Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Beijing, Round 2

I've had another interview with the Beijing school.The first was with the principal and your usual fare: 
  • What experience do I have teaching kindergarten? 
  • How would I organize a kindergarten classroom?
  • How are my classroom management skills?
  • Why would I be a good addition to their school?
  • What has made me want to work and live in China?
  • What are some of my strengths?
  • What are are some of my weaknesses?
  • How do I feel about parent communication? What would I do to facilitate open dialogue?
  • How do I assess learning? What documentation would I keep?
  • How do I go about planning lessons? 
  • What do I feel is important regarding kindergarten learning?
As the principal explained it, the interview was mean to determine if I had the technical qualifications for the position. If, in her opinion, I did, she'd then pass her notes along to HR and the school's director. 

Well, I had my second interview, this time with both the principal and the director of operations, both of whom are very friendly and personable. It was more about ensuring I had a clear idea of the school and its expectations than anything else. It's a Canadian school that's only in its third year of operation, its student body, currently just over six hundred, kept purposely low. Most of its students are affluent Chinese nationals, looking to learn English and prepare themselves for eventually continuing their education in North America. They're still awaiting licensing from British Columbia and, though they borrow heavily from the B.C. curriculum, they also take elements from Ontario and Nova Scotia and tend towards generalized learning expectations. Like many schools, their goal is to be a part of the community 

In regards to responsibilities, in addition to planning, teaching, and assessment, I'd be expected to volunteer for an hour after school while the kids are participating in various activities waiting for their parents to pick them up.  There's no special needs focus at the school, but they're flexible in terms of differention. Their focus is getting the knowledge downloaded into the kiddies' brains; how I'd go about achieving that goal is open to discussion so long as it's based on the individual needs of the student in question. 

With regards to the students, the two main issues students present are in regards to ESL and discipline. Spoiler Alert: Chinese children speak Mandarin. I know, I know, total surprise, LOL. However, it could prove a challenge when the only English speaking person in the room is the adult trying to teach them. Discipline-wise, most of the kids are only children coming from homes where they're the centre of attention for seven adults (parents, both sets of grandparents, and a nanny). Sharing anything with other children - never mind an adult's attention - is something they have virtually no experience with. Challenging, but not the worst to deal with.

All in all, it sounds very promising.  The school's still growing, still forming itself and finding its own identity. Getting in on something like this while it's still in its infancy, being able to have a hand in influencing its about your once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Even if it is in Beijing, LOL.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Montreal Comic Con

Comic Con was AMAZING. Pure and simple. On Friday morning, Daddy drove me down to Verdun for 9.30AM and Paula and I got ourselves organized as volunteers. I spent almost the full six hours working at the Photo Ops booth, sitting down while doing the cash. Fifteen hours of volunteering would get me a full refund of my 3-Day Pass so I wanted to get as many hours down as possible right off since none of my OMG MUST SEE events were on Friday. Uncle Peter picked us up at the metro afterward and we returned to the house for hamburgers, chatting, and bed.

On Saturday, in between more volunteer hours and perusing the dealers' room, I went to the Billy Boyd  Q&A at 11.00AM. Big shocker: Billy Boyd is not a tall man. Sadly, whoever had set up the table and stools on stage apparently missed the memo; Billy Boyd literally had to CLIMB his stool to take a seat and then had that delightful facepalm moment when he realized he was too far from the table for it to do him any good. And, also? The organizers had forgotten to provide him with water. Expecting Billy Boyd to talk for nearly an hour sans aqua is not a good idea - there could be no Pippin singing! *snibble* He was hilarious, though, telling about his angst over the remodeled Hobbit feet coming too late to spare him the horror of the LotR model.

I haunted the autograph area afterward, catching glimpses of Danny Glover, Hulk Hogan, Robert Edlund, Karl Urban, and the cast of Star Trek TNG. *sigh* So, so, so cool!

At 13.30PM, I went to the Patrick Stewart Q&A.  He was pure hilarity, right down to his facial expressions. He explained the proper way to address a knight (Sir + FIRST name, not last) and the origin of the Picard Maneuver (Gene Roddenberry loathed seeing the fabric bulge when actors sat and stood and, after Stewart's chiropractor vetoed the original super-tight uniforms, the Picard Maneuver was born as the compromise).

