I am sometimes asked by others what my favourite job has been in education. I can honestly say that I’ve loved all of them — Teacher, Science Department Head, Vice-Principal, Principal, Director of Instruction, Assistant Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent and now Superintendent.
I Loved Teaching Chemistry
But the one with the greatest Pure Joy has to be teaching — being in my own classroom and interacting with my students was awesome! I was a ‘substitute’ teacher (now known as a TTOC) in my first year and then taught in 3 different schools for the next 9 years. Those 10 years in the classroom at the beginning of my career were magical.
University Exams — even saying the words brings back anxiety — that pit in my stomach that feels like I might not keep my breakfast down. It was one of the few times in my life where I found my nervousness getting the better of me. I remember the anxiety, the lack of interest in eating, the inability to concentrate when I really needed to bear down and study.
Kinda looked like these – but mine had more tape
On the actual exam day, I wore my favourite pair of Puma runners — to EVERY exam for good luck. Those shoes lasted through 2 undergraduate degrees, dozens of mid-term and final exams … and lots and lots of tape holding them together.
I’m sure I’m not alone in my memory of those times studying when I just couldn’t get stuff to stick inside my head — no matter how many times I read that #$%& paragraph. Of course, it really didn’t help that I was tired and impatient.
I’m a dreamer of sorts. I believe that every day we have the potential to live in an increasingly sympathetic world — a world where we not just tolerate our differences, but a world where we accept and celebrate each other. Some days I see progress, and other days I watch the news on TV.
I remember very few things from my teacher training in the mid-80s. One thing I actually DO remember spending a TON of time learning and implementing was a teaching model of Science education. The model outlined various actions to be accomplished — the ‘boxes’ that we were required to fill-in were called ‘teacher actions’ and ‘student actions’. It was elegantly simple, but also particularly time consuming to write out for every lesson. At the time, it seemed to make some good sense as it laid out the lesson really well — and for a newly minted teacher, I was grateful for the structure it provided me and my lesson planning.
However, even back then I felt like it was missing the point in a big way — it never considered the students as people with different traits, needs, emotions and perceptions. It was completely missing the importance of empathy.