The Move to York Region

After teaching in Welland
for three years,
I wanted to be with Eric.

He was living and working
in Toronto.
We were traveling back and forth
on the weekends,
and I hated saying goodbye
on Sunday nights.  
I wanted to live with him.
I was also scared.
I was never one
to follow a guy.

I did it anyways.

I applied to the
York Region District School Board
and got an interview
at Reesor Park Public School.
Janet Porter offered me the choice
of a kindergarten class
or grade 8.

I said kindergarten,
I got grade 8.

I was worried
that I would butt heads with them.
I had heard about
the hormones and attitudes
of grade 8 students.
And I loved it.

I taught grade 8
for five years at Reesor.
The kids were funny.
They were smart
and thoughtful.

I helped plan graduations
and went on year end trips
to Quebec City and Ottawa
with 70 teenagers.
We went camping in the winter
and helped organize
the Terry Fox Run
for the school.

There was no hesitation
when I told people
that I loved my job.
I felt like I was making
a difference.

I also thought about school
non-stop,
which wasn’t healthy
for me.
Weekends and evenings
were spent lesson planning
or assessing student work.
If I wasn’t doing school work,
I felt like I should be.
I couldn’t go to the grocery store
without seeing an idea
for my next lesson.
I had a hard time
turning it off.

I continued to learn
about math.
I signed up
for every math workshop
being offered.
I eventually got to know
the math consultants
in our school board.
One day they asked
if I would like to have
a math coach
pop by my classroom
every week or so
to co-teach with me.
Yes!

That’s when I met Janine.
This blonde stranger
who came into my classroom
with a Starbucks tea.
As a teacher,
this was everything.
To drink a hot tea
during the day,  
it didn’t happen.
It felt like such a treat.

I learned so much
from Janine.
She was so skilled
at crafting math problems
in a way to get kids thinking
and talking.
At my side, she would share
her observations of students’ thinking
and together we would question
and prompt when needed.

Janine was (and is) someone
who sees the good in others,
even if they don’t see it
in themselves.

She helped me
feel more confident
in my teaching abilities
which eventually led me
to opening up my classroom
for other teachers, superintendents,
and international visitors
to observe my math lessons.

I enjoyed feeling like
I was helping other teachers
with their practice.
I knew how much Janine’s support
had done for me.

Eventually, being in the classroom
started to feel like
groundhog day.
The same schedule
and routine
every. day.
The same staff members
and the same issues.
I was ready
for a change.

I decided to apply
for a math consultant position
in our board.

For over 5,000
elementary school teachers,
there was a small team
of math consultants.
I didn’t feel qualified
or skilled enough
for the position,
but I tried anyways.
I became the 6th member of the team.


I became a curriculum consultant.

My first week as a consultant
was so difficult.
Going in, my friends told me
that I would hate the politics.
I didn’t even know
what that meant.
I eventually learned.

But for me,
I hated feeling like
I wasn’t making a difference.
I know it sounds cheesy,
but when you see changes
in students every day,
it just felt different.

Each day I wondered
what I had accomplished
outside of being in a meeting
and eating my lunch.
Don’t get me wrong,
it wasn’t all meetings
and lunch.

Once schools were settled
into their beginning of the year
routines,
and funding came in
from the province
to support professional learning
for teachers,
our small math team
was scrambling
to keep up.

We were driving across the region
visiting multiple schools a day.
And it was so out of my comfort zone.

Instead of standing in front of
34 grade 8 students,
I was presenting information
to a room of 100 strangers
or more.

I was facilitating learning sessions
for school teams
I had never met.
Planning math lessons
with teachers
and then going into the classroom
a few hours later
to teach the lesson
together.
There was the pressure of time
to get things together
and the pressure to think
on the spot.
It felt like the ultimate
improv act
every day.

I never felt
like I did a good enough job.

After the fact
I would kick myself,
wishing I would have said
or done something differently.
I should have prompted with this…
I should have pulled in this resource…

I worried that the teachers
and principals
weren’t getting the best experience
because of me.
And for my colleagues,
who might be reading this,
you will likely disagree.
I know I was being hard on myself.

But where I did find
a good fit
was in e-prof.