At 16.00PM, I attended the Stephen Amell Q&A which was awesome. More so than the others, it was really fan driven and he was really personable in all his answers.

And then...then came Sunday, the best of the days. Thanks to Mr. Hip, I was second in line for my photo op with Stephen Amell. His rep had requested no handshakes, on account of his hand being strained from training, but he nonetheless offered me his hand to help into the photo area while Paula held my cane. Which, naturally, led to this:

Afterward, Paula and I were first in line to have our picture taken with LeVar Burton. As my cousin put it, the librarian, the teacher, and the Reading Rainbow host...and damn but it made a good photo.

See? What I tell you.

Also, SPOILER ALERT, we then had the pictures autographed. Shocking, I know.

We concluded Comic Con with Karl Urban's Q&A. Now, THERE is a celebrity who knows how to connect with his fans, even shooing off the coordinators reminding him of his time limits. He had a good mix of Lord of the Rings, Almost Human, and Star Trek questions and tried his best to answer them all. He told a hilarious story about pranks (Neutron radiation, ha!) on the set of Star Trek into Darkness When one girl asked for his opinion on rank not being shown on the female uniforms in the new Star Trek franchise, something he'd never noticed, he not only promised to look into it and even request the rank be removed from Bones' uniform if it persisted in the third film, he asked the girl come meet him at his booth following the Q&A for a photo and autograph.

The weekend ended with pizza back at Auntie Eileen and Uncle Peter's with my dad.

Best. Weekend. EVER.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Job Hunting

Blah. Just...blah. Have I mentioned lately (okay, yeah, probably not) how totally, absolutely, completely I loathe the whole job hunting process? I saw this movie the other night - Reading, Writing & Romance with Eric Mabius who, incidentally, I'm really loving in Signed, Sealed, Delivered, probably because he reminds me of The Middleman. But I digress. My point was in Reading, Writing & Romance, Mabius plays this out-of-work actor who agrees to be a substitute English teacher at his old high school while awaiting his big break. He landed the gig because his old high school teacher had become principal and had kept in touch with his parents since his graduation. Needless to say that by the end of the movie he's realized his true passion is teaching, not acting, has been offered (and of course accepted) a permanent position with the school, has thoroughly inspired his students who will all no doubt go on to great success, and, of course, has won the girl and is all set for his happily ever after. He didn't even WANT to be a teacher, for crying out loud!

So, clearly, I'm at that stage where the ease of career success for FICTIONAL CHARACTERS offends me. I'm sure that will bode well.

I've had a couple of interviews. A school board in Alberta interviewed me twice, but ultimately decided to go with another candidate. I signed up for an agency - Seek Teachers - that's basically headhunters for international teaching positions. The process was fairly straight forward:

  • STAGE 1: Submit your CV, build your online profile, submit necessary documents
    This is beyond easy since the website is set up lead you through the step-by-step process, one document at a time
  • STAGE 2: Have interview with assigned consultant
    A little tougher for obvious reasons - it was done literally the day before I flew home via Skype. Basically it was your general interview (What has your experience been like? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What are your classroom management skills like? etc.) with a getting-to-know-you slant. My consultant, Winney, was friendly, engaging, understanding, informative, honest - everything you could hope for, given the intention. It went very well.
  • STAGE 3: Documents are vetted by the Compliance Team
    Quote: "Your documents have now been sent to our Compliance Team who will ensure you meet our vetting standards.  If there are any documents or information that is still required the Compliance Team or your consultant may be in touch"
  • STAGE 4: Interviews
I had an interview not long afterwards with Eton House Shanghai but...I just don't think they're for me. They were very keen on specific teaching methods and philosophies and, honestly, I could barely keep track of which is which and who is who, let alone all the what and why, while I was in teacher's college, let alone two years down the road.

I have another interview tomorrow night with a school in Beijing. After that, I'll be spending the weekend at Auntie Eileen and Uncle Peter's because, yup, that's right...COMIC CON! *happy dance*