Guest post by Elena Bukshtinovich, Occasional Teacher, SCDSB
I became a teacher in 2009. I graduated from Nipissing’s Faculty of Education, and, as soon as my Ontario College of Teacher’s card came in, I became an Ontario Certified Teacher.
I celebrated this rite of passage with my family and friends, those who were with me through the entire process of becoming an educator. The process included a great deal of commitment—late night planning, multiple trips to the library, many hours spent creating hooks to get students interested in lessons and thinking up ‘minds-on’ activities to engage students. This is the life of a teacher candidate, but it is also the reality of a teacher. I knew the amount of work that educating takes, and I was more than eager to be the best teacher I could be.
I felt a roller-coaster of emotions when I transitioned from being a teacher candidate to being a teacher. Similarly, every day I experience a whirlwind of emotions as I set out for my daily teaching assignments as an occasional teacher with the SCDSB.
Perhaps the most salient emotion is excitement. Every phone call I receive the night before, or the morning of, is a thrilling one—like I’m awaiting my mission, should I choose to accept it! After answering SCARRI, the automated system that organizes the board’s substitute and employee placements, I know which school and classroom my new mission will take me.
The feeling of excitement is continuous throughout the day—as I figure out where the school is located, decide on the read-aloud books I will take with me, begin my commute, arrive at the school, enter the classroom and as I read the classroom day plans and notes from the regular classroom teacher. My excitement hits a peak when the students arrive and I am able to begin engaging in what I love the most: teaching!
This is what I want to do for the rest of my professional life: teach. And, although I am not their regular classroom teacher, the students soon see my enthusiasm for the profession and they realize that today they will continue to learn. My expectations are very closely aligned with those of their regular classroom teacher.
As an occasional teacher, I carry my classroom with me. My teaching work bag is where I keep a small library of books that I can take out, need be, and share with the students, where I have various Post-it notes and highlighters to assist students in planning their work and where I have various energizing activities I use to engage the students.
While in the classroom of my daily teaching assignment, I feel wonder and amazement at the learning environments around me. I have had the privilege to be in some remarkable classrooms. I have seen incredible display walls, the seamless integration of technology, the development of creative lesson plans, and so much more. I have been in some truly inspiring places to learn. I have walked into classrooms where the positive feel of the classroom environment is palpable—where you can feel that the students and teacher are a strong and solid community of learners. I often find myself spending time after school, or during breaks, walking through the classroom and taking note of all the wonderful learning that has taken place to add to my repertoire of teaching. I have had the opportunity to be a part of schools with incredible staff that have been supportive and extremely welcoming.
At the end of the day, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. It feels incredible to be able to go into a learning community and become part of it, even if for a short period of time. I feel accomplished for being able to go into the classroom and uphold the regular classroom teacher’s expectations and ideas, but also to integrate some of my own teaching philosophies and values. I feel incredibly excited to continue my journey as a teacher for the SCDSB.
I experience a great deal of pride each and every teaching day. I am proud to be working as an educator for the SCDSB. I am proud to be reflecting the values and essential practices of our board. After all, who wouldn’t be proud of a board that values student success for all students? Who wouldn’t be proud to be a part of a body of educators who believe that it is critical to set high expectations for students based on the belief that ALL students can learn and achieve? Who wouldn’t be proud of a board that embraces digital citizenship and recognizes the importance of 21st century skills? I feel great pride working within a board that upholds the values that I feel are crucial for student success, engagement and achievement.
I am also proud to be a part of ETFO and my local SCEOT. ETFO and SCEOT have provided me with many opportunities to be a great teacher. They have offered a number of professional learning opportunities that have really enlightened me and have given me many tools to assist me in my daily teaching placements.
My professional growth and learning plan continues to develop every day. When I initially started creating my plan, I was a teacher candidate. Now as an occasional teacher, I have added even more to my plan. I am passionate about continuing my professional learning with a number of additional qualifications I would like to take. I am keen on integrating the various ideas I have seen in classrooms throughout my time as an OT. I am eager to continue visiting different schools and classrooms, and being inspired. I am excited about the possibilities of being in a classroom for a long-term assignment.
I am proud to be a teacher, and occasional teacher.