My path to candlehood

As a kid, and through my teenage years, what I wanted to be when I grew up changed a lot. I can remember looking into the possibilities of becoming a flight attendant (wear the pretty dress and the pretty makeup and fly into exotic locations-yay!) , a travel agent (that’s why I spent my year 10 work experience time shelving travel brochures), even a chef (those people who know me will find that one particularly funny!)

Towards the end of high school, I liked the idea of outranking my father and brother by becoming an intelligence officer in the Air Force. The uniform was appealing, as was the notion of studying at the Australian Defence Force Academy alongside tall, dark and handsome boys in uniform. I wasn’t too keen on being bossed around, however (my Dad can attest to this, trying to make me put my slippers on at the age of 4) and certainly wasn’t eager to “go to war”, so to speak.

In grade twelve, thinking about the wonderful teachers who helped me learn a new language on my student exchange in grade eleven, I first raised the idea of becoming a teacher. My parents were very supportive but several teachers at my college talked me out of it, citing how unrewarding a career it was and how it would be a “waste of my good grades.”

One of my best friends at this time had chosen to study arts/law and it sounded very glamorous. The mock trials I participated in were always fun, and eventhough it always suited me to be the solicitor rather than the barrister, I daydreamed about wearing my power suit into court and declaring “objection!”

Meanwhile, they had just designed what sounded like a really interesting course at The Australian National University ; a double degree in economics and commerce.

To help me with the decision, my Mum bought me a book  “I could do anything- if only I knew what it was” by Barbara Smith.

Reading this book helped me to prioritise my values and see that some of my interests could merely be hobbies (travelling, eating, wearing smart clothing, BLOGGING) and showed me that I could change my mind later if I started something and didn’t like it.

So I applied for the economics/commerce degree, but also applied for teaching “just in case”. I was accepted into both, and deferred teaching by a year.

After one semester of statistics, accounting and macro and micro economics I knew that it wasn’t for me. Not only was it technical and dull, but at the end of it, I would have no idea what to do with the degree. I spent the rest of that year working full time as a cosmetician at Priceline (which is how I proceeded to pay my way through Uni) and then in the year 2000, having survived Y2K, I enrolled in a bachelor of education, majoring in Spanish.

The first year went smoothly and I loved it. When it came to my first prac in the classroom, however, the realities of child behaviour and teacher accountability hit me hard. Tears were shed when, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t naturally “good” at something and found it really tough- I really thought I was going to fail

Nights were spent writing up lesson plans instead of sleeping, and after each day spent “in the trenches” and each afternoon attending a Spanish tutorial to keep up the language, I would collapse on the couch for hours (and God help you if you came near me!)

I soldiered on, relishing the challenge, and it did get easier. I tutored some kids and the classic light-bulb moments spurred me on.

In my fourth year, my internship supervisor laid everything on my plate and eventhough I found it completely unfair at the time (other interns didn’t have to run assemblies and make costumes for plays and the list goes on) I soon thanked her for preparing me for the reality of being a teacher.

At the end of that year, after travelling back to visit my host family as a graduation gift from my Mum, I was offered a contract at the school where I completed my internship. My first year with my own class was a trial by fire but I got through it and at the end of that year got given permanency.

I moved to another school the following year, where I taught Spanish across the school as well as having my own class. I taught there for a couple more years before deciding to move to where the rest of my family were (are).

The first school I did relief teaching at was where I was offered a contract after a term. A while later I got permanency in the system and the rest, they say, is history.

I love my job more and more each day. There are always things to complain about but the students keep me grounded as well as reminding me why it’s all worthwhile. And I honestly cannnot picture myself doing anything else. Ever.

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