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The life of a full-time teacher in the UK

TEACHING in London offers educators the opportunity to earn some invaluable experience working in challenging, rewarding schools, while also having the wonders of Europe close at hand. It is also a chance to change your surroundings, exploring a new country - not unlike your own - but a place that nevertheless brings a new perspective and way of life. And there are many others who truly look to London as a place to grow their careers, blossoming under cloudy skies and establishing themselves in a profession they have spent some time preparing for. As a full-time teacher, this goal can surely be achieved.
Being a full-time teacher brings consistency in your morning routine, as well as the obvious advantages of of being able to go to the same school on a daily basis throughout an entire school year. Unexpected issues and concerns rarely disturbed my morning preparations as I calmly had my cereal and prepared for work daily. Your mind is at ease during the walk to the local tube station…
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The magic of autumn in Japan

I REMEMBER vividly the first time I went to Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, Japan. I was living in Sendagaya at the time, a neighbourhood just beside Harajuku and only a fifteen minute walk from Shinjuku, one of the central hubs of the city. It was at the beginning of the autumn season and the hot summer temperatures had slowly drifted into the cool, comfortable atmosphere of the fall. It was one of the first times I had actually experienced proper autumn weather in my life - that slow gradual change of temperature and overall nature in an entire city. And I loved it right from the start.
Up until that point, I had already been in Japan for over a month or so. I was incredibly immersed in my work as a teacher and hadn't found the time yet to wander down the long lanes of Meiji-Dori Avenue towards the direction of Yoyogi Park proper. I had been to Meiji Jingu shrine, wandered the streets of Shibuya several times and even took a peek of Harajuku proper. But Yoyogi itself, that I was saving f…

Long-term cover teaching in the UK: A unique, rewarding experience

PICTURE this: You have just arrived in London after months of planning, preparation and effort. You are seeking a new adventure, something different from the lifestyle and routine you had back home. First and foremost, however, you are hungry for an opportunity simply to be a teacher. To be given a chance to do what you feel is the best career for you. You know it will be hard, tricky at the very least. Still, you revel in the challenge; you are excited and look forward to to this new journey in your life. Having arrived, you immerse yourself in a rich culture and style of life in old, majestic and eclectic London. Routines emerge, comfort levels are reached, and you discover new and interesting things about yourself and who you are. Life is good.
Day-to-day cover teaching is usually the avenue of choice for most new teachers. It offers the prospect of learning about the British school system, standard routines you must follow and the overall feel of working in inner-city schools. You…

Don Quijote: A shopper's paradise in Japan

AMID the plethora of bizarre and original stores that I have come across in Japan, one does not quite capture the attention and fascination of shoppers as Don Quijote. The grand Don! Better known as Donki to those who have lived here for some time. I'm not quite sure if anyone really remembers the first time they entered this respectful establishment with its tremendous mixture of useful products and general bric-a-brac.
What I do recall, however is the unending appeal Don Quijote has to shoppers both local and international as soon as they step past its threshold. Donki is indeed the most popular discount store in Japan with with almost 200 branches throughout the country. If one was to ask you to think of 10 completely random products and/or items which may or may not be useful in life, I am quite certain that Donki would come up with all 10 and 25 more to boot. A safe supply of each in the magical storage rooms, wherever they may be. You can find anything and everything in thi…

Immerse yourself in extra-curricular activities

FINDING yourself knee-deep in marking essay papers, exercise books and general school work is something quite common in the heart of every education institution. It's "part of the deal" when it comes to responsibilities and a teacher's solemn duty. Albeit time consuming and tedious at times, it naturally helps a great deal in assisting you with keeping track of student performance and progress throughout the school year. You sigh at the end of the day as you trudge home with bags filled with papers upon papers, your trusty red pen - in your pocket - anxious to comment, correct and criticise. Amid all that hectic progression and time-consumption, I often found myself asking: Why not enjoy yourself at school sometimes?
There are so many opportunities to achieve this enjoyment, too numerous to mention in a single post. However, there are some more obvious activities an often over-burdened teacher can get involved with. First and foremost, however, you must always make …

Why I love sumo wrestling

ONE DOES not come across sumo wrestling so easily in everyday life Japan. It is as if it is a hidden art form, a closed doors meeting place where men of extraordinary skill and strength gather to do battle. Its rules seem simple enough: to push and/or throw your opponent out of a circular ring (dohyo) or onto the ground. But even then, sumo's delicate grace, its subtleness and tradition does not reveal itself until you immerse yourself fully in the sport. One discovers these things slowly and in time, finally culminating with a visit to the famous Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo - an indoor sporting hall specially designed for sumo wrestling.
I had heard of the sport as a child in North America in some form of parody - perhaps in a cartoon - a shadow of its actual grandness as a disciplined, highly dedicated practice. No, a way of life. I was unaware of the true reality of its existence until I had casually come across a broadcast of an event in Japan on one of the TVs in my share hou…

Cover/substitute teaching 101 in London, England

YOU WOULD be amazed how early a person can get up in the morning when they really make an effort. We all have different internal clocks, personal time zones and habits, but when you become a teacher in London your body learns to live with the misty haze and fog of 6:30 am - every day.
This particular time in the morning becomes such a part of you that even when you do reach the weekends, your body diligently beckons you to open your eyes and rise to the same early tune. Thus, robbing you of the vital weekend sleep in. I find this useful in so many ways. Firstly, you get more out of each day, especially when you discover in one inspiring moment how much work and things you can do in a single complete morning. Secondly, and more importantly,this is the time you need to wake up in order to be a successful cover teacher.
Starting off in London as a cover teacher is no small task. Yes, responsibilities are at a minimum and there is no lesson planning involved. However, there are other asp…