Life as an international teacher in Ottawa

Life as an international teacher in Ottawa

For the first time this issue of Global Connections highlights the experiences of four teachers from Spain with the Fundación Amancio Ortega (FAO) Program who participated in OCENET Teacher Training and were in placements in OCDSB schools from January to June 2018.

Maria is from Madrid and finds Ottawa a bit quieter than her city in Spain. Maria has a background in Art History and taught for two years before coming to Ottawa. She was surprised to find Ottawa to be such a multicultural place and finds that having students from all parts of the world enriches the classroom. Maria has been placed at Gloucester HS and Sir Wilfrid Laurier SS where she has learned much about critical thinking strategies, questioning techniques and student centered learning, which she aims to share with teaching colleagues in Spain in the future. She likes seeing how the methodologies learned in the Teacher Training program are being actively applied in classrooms. In Ottawa, Maria started to learn how to play the guitar.


Assigned to both Sir Robert Borden HS and Woodroffe HS, Sandra enthusiastically embraced many of the new teaching strategies she has learned. She sees the value of student-centered approaches and critical thinking skills. Sandra likes that emphasis is placed on the learning process and not just on the final product. She finds that Canadian teachers are hard-working, that they work collaboratively, and that they really seem to love their jobs. She is not such a big fan of Canadian winters! While in Ottawa, Sandra joined an evening dance group. In short, Sandra has greatly appreciated her time in Ottawa because it has “opened up a new world of educational possibilities.”


Natalia is from Valencia where she has worked as a Special Education teacher for 5 years. She saw the FAO program as a great way to improve her teaching practice and likes that the program offers a balance between educational theory and practical in-school placements. For the past four months she has been assigned to Nepean HS and Broadview PS, but has taken the opportunity to visit many other OCDSB schools to observe Special Education classes. She has been impressed by the way Ontario schools use technology and offer accommodations to students with special needs. She has enjoyed all of the new people she has met and found that living in a Homestay with students from three other countries has been a major highlight.


In Spain, Emilio calls Granada home. One of the reasons he applied to the FAO Program was to have the opportunity to live and learn abroad. From his arrival in Canada, Emilio found the staff at OCENET extremely helpful in supporting all of the Spanish teachers adjust to life in Ottawa. Emilio has been at Merivale HS since January and appreciates how the whole school has made him feel included as a staff member. He has been observing classes and has assisted students in a Grade 9 Math class. During his time in Ottawa, Emilio joined a soccer team. Upon his return to Spain, Emilio will be preparing for the national teachers’ examinations.

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