How I Decided to Become a Teacher
Guest post by Kaitlan (Elementary Education student)
No matter how sure you are, deciding to go back to school is a big decision. It means that your life is going to change in one way or another… and change can be scary.
If you’re anything like me, you like to know what you’re getting yourself into, and like to plan. But as I’ve learned over the years, you can’t plan for everything… and often, that’s a good thing.
Before I go on, I should introduce myself. My name is Kaitlan and I am currently a PDPP student for elementary education. PDPP = Post Degree Professional Program, meaning that all 34 of us in this program have a previous undergraduate degree.
I did my undergrad in Recreation and Health Education (RHED) here at UVic, and it was an amazing program. I met my best friends in the program and completed four amazing co-op terms which opened up so many doors.
Co-op gave me the opportunity to get hands-on experience in my field of interest as well as exposing me to things I wouldn’t have attempted on my own accord.
I remember a big turning point was when both a friend and my co-op coordinator Nancy Reed encouraged me to do a co-op term abroad. Having grown up in Victoria and not traveled much, I was both excited and scared.
After a few tears, and lots and lots of support from UVic, I mustered the courage to hop on a plane towards Wales as I set off to live in a castle for a summer. And I have to say, it was the best decision I ever made. Not only did my course work start to make more sense while working in the field, I also got to push myself and grow as a citizen of the world.
Fast forward a few years later… after graduating I went traveling and when I returned I was lucky enough to land a job as the Recreation Program Coordinator for a local community centre. This was a pretty big deal to me and I contribute a big part of my success to all of the hands-on experiences UVic facilitated; including work experience, counselling, resume and interview support.
After working three years as a program coordinator, I realized something was missing. I felt a lot of guilt… because I had a great job, supportive coworkers, and a great work-life balance… but after many therapeutic walks along Dallas Road with a good friend, I realized that my educational journey wasn’t over.
Fast forward again to last September, and I find myself standing among thirty-four other people, no clue what I had got myself into, again, and scared… again. I was scared I made the wrong decision, and scared that I would fail at one of the most important jobs in the world – being a teacher.
The PDPP program is fast paced, and program launch day (orientation) was no exception. After a great day of icebreakers, we were off to the races. I think it was our second week into the program and we were not only well into our course work, but we were getting out and into classrooms in the Sooke school district. It was these days, spending time with students (I was in a grade six class), that I once again had that “this is the best decision I ever made” feeling.
Getting out of our classroom and into the schools was a huge highlight. Second term, in our math and science classrooms particularly, we were shown by example how we can implement the curriculum in fun and exciting ways.
At one point our math teacher, Santosh, was talking about ‘hooks’ (as in how to get student’s attention and sucked into the lesson), and then the next thing we know she’s dressed as a pirate… I mean really showing us what a good ‘hook’ looks like! I think I got abs after that class from laughing so hard.
In science, we were shown one amazing experiment after the other, getting us out of out chairs, and out of the class. Going into practicum I was able to take so much of what we learned in our class, into ‘the’ class… and even though most of it looked completely different than I envisioned it, I’m proud that I was able to put my fear aside and was able to take risks.
The six weeks of practicum was a whirlwind. I found it both challenging and rewarding. Reflecting on practicum I have a better sense of who I am as a teacher, and what I need to work on. Some of the biggest things I learned are to go easier on myself, and to be open minded and willing to continue to challenge and educate myself.
Going into the summer term, I knew I needed to soak up every ounce of knowledge that our professors have before heading into the fall where we will complete our final nine-week practicum. And while I still have my moments of “woah, this job isn’t going to be easy,” I feel really lucky that I’m here, with this group, in this program, learning to become not only a teacher but a lifelong learner.
Thank you for reading and I wish everyone well on their journey through education 😊
“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” – Albert Einstein