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Reflections of a Returning Teacher

September 16, 2012

When I finished the school year in June I had all intentions of writing a post reflecting on my return to the classroom after working for provincial and territorial Ministries of Education for 12 years. The post did not get written when expected but better late than never.

Some of the questions I have been asked include:

  • How did the year go?
  • What was it like being back in the classroom?
  • Was it a good change?

These are not easy questions with simple answers as they are dependent on when they are asked. Some observations, in no specific order include:

  1. Any new position is a challenge. As I told a colleague, when you are new to a position even finding the bathroom can be a challenge. In a work environment as complex and busy as a school there are many challenges. As the year progressed and aspects of the job became more routine the number of challenges decreased and my comfort zone increased.  Anyone who starts a new position should expect this but I don’t think we are ever really prepared, just prepared to try.
  2. People make the place. I can not speak highly enough of the mentor program at SMUS. My mentor guided me and helped me throughout the year. Everyone at the school was very welcoming and as a result I really felt that I had an awesome support network.
  3. Students are students and as a result the time I spent volunteering in Scouts, BC Family French Camps and other organizations involving youth made the transition easier.
  4. Never lose your sense of humour. You must have one to work in a middle school. A chuckle and a smile go a long way.
  5. Practice what you preach. Having been involved in developing curriculum there is nothing better than having a chance to implement it.
  6. Math is fun and exciting. The math I see in my classroom is not the same as the math I was taught. Sure the concepts have not changed but applying mathematics, solving problems with multiple solutions, debating assumptions, etc. were not things I considered in my middle school classes. It is fine to do some drills but you also need to play the game.
  7. “Kids ar much more mature than adults.” I have said this many times. With a student you deal with an issue and move on. I have not always found this to be the case with adults but seldom not true with students.
  8. Teaching is not a 9 to 5 job. There were many early mornings with a 7 am staff meeting and late nights with parent teacher and coaching. Yes, you do get summers “off” but the year more than makes up for it.
  9. Summer is a good time for professional development (this negates #6) but it is also good to take some time to explore things you love. For me it was a great geocaching summer which was something I was able to bring into the classroom this fall.
  10. Change is great. The person who said a change is as good a rest was not totally right in terms of a career change but it is important to try different things. We are all life long learners.

Two weeks into my second year at the school and I can not be happier with the change. I am looking forward to more blogs about the year as it progresses.

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