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Using your "Foreign-ness"

Jo is a Canadian teacher from Ontario who is working as a Supply Teacher through Protocol Education in schools in Bristol.

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Every supply teacher has been there – the scheduled assembly is cancelled and you’re told to  “just have a class assembly” instead.  I used to hate those words with a passion. How on earth do you have a relevant and engaging class assembly with a group of students you don’t know, have never met before and who’s names you have barely managed to read, let alone remember?  My solution – talk about something I’m passionate about and that I know all too well… Canada!

Being from a foreign country always gets my student’s attention (usually from the moment they hear my accent!).  The vast majority of the students I’ve taught from year 1 through to year 11 haven’t been to Canada or even North America since its so far away and hearing about it seems to attract their full attention. I don’t mind answering questions and the students learn something new – not to mention that those cool facts I’m able to pass along create an instant connection with the class that can make or break my day as a supply teacher. 

If you want to give talking about your country a try here are a few tips:
  • For the younger children I like to have a slide presentation of pictures since they don’t really know what questions to ask and they can’t always visualize some of the things you’re talking about. In my slide presentation I start off with a map of the world highlighting where the UK is compared to Canada and then show them the general area of Canada where I come from.
  • I also include the different animals we have in Canada (bears, raccoons, moose etc), the different foods we like to eat, the sports we play etc.
  • The second part of the presentation is all about me personally – that fact that I have two sisters, the places I’ve travelled, my two dogs… you get the idea. I don’t always show the part about me- it really depends on the class as I like to keep the inevitable questions about the country and not about me personally.
  • I might show the older students a few pictures but I mostly let them ask what they want. The older the class however, the more clearly you have to state that only school-appropriate questions can be asked! I’ve had all kinds of questions over the last year and a half and I’ve not been able to answer them all. The class always likes it when you’ve found an answer to their question by the end of the day though!
  • Just be armed with a good number of interesting facts and you’re set really. It's also a good way to engage some thought as well – for example: Canada has roughly half the population of the UK even though its many times bigger. Why do you think this is?

So there you go – if you’re from a different country embrace you’re ‘foreign-ness’ and let the class ask away. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be amazed how quickly 20 minutes flies by and the kids will be begging for just a few more questions before their morning lessons begin!

 More blogs from Bristol:

Calming the Morning Chaos - also by Jo

Flexibility: A Major Perk of Supply Teaching - by Lynne



Tags: Jo, Canadian Teacher, Supply Teacher, Teach in Bristol, Protocol Education

Category: Australian Teachers

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