A student learning to be a teacher

For eight months in 2010 and 2011 I was a student at Queen’s University, in the Faculty of Education.  A B.Ed or Teacher’s Education.  I went, I studied, I taught, I graduated, and then I said “now what?”

Eight months is far too short…hairdressers spend more time in school to train for their profession than a person has to in order to become a teacher.  I knew my journey wasn’t over just yet, and made plans to take an Additional Basic Qualification (ABQ) or Additional Qualification (AQ) at some point.  

ABQs and AQs are a bit of a sore spot for me.  There are certain specialties that I think should be built into the Bachelor of Education program, things like Special Education and English as a Second Language.  During my time at Queen’s I received minimal course work in Spec. Ed (and it was sadly quite the bird course) and no course work in ESL.  I felt extremely ill-prepared to teach because of my lack of knowledge and experience in these fields.  So, I made the decision that I would take these two AQs, and hoped that one day I would be able to obtain the designation of ‘Specialist’ in Spec. Ed.  Maybe even go back for a Master’s of Education.  I know I will have an M.Ed someday, I’m not quite finished with post-secondary education.

Most universities offer these ABQs and AQs, as do the unions.  There are some on-site options, as well as on-line and distance classes.  Queen’s offers a really neat month-long course on Special Education, one that involves a practicum!  This is a big deal, as classroom experience is way more valuable than “I read these articles, please give me a job.”  I thought long and hard about taking this course, but a few things stood in my way:

1.  Money.

2.  The baby.

I was already pregnant when I graduated last spring, and that first trimester was hell.  There was no way I could do a full-day of course work three days a week and then go teach or observe the other two days.  This year was also out, as Georgia was only four months old and exclusively breastfed.  I thought maybe I could swing it, if Jason took parental leave and he brought her to me on breaks and I got a placement at a local school and pumped and….

No.

Didn’t happen.

So online it would be.  But here’s the funny thing: for all that I’m passionate about Special Education, I’m not even enrolled in Spec. Ed Part 1.  I’m taking Junior Division (aka grades 4-6).  This will hopefully give me some flexibility in terms of employment, plus I genuinely like this age group.  While I enjoy working with teenagers, I am much more at home with elementary students.  So who knows where I’ll end up.  I haven’t a clue, but I know whatever, wherever, it will be meaningful work.

I was reluctant to take an on-line course, as I tried correspondence (didn’t work out very well) and I like working with people.  I like talking face to face, and actually being in a classroom.  But you know what?  I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far.  There is a strong sense of community, despite being spread across the province.  I can work at my own pace, and around Georgia’s schedule.  And it is still as academically fulfilling as being on campus.

So I’m learning to teach.  And I like it.

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