So, here I am in my 7th year of teaching and boy how things have changed. I’m just going to put it out there that I LOVE my job. I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to do what I do. On a daily basis, I get to hang out with the coolest kids in the world as well as some of my best friends who are on staff with me. But, my road to success was not always pleasant. There have been a lot of ups and downs. Like everyone, there have been times when I have questioned my career choice and there have been times when I just did not want to go to work in the morning. But, here I am. Stronger than ever before with a genuine smile on my face every day that I get to go in to work, try new things and grow along with my students.
Growing up, it seemed I was surrounded by teachers. My grand-mother was a teacher, my aunt was a teacher, my parents were teachers and 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; teaching was in my blood. I decided to do a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in French and a minor in English so that I’d be qualified for both high school and Primary/Elementary Education courses. Once I was accepted for the Primary/Elementary Education Faculty, my career path was well underway.
Despite the fact that I knew what I wanted to do with my life, at the end of the first week of my internship, I was so overwhelmed, tired and mentally drained; I really questioned if this was for me. However, 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, I knew I was on the right path.
I was lucky enough to be offered a full time permanent teaching position at Glovertown Academy before I even entered my last term of school. So, in the fall, I finished my degree followed by a week of training to teach the ICF curriculum while my boyfriend (now husband) packed, moved and unpacked our things in Glovertown with the help of friends. We knew no one in Glovertown but we were determined to make it work.
A couple of weeks before school, I tried to get myself organized despite the mountain of materials and information that lay before me. I was a bit mesmerized to say the least. There was certainly a steep learning curve of phone trees, duty schedules, yearly plans, getting to know students and school expectations, and finding resources. To be honest, the first two years of teaching were challenging to say the least; you’re learning a new curriculum, learning your own expectations, learning your teaching style, learning how to support every child in your class, the list goes on and on. But, I found a huge difference between my 2nd and 3rd year teaching and it’s only gotten easier each year since.
Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to travel for Professional Development (PD) in Alberta, St. Pierre and throughout the province. I have been asked to present at numerous seminars to colleagues, to Principals who are new to the ICF curriculum, and to teachers that are new to the ICF curriculum. I have completed training so that I can train other teachers on how to teach the ICF program. I have had the opportunity to plan French camps for students in the Central region. In the summer, I’ve travelled numerous times to St. Pierre both as a teacher for professional development as well as a chaperone for grade 6 students from the Central area. I’ve been trained to use SMART Notebook software and TeamBoard software and I’ve trained other staff members to use the programs as well. To say the least, I feel that I’ve had a very successful career so far.
Things I’ve learned as a teacher:
1. Be respectful. To earn respect you must first give respect.
2. Be honest. Students can see through you and know if you’re being honest with them. If you need an extra night to correct that test, just tell them.
3. Go with it. Days will be unpredictable and just as you think things are going smoothly, something will most certainly come up. You need to be flexible and roll with it.
4. Relax. Students learn best when they’re relaxed and that atmosphere is fostered through you. You may be their one source of comfort and security. That comes with a lot of responsibility. At the end of the day, yes, your job is to teach them but I can be sure that it will be easier to do your job if the students feel comfortable and loved.
5. Celebrate. Learn to look for the little things. A fist pump, a pat on the back, a congratulations and an “I’m so proud of you” make all the difference in the world.
I’ve been faced with innumerable challenges and learning opportunities in my 7 years of teaching. I’ve supported students dealing with Mental Health Issues, Autism, family struggles, bullying, ADHD, learning disabilities, cognitive delay, the list goes on and on. I’m a teacher, a mother, a psychologist, and a social worker. Teaching can be a lot of pressure. But, the feeling you get when you know that you are that one constant for the little girl in the corner or when the student who struggles raises his hand and tells you all about his weekend (in French), I know that there is no other career for me.