An Ontario Teacher: I’m Finally Here*

You know, I think I’m pretty lucky.

On Friday, as I was rushing to return a laptop cart and race downstairs to my next classroom, I caught myself smiling.  As I waved at one of my coworkers and said hello to one of my former students, I thought, “I love what I do.

It isn’t always easy, and sure, there are days when I certainly wouldn’t be able to say that phrase with the same gusto that I felt on Friday.

But most days, I can unequivocally say that I love being a teacher.

I finally feel like I’m in my career. Two years ago I wrote this post about my experiences and thoughts as an occasional teacher in Ontario. While I was so grateful to be supply (substitute) teaching, it still felt a little like I was stuck at the starting gate, waiting for my career to actually begin.

It was another eighteen months before I felt like a door finally opened.

I wish I could say that although it was long, it was a smooth ride, but life had other plans. I saw the harsher side of supply teaching during that time, where day after day was spent waiting for a call that never came. I had a second chance to interview at the school I had poured my heart into–that I had worked at for several weeks the year before–only to have the door shut in my face.

It was a hard year and a half that made me question things.

I questioned whether or not I was cut out for this profession and all that it demands. Whether I was good enough.

Whether or not this career would be worth the wait.

I can now say, without hesitation:

Yes.

When I was finally hired for my first LTO (Long Term Occasional Assignment) last year,  I went from unsteady supply work one day a week to full-time teaching, planning and marking overnight. It was a huge adjustment, and while I enjoyed it immensely, it was so busy that I didn’t really have time to stop and reflect on that. It took all my energy just to stay on top of things that I didn’t really stop to appreciate where I was.

Where is that, you ask?

Here. I’m finally here.

After four long years, I no longer feel like I’m just treading water–I finally feel like I am moving towards something. That all the time, money and effort I spent was worth something.

I am teaching. Every day. My classes are sometimes challenging, but they are my own. It’s often daunting; knowing that it’s up to me to deliver everything these kids need to succeed. They can choose whether or not to listen, but it’s my job to teach it.

And that is what I love.

It’s amazing to see that “aha!” moment after seeing a student struggle with a new or challenging concept. When they finally “get” the idea you’ve tried presenting in six different ways. Knowing that you’ve been able to give them something… even if they forget it again down the road.

I just love that I get to be in a classroom every single day.

And even though I’m racing through the school to move from one room to the next, during those periods, the kids in those rooms are waiting for me.

I love the hustle and bustle of the hallways as kids prepare for their next classes, stress about upcoming tests, or quickly try and get the gossip of what happened in so-and-so’s class the period before.

I love working in a department with teachers who make it fun to be at work every day. Teachers who are willing to discuss and share resources; teachers who try to work together as a team.

Teachers whom I respect and look up to, yet who treat me as an equal even though I have far less experience.

I feel very blessed to be where I am. It’s been a long, hard road, but it was worth the wait.

Even when I have days (and weeks) where I feel worn down, exhausted or just wholly inadequate, I know that tomorrow will be a new day.

I know that chances are, as I’m navigating through crowded hallways trying to rush to class with my arms full of books, something will make me smile.

And I’ll remember: I’m a teacher.

I’m here. :)

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