Claire’s 2nd Annual Reflection on Teaching!

My second year of teaching was filled with a lot of laughs, a little bit more confidence, and amazingly, some downtime. I learned a lot from my first year of teaching, and I revisited some of those lessons again in my second year. I’m not going to bore with you a repeat of what I wrote last year, so here’s something different: Things I was Thankful for in my Second Year of Teaching.

1. Coworkers

Wow, I didn’t know what a difference coworkers could make until I met the amazing people I worked with this year! I started off this past school year in the French office, which was full of young ladies like me. There was a mix of personalities and backgrounds, but everyone was so open and friendly that I felt like I fit right in pretty early into the school year. It also helped that one of my office-mates invited me to have lunch with her (and some other staff members) everyday in the staff room. (Teachers, use your staff room! It’s usually a pretty nice space and it’s almost always empty!) I felt like I was plugged in to the staff community, and it made going to work a much more enjoyable experience. For second semester, I moved into a different office: geography (more on that later … see #2). I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to be myself/I would have to be more professional and less relaxed, but it turns out that this office was just as crazy as the last one! (Seriously, I would enter the room and something would happen to make me start laughing immediately. Lots of mishaps with the coffeemaker …) To be friends with your coworkers is not something that people should expect, but it truly makes a world of a difference. This is also not to say that we didn’t get any work done! We were still able to collaborate and work together to come up with some awesome programs and ideas to help our students, and we constantly shared stories of things that worked or didn’t work in our classes. But we were also able to talk about our personal lives and interests, and that really helped me feel like I was part of a family at this school.

2. Coursepacks

Coursepacks can be a very controversial topic. (How can you plan for the whole course if you don’t know your students yet?! This is a waste of paper! Coursepacks are expensive!) But I got saddled with teaching Grade 9 Geography (a course I despised when I was in high school), and the coursepack saved my life. Instead of acting like a needy, inexperienced teacher and constantly bothering the other people in my department, I was able to use the coursepack (and the textbook) to figure things out on my own. That way, I only needed to go to my coworkers for deeper or more specific questions. They also appreciated that I took the initiative to go over the material myself and come up with my own ways of teaching it, based on the needs and interests of my kids. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I didn’t have the coursepack as a guideline to follow.

3. (Volunteer) Coaches

I had such a nice “C” theme going on that I had to continue! I wrote about trying new things last year. This year, I decided to try things outside of the classroom, and thus, I entered the world of extracurricular activities. I don’t know why I said yes to coaching flag football … I’m not athletic, I don’t know how to play football, and I get winded just walking up a flight of stairs. But I did it, with the help of an intense football player/alumni of my school who was the real coach! I did paperwork, the logistical stuff, and was essentially a teacher representative. By the end of the season, I actually got into the games and knew when to cheer and when to groan as well! I’m so glad that there are people in the community who students can learn from. Schoolteachers are not the only teachers in society, and they are not the only adults (aside from parents) that kids can look up to. (I don’t know if anyone actually thought that was true but I’ll just say it anyway.) I’m no longer afraid of sports (sort of), and I’ve even signed up to do more paperwork coaching next year. Also, I got a lot of school spirit swag thanks to my coaching gig, and that stuff really fills my heart with joy!

4. Christian Club

Another extracurricular activity! I was approached by another teacher to help out with the student Christian fellowship (not sure how he knew I was Christian, might’ve been because he was part of our little lunch club and probably saw me praying before eating). I really enjoyed being the teacher advisor for this club because my faith is something that is really important to me, and I wanted my students to be able to have a Christian role model in a school context. It was so encouraging to sing worship songs with my students and to hear them share what God was teaching them. At the end of the year, I was able to pray for my students – something I never would’ve thought I would do in the workplace! I can’t wait to see what God will do through me and through my kids next year to make His presence known in my school. I really hope that He will use me to be a Christian voice and somewhat of a mentor/counsellor for the students that I meet next year.

5. Chill Sessions

Here is another forced “C” … curse my affinity for alliterations!!! For one semester, I was a special education resource teacher, which meant I had a whole period each day to help the students in my assigned caseload with their specific learning needs. I would occasionally go to an Applied class to help the students there, or I would talk with classroom teachers to discuss strategies to help specific students, or I would chase kids to ask them why they hadn’t completed an assignment or written a test. (The role of a SERT involves a lot of chasing.) Anyway, my main point here is that I essentially had one less class of planning and marking … and this meant I had a lot more free time, which I really used to my advantage. Of course, there were still some nights when I stayed at work until the wee hours (just me and the caretakers!), but because of my smaller workload, I was able to spend more time with friends and family. I even decided to make Sunday a day of rest, when I could focus on developing my relationships with God and with other people in my life. I am also especially thankful for these moments of rest because I definitely will not get them next school year (I’m teaching things I’ve never taught before so there will be a lot of work!), but I hope to continue my day of rest and use that time to remind myself that work isn’t everything.

I love my job and I’m so glad that I can have these two months of relaxation to reflect on the last 10 months of chaos! To end this post, please enjoy some pictures that I took to document various aspects of my work life.

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