I’m back with the next chapter of my story as an overseas teacher in London, and it’s an important one: my induction day at my first full-time teaching job! In my last “Secret Teacher” post, I told you about my new roommates, including Martina — a fellow international teacher in the UK. 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.
To bring you back to where we left off — I had just awoken to the blaring of my alarm clock. It took me a minute to realise where I was as my eyes opened to the sight of my new bedroom in London. Then it hit me: it was my first day. My first day as a full-time teacher. And in the UK, no less! All of my hard work over the past several years had been leading up to this and the day was finally here.
Butterflies started to flutter in my stomach as I showered, dressed, and tried to tame my unruly hair. Would I like my new students? Would I like my new colleagues? Would they like me?
I hustled out the door after triple-checking that I had everything, shouting “thank you!” to Martina over my shoulder as she wished me luck.
On the tube (which I was beginning to think I could get used to), I looked over the email my Uteach representative had sent me. I was due to report to the school office when I arrived then one of my new colleagues would meet me and begin my induction day. I couldn’t wait to finally meet the Head Teacher, Dawn — she’d seemed so friendly during my Skype interview.
Several stops later, I was off the tube and up the escalator. I followed the walking directions from my trusty new best friend, Google Maps, and the butterflies started beating their wings faster in my stomach as I reached the bottom of the path to my new school and my new teaching job.
A deep breath, and I was through the front door and into the school office. I checked in with the school’s friendly HR Administrator, Polly, who told me to take a seat and wait for my Head of Department.
He appeared a few minutes later with a folder tucked under his arm and a pair of glasses perched on his nose, introducing himself as John. We walked towards the English Department’s staff room and he talked me through the schedule for my induction day — it sounded like I was going to be pretty busy!
“This is Shannon. She’ll be your go-to if there’s anything you need help with when I’m not around,” John said with a nod as we reached the doorway to a room with piles of essays on the tables and an array of different instant coffee jars on the countertop.
A tall, pale woman standing near the kettle turned and smiled at me.
“Come in and make yourself at home!” she said in a soft Irish lilt.
Already, the butterflies were starting to relax. I didn’t get on the wrong train this morning. I wasn’t late. Everyone was nice. And I had a fellow overseas teacher as a tour guide! So far, so good.
Once we’d settled at the staff room table with cups of coffee (I made a mental note to bring my own mug so that I didn’t get stuck with one that said “World’s Greatest Dad” on it in the future), John talked through the school handbook with me and highlighted different policies and procedures I’d need to learn as Shannon marked assignments across the table.
The uniform rules were going to take some getting used to. Most schools in Canada don’t even have uniforms, so my only exposure to that prior to my induction day was through fictional British schools in books and on screens. Basically, what I’m saying is: I was fully expecting these kids to be wandering around looking like extras from Harry Potter, minus the robes and pet owls (that turned out not to be the case, thankfully).
John had to head off to a meeting — but not before giving me a copy of my timetable, which I immediately began poring over. The bell rang to signal the end of the period and Shannon picked up a stack of folders.
“Ready to sit in on a lesson?”
I pulled up a chair and students began to file in and take their seats. Shannon introduced me which prompted a scattered chorus of “hi, Miss” before she launched into a lesson on symbolism in Animal Farm. I followed along with the copy of her lesson plan she’d given me, making notes in the margins and listening to the students discuss their thoughts.
I knew lesson planning in the UK was going to be different than what I was used to but I don’t think I realised quite how different until I was actually in that classroom. Even the terminology was going to take some adapting to: Key Stages, GCSEs, A Levels, Years (not Grades!), and so on… it’s a good thing I’m an English teacher with a thing for words, because being an overseas teacher in London has definitely taught me a whole new vocabulary!
The lesson ended and I had so much I wanted to discuss with Shannon, but it was time for lunch. I met a big group of my new colleagues in the staff room and after several handshakes, Shannon was grinning and whispering “don’t worry if you forget any names,” while tactfully steering me towards the kettle.
We found a quieter table in the corner, where we had a conversation not dissimilar to the one I’d had with Martina in our kitchen. Shannon was just beginning to tell me about a nightmare landlord she’d encountered when she first got to London when the bell rang, ending lunch.
“To be continued! Do you know how to get to Dawn’s office?”
“I think so! It’s near the main office, right?”
“Yup, just talk to Polly and she’ll get you sorted. See you back here later!”
I thought I’d gotten rid of the butterflies but, sure enough, as I walked down the corridor to meet my new boss in person for the first time — I felt them spread their wings again. First days are a rollercoaster!
I have so much more to tell you that I can’t squeeze into this post, so you’ll have to stay tuned for next week’s update…
The Secret Teacher, Amazing Amy xo
Do you get the first day of work jitters? Do you have any interesting "first day of work" stories to share? Tell me in the comments!
- By Amazing Amy