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

Ben Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

13 Articles Tagged with “England”

  1. That time I made a music video

    The school year ended today at Thetford Academy, where I worked for two years, teaching math and English to English schoolchildren. It was an interesting, challenging time. While I’m happy to be back home, I also miss it very much. In particular, I miss my former Year 10 students, this year’s batch of Year 11s.

    Both years that I was there, I had the privilege of attending the Year 11 Leavers Prom, where teachers and students alike celebrated the massive achievement that is completing one’s GCSE exams. It being a prom, I, of course, danced.

    I love dancing.

    Much to my surprise, my students also loved my dancing—not just the Year 11s, but other years as well.

    So I was sad that this year I wouldn’t be able to dance at the prom, particularly because I had such a good time with that group of students last year. My group were very motivated, and even when they weren’t keen on learning the math, they did their best for me. That meant a lot. Some of the group were also among the first students I taught, back when they were in Year 9 and I was on the now-legendary south…

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  2. Missing winter

    I’m wearing shorts right now.

    Shorts. In March. OK, I wore shorts in March back in Canada—but towards the end of March, when the snow was actually melting. Today it’s so nice that I can go outside and sit in shorts and a T-shirt without so much as a jacket. Crazy.

    A few weeks ago, I asked my dad to send me a photo of the snow back home so I could see what I was missing:

    Snow-covered yards and a freshly-plowed street back home

    I was thinking about how students and teachers back in Thunder Bay had the day off school twice on the same week that I was enjoying a relaxing half-term break—once for Family Day on Monday, and then, as I learned through Twitter, on Friday for a snow day.

    For Canadians, snow days are something magical—maybe even sacred—particularly for children. They are a gift: an unscheduled day off school, with a fresh helping of snow, just lying there, waiting to be transformed into a fort, a snowman, or even that elusive, perfect snowball. I relished snow days as a kid.

    Last year over here in England, I experienced my first two snow days as a teacher. Now, a snow day in England is slightly…

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  3. Moving house

    At the beginning of the month, I moved. I was quite happy with my current roommate and living arrangements at the time, but for reasons beyond my control, I needed a new place to stay. So on my first weekend off in the Easter break, I packed up the kipple of my life here in the UK and moved to a different place in Bury St Edmunds. Happily, the experience has been a positive one—I don’t like change, but this turned out to be change for the better.

    An exterior view of the front of my new place

    My new place is ideally situated. It’s literally in the town centre. The major shopping centre and the high street are less than a few minutes’ walk away, as is the movie theatre and the bus station. The train station is ten minutes, if that, from my house. No more twenty-minute walks into the market on Saturdays! I didn’t mind those so much when it was sunny, but in times of rain or snow it wasn’t that much fun. And now, if I forget something, I can easily walk back to a store instead of wondering if I should just wait until next week.

    My new roommate, Julie, is a woman with…

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  4. You can go home again

    I’ve spent the past eleven days back home in Thunder Bay, enjoying my break and catching up with friends and family. It has been good. I have reconnected with our cats, who began merrily disassembling the Christmas tree one ornament at a time approximately an hour after we put it up. I saw my 3.5-year-old nephew and gave him some gifts courtesy Scotland. I hung out with my mom, watching movies and drinking tea and baking cinnamon buns. And I did much the same with my dad, minus the cinnamon bun part (he did bake two pumpkin pies, though, while I happened to be in the house—does that count?). I saw a few groups of friends, learned how to play Cards Against Humanity, Munchkin, and a few other fun games. Good times.

    Now they are over, and I fly back to Toronto in slightly more than four hours. From there, I take an 8 pm flight back to England and a four hour coach trip up to Bury. Perhaps my least favourite part of travelling (aside from the travelling) is how much time it consumes! However, there is nothing I can do about that. I can only make…

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  5. Teaching and Twitter

    So, my students finally found me online.

    Seriously, what took you so long?

    Not to boast, but I’m easy to find online. There are few enough Ben Babcocks that my various accounts, not to mention my website, eventually show up sometime on a Google search. So I knew it was just a matter of time.

    Knowledge of my online presence has spread quite quickly. I’m not that bothered. Long ago I made a decision to discard anonymity. While it’s a valid option, I found that in my case I wanted to be able to keep my online and offline lives as closely linked as possible. I knew that, with my chosen profession, this might pose some difficulties. However, it also provides a few opportunities as well.

    After all, we are still figuring out privacy in the digital age. Having hit its 20th anniversary this year, the Web remains relatively new. My generation is among the first to grow up with it as a professional platform for self-promotion, self-aggrandizement, and self-expression. We have to suss out what is private versus what is personal. The bottom line, though, is that we are unquestionably making more information available in public (or to…

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  6. Time for a break. How about Scotland?

    October has flown by, mostly in a good way. There have been tough days, long days, days when I’ve curled up with a good book and tried to lose myself from the chaos of the world around me. There have been days when I’ve been despondent, when I’ve cried, when I’ve just been so tired of being here, in a far away place, muddling through a difficult job. But those days happen. And then they are over, and it’s a new day, and I get to try again. Sometimes I get it right, my day goes well, and I feel really good.

    Since my last post, I’ve been up to plenty of interesting adventures! The first weekend of October was Canadian Thanksgiving. We Canadian teachers at my school met up in Norwich (where most of them live) for a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy Jon. It tasted great, especially the stuffing. Jon couldn’t acquire a turkey in time, so he roasted some whole chickens. We ate in style, on paper plates. (I got a princess-themed plate. Oh yeah.) I couldn’t stay very long, because I had to catch a train by 8 o’clock to get back to Bury in a timely…

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  7. I'm an adult now

    I’ve had a good run. Aside from the last period of Friday last week, my last two weeks have been good. It’s still difficult and exhausting, but I’m still surviving!

