Becoming a Teacher: Real Life Experiences

The mentor, supervisor, or instructor. Call them whatever you want, but the teacher is an academically noble career.

They’ve ignited our curiosities, guided our passions, and gave us stickers for a job well done. Without the humble school teacher, we may not be able to understand the world the way we do today.

Do you have a passion for teaching? We sat down with a practicing teacher in Ontario, and here’s what she had to say about her experiences. Prospective educators, take notes!

1. What motivated you to pursue a teaching career?

All in all, I’m not quite sure where my motivation came from, but I do know that I’ve always liked school. Exams are tough and studying can be hard, but I enjoyed being in classrooms.

I volunteered at an elementary school to complete my 40 hours of community service for high school. I also got a part-time job at my university where I ran training sessions in a class on campus to prep student leaders.

You’ve got to try things to see what you like and to understand what motivates you. Today, it is my students that motivate me to give them the best classroom experience possible.

2. Can you tell the readers what subjects you’d like to teach and who you’d like to teach to?

I am in the process of obtaining my Bachelor of Education degree. Once I’m done, I will be qualified to teach the Intermediate/Senior divisions (Grade 7-12), with two specializations in Biology and French.

Teaching French is lots of fun because of the freedom I have to create authentic scenarios that allow students to be engaged in their learning. Teaching science is fun because of the hands-on labs that you can do, such as chemistry demonstrations, animal dissections, and experimental investigations.

Having just come out of a wonderful experience where I taught Grade 9, 11, and 12 students, I think I prefer teaching high school students rather than elementary students. But in the end, who I teach doesn’t really matter to me. As a professional, I will adapt my teaching methods to my students’ needs, interests, and learning preferences, regardless of their age.

3What is your educational background? Are you pursuing any post-graduate studies?

I graduated from the University of Waterloo with an Honours Bachelor of Science. I have a major in Biomedical Sciences and a minor in French. Currently, I am pursuing a Bachelor of Education from the University of Nipissing.

I don’t plan on continuing any further post-secondary or graduate programs, aside from the Additional Qualification courses that will allow me to expand the number of subjects I will be qualified to teach.

That being said, all humans are lifelong learners.

I plan to continue with my independent studies in order to master the French and Vietnamese languages. I will also be dabbling into Java, with a bit of graphic design practice here and there.

4. From your experience so far, what do you enjoy about teaching? Are there any drawbacks?

I enjoy the interactions I have with my students, and seeing them try their best to meet challenges I throw at them. Not all students come to school with a desire to be there, but there is a good person in every student.

I enjoy finding really interesting and creative ways to relate curriculum content to everyday life, and see students give that look of “A-ha! So THAT’s why!”

Teaching is an occupation from which you can’t truly clock out.

The day technically ends at 3pm, but there is never time during working hours to complete everything. Teachers do twelve months of work in ten months. It takes a lot of energy to invest yourself in your students every single day of the week.

The government is constantly trying to make education cuts. Regulation 274 means waiting years before you can get full-time, permanent work in Ontario, with no guarantee of consistent work as a supply teacher. But the biggest drawback is having to see a student whom has been abandoned by their teachers, the administration, or their family.

5. What advice can you give to people who want to pursue a teaching career?

Teaching was not my Plan A. With the job market for teachers the way it currently is in Ontario, I knew it was an unreasonable job to pursue. And so, I applied to university with the an open-mind.

I spent 3 years searching for my Plan A; I wanted a job that would be enjoyable, practical, and get me the money I needed to be independent. I attended speed-networking sessions, job information sessions for science careers, and I interviewed people whom were doing something I could see myself doing as a career. I felt like a surfer trying to catch the perfect wave, but I quickly learned three important lessons:

1. Perfection does not exist.

2. It doesn’t matter if you miss a wave. Being ready to catch the next one is more important

3. Analogies are great for making class content relevant to your students. Huzzah!

So, my advice is to view the work with a wide lens. Have a goal, but don’t trick yourself into thinking that you can only achieve success by following one road.

Circumstances will change; you will change.

Do your research, and speak to those in the field/career you’re interested in pursuing. Only they will be able to give you the insider perspective. Remember to be open-minded.

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