As you know, if you have read my other posts, I left my permanent contract of 16-plus years in Manitoba and moved across the country to British Columbia. As a brand new grad in Winnipeg, I did very little substitute teaching. I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time six months after I graduated, when a lady at the school where I student-taught had a baby and went on maternity leave. Her leave was for one year, beginning on the last day of school before the winter break. I was hired to teach from December to December.
It was a Grade 6 class, and the first six months was something of a trial-by-fire. My university courses had not at all prepared me for the diverse learning needs of the real-life classroom, nor had any of my undergraduate courses taught the practical and extremely necessary skills for classroom management. I won't dive into the specific scenarios, but let's just say that I yelled more than ever before in my life, and struggled with every aspect of the job, and failed, in all likelihood to teach those students much of anything.
That first summer, I read professional books like The First Days of School by Harry Wong and Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I scribbled notes furiously and designed the structures I would use for running my classroom. I thought about my mistakes and I planned for how to do better. When I received my new group of students that September, they were certainly a different group, and I was decidedly a different teacher.
As luck would have it, when the end of my temporary contract arrived, the teacher I was in for decided to move to Ontario. With my latest efforts toward differentiation and classroom discipline, the principal asked me to stay on. And there, I had my permanent contract.
I taught at the same school from 2001 to 2017. I enjoyed a variety of positions including Grade 3/4, 4/5, 5, 5/6 and 6. I weathered 5 changes in principals and innumerable changes in the vice principal during those years. I also took 2 maternity leaves and taught half-time when my children were young, sharing the classroom -to varying degrees of success - with 3 different teaching partners.
Despite all of these changes, I enjoyed relative comfort and security in my job. I had a circle of colleagues who knew me well professionally and personally. I majorly disturbed my comfort zone by relocating to another province.
As a new teacher, I basically lucked into my first contract. Now, as an experienced teacher in a new district, I must prove myself. In the district where I work now, teachers must interview to become substitute teachers. The district hires temporary contract teachers from their list of teachers on call. Finally, when May and June come around, the district will post jobs. However, there are 4 rounds of posting, and being the new kid on the block here means that I can't really apply to the jobs until the 4th round. That is, my experience outside of the province doesn't count here.
I say it is a career in reverse because when I was first hired in Winnipeg, I didn't deserve it and I was not prepared for my first class. These days I am extremely qualified, and I like to think deserving and prepared, but now is the time in my career that it seems I must pay my dues.