Today, my heart is so full. I knew this day had to come, it is so bittersweet.
For some, it is a regular Wednesday in June, but for me, it was my last day working as an Educational Assistant at St-Anne Catholic School in Cornwall, ON.
In late April, the opportunity to take on a weekly morning position as an EA kind of fell into my hands. Despite having ever entered or even heard of the school, I didn’t hesitate to accept the position and started the first week of May. “This was going to be a new adventure” I thought to myself. I had yet to be an EA at an elementary school, how exciting! My schedule varied day by day, however, I was spending most of my day supporting students in JK/SK to Gr 3.
I have to admit, the first couple weeks blew me out of the water…
“Is this what it is really like to teach in elementary school?” I asked myself, “Man, oh man… Glad I’m getting qualified to teach upper years students“. However, once I got into the swing of things, started connecting with students and staff, my entire perception changed. And this is why:
- I began getting mentored by teachers who seen the potential, drive and willingness to help in me. These teachers gave me the space and freedom in their classroom to take on challenging students and try new strategies. They never underestimated me because I was an EA or a pre-service teacher. They believed in me and helped me grow as an educator. They answered my silly and naive questions, but we all started there right? They were extremely welcoming and never judged me, this made me feel extremely more comfortable in my position.
- I felt supported in all of my roles at St. Anne’s whether it was when replacing a teacher, scribing or simply taking students out for body breaks. I was guided through each task whether it was how to properly pronounce a geometric shape in English when I was pronouncing it in French (Bilingual Person Problems) or how to properly scribe for a student during the EQAO province tests.
- Students began to recognize me, get to know me, ask me questions, spend recess with me, give me stickers, wish me good morning, wanting to work with me and within two weeks I started feeling a sense of belonging, a sense that I was making a difference and having a positive impact on students. Although I was simply an EA, I got to see, even if it was small, progress and improvements; this meant the world to me.
- St. Anne’s school has opened my eyes, mind and heart to teaching in elementary. Elementary is so lively, exciting and busy. Yes, there are a lot of little things to manage, but students are fun, and when managed properly can be a new adventure into learning every day! I can’t wait to get qualified for Junior.
It is incredible to see what a real school is, what a real classroom looks and feels like and what a real teachers goes through day by day. It has opened my eyes on the profession more than my placement. This experience has given me more drive than ever to continue into Education. It has kept the fire burning deep inside of me and has allowed me to dream BIG!
Isn’t it amazing walking into a school every morning, where students and staff are smiling, greeting you good morning, laughing and are genuinely happy? I am so grateful to have experienced that for 9 weeks! I have never felt such a strong connection to a school community, where staff is supportive, students are respectful and eager to learn. Of course, not everyone is perfect and fits in that box, but the vibe of this school is unlike anything I have seen before. Teachers and administration are progressive thinkers who embrace a growth mindset in their classroom. That is why my heart is so full.
As a teacher candidate, any experience is good experience. Any opportunity to learn and grow is an opportunity you should take. I encourage pre-service teachers to say “YES” to more things. You never know what you will get out of it. I sometimes think about who I would be if I would not have taken this position at St. Anne’s. I have a whole new perspective about teaching and who I want to be as a future teacher… I have been inspired by real teachers who believed in me and who will have impacted my future students.
Thank you St. Anne Catholic School.