Monday, December 30, 2013

On Loving What One Does...

There was a time when a person with a degree from a business school, possibly Stanford or McGill, had job interviews handed to them on a platter. But then along came Google, and they decided that maybe it didn’t matter if your degree was from a prestigious University. Maybe what actually mattered was how passionate you were about your work and whether or not you loved what you did.
I have had the privilege of teaching mostly five and six year olds over the course of twenty-one years and I have loved what I have done. I never wanted to not love it and when I was expecting my first child, I could feel that my priorities had begun to change. It wasn’t that I didn’t love teaching, but all of a sudden my child was more important than my work.  

And so… I took a leave.

When my little fellow went into Kindergarten, I was asked to teach his class and nothing could have been more perfect. I then taught for another 6 years and when my mama died, I again felt a shift inside of me, knowing that even though I loved what I was doing for my life’s work, I needed more time to reflect and so I took yet another break from teaching and sat down to write. I love writing and have been fortunate to be able to write from home, co-write with others around the globe, complete a Masters, and craft my skill.

This past October, I had a call from a local school Vice Principal who asked me if I would come in and cover for a teacher who had just had a heart attack. “Of course.” I said.  The esteemed colleague of mine, who would eventually take almost two months to recover from the heart incident, is well respected and I remembered a time when he rescued our school from a ruinous situation. I wanted to do my best to fill his shoes for as long as he needed me to do so.

Did I mention that he is a Junior High Social Studies and English teacher?

Although I have a fairly good grasp of the English language, am well-read, have a passion for history and world events, and can certainly read a curriculum, I have only ever taught Home Economics with teens. You know, one of the fun subjects where you get to make stuff, and eat.

The day I began teaching the Junior High students, I was shortlisted for a writing job that I had applied to and two days after I had started teaching, I received a call from the Department Head of a college Early Childhood Education team asking me to apply for a certain position and wooing me to work with her. I actually laughed out loud in shock and was on the edge of my seat with excitement over the opportunities that were presenting themselves to me. However, a commitment is a commitment and I had made a promise.

I have high expectations for behaviour as well as studies and I am in awe that those students stepped up to the plate and demonstrated to me that they are capable of great work. And…

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved being with that age group and working within those subject areas. The only trepidation I had, happened on the first day, before I had even left the house to teach, and it was just butterflies in the tummy, and fleeting.

When he recovered and returned, it was with great sadness that I gave the students and the classes back to the “real” teacher, but I am hopeful that an opportunity such as this will present itself to me again sometime.

Thank you amazing teens for spending two extraordinary months with me.

~ Ellyn