30 March 2010

I can still teach.

From the time I was 6 until sometime in the midst of my third year of university I wanted to be a teacher. (Actually, there was also a brief year or two when I wanted to be a neuropsychologist, until I realized how many biology classes I would have to take.) I clearly remember announcing in first grade that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up, in part because my teacher, Mrs. Johansen, was great. I never really outgrew the idea but instead circumstances changed.

When I worked in England, assisting the house mother in looking after about 30 boarded kids under the age of 12, I grew restless during the day and convinced the Headmistress to let me assist in the school. I taught drama class in the junior school and eventually took on whole sections of math and English classes in the senior school -- completely unsupervised! I was 18, with a (Canadian) high school education and I was teaching classes of 14-16 year olds (8-10 year olds in the junior school). Even then I thought it was bizarre that they would let me do that, but I loved it. More than anything it convinced me that I was on the right track.

When I returned to Canada and entered University, my initial plan was to get an English major and a math minor then follow up with the Post-degree Professional Program (teaching certification). I figured while I wanted to teach English, I would be just as content teaching math. That didn't pan out because I had so much trouble with calculus; I changed course and ended up pursuing the History major/English minor that I completed. In third year my plans changed again as it became clear that 2 out of 3 of my classmates were planning to follow the same crowded path as I was in a province that was laying off teachers.

I never did that certification. Instead I worked in the library shelving books for a while then tried my hand at plumbing after which I returned to the library and stayed. Even through plumbing, I tutored several classmates through the algebra and geometry sections and from time to time, I still get to use the teaching skills that I always knew I had in me.

A few weeks ago, realizing that I needed to train several people how to edit the union website, I wanted to use one of the library classrooms. I offered to build an Introduction to Drupal session and open it up to library staff. Last week, to my surprise, I found the class was full!

Over the weekend I pulled together the outline, built a Powerpoint presentation, and tidied the original handout I had built for training the content editors. Though I was nervous and I realized later that I didn't even introduce myself (doh!), I got into the swing of it and even though I hadn't even done a dry run through, I finished with time enough for questions. I got some good feedback, too.

Sometimes I wonder whether I would have been better off as a teacher; most of the time, I look at "kids these days" and think, "not likely," but there's always peers to be taught. And... if you believe in personality typing, I sit on the cusp between INFJ (which lands me squarely in teacher territory) and INTJ (typically scientists and strategic planning-types but also teachers and professors). Either way, I would probably still do OK.

p.s. if you are curious, the Introduction to Drupal presentation can be downloaded in pdf format


Star said...

Wow, you have have had an interesting career path.

Cheryl said...

Well, the library has been a constant; my first job was in the public library and I worked in the campus library throughout my time at university. But, yeah, there were some interesting diversions. :)