As this school year comes to an end, I can’t help but think back on the fears that I had just one year ago as I packed up my classroom permanently. My husband had received a career opportunity that required us to relocate 3000 miles from home, which meant that I had to say goodbye to my comfortable, supportive, and beloved colleagues and school. With teaching jobs at a premium in my hometown of Toronto, I questioned my sanity as I gave up such a coveted teaching position. Alas, with zero career prospects in my future we were off to find new adventures in San Francisco.
I had always held a very linear way of thinking about my career trajectory: complete my undergrad, complete my Bachelor of Education, get a teaching job, stay there forever. I was set! What I didn’t realize is that my education, teaching experience, and friendly disposition had prepared me for so much more.
I started attending MeetUps, where I met other teachers – some still in the classroom and some not – who were equally as interested in my background as I was in theirs. I became a volunteer at a school in the city, which was an incredibly refreshing experience after having spent several hectic years as a head teacher. All of a sudden I had no report cards, no curriculum, no deadlines, no angry parents, no school politics, and no marking. Instead, I was able to enjoy all of the things I love most about teaching, like reading stories, art projects, hugs, playing outside, and making friends with fantastic teachers.
I found myself with time to start blogging – I had no idea that so many people would want to read about my musings on education and teaching! I learned how to use my background in education to create a hobby-based course for adults, which continues to sell-out every month. I dove into professional development opportunities that I quite simply did not have the time for while I was teaching. My article about my experiences participating in Startup Weekend Education chronicles just how much professional and personal growth is possible over the course of one, very intense, weekend.
And I started working with an EdTech startup, which has been one of my most creative education-related pursuits to date. I provide consulting, design complex and beautiful units, write songs, and help with marketing our early education company. Not to mention that I work with a amazing team that is comprised of women who are both teachers and moms, which defies the typical single-male demographic that tends to dominate the startup culture in Silicon Valley.
Reflecting on this past year, I am confident that leaving the classroom was one of the best things I could have done. I learned that I had a lot more to offer the world of education than I gave myself credit for, and that I could still make a positive impact on children and their families in my life after the classroom. And in the same timeframe, I also managed to get married, move to a new country, explore my beautiful new city, spend ample amounts of time at the ocean, make friends, get pregnant, and sample craft cocktails, organic coffees, sourdough bread, and fresh crab… but that’s a story for another day.