My reflection of my first 5 years of teaching!
With many years out of teachers college I thought it was time to administer a reflection task (if I didn’t get enough of those in teachers college) 🙂 5 years flew by and on the plane ride over to China to teach I had 14 hours to think and here it is:
This school year ended like a whirlwind. It was also a significant milestone in my teaching career. This June marked my 5 year milestone in teaching. I have always known I love science but teaching is my true passion. My mom is also a teacher and is someone I look up to in my career. All the students at her school would look up to her and when we were in the neighbourhood many kids and then adults came to say hello to her. From working parks and rec since I was 16, teaching art classes and summer camp, it was teaching and working with youth that made my day. After graduating from the inner city education cohort at OISE and have gotten a taste of inner city issues and equity, I knew this was my calling. With amazing instructors that are still mentors to this day I learned so much. I heard that the teaching opportunities were slim but I was on the eligible to hire list with TDSB. I wanted to learn more though and I applied to the masters of urban education program at OISE. I continued it for the next 3 years learning with great profs and equally amazing colleagues with interests in urban education.
It was just 5 years ago I was 23 and teaching 21-65 year olds at SCAS, an adult day school, teaching math and English. It was there I was given a shot by a great admin team to take over 2 English classes and then a math class of my own. Teaching 60 adults from such a diverse background of experiences was very rewarding. I knew though, in my heart it was teenagers I wanted to work with, where I can prevent them from dropping (being pushed) out. The adults were amazing but they realized it was time to go back to school and were back on track to graduate. A great mentor and principal of the school knew this as well and let me know a nearby high school would be hiring. There, I fell in love with the school and the amazing staff who not only gave me chances that I couldn’t imagine but truly respected me. So much so that they let me know how young I was by informing me I doubled in age in one semester and my use of cell phones and technology sounded like slot machines dinging :). Unfortunately I was only 0.5 contract and had no placement for September so I went on some interviews. It was over to Eastern Commerce where at first was reluctant to go, I again, found a great place with amazing mentors and really great students. From credit recovery in almost any subject I ever imagined, to civics / careers and being the sole grade 11/12 chemistry teacher I did it all. It was my first try at coaching with assisting an amazing coach on the football team to running the jr. boys b basketball team. The kids were what kept me going with 6 preps and coaching. Again I had the support of 3 amazing admin who gave me opportunity after opportunity and believed in me to excel. Unfortunately with declining enrolment I was surplus again from a school. At the good bye assembly kids were in tears, booing, and swearing as many of their favourite teachers walked across the stage.
As luck would have it I was placed back at Cedarbrae and it was like I never left. I brought back new ideas and ways of doing things. It was in my masters I was hearing and learning about the big picture in education from teachers, admin, central staff, community workers and instructors. I was again given opportunities to work on curriculum, start on textbook consulting, and work with a team to present ideas and lessons for the Africentric school. This year was great as I presented at many conferences and got to host exploration classrooms where teachers got to watch me teach. To the shock of many they walked in and saw a new/young teacher and seemed sceptical but by the end of the day I had a new found respect from them and I for them. I was lucky to be kept there despite the few scares of being moved again. I wanted to keep on making change so applied to be assistant curriculum leader (department head). I got to be the curriculum leader for the school year. I got to see the bigger picture of how the school works and ways to put in my ideas. I had a lot of support and have made friends and mentors that will last my entire career. I also had challenges thrown at me by colleagues that saw me as making them look bad because of the great work I do. It is sad that you leave high school as a student and enter as a teacher and some teachers gang up and bully others still. The momentum though was continuing and many great opportunities were coming my way. I was working with many community groups both in Regent Park and Scarborough. Pathways to Education was something great integrating in our schools. I got to work with a dedicated team of youth outreach workers who are miracle workers in school and the community. I also started taking in associate teachers (student teachers) which was an amazing two way learning experience.
Again though I was surplus and sent to Monarch Park. I again met another great set of admin and staff that have a school culture like no other. I got to see another new way of teaching and learning with an all star science department. Teaching International Baccalaureate (IB) for grade 9 science and grade 12 chemistry has been a learning experience for me and has opened my eyes to a different set of students in the school. I look forward to another year at Monarch and building on the foundation of last year.
I am grateful to all the amazing mentors and teachers I have gotten to work with from real life and the Twitterverse. I think a lot of my PD and teacher resources are coming from digital sources and on-line connections. You don’t just open a binder any more and let a new teacher copy it. I am thankful for all those teacher, admin and central staff that have given me the numerous opportunities these past 5 years and the projects I have been a part of from hip hop curriculum, conference presentations, committees at the school, family of schools and board level, numerous EdTech companies, professional development, to this year running our own hackathon. I am looking forward to another great year and working on new projects, committees and conferences.
Thanks for reading!