On being a teacher.

by - May 25, 2011

I became a teacher initially because I wanted to pursue my love of a second language, le français, but I've continued my career because of the students. They amaze me every day.

What I love the most about my classroom are the different faces in it: I love how each student brings something different to the group and I enjoy learning about their passions and their lives. Maybe it's because I teach in the immersion program and we have the same students from Grade 9-12, getting to know them better than you would in a random class.
And because I feel I get to know them well, they in turn become a part of my life.
My students influence me. They inspire me. They push me (sometimes good and sometimes bad). Even when I have a more difficult relationship with a student, nothing thrills me more than to see that student succeed in the end.
They make me want to be a better teacher and I have to be because it's never guaranteed that I teach in my areas.
Which I don't.
I have a major in French and a minor in Fine Arts, but I teach mostly History and Christian Ethics. My time not teaching (evenings, weekends, summers, holidays) are spent learning so that I at least know what I'm talking about and can keep at least a step ahead of them during the semester. History is a subject that never really interested me until I had to teach it. In one semester I need to cover everything from the Neolithic period to Mesopotamia to the Greeks to the Romans to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance then the many Revolutions, British Monarchs, Wars of Independence, the Enlightenment, Inventors, Inventions, the World Wars, Dictators, Important Dates, Everything Canadian from beginning to End and why that all happened and how it affected our world.
Man, I get a headache just thinking about it.
So on top of learning it all, I somehow teach it, try to engage my students, make the projects interesting, the exams valuable, correct said exams and projects, and plan lessons that will keep all 32+ brains focused and somewhat entertained. And that's only for a couple classes. Let's throw in Christian Ethics where we cover the basics of Christianity, Moral Ethics & the life of Jesus in the first 3 grades and then World Religions in the last, all with the goal of giving students a basis of something that they can make moral and ethical decisions in their life & somehow find answers to major questions. Now that's only during my teaching hours. There's extra-curr on top of that and contact with parents...the list could go on forever. I am never not busy.
Teaching is overwhelming at best. But I love it and I'll teach until I can't relate to kids anymore, because I don't want to be the teacher who teaches out of a box and doesn't have a relationship with their students. I can't just instruct. I need to interact and know how their days are going and if all is well in their worlds. If I don't have that, then I'm not a teacher.

My job isn't easy nor is it glamorous and it frustrates me that the public seems to hang on to the "they have the summers off" and "they work easy hours" arguments during the current striking/bargaining situation. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it seems to be that because everyone has been through school and has seen a teacher at work, up close and personal, they seem to know exactly why we don't deserve a raise.
That's what I don't get. I work hard and I like to think that I've touched at least one life in the probably 1000+ faces I've taught. And if I've done that, then I'm happy. Who's to say I don't deserve a raise.

I think teachers deserve a raise, but also I think teachers deserve the respect and recognition from the public. We are not just babysitters who get paid really well to work short hours and lounge in the sun during our holidays. I know that many teachers have made me the person I am today and I'm grateful for their work in the past. So thanks Mme. Matheson, M. Simonot, Mlle. Chan and M. Gervais for all you did for me, years ago. And I would hope that when my kids get to school, that they would have a teacher who inspires them to be better people, to be lifelong learners, to make good decisions and to treat people with love and respect.
I believe that when we invest in our teachers, we are investing in our youth and our future.

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  1. Well said Deena. I completely agree with you. I taught a different grade every year and therefore started from scratch every year. The planning and marking really cuts into family time as it definitely isn't a 9-3:30 job like so many think.

  2. I couldn't agree more. I think you should mail this post to your MLA. He/she should read it.

  3. Well said Deena. I agree with Jordan, you should send this one in. I spent a couple hours today writing my letter to our MLA and it isn't nearly as good as yours! We DO make a difference... Too bad in times like this people only remember their negative experiences in school!


Have a lovely day!