Janine encouraged me
to be the representative
for our math team.
Eprof was made up
of a group of curriculum consultants
who met regularly
to do web work
on behalf of the teams
they represented.

A team leader,
Jane Paterson,
would plan learning sessions for us,
so we could learn more
about writing and designing
for the web.

I fell in love.
Yes, you read that right.

I was learning how
to create websites
and how to write for the web.
I learned about
the inverted triangle
for web copy
and how eye tracking technology
could calculate exactly how long
we attend to information
that’s online.
It was all new to me
and it was so interesting.

I got to attend
a Nielsen Norman conference
and learned about user testing,
mega menus,
and the importance of
prototyping.
I became fascinated with
Design Thinking.
I wrote scripts for video
and designed
learning modules
for teachers to access,
on their own time,
for professional learning.
I created web pages
and kept multiple pathways
in mind.

Eprof changed
the path of my career.

So when an opening came up
on Jane’s team,
Learning Design and Development,
I decided to apply.

Although it was hard to leave
the math team,
I knew the work
was a better fit
for me.
I could work quietly
behind the scenes,
instead of being front and centre.
I had time to think
things through and create,
instead on thinking and acting
in the moment.


I became an instructional design consultant.

I worked with a team
of web developers,
a graphic designer,
and media threes.
It was exciting.

I got to learn
more about writing script,
I helped facilitate projects,
and coached consultants
in the creation of their web resources
for teachers and principals.

I partnered with other departments
in the school board,
creating resources for Leadership Development
and working on webcasts
to be viewed
board-wide.

But it still wasn’t me.

As much as I loved the creation part,
I wanted to do more of it.
I loved being a part of the planning,
but I wanted to get my hands into it more.
I also spent a lot of time at the office,
at my desk.
I needed my days to look different
and the opportunity to interact
with people more.

Then we found out I was pregnant.

A new position had just been posted:
Curriculum Coordinator of Digital Literacy.
It wasn’t my love.
Yes, I loved technology
and always trying something new.
Yes, I wanted to be a part
of the coordinator meetings
to have some input
into the decision making
(it was a team that met separately
from the consultant group of 60+ people).

But something didn’t feel right to me.

I decided not to apply.
I didn’t think it would be fair
to the team to move into the role
for only three months
(before my mat leave started).
I wasn’t sure
if it was a good fit for me.
I ended up applying.

My gram had passed away
a few weeks before
I started in the new role.
Emotionally,
I was a mess.
I was also 6 months pregnant
and moving into a role
I was uncertain about.

I’m glad that I did apply
because I quickly learned that
planning team meetings
and spending a lot of time
on email
was not for me.
I learned that I need to:
make things,
interact with different people,
and spend time with kids.
I was even further away from it all
in this new role.

Then Tate was born.

I felt so relieved
to be on mat leave.
I did not miss work.
at.
all.

I was often asked
to come into the office
for a visit.
I wasn’t interested.
I was loving my time
away.

In the middle of my mat leave,
we found out that we were expecting
a second.
I decided to go back to work
for two weeks in December –
to help a little financially.
Since I hadn’t been back to work
after my first mat leave,
I wasn’t eligible
for unemployment.

With the help of friends
and many doctors appointments,
either myself or friends took care of Tate
over the two week span.

I hated being away from him.
I knew that I was done.

In December 2015,
I walked out the front doors
of the office,
walked down the ramp
and turned to look back
at the tall glass building
that I had once
been so proud
to work in.
Goodbye.
I turned around
and haven’t been back since.

Then came Charlie.
Another year of mat leave.
Then an extension of my leave.
Then a second extension of my leave,
until I finally knew and trusted
that I never wanted to go back
to teaching.

As much as I loved my time
in the classroom,
I knew that I was ready
for something else.
The thought of 10 more years
until retirement,
10 years is a long time.
Even though it would mean more money,
I couldn’t do it.

And so here I am.
Writing my career story
after my resignation
has been finalized.
I’m awaiting the paperwork
to move forward with
arrangements
for my pension.

I’m planning creative workshops
for fun.
I have no idea what I’ll do,
but I’ll figure it out.

As Tate said to Eric one day,
I can do it. I just don’t know how.

Wise little bum.

Next
I don’t regret it.