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

2 comments:

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. :)