My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

7 Articles in June 2012

  1. Iday Diary for Saturday, June 23

    This is my last iday diary entry. It is short, on purpose. Only so much of interest can happen in seven-hour plane ride over the Atlantic, and this is going to be short on introspection because I’m still processing a lot about my time over there.

    We awoke early for a 7 am drive to London Gatwick, a trip that took about 2 hours. This was a time of goodbyes: Jodie was staying in Bury, of course, where she lives and still works; Ian would be staying with her. Arushi was going home, but our flight was full so she was booked for the next day’s; a separate taxi drove her to a hotel in London. We bid these three farewell and hopped in the van. I took the opportunity to catch more sleep during the drive, while everyone else reminisced about the night they had.

    I got to see more of Gatwick airport this time around. We queued through the check-in for Air Transat; the attendant took issue (probably rightly so) with my torn suitcase. Unfortunately, my ineptitude with any manual task meant it took me far too long to wrap tape around the bottom of it. Sorry, physical…

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  2. Iday Diary for Friday, June 22

    Last full day in England! This time we left very early to drive to the school I was visiting. It was one of the more distant schools, plus my driver was dropping someone else off at another school. So at 7 am we left the hotel and began the long drive down to Werrington, near Peterborough, so I could see Ken Stimpson Community School. It’s interesting that this school and Thetford were my first and last interviews of the day, respectively. I had ranked them rather high on my own personal list, but I guess I came across well early in the day and at the very end.

    With such a positive experience at Thetford, it seemed like I would do nothing but judge Ken Stimpson by comparison, but they really are quite different schools. Thetford is two campuses in a state of flux; it has a frenetic kind of energy from administration to the English department. Ken Stimpson, by contrast, is very orderly. I’ve already remarked upon the campus-like nature of UK schools, but this one felt even more like a university campus. Lots of key fob authentication and basically an entire wing dedicated to staff activities.

    The “community”…

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  3. Iday Diary for Thursday, June 21

    Another early day for me—this is starting to become a pattern. Breakfast at 7:30, followed by a seminar-kind of training session with a head teacher. He covered some of the terminology in the UK curriculum that we might not be familiar with, and then offered guidance for those of us who had to plan lessons in the next two hours before going out to visit schools. The school I was visiting today did not ask me to teach a lesson. In one respect I was lucky—I had plenty of time to prepare for the lesson I would teach at tomorrow’s school—but in another respect, teaching an audition lesson provides information about how students at that school might react to you as their teacher.

    So I worked a bit on my lesson for Friday’s school while the morning turned to afternoon. At noon, we left the hotel and began driving up to Thetford, in Norfolk, where Taylor, Monica, and I would get a bit of a tour of Thetford Academy. Our driver hadn’t been to Thetford before, so he got somewhat lost. We didn’t complain, because this meant more charming English countryside. To complicate matters, Thetford Academy has two campuses as…

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  4. Iday Diary for Wednesday, June 20

    Me, dressed in tie and sports coat, ready for interviews

    Interview day. I woke up early—I think around 5:30—to make sure I had enough time to prepare before breakfast at 6:30. In particular, I was worried about my tie, which up until now I had only practised. Now it was time for the real thing. Doing up the top button on my shirt was tricky too, and as I went down to breakfast I felt quite self-conscious. All this fancy dress is foreign to me, but it’s something I’m going to be doing a lot in England—as in, every day when I go to work.

    Turns out I don’t suck quite so badly at tying a tie as I worried, and after enough reassurances from others at the table I decided to shut up and focus on getting into an interview mindset. To be honest, I wasn’t all that worried. Thanks to some marvellous practice with my partner student teacher, Erica, I was feeling prepared. I knew how to answer my questions; I was confident in my ability and passion as a teacher; I had this down. Now it was just a matter of waiting.

    We were picked up by minibus and driven to the Athenaeum, a subscription club in…

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  5. Iday Diary for Tuesday, June 19

    The customs line at London Gatwick grew quickly. There must not have been an international flight for few hours, because few stations were open when we arrived, and several of them were being staffed by trainees. We stood in line, dead tired and late to meet our drivers, waiting to be processed. Karianne advised us not to say that we were “looking for work” (because apparently that’s code for “I’m a shiftless migrant trying to get into the country”) but rather that we were here for “job interviews”. A likely story indeed.

    Somehow I managed to get into the country, and then we grabbed our luggage and made our way out into the arrivals section of the airport. Britain! We met our drivers and briefly popped into the Marks and Spencer to grab some food and drink for the ride to Bury St Edmunds—I was starving. There were two drivers, and they decided to split the 9 of us by taking three of us in one van with the majority of the luggage and the remaining 6 in the other van. I inveigled my way into the van with three people on the reasoning that it would be quieter and…

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  6. Iday Diary for Monday, June 18

    In order to better cover my experiences in detail, I’ve decided to write a post for each day I was away in England, publishing it on the same day this week. I also recorded video footage that I hope to have edited by the end of the week! Without further ado, here’s what happened on Monday.

    My flight from Thunder Bay to Pearson left at 6:30 Monday morning, so I was up a few hours before that to finish packing and prepare for what I knew would be the longest day of travel I had ever had. After much Youtubing about folding my sports coat properly, I zipped up my suitcase and headed out in the rain to the car, where my dad was waiting to drive me to the airport.

    The flight to Toronto went without incident, and we landed slightly before 8. My flight to England wasn’t until 10 pm. Fortunately, I had arranged for one of my friends from professional year to pick me up. After a brief tour through Terminal 3 to see where I should go that evening and a stop for an unsatisfying breakfast sandwich, I returned to the arrivals area and lurked there…

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  7. Coming Soon: In England!

    It’s been an interesting few weeks. I have a lot I want to blog about—my new tablet, Mass Effect, books, leaving the art gallery, etc. Despite my free time, I keep finding ways not to do it. So far.

    I’d love to talk about how much I’m enjoying my Asus Transformer Pad, but I don’t have time. I need to go to bed. Tomorrow morning I fly to Toronto, and from there in the evening I’ll be bound across the ocean, to England.

    Yeah.

    I’ve mentioned this a bit on Twitter, but not so much here on my blog: I’m actively looking for teaching jobs in England. By “actively” I mean going to England to do it. One of the recruitment agencies is paying for my flight over and has set up an intensive day of interviews, followed by one or two days of visits to schools. It’s an extremely cool event with the potential to land me a full-time job for the fall. I’m excited—and terrified.

    Moving to England feels a little out of character for me. As I came to terms with having to move away at all to get a job teaching, however, I decided…

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About Me

I’m a 26-year-old math and English teacher back in Canada after two years teaching in England. In my free time, I read books! When I’m not reading, I’m writing, coding, or knitting.

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About this site

I started coding websites, in bad HTML on Geocities, in 2004 in a fit of whimsy. Since then I’ve learned PHP/MySQL, coded my own blog software, and rebuilt this site several times. With the exception of the blog, it’s currently running on the exquisite Symphony CMS. This website is hosted by HawkHost

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