Saturday, April 5, 2014

Career Changes and Challenges

We've all changed careers a million times... in our heads at least.  I know I have.  When I was a little girl I was pretty convinced that I would be a successful singer and that I'd marry the young version of Elvis (he was already dead by then but you can't argue with the logic of a 4 year-old).  I stuck to my singing dreams until my grade 1 teacher praised my drawing and then I knew for sure I'd be an artist. After a while I realised that I could do both really and was contented with that.  As I got older I switched careers multiple more times from nurse to chef to flight attendant to psychologist.  Being a psychologist was my teen dream.  I loved learning about the inner workings of our brains and the causes for behaviours.  It was fascinating to me.  I shifted the dream slightly to child psychologist after my first few experiences in working with young children beyond simply babysitting.  Finally, during my final year of high school there was a click in my brain that gave me direction (and lots of encouragement from those in the business), I taught a child how to do something and saw that Ah-Ha moment happen and my life was forever changed.  I KNEW that I'd be a teacher, without a shadow of a doubt.  So I chose my university for it's renown in producing good educators, I struggled through my first year of general studies and applied for the education faculty.  I was denied and my hopes and dreams felt like they had been shattered.  I went back to school of course and focused on my love and passion for history, taking history courses and a few pre-requisites for teaching on the off chance that I could get in on the second try.  I applied again and wept with joy when my acceptance letter came that summer.  I don't think I realised how badly I wanted this career.  I entered the education faculty my third year and was laden with extra courses for having missed the second year.  I busted my butt and was happy to do it, I was going to be a teacher!
And a teacher is just what I am.  A teacher and a coach and I love what I do.  I am passionate about my students and offering them the best possible chance for success both in academics and in life in general. I'm often asked by my young charges if I have children of my own and my ready answer is that I don't need my own children because I get to love and help the children I work with all day.  I've seen thousands of children pass through my classrooms (I've taught Pre-K all the way to Grade 12 across a ridiculous number of subjects) and sports teams and I've loved them all (yes, even those that fought, swore, disrespected themselves, their peers and me, and we generally a challenge).  I feel like I'm changing the world with each one of them.  I look at those I taught in their high school years who are now parents, doctors, lawyers, business owners, accountants, members of the military service (this list could go on forever), and I'm proud and honoured that I got to be a part of their formative years.  Teaching is a blessing and I'm ready to move on.
Yes... you read that correctly.  I love what I do but I'm ready for the next step in the work.  Many of your minds jumped to the word administrator or principal, didn't it?  Well, while that's a good next step for some, it's not for me.  It's not my dream to run a school or mentor teachers in that way.  My dream is to help kids who struggle.  My heart breaks for the little boy who can't control his anger and is being ostracised by his peers because of it, or the little girl who doesn't understand how not to be aggressive in her relationships with her peers.  I want to help the child whose self-esteem is plummeting and they're struggling to find a way to believe in themselves again.  I want to help the popular kid understand that the pressures they deal with that others don't see are real and that it's okay to struggle.  In short, I want to be a counsellor for children. All teachers do a level of this work but with the ever changing demands on the teaching profession, they simply don't have the time or the training to do it as effectively as they might like but a school counsellor does and that's what I want to do.  I've nurtured this dream of mine for several year but never felt ready to take the big step of asking for it or getting the training to start the wheels in motion, until yesterday.
Yesterday I applied to take courses for a diploma in professional counselling (I need to start small because finances are always an issue... my issue anyway, saving is not my thing really).  I feel like it's the right step for me.  I've also used the great site of to register for some awesome and free psychology and behaviour development courses.  I even started my first coursera course today.  I'm taking one about behaviours in the classroom, how to assess and modify them to best suit the needs of the student.  I've just completed one lecture and I love it.  
So while teaching has been incredibly good to and for me, I'm ready to step it up a notch.  I'm not sure when or if I'll find a job as a full time counsellor (not next year for sure as I've already signed on to stay one more year at my current school in Singapore), but I'm taking the risk and the step towards a career change and I'm EXCITED!!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Basketball Coaching... Who Knew?

Volleyball has always been my sport.  It's been my sport since grade 4 when Mr. Jacobs recruited me to the team he had in elementary school because in PE class he noticed that I could serve over the net from behind the line already.  It's been my sport ever since it made me feel successful and part of a team.  I've loved lots of sports as a spectator though: ice hockey (you have to specify when you have international readers), soccer (futbol for you international folks), gymnastics, martial arts and the list could go on but as an athlete (yes, even with all my chub I still know the athlete that dwells within) volleyball has always been first.  I've learned to love playing soccer and basketball, even running (or shuffling in my case).  But as a coach I've always had the most success and comfort with MY sport: volleyball.  So last year when I came to my new school and asked to coach MY sport, I was shocked to learn that MY sport wasn't played or coached at my new school, but that I could coach the youngest team of Boys Basketball.  Because I love what coaching does that teaching in a classroom can't, I said yes and so it began.  That first season was mostly a mess.  I didn't really have a great grasp on what I was doing and being injured in my back sure didn't help.  I survived the season but the boys grasped little of the game and struggled with their skill development (they loved the sport and our time together so that made all the difference), I didn't feel like a success but the guys who coached the older boys were happy with what I had been doing.  They asked me to help with the next age level up (Under 14s - Junior Varsity) and I agreed as it would be a good chance for me to learn.  The tryouts went well and the coach made great selections.  The team looked great and then the coach dropped out, leaving me to coach.  I wasn't ready but the U19 (Varsity) coach stepped in and I kept my spot as an assistant coach. *phew* I learned a ton that season, I learned about plays, defense, offense, player positions and the like.  And I learned what it was like to win a gold as a coach. It was stressful and wonderful.
Fast forward to this current school year and now I'm the head coach for the U19 and the U14 teams.  The U19 boys let me feel like I knew what I was doing (the reality is that they are an incredibly talented group of boys with a heart for the sport and for each other) and we took gold again, with only 1 defeat for the entire season.  I was on top of the world!  Now I'm in the midst of the U14 season and I've challenged my boys to step up a division (there are 4 divisions ranging from top schools in sport to the smaller schools that are just figuring it out and we are competing in the second division even though we are just a small school) and they are answering with heart and hard work.  I don't know if a third gold is in our future but I know basketball is fast becoming MY sport... well, it's tied for first anyway.

A Long Overdue Update

It's been a very long time since I last posted on here.  Well over a year ago.  I'm ashamed to say that I have no excuse for not posting earlier.  I've had good things to write about and will be posting about each individually but here is the basic breakdown:

*coaching took prominence in my life and 2 gold medals later, I'm feeling satisfied with where it's taking me.

*back injuries are forever (especially when you don't lose the weight that you should) and I'm finding ways to heal

*UFit is changing my life slowly but surely (UFit is a fitness group here in Singapore that specializes in group bootcamps as well as personal training sessions)

*Travel is back: Australia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Boracay, Cambodia, and bumming around my great city in between travels.

*Career changes are on the horizon.

And I'm staying in Singapore for another year.  Please come back to reading my blog and posts and I promise to be more faithful as a writer.  Each of the points above will be a post in it's own right very soon!