Saturday, June 28, 2014

Introduction: The Success and Struggles

Welcome to my new teaching blog! I would like to take this time to tell you a little bit about my life post-grad. It's been nearly 4 years now since I was officially certified to be a teacher and I would have never imagined that I would be here at this point in my life. 

York University Covocation
June 2010

I've always known that I wanted to become a teacher since I was in 4th grade. I guess I was inspired by many of my teachers and I couldn't see myself becoming anything but one. I obtained my B.A. Hons. in Sociology and B.Ed in Primary/Junior Education in June 2010 from York University. At that time, my only hopes and dreams were to get into a school board in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). I thought my end goal was to become a Classroom Teacher and that was ALL I wanted to achieve. During my student teaching, I received excellent reports from my Mentor Teachers and other students in my graduating class always loved my teaching ideas. I am so passionate about what I do that I thought I had a high chance of getting into a board. So I applied to about 7 school boards  and crossed my fingers! 

While I waited to hear back from school boards, I decided to enroll in AQs (Additional Qualifications). I completed a qualification for Inclusive Education (another passion of mine) and ESL Part 1. I had the amazing opportunity to teach in Taipai, Taiwan for one month in July 2010 as part of the AQ course. It was my first time in Asia in my entire life aka the first time I stepped out of my "comfort zone". I had an amazing experience teaching a 7th grade class of Taiwanese children. 

I returned to Canada at the end of summer 2010 with memorable teaching moments from Taiwan although it was short-lived. But, what was next? It was very discouraging that I had so much passion to teach but I wasn't even offered a single interview from a school board in the GTA area. The demand for new teachers were extremely low. Teachers were lucky to land a supply position. During this time, I resumed my busy life which consisted of part-time jobs as a private tutor, waitress and cash supervisor while I figured out my next move. 

I decided that landing a supply position or a LTO (Long Term Occasional) was not enough for me. I deserved and wanted more than that although you have to start somewhere. I decided to look at options overseas. I was debating between South Korea or London, UK. At the time, South Korea seemed like the safer option. 

So, off I went! I started teaching at a Canadian private school (March 2011) in South Korea. I loved the Canadian curriculum and I was very thrilled to finally have a classroom to call my own. I taught a Senior Kindergarten class and had a blast! My creativity, skills and patience were truly tested this year each and everyday as a new teacher. I knew that I made the right choice by going abroad instead of sitting by the phone in Canada. 

One year later, I was transferred to another branch in Seoul where I was promoted to be the Lead Teacher (It was actually labeled "Head Teacher" but I don't like to refer to it as that since it means "Principal" in the UK). At this point, I realized that being just an ordinary teacher will never be enough for me. I wanted more and I continued to give my kids and school my all! I taught Senior Kindergarten once again but this time, my ideas evolved. I was also in charge of running school events, providing guidance and resources for teachers, etc. 

After a tough decision in February 2013, I decided to explore another part of the world. I packed up my life in Korea and started a new one in London, England. This transition was the toughest of my career. Nobody cared that I was a foreigner unlike in Korea. I was treated as a homeless and jobless citizen. I finally got a taste of what it felt like to "start from scratch" (with some savings thankfully!). I secured a supply teaching position with Engage Education and I started supply teaching in the public schools in East London immediately. I would wake up in my hotel room, set up appointments to look at flats & wait for the call for my supply gig of the day. A day in my first week consisted of getting lost in huge schools, feeling overwhelmed since I didn't know the curriculum well, getting disappointed by the studio flats that agents would show me and then, returned to my hotel room only to try again tomorrow. 

In my second week, I finally found a home that I was happy with (or will do) and was called for an interview at a school not too far from my home. I was told I had to teach as part of my interview which was nerve-wracking since I wouldn't have known the kids, etc. After the interview, the Head Teacher told me to grab a coffee in the staff room so I did what I was told without knowing what was next. So I awkwardly sat there and sipped my coffee. Then, she came back and offered me the position on the spot for a 1st grade class. I couldn't believe it! Everything was finally coming together. No more hotels and supply teaching. I ended up loving the kids and parents (I always do!) and was asked to move to 2nd grade with them. I was so glad to be able to teach them longer than expected. I learned a lot during my time there and my teaching skills continued to grow.

In January 2014, I was asked to come back to my previous school in Korea. This time, I returned as the Principal (aka Academic Director) of both of the schools I previously worked in. I've been in this position for several months now and I've been busier than ever! Managing two schools is not easy as I have to alternate schools everyday and I have to do everything twice. Although it is stressful most of the time, it is also the most rewarding position I've ever been in. Instead of only impacting one class of children, I have the chance to inspire a group of teachers and parents to make a difference in children's lives. In addition, I teach a part-time 1st grade class to stay in practice. I do, however, see myself going back into full-time teaching in the future though. I feel that my teaching career (in the classroom) was very short-lived and I still have a lot to learn. But for now, this is where my career has gotten to in under 4 years. None of this would've happened if I was hired by a school board in Canada. I realized that I LOVE to teach others how to teach just as much as I love teaching children. I am open to take on any opportunities that will allow me to do just that (and much more). I hope and strive to inspire other teachers out there just as many inspired me. Thus, I started this blog! :)

Food for thought: You cannot limit your opportunities based on your age or anything for that matter (many people are shocked and think I am "too young" for this position). Have confidence in yourself and do your best every single day for yourself instead of worrying about what others think about you. Hard work definitely gets recognized and pays off in the end. Think of the ladder as a never-ending one and don't ever stop climbing. Strive to be extraordinary...ordinary is just a fancy word for "boring" and you want to be anything but that! :) 

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