occasional in a Kitchener-Waterloo high school.
Jack spent eight months in Britain, doing a combination of supply and a long-term,
half-time position in inner city high schools.
"It helped professionally," she says. In her interviews, "everybody was
impressed" that she had done it. Jack adds a caution, "I dont know how
much weight it holds compared to getting experience in Ontario."
"But I would do it again," she says. Like the other teachers in London, she
found the size of the city and inner city teaching took some getting used to. But if she
needed help or advice, Shawna Hill at Initial Personnel was always there.
Hill, from Val Caron and Andrea Mullings from Trenton were among the first Canadian
teachers recruited by Initial to work in London. Both now work for Initial.
Mullings took Hills job, supporting the new teachers and sending them out to
schools. She says, "I didnt realize how valuable I was as a Canadian-trained
teacher. Schools request Canadian teachers."
Hill, who now helps recruit teachers, says half the battle to working in London is
getting the eligibility to come over. The teachers usually come on working holiday visas
or European Community passports, or on the strength of having a parent or grandparent born
in the United Kingdom.
The opportunity to travel is another benefit for choosing London. Mullings says
shes becoming addicted to travelling, "Youre so close. The whole world
opens up to you." Mullings sums up the experience for them all when she says, "I
grew more in the first six months here than I had the previous two years."
Initial Education Personnel has recently opened an office in the Toronto area. They
can be reached at (416) 226-5880. For more information about teaching jobs in
Californias Newhall school district, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org