THOUGHTS ABOUT MY FIRST YEAR AS A TEACHER ASSISTANT

It was Monday morning, and when I walked into the central building , I felt my stomach clench.

For the next few days I will assume that I am somewhat less intelligent than anyone around me.

At most moments, I will be certain that no matter what I do, I will not do it well enough, and when I fail, I know that I will burn with shame.

My nerves will be so brittle from sleeplessness and pressure and intellectual fatigue that I will not be certain I can make it through the day.

After some years off, I have begun to worry a lot again; lately, I seem to be sleepless a little every night.

I do not have time to read a novel or a magazine, and I am so far removed from news of world events that I often feel as if I’ve off to the dark side of the planet.

I am distracted at most times and have difficulty keeping up a conversation.

I am likely to be stricken with acute feelings of panic, indefinite need, and the pep talks and irony I pracrice on myself only seem to make it worse.

I am a teacher assistant  on my first year and there are many moments when I am simply a mess.

For someone who wants to be able to practice the teaching profession, that proving time is the first year of working.

There had been so many obstacles for me to becoming a teacher here.

Getting into university is far from easy and then after graduation, you find a job, set out on your own, build and maintain a profession.

Yet none of those steps is thought to possess the kind of wholesale drama of the first year of teaching.

Not only is it a demanding year-the work hugely difficult and seemingly endless, the competition between teachers  is often fierce- it is also a time when I typically feel a stunning array of changes taking place within myself.

It is during the first year that I learned lots. It is the first year that I learned to think like a professor, to develop the habits of mind and world prespective that will stay with me throughout my career.

For all of you who had made the first year I am sure that it was a similar undertaking, overwhelming, sometimes frightening, always dizzyingly intense.

I kept a journal throughout the year and often wrote passages directly on it when my thoughts and feelings seemed especially clear and important.

I also came to realized how much I would regret allowing my interests in teaching to go unfulfilled just because of the obstacles Canada  presented me.

I forced myself to think of the lifelong commitments I wanted to make.

I wanted to be a teacher in a multi-cultural setting where I could easily relate to students who came to Canada with limited  English fluency.

I wanted to make a difference in the lives of these children, who will have a hard time coping up in school because of language barriers.

After years in University back home, I was accustomed to being surrounded by bright people. Yet, I had never been in a group where everybody was affable, outgoing, articulate, as magically able to make their energy felt by others. I failed to matched it on the first week.

It undermined my self-confidence.

Over the months, I tried to studied and learned hard.

I did not want to feel again the helpless ignorance of the previous weeks  around the circle of school’s staff.

I may have been an Ateneo graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Literature degree back in my country and  may have an impressive experiences on my resume but deep down inside me I realized for them; it was all futile… I am in Canada now…things would not be easy.

All my life I had been good at what I do-teaching, all my life it’s been something I could count on.

Yes, there are achievements in the past, they’re nice to bandage up my wounded self-esteem.

But I realized, my impressive academic performance in the past is not the solution when faced with this real-life challenging situation.

I knew, I needed to transform overnight, have a Canadian work experience is the first step.

I had always been an optimist, when things gets rough, it motivates me to show the best in me, but I was finding it rather difficult to do here.

On many occassions I discovered I didn’t understand what I didn’t know until I was halfway working.

Nor could I see how anyone else seemed to know everything…..maybe they’re all geniuses…maybe I was the dumbest girl around.

But I knew I needed help. Somebody or maybe something to show the way through.

me and a teacher

me and a teacher

I did not have a moment to spare. I grabbed at anything which could make me feel at ease- volunteering.

I became a volunteer in schools, on days that I am not teaching, I spend time in the library, having some background with library duties seemed to worked well.

Some days, I am a classroom volunteer assisting teachers, the sight of students getting accustomed to me made me feel more at ease.

I was suddenly not concerned about being different. I wanted to interact, I wanted to blend in with all of them.

children's art activity

children's art activity

I was the only Asian and for sure the only Filipino staff, perhaps that came as curiousity to teachers and students alike, perhaps they didn’t know how to react or conduct themselves…or maybe my physical looks had been made plain obvious by the fact, that I happened to be in a school where the population where mostly white.

I remembered by the second week I started it with positivity on my head, charming schools with my wide smile and boundless energy.Competitiveness is simply part of my nature, it has led to recognition and pleasures in the past;it was an old rewarding habit. And I carried those with me at all times.

In many ostensibly informal conversations with fellow teacher assistants, teachers in the hallways, gym or at lunch- I had a feeling that I was being sized up, that people were looking for an angle, an edge on me. I caught myself learning to do the same thing.

I tried to break in that barrier as fast as I could by being extremely friendly and approachable and humble  giving them a chance to fully understand…I was no different that the rest of them.

By the end of the year, I was getting successful, the sight of students rushing up to me to asked simple direction or just to plainly say hi…were becoming more and more spontaneous, gone are the days when I felt so much avoided.

The rapport with teachers and students was a perfect chance for me to learn the ropes of normal and acceptable Canadian customs and way of living, on the other hand, I was instrumental on letting them become aware of third world countries…some teachers even started to teach students about my country in their social studies subject.

But for all of that, I loved it, that has to be said, learning to love what I do.

And yet still I was not sure I could get through it all. I kept waiting for things to relent somehow. I’m blown out.

Maybe it’ll get easier soon. I thought those first few weeks working were the longest days of my life.

The teacher assistants life is still a treadmill, class and books and students all day.

I enjoyed it but it’s still an emotional merry-go-round.

I just hope on the following years I will came out alright.

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