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!!

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