MY JOURNEY AS AN EDUCATOR

May 04 2017

MY JOURNEY AS AN EDUCATOR

I grew up in a household where neither parent was a native English speaker. I was in the French Immersion program from Kindergarten to Grade 9, and although my English was conversationally excellent, it was academically weak. When I attended an English high school I had a lot of trouble understanding terms in core subject classes; the Math teacher - he might as well have been speaking Greek for all I understood of the terms he was throwing about! My marks dropped - not because I couldn't do the math, but because my academic English was weak. No teacher at my high school would have thought to use ESL strategies with me - but perhaps they should have. I also experienced difficulties in writing essays in English - I was thinking in French and the sentences didn't come out right. Also the way I structured my paragraphs was different. But again - no one thought to classify a student who could speak English like a native as EAL/ESL. And maybe those weren't the right terms to apply to my needs - but I could have used the extra language support in all core subject areas. This experience is what I carry with me in every educational decision I make as a language teacher, during my previous role as a language coordinator, and now as an educational consultant.

 

WHY EDUCATION?

I enjoyed studying Education and excelled at teaching – it was my calling, and became my profession. I have now been teaching for over ten years, and I still have so much to learn. I enjoy working with both staff and students in the ever-changing and challenging world of education. I also have a passion for designing and creating teaching and learning materials, frameworks and planners, and for mentoring teachers. Knowing that I have an impact on future generations of teachers and students makes teaching a rewarding and fulfilling career.


MY CAREER

My career has mostly been centered around teaching language in some capacity; French Immersion, French as a Second Language (FSL) and English as a Second Language (ESL). I have been fortunate to have taught from the Early Years levels to High School. From teaching each level I have developed an awareness and understanding of how children develop psychologically and academically. My experience has awarded me with the knowledge that whichever level I teach in the future, I will know where the child has been, and where they are headed.


LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED

  • As an international educator who has taught at various schools during my career, I never worked for a principal who had the same vision or way of doing things as the previous one. I had to check my ego at the door and start at each new school with an open mind, letting go of what I thought I knew about teaching and learning new methods and approaches.

  • Trends: You need to keep up with new trends and developments in teaching – keep current, because education evolves, and as an educator you have to evolve with it. What you know coming out of University will not be the same mid-way through your career, nor at the end of it. Your knowledge about education and teaching is always growing, and you never stop learning.

  • Language: Being a French Immersion teacher taught me never to assume that a child understands what you are saying. Too often teachers assume that because their students are native language speakers they understand everything. They don’t.

  • I learned the importance of working at a school with a strong vision, structure and framework.
  • Organization: the more organized you are, the more creative you can be.  
  • As a Language Coordinator – I have learned the best way to lead a team of teachers is through a proper framework and planners that match the vision of the school. I have led Professional Development (PD) sessions and assumed that everyone understood what I said. They did not. All teachers have previous baggage from prior schools that leads them to interpret what they are hearing in different ways. Through planners, you can shift the thought process of teachers by changing the steps they take to plan. You can also see exactly how well they understand by looking at how a teacher fills out a planner. I will elaborate on this in future articles.
  • Specialists are an important part of any school, yet too often they are left alone on their islands. Specialists should be included in team planning with mainstream teachers. The biggest impact I ever made on student learning came from being able to tie my ESL lessons into what mainstream classes were learning.
  • Ask questions and push boundaries – never remain stagnant in your career; never become ‘comfortable’.