Emily WoolfreyGrowing up, it seemed I was surrounded by teachers. My grand-mother was a teacher, my aunt was a teacher, my parents were teachers and eventually, my cousin became a teacher as well. As a teenager, I taught piano lessons, Figure Skating, Cadets, and tutored with the Tutoring for Tuition program; it was decided from a very young age that I was destined to become a teacher. Although I tried different routes from Psychology to Chemistry to Music, I realized that I just would not be content unless it was the Education Program.
From there, I decided to do a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in French and a minor in English to leave myself qualified for both high school and Primary/Elementary Education courses. Once I was accepted for Primary/Elementary and I accepted the offer, my career path was well underway. Not without some doubts though.
Throughout my experience with the Education Faculty, I always had really good relationships with classmates, professors and the Education staff. But there was still some doubt in the back of my mind; was this really what I wanted to do for the rest of my life? But I kept going.
At the end of the first week of my internship, I was so overwhelmed, tired and mentally drained. I really did not think that this was for me. However, I had made it this far, I may just as well finish it. As the weeks went on, the students got to know me, and I started to learn things about myself. When I experienced my first “ah-ha” moment and the big smile came across the students’ faces and my face alike, I knew that I had made the right choice by continuing.
Throughout that semester, I attended many recruitment sessions ranging from Nova Central School District to districts in Alberta. I had only had the chance to apply for jobs in Central by the time I had gotten a call for an interview during the last week of my internship. I cannot describe how nervous I was, waiting for the call at the start time of my interview. However, I was well prepared from my Education degree and had little difficulty responding with confidence. Four excruciating weeks later, I received the call. At the time I was volunteering in the classroom in which I had done my internship and missed it. When I contacted the Central District, they offered me a two year probationary permanent contract!!!! I thought I had hit the jackpot and accepted without even realizing that I had just changed my boyfriend’s and my life for the next two years. Thankfully, he was very supportive and I started my planning as best I could while working part-time and taking 6 courses over the summer.
After finishing my degree, doing a week long course on the ICF curriculum and another two day orientation session for new teachers to the board, I realized how little time I had to actually prepare for my first day of classes. I was petrified to enter this unknown world into a class full of students who knew that this was my first day of teaching on my own, ever!!!!!
However, my wonderful grade 6’s took it easy on me. My position was 60% grade 6 ICF, and Core French grades 4, 5 and 7 until February. After that, my 60% grade 6 ICF would switch over to Language Arts, Religion, Health, Social Studies, Art and Core French time, although continuing with the ICF curriculum in that slot. Despite the steep learning curve of phone trees, duty schedules, yearly plans, getting to know students and curriculum and finding out where resources were, I got through it. I can’t tell you that every day was heaven, but there are days that I come home, happy as a lark, knowing that I reached them today.
Routines do not come automatically, students push boundaries of new teachers, teachers do not already know the strengths and challenges of students, and you do not know how you will react when put in everyday situations. Teaching tests you to your limits but is so worth it in the end. When you finally see the light come on, students taking risks, or you can joke about something or another and you develop the bonds that you know will last a lifetime with the student you never thought you’d connect with, every trial you faced is forgotten. With the spring comes hope and anticipation for what you can change, what you can make better, what you can accomplish next year; every year is a rebirth and you will always get a chance to improve!