Graduations are happening, and they’re giving me this super hopeful and excited view for the future, even though I still have two years left of my undergrad to go plus two years of masters (or BEd). I even made my schedule today, and I can’t believe of how much I focus on my future, and how often I think about my career.
I’ve tried to plan my entire undergrad around masters prerequisites, and around language teaching. If anyone knows me, they’ve probably heard my rants about school systems, language education, the French streams in Canada, and showing children the importance of knowing another language at a young age.
This year I started the D-TEIL (Discipline of Teaching English as an International Language) certificate by practically switching up my year into nearly all LIN courses. Although it was challenging because I did the prerequisites as corequisites, it ended up being super rewarding.
After starting the D-TEIL certificate, I scoured the internet for ESL instructing jobs, but finally was offered a student from a company I had been previously registered with called Tutorbright!
With Tutorbright, they had partnered me with a student who was actually an adult learner, who was in Canada with her family from Saudi Arabia. Before starting, I wanted to make sure I was respecting all of the customs of the family and of my student, so I really inquired with Tutorbright about them and did some research. I also wanted to know more about the Arabic language, so I looked into learning ESL specifically for Arabic learners. I found out about differences between the languages, typical difficulties Arabic students have with English and things I should focus on.
I thought I was absolutely ready to take this on, turns out, I prepared my first five lessons, and after the first one, I scratched them all. I realized that this was going to be a real one-on-one experience and I would have to pay attention to my student’s needs after each lesson and take a new approach to her learning. I did all sorts of things I could come up with after realizing she was a visual learner- we put tape around her house, made charts, made venn-diagrams, I drew a full-size body diagram to learn about body parts, we watched movies with subtitles in English and wrote down words she didn’t know, all sorts of things. I even did a field trip to a coffee shop after we learned about coffee words, and we watched makeup tutorials together when she said she liked my makeup. Not only did it test my creativity, but it tested who I was as a person and to what extent I was willing to go to give someone else a great experience. At the end of my four months with her, it was sad to be leaving my first ever real teaching job, especially since I developed a connection with her! Her family bought me gifts and made me Arabic coffee on our last lesson (which by the way was so delicious someone needs to show me how I can properly make this and with what materials), which made me extremely grateful for the opportunity I was given! I learned a significant amount about her culture, her type of Islam, and all about her language itself.
After the school year was over, I returned to my hometown to start a tutoring internship with the Thunder Bay Catholic School Board. My job was essentially to help students with EQAO preparation and to be familiar with all of the EQAO rules to properly administer the tests. (FYI not a big standardized testing fan!!!) I mostly worked with grade 3’s and 6’s, and sometimes taught grade 5 students spelling, science or gave them tests when the teacher was working with the grade 6’s. It was intimidating at first to be a student teacher in a new school where I didn’t know any of the staff or students, but soon enough it felt like my everyday. The teachers I primarily worked with were fantastic, they gave me a lot of freedom to help the students as I saw fit and they were lovely to have as role-models for the time being. They were all wonderful teachers that had all of the same values as I do in terms of education.
Connecting with a student about one of their hobbies or interests to develop a trust with them made it easier for them to be motivated to do work with me or even have the courage to really try when we did work one-on-one. I love talking with the little ones about their weekends, about what sports they play, what their hobbies are, and then even tell them about mine. I found that the simplest things such as knowing a few words in different languages inspired them like I’ve never seen before! One boy brought pesos in from his dad’s trip to Cuba and they said “Banco Centrale de Cuba” on them and I taught him how to say it, from then on he always volunteered to do extra for me like grab an extra chair or pencil, or even want to come work with me at the back table! It was incredible to see that these children looked up to me so much, and that the littlest things motivated and inspired them so significantly. That same boy said at the end of my placement that he wants to be like me when he grows up and “know a bunch of languages so he can travel around the world and know lots about the world.” How does one not tear up while hearing that?!
I had the opportunity to work with children with visible and non-visible disabilities, and these students really captured my heart over the course of a few weeks. I’m glad I have experience in this side of the teaching field, because schools have become more inclusive spaces with technology for non-verbal students, plans for learning disabilities, and exemptions and accommodations for all tests and assignments per case per student. I’m proud to say I understand a lot more than I ever have about learning disabilities in the classroom and I’d love to be able to further help these children develop and learn strategies to help them for the future.
My placement at the school was incredibly rewarding, and I couldn’t be more thankful for the time I got to spend there. The students made me cards at the end of the five weeks, some cried, I cried and ultimately it could not have ended on a better note. I was able to connect with so many students, and it made me really realize that this is exactly where I want to be in the future.
I want to be the teacher that shows students photos and videos of the world and how that relates to language classes, especially for younger students. I want to be the one that shows the kids how important knowledge about the world is. I want to be the teacher that shows kids that science is more than just reading books, it’s about experiments with the things we have around us. I want to be the teacher that uses visual tools, audio, everything possible to make learning easier for every type of learner. I want to be the teacher that kids can trust, tell me about their problems, when they’re upset or even when they’re as happy as can be. I want to be the teacher that builds foundations for future success, whether the student is 7 or 17, I want to show them that what they’re learning is a tool that they can use again in some way, shape or form. I want to be the teacher that helps put bullying to a halt, because being bullied is something I can understand and will not tolerate in my classroom. I want to be the teacher that treats every single child with respect and dignity, time and time again, and show them that I will treat them maturely with cooperation and respect back- which is the golden rule of course. I want to be the teacher that shows students how inclusivity is one of the most important aspects of life- religious, race, able vs disable, etc. and that everyone is valuable and equal, no one is better than another. I want to be the teacher that teaches kids to recycle from a young age, that the environment is hurting and we need to help as best as possible if we want a sustainable planet to live on. I want to be the teacher that is there for students who need extra help, not just the top scholars, and I want to show them that it is OKAY to not understand things at the beginning and it is OKAY to all be at difference paces. We all can get better if we try our best and work as hard as we can, and there will always be something we enjoy more than another, but we can learn to appreciate our differences.
There are so many important lessons children and young adults need to learn that are key in terms of development and understanding, that I want to be the teacher to show them that. I attended my sister’s High School Graduation yesterday and saw students that I watched grow up behind me, and some of them (that I was closer to and know well) have become these beautiful, mindful young adults that have tremendous passion and dreams. Those dreams and that passion began in their childhood, and a lot of it instilled by their teachers. I would do anything to be able to be a teacher, and then principal, because I see the education system as a whole and how there are so many flaws, and I ultimately want the absolute best for the generations to come. My experiences teaching with ESL and with my school placement have taught me so many strategies, and the importance of teacher/student connection and understanding in education
I know this was rambly, but it’s hard to summarize all of my passion and my dreams for my career in one post, but I hope you all will support me in my Master of Teaching goal one step at a time! I can’t wait to be called Miss. V again!