Adventures of a Year 1 Teacher Candidate
by Kimberly Norris, first year P/J Teacher Candidate with the CSH cohort
The start of a new school year is filled with nerves and excitement for any student. For the new teacher candidates heading to their Year 1 orientation, it’s no different. Some of us had spent our summers off after completing undergrads in May, while this is the first time back to school in years for others. I happen to fall under the latter category.
For me, starting my first year with the Faculty of Education comes as both a career change and return. After I finished my undergrad here at the University of Ottawa in 2014, I flew off to South Korea as soon as I could. I was ready to travel, to meet new people, and to work as an ESL teacher in Incheon. I spent nearly three years there working in a private school and learning the ins and outs of the kindergarten classroom. At the same time, I travelled as much as I could and got to see some pretty amazing sights. I count myself eternally lucky for my experience while living in Asia, but most especially for the students who touched my heart and changed my life.
After I left Korea for the next adventure, I eventually ended up living in Edinburgh, Scotland. I took a break from teaching and got into recruitment. I learned a lot from this job and I absolutely loved it, but at the same time it often felt like something was missing. When a candidate brought his son in to wait during a meeting, I found myself sitting in the lobby with the boy having a conversation about what he was learning in school and what subjects he liked best. That was a game changing moment for me. I realized how much I missed my role as a teacher, and applied to the Primary/Junior program here at uOttawa straight away. It was time to come home, and it was time to return to the classroom.
It wasn’t long before I found myself sitting in a lecture hall in CRX (where was that building when I was in school—it’s amazing!) listening to Nicholas Ng-A-Fook and Tracy Crowe and a variety of other talented people inspire and welcome their newest group of teacher candidates. You could tell by the buzz in the hall that everyone was excited and ready for this new challenge. We had come ready to make friends and to make a difference. For me, it was my first time living back in Canada in four years, and what a wonderful reintroduction it was!
Now we are almost a month into our first year of school. Our CSL placements have begun, and we know each other’s names and stories pretty well. I belong to the Comprehensive School Health cohort, and my class of nearly fifty teacher candidates has already become like a family. We chose CSH for different reasons, but among the top reasons is a positive focus on mental health. We are hoping to bring mindfulness to our classrooms, which is something I’m very excited about. I know that with CSH and the Faculty of Education, I have found my place.
When I tell people what I study at uOttawa I always get the same responses. “Good for you” or “That’s a very noble profession”, and I’d have to agree. We are starting an incredible journey with some pretty amazing people. The overwhelming feeling of excitement for the next two years is pretty unanimous, and I can’t wait to see where this new adventure leads!
You can follow Kim’s journey on Twitter at @MissKim_uo
Early Successes in Involvement with the Faculty of Education Students’ Association (FESA)
By Andrea Lefebvre, Year 2 Student-Teacher, Comprehensive School Health Cohort
I am always amazed by how fast each year comes and passes and cannot believe I have already begun my second year within this program. I had such an incredibly memorable experience last year between classes, placement, and several cohort community excursions and functions that I have been eagerly looking forward to contributing to and engaging in again this year. However, during these last few months as a student, teacher, and leader in this program, I wanted to become even more involved on campus, particularly in student-faculty relations. I decided to join the Faculty of Education Students’ Association (FESA) to help me better understand how we can enhance our relationships among students and staff, bring forth a stronger relationship between first and second year students, build a greater connection among students enrolled in both years of their cohort, and improve our communications among all members of this program in a simpler and more efficient manner.
These networks have become increasingly important to me because I feel that within this profession there should be an open dialogue between fellow students and professionals within the field, as well as a strong sense of community for support, guidance, encouragement, and inspiration. I feel that teaching is such a multifaceted profession that extends far beyond lesson planning and report-card writing that it is actually the level of engagement among one another that will ultimately help us to learn all that we can about the various components of being a life-long learner to in turn be the best and most well-rounded educators we can possibly be.
I already feel as though my involvement in this association has proven to be an incredibly valuable opportunity in working towards addressing these questions and desires I have. This association is grounded in the same philosophies and values I, and many others, possess which has made me increasingly eager to devote my time to actively participate within this program on my own and as part of a team. I feel honoured to work with such passionate, hardworking, and dedicated members of this association and am truly committed to working on continuously improving our program alongside an incredible team of students, educators and leaders. I wholeheartedly believe that this year is going to be one of significant growth and success personally, academically, and professionally, and I am beyond looking forward to sharing this with everyone within this program and faculty.
If you are interested in becoming involved with FESA and/or have any questions or suggestions, I strongly encourage you to reach out. This group has evidently already inspired me in more ways than one and has allowed me to begin (and become successful) in the process of fulfilling my educational goals. I truly believe it can and will do the same for you.
Cheers to another exciting, educational, and memorable school year ahead! Good luck to you all!