I’ve had many jobs in my life. I’ve worked in retail, stock, sales, administration and in healthcare as a caregiver.These jobs didn’t come naturally to me. I had to practice new skills which was uncomfortable. At times, it was discouraging because I just couldn’t get it but the next day would come and there would be a small victory. I’d remember a detail or master a skill for the first time since starting the job. Even though I struggled to learn it, I enjoyed the challenge of trying something out of my comfort zone and doing it to the best of my ability. While I would be completely content working at a job that I’m not really gifted at or had to learn skills that didn’t come naturally to me, I am so grateful to be teaching again.
I’ve missed it. Not just the kids (they are an added bonus). I’ve missed using my gifts. When I was in Toronto, I missed lesson planning so much, I rebuilt Mixed Company Theatre’s Teacher’s Guide for their show Mixed Messages, a play about sexual consent. This was during my internship with them. Later, when I was working as a front desk receptionist in real estate, I created a lesson plan and assignment for training purposes. None of this was for money. No one asked me to do it. I just love teaching.
Being back in the classroom has been challenging, rewarding, overwhelming and character-growing. It’s also been incredibly satisfying. I hate admitting this because I’ve run away from it many times but I really do love education. Even on the bad days, when nothing is going right, all the kids are bouncing off the walls, I didn’t handle a situation the way I wanted to and I wonder if the kids retained anything I just said—
—Some little kinder kid with lice will flick my arm hair, and later bounce her face into my belly fat over and over again. I’ll say, “No thank you!” and she’ll look up at me with the brightest smile before putting on her jacket for home-time. Another one with a bunch of food on his face who is developing a unibrow will grab my hand as we walk to the gym. Even though his little fingers are full of warts, his gesture of affection is so sincere, I can’t say no. Later, a grade six who dared another kid to climb on a table will show a completely different side by displaying a heroic act of sacrifice in a drama game about power. A grade four will offer me a high five after leading negotiations in a treaty education drama game, even though his team lost–
–I’ll go home tired but grateful. Knowing full well that these kids make it all worth it, even on bad days.
I don’t know what will happen after my internship. I have a lot of dreams and goals and feel tugged in a bunch of different directions. However, for this moment, this tiny little moment, I’m so grateful to be where I am teaching again.