Saturday, December 1, 2007

Job update...things are going well...happy where I am.

If you've been paying attention, you know that I've been teaching the period 1 grade 11 chemistry class at an adult high school for a little more than a week, and that the way Toronto's high schools work I'm paid only for the 2 hours I'm actually in the classroom teaching each day (not for my marking or my preparation). The quadmester started Nov. 15 and another teacher has been teaching the period 3 grade 11 chemistry class since that time. However, the period 1 class was without a permanent teacher before they found me because at this school you are hired on a per-course, per-quadmester basis, and the period 3 teacher wasn't available to teach in the period 1 time slot. Well, yesterday that changed. For various reasons, the period 3 teacher will be handing that class over to me as of Monday, though she will continue to teach the grade 10 science class she has also been teaching since the beginning of the quad. Since the course is the same as my current class, this means no extra prep for me, just some more marking--and more pay. It seems the staff at the school like me (I have had specific comments from a couple of people that I am a good teacher), and while there are no guarantees, comments and conversations I've heard over the past week seem to imply that should I want to continue at the school in future quadmesters, there may well be courses available for me to teach. Overall, this has me feeling much better in terms of job security. The environment at the school is also very supportive and friendly overall, and I am enjoying the teaching. Now that I have the second class, I have even decided to reduce my efforts to find a position elsewhere, even though teaching a full load in a "regular" high school would bring in more money. I am happy where I am for now, and I am getting experience developing a course and building up my resources (as well as dealing with all the administrivia that comes with teaching) without having to deal with a lot of behaviour issues. I am starting to think of my time at this school not as just a teaching "job," but as the start of my career. Life is good, for now I don't need to make more money than I currently am, and if it ain't broke, no sense wasting a lot of energy trying to fix it. I should say, though, that I do feel badly about the circumstances that have led to the period 3 teacher not being able to continue with that class, as it is not a happy situation for her.

Yesterday I taught not only my own first period class, I also supply-taught a third period computer class. When I agreed to sub for that class, I was a little worried, since I wasn't sure how much I was going to be able to help the students in a subject I am not officially qualified to teach (and have only 1 university course in--and that was in a language practically no one programs in anymore). It seems, though, that when you supply-teach you're generally there to be a warm body to administer pre-assigned work and make sure the students behave themselves (easy enough since this is an adult high school)...being able to help the students is wonderful, but in supply situations it is sometimes just a bonus. It turned out, however, that I was much more helpful in that class than I thought I was going to be. This computer class is one in which students mainly learn how to use some common applications, besides some details regarding computer hardware, the Internet and the ettiquette and ethics involved in computer use in a business setting (secondary teachers, the course code is BTT2O and you can read the course description in Ontario's grade 9 and 10 Business Studies curriculum document). The students in this class have a workbook of exercises they are to work through at their computers. In this section of the course, they are learning how to use Microsoft Word. Some students were further ahead in the workbook than others, and I got questions on how to save a file (including how to change the directory you're saving to), how to make text bold, how to change the alignment of text, how to change the font, how to change the size of text, how to insert symbols, and a bunch of other things I tend to take for granted. Considering that I've been using word processors since I was, oh, 9 years old, and Word in particular for many many years as well, assisting with this class was a breeze and I was able to answer almost all of the students' questions (other than some minor issues involving translating proofreading marks on the workbook pages into the required formatting, since I'm not familiar with standard proofreading notation). It made me realize that I have been privileged to have grown up with computers and that, while I won't be building any applications anytime soon, I actually have a level of computer skill that is pretty advanced compared to many people in the world (though I fully admit there are many other people out there whose skills are advanced compared to mine). Feeling smart about something always gives my ego a boost, so that combined with the other positive things that happened yesterday (well, positive for I said, I do feel badly for the other teacher) had me leaving the school yesterday in a pretty good mood. Oh, and if you're wondering how doing this supply teaching works out with my being paid by the hour, it's pretty simple: I get paid at the occasional teacher rate for the 2 hours I'm with each class I supply for. I think this is actually somewhat better than the situation when you're a "regular" teacher; I don't think you get paid any more than your salary when you're a "regular" teacher and have to give up your prep period to do an on-call supply for another teacher, but I could be wrong.

On a very nerdy note, it also tickled me when the academic program director showed me the science education supply catalogs and told me to let her know if I wanted anything, I get to order science education supplies (if the order is approved)! Ooo, Sargeant-Welch has molecular model kits that illustrate the various hybridized VSEPR orbitals! Ooo, I am sure there are lots of other exciting things in those catalogs I can use as props and in demos in my classroom! Yeah, I know my excitement over that may sound sad...but it's all in the interest of providing the best educational experience possible for my students ;).

Well, the day is a-wasting, and I have marking and planning to do before I attend a dinner function tonight. I hope you all are well...bye for now!