    I am still coming to terms with the significance of this new chapter in my life, and last Thursday hammered this home. We had an Open Evening, where children from Year 6 and their parents tour the school prior to deciding where to go for Year 7. We teachers were expected to stay there and represent our departments, and so I ended up not getting home until around 9:30. In the hours between the end of the school day and the start of the event, I was hanging around in the staff room and my room, marking and otherwise marking time. And it occurred to me that I was actually a teacher.

    Yes, I’ve been a teacher for a while now—at least on paper, and perhaps even in practice. But it still hadn’t sunk in. With these events in the past, even if I were there helping out as a student, I was still a student. I wasn’t privy to the behind the scenes featurettes in the staff room. That…

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  8. I teach now. Teaching is cool

    I’ve had a long and interesting week, so let’s get started.

    As some background, my school has two sites (North and South) as an artifact of combining two schools. North site is undergoing extensive renovation, with an entire new building being added, so South site is being phased out. I’m teaching entirely in one room on South site. Aside from having a Promethean board instead of a SMART board, I’m OK with this. Firstly, South site is a lot quieter. Secondly, it’s only five minutes (or less) from a bus stop on the route between Thetford and Bury. I have a ride, thanks to a teacher who lives literally at the end of the block, but it’s good to have a backup plan.

    I was told to show up bright and early on Monday morning. Since everyone else was starting on Tuesday, I took the bus, and then took a cab to the slightly more distant North site. The other teachers with my agency arrived shortly thereafter … and no one was expecting us. No one was really there. The administrative staff put us in a room, gave us tea and coffee, and printed off our timetables. Then we left.…

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  9. Life in England: the London edition

    London Liverpool station, fresh off the train

    On Wednesday, I woke up at 4 am, considerably earlier than I am accustomed to doing. I had to catch the 5:30 train to Stowmarket, and from there I took the train to London Liverpool Station. After pausing to gawk at the size of it all, not to mention the number of people, I rode the tube to London Euston station. From there, it was a short walk to the building where Engage Education was holding our induction day. This consisted of several hour-long sessions during which two guest speakers presented about teaching in the UK. Much of the information was familiar to me as a recent graduate from the Faculty of Education. Some of it, particularly the information pertaining to UK-specific details, like being a form tutor, was quite useful.

    After the last session, we hung around the venue for another hour and a half or so as people completed paperwork. It was only about 4:30, but Engage started happy hour a little early, and alcoholic beverages were served. Then at 6 we relocated to a bar around the corner, and most people stayed there until around 10 or 11. Thus went the “social” portion of the night, and…

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  10. Cows of Cambridge, or, Vegetable steamers need to diet

    Day three in England, and I officially have cookware!

    I’m sitting here watching a season 3 episode of Buffy, streaming it from my laptop’s external hard drive to my tablet, which is connected to the TV via a micro-HDMI cable. It’s fun! There wasn’t anything attractive on TV this hour—which was not the case earlier this afternoon. At one point, three different channels were showing reruns of Buffy, Doctor Who, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s common to see some TNG up against Voyager. I watched some Farscape this morning and quite enjoyed it. The abundance of science fiction on British television is definitely a plus.

    I spent more time in front of the television than I would like today, but I spent the rest of it out walking, and we also walked a considerable distance yesterday, when we went to Cambridge. Jodie had some viewings scheduled for places that she could rent with her husband, Ian, and two other teachers who are coming over from Canada. We took the train from Bury to Cambridge, which was easy and pleasant, and then a cab to the first viewing. From there, we walked to the…

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  11. Living in Bury St Edmunds: Arrival

    Hello from England!

    My flight to Gatwick was uneventful—I kind of knew what to expect this time. Several teachers I had met from my iday experience were on an Air Transat flight the same night, but I flew Sunwing. I met up with another Canadian teacher, Josie, teaching at the same school as me. Unfortunately, this flight was not any better than the last when it came to getting sleep. I’m not supremely tired (it’s 10:20 pm local time as I write this), but I know I will sleep well.

    Jodie (not to be confused with Josie), the teacher who put me in touch with my new roommate, is staying here for a few weeks while looking for a new place for her and her husband Ian. Ian is arriving on Tuesday with their dog. I don’t mind having extra people in the house, especially because I’ve already met them, and I think it will make it easier for me to get settled in here. Jodie, having lived for several months already, is certainly a valuable resource. She showed me the way to a nearby superstore (called Asda) so I could stock up on groceries and…

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  12. Moving preparations

    It is hard to believe, but in less than two weeks I will be moving away from Canada to teach in England. What started as a possibility in January has swiftly become a solid reality. Over the last few weeks I’ve received my visa, received my Ontario College of Teachers certification, and booked my flights to Toronto and London. I also made a somewhat unwise trip to the library, where I acquired enough books that I have to read about 1 per day until I leave—hence the marked increase in frequency of reviews lately.

    I leave for Toronto on August 21 at around 3:45 pm. We land a little after 5 pm, and my flight to London–Gatwick airport departs around 10 pm. There’s at least one other teacher going to the same school as I am on this very flight, although I haven’t met her in person yet. I’m planning to meet up with a few of the people I know from the iday who are also flying on that day, albeit with a different airline.

    I should arrive at Gatwick around 10:30 am local time on August 22, where someone from Engage Education is picking us up.…

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  13. 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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