Friday, June 10, 2016

Every Role Can Teach You Something Valuable

From a young age I was inspired by The Babysitter's Club and wanted to have my own spending money, so I did what I read about–I babysat.  I would work every weekend for my $4-$5 an hour and felt such independence by being able to contribute to my university fund (my parent's rule was that 50% had to go in the bank), donate some to church, and have a wallet full of money to spend if I wished.  It was my first job and like every one I had after that, I learned something from it that contributed to who I am today.

From babysitting each weekend and throughout the summer I realized the value of a dollar.  I was making just $5 an hour babysitting three kids and that money was hard earned!  I would take them to the park, feed them, get them ready for bed, and read a million bed time stories.  I didn't want to spend my savings on something like slurpees and candy, I wanted to thoughtfully consider where my money would go.  I made lists of what I really wanted and saved for these special items–like my Doc Martens and stereo system!

I then got a job at the local mall at one of my favourite places: Purdy's Chocolates.  I started in grade 10 and worked throughout the rest of high school part-time.  From this job I learned that I love quality chocolate and enjoy working with others as a team.  It was my first time making friends with people who were outside of my school community and with women of all ages–I loved the camaraderie; although it was 20 years ago I can still remember everyone's name.  I particularly enjoyed working the cash register and serving customers delicious chocolates because everyone left happy.

A few years into university (and a few jobs later) I became a residence advisor.  I helped plan various activities and ensured that the rules of residence were followed; it was helping to create and foster community.  I made some amazing life-long friends here and learned that to really get something out of a community, you need to put the effort in.  University could have been a big, scary place for me as I came from a small private school with mostly like-minded go to a school with various faiths, backgrounds and values was eye-opening and important.  I grew so much by discovering who I really was and what I believed.  I connected with some great leaders and was trained in areas like peer counselling and conflict management. I could lead.  I could help people feel at home away from home.

When I finished university I started teaching high school science and biology.  My intent was to share my love of science with young minds and instead I learned that high school students are awesome–even more so than the digestive system (which is incredible, people!).  I found that they needed to be heard and encouraged. I learned that the students were more important than the curriculum; relationships first, information second. You might think that's a given, but for me, I had to learn it.  As a parent now, I see that even more.  I would love for my own kids to feel known, loved, challenged and encouraged than to learn the quadratic formula.

Currently, I am a substitute teacher as I still have a couple young kids at home.  I also have the role of foster mom.  I thought that I would provide a loving and caring home for a child, and I have, but it is so much more.   I have learned that although it might hurt to say goodbye down the road, it does not help to resist love–don't hold back.  I was surprised that I loved our Little One as my own; surprised and thankful.  What a joy it is to fall in love again with a child...a sweet, chubby-cheeked, energetic cutie-pie whose growth and resilience impresses me daily.  As long as this child is happy and there is hope, I will be okay with whatever happens in the months and years to come.

There were other jobs and more lessons (like building a fence or selling hot dogs is not something I'd like to do again) and I look forward to seeing what my own kids end up doing over the years.  What is a job that you've had and what have you learned from it? 



  1. Anonymous6:35 PM

    Just getting around to reading this. It was very evident that your students and your relationship with them was an integral part of your teaching. It's clear even now by the amount of former students you still connect with. Not only were/are you a good teacher, but science (which I personally don't enjoy) was fun, specifically biology, which was completely because of you.

    1. Awww, thanks! It's true, I still do have many friends through teaching! Glad bio was fun for you :)