I am a big proponent of being vulnerable, open and honest. Which is funny, because I tend to be closed off with certain aspects of my life. Trust is big with me and I don’t tend to give that away freely. But here is why I tell my story. If my story can help even one person, it is worth telling. So, how did I get from where I started, to where I am now, in my profession and my life? In this story, they are intertwined. This is a story of transformation.
It is interesting to look back and compare the me 15 years ago to the me now. In my current position, I have an avenue to share ideas, to support others. I stand in front of large groups of people and encourage best practices and taking risks. A definite contradiction from where I began...
I began my teaching career in 2001 as a Kindergarten teacher. Most people will tell you that their first years of teaching were horrific. I am in the minority, as my first years and all subsequent years were fantastic, in one aspect. I never had that “one” class. I had wonderful students, every year. Maybe I am looking back with rose colored glasses, but I remember a wonderful experience, at least with my students. Beyond my four walls, and within myself, THAT is a different story.
Throughout my 13 years in the classroom, I taught many grades (K-4) and many combinations. With every change; first there was panic, but then I grew to love each and every class. What did occur during the first 11 years, was a lot of doubt. Why was I moved around so much? Was the principal trying to get rid of me? Was I a bad teacher? My constant movement was never explained to me, so left to my own devices, I only thought “I must be a bad teacher”. No one ever told me any different, so I just continued down that rabbit hole of self doubt. On the one hand, I felt I was doing a good job because my students were happy in my class, we had fantastic relationships and they made great growth when they were with me. But why did I feel so bad about myself? When I reflect back, I never received the much desired “atta boy”, but just questions on how I could do something differently, in my mind, better. I continued to work hard, improve my practice, but at the same time, withdraw into my four walls and into myself.
I was quiet, incredibly quiet, almost silent. I was that teacher on campus who never shared what was happening in my classroom. Not because I didn’t want to share with others, but because I was afraid that what I was doing was “wrong”. In my class, students were allowed freedom to be creative. I incorporated art, music, and drama...but I hid it all because I thought it was “bad”, yet I saw so many gains. Students who struggled academically had now found confidence in the arts. With encouragement, that confidence spilled over into all facets of their learning, and that is when growth happened. This idea definitely parallels my journey. More on that later...
I was the teacher that sat in 11 years of staff meetings and NEVER said a word, out of fear and lack of confidence. I always had ideas to contribute, but didn’t feel they were worth contributing. If I ever felt brave enough to voice something, I would just whisper it to a colleague and have them say it out loud. Somehow, when they repeated it, it sounded amazing. Even if it were my exact words, it always sounded better coming from them, then it did in my head.
I spent 11 years in self doubt, that my ideas didn’t matter and that I had nothing to contribute...at my school and in my life. But I am here to to prove that circumstances can change, people can change and sometimes it just takes one person believing in you to change your life's trajectory.
Mother, teacher, TOSA, GCE Level 1 & 2, Encourager of others.
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