In my last “Secret Teacher” post, I told you about how Uteach helped me find accommodation for my full-time teaching job in London. In this post, I’m going to tell you all about my roommates, including Martina — a fellow overseas teacher in London — and so much more. If you need to catch up, you can find my last post here and if you’re completely new to my story, you can read from the beginning here.
So, let me bring you back to that first night in my new London home.
My Uteach representative had previously explained that one of my housemates was a teacher from Spain who had been teaching full-time in London for around a year. This was Martina, a friendly woman with a shock of dark, curly hair and a kind smile.
Martina told me they were having pizza night when the other housemates returned later and asked me if I’d like to join once I’d unpacked. I happily agreed and she left me to settle into my new room. As I sat down on my new bed to begin tackling my suitcases, the jetlag washed over me in a sudden rush. The next thing I knew, I was woken by a knocking on the door and the question:
“Pepperoni or chicken?”
Soon after, I was sat at the table in the kitchen with Martina, Laura (a marketing professional from Scotland), and Hannah (a chef from Australia). Martina introduced me to the group and we shared stories of our respective homes since none of us were actually from London — or even England, for that matter. I’d come to learn that in this bustling, diverse city, it’s pretty common to find houses full of people from all over the place!
Pizza demolished, Laura went to her room to call her boyfriend and Hannah excused herself to get ready for her Saturday night shift. Martina produced a bottle of wine from the fridge and we began trading tales of our teacher training, comparing the differences between Canada and Spain.
“So why did you decide to teach in London?” Martina asked.
I told her everything: from wanting to be able to teach full-time but being unable to do that at home, to spending late nights scouring the internet for teaching jobs abroad, to looking into different teacher placement agencies, to finally landing on London and Uteach.
“Wow, I wish I’d been that thorough!” Martina said.
She told me that she and her friend — a guy she had been in teacher training with — had found supply teaching jobs in London through another teacher placement agency. They’d initially been attracted to supply work because of the flexibility, but chopping and changing schools so often when they were already in an unfamiliar place proved to be too much for them and they both ended up looking for (and finding) full-time positions within three months of their arrival in England.
I’ll be the first person to admit it: I’m a creature of habit and I’m at my best and my happiest when I have a routine. Martina’s story sounded like exactly the kind of experience I’d been trying to avoid! I told her that — she laughed.
We spent the rest of the evening swapping classroom stories, talking about our families, and wishing there was more pizza. I knew then that I’d made a good friend, one I’d be very glad to have as I adjusted to my new life as an international teacher in London.
I spent most of the following day unpacking, having shirked that responsibility the previous night in favour of wine and pizza. I had just finished dinner and was about to iron my clothes for the morning when my phone buzzed: an incoming Skype call from my parents.
We chatted for nearly an hour and I reassured them that I was well, that I was happy, and that I was excited for my first day as a full-time teacher tomorrow. We said our goodbyes and I went through to the kitchen for a glass of water to find Martina reading.
“Tea?” she asked with a smile.
“How very British of you!”
She laughed as I joined her at the kitchen table, steaming mug of tea in hand.
“So… any advice for my first day?”
“Where do I start?” she joked.
We talked about preparation, about giving yourself plenty of time in the morning to allow for tube mishaps, about not being afraid to ask for help from your colleagues, about getting used to English accents and English slang.
“What’s most important is this. You are here, you are prepared, and you obviously care about this a lot. So I think you’ll be just fine,” she said with a reassuring smile.
I smiled back and thanked Martina for her advice, feeling lucky to have someone as friendly as her around to calm my nerves.
Back in my room, I had ironed my clothes and left them on my desk chair, ready for the morning. Snuggled up in bed and staring at the ceiling, I was convinced the excitement of the day ahead would keep me awake for hours.
But before I knew it, my phone alarm (the first of six I’d set, just in case!) was blaring across the room. It was time for me to get up, get ready, step on the tube, and step off into my very first full-time teaching job.
I can’t wait to tell you all about it next time.
The Secret Teacher, Amazing Amy xo
What do you do to prepare for a new job? What are your lesson planning challenges? Tell me in the comments!
- By Amazing Amy