Sept 29th- Detour to Education: Autobiographical Work

I know this is cliché but I always perceive life as a journey.  I like to set my plans ahead but I am open for circumstances that I may encounter along the way. Similar to the beliefs of many people, I wanted to end my journey by being successful. However, I realized that success is not a concrete word; it is rather a flexible word that can be applied into numerous circumstances. In other words, I always wanted to be successful in life but I never really know which path will take me there. With this in mind, it came into my intuition that even though my plans are not enough to take me to where I wanted to be, I can always take my time in exploring how I can get there. The notion of success played an important role in guiding me to the pathway that I am currently taking—the pathway to becoming an educator. There are several signs that lead me to the lane of Education and they vary from general categories to specific people or experiences.

One of these signs came up from my childhood. From childhood, my main goals were the typical get a degree, find a stable employment, and help my family. This is because of two reasons: ‘common sense’ and gratitude. To elaborate, these goals became a ‘common sense’ in our culture because we knew that education is a privilege and behind it is the hard work of our parents. Unlike here in Canada, our government does not provide child benefit allowances and education plans. Public schools are free but there are expenses for projects which affects a student’s final grades. As a result, families in poverty line have difficulties in sending their children to school. With this in mind, only middle class families or higher were able to finish high school. Those who were able to graduate from high school immediately enroll for a college or university. This is because having a degree is the only bridge that will possibly put them in a stable career and having a stable career will allow them to help their parents in household expenses. Being in a middle class family, I never have to work in high school; my parents provided all of the expenses that I needed including my allowances. These goals have always been a great inspiration for me to study hard and be competitive in school. Constantly having high grades, honours, and maintaining to be in top sections—top sections are class sections for students who have A- to A+ GPA—are the only way to show my gratitude for my parents. I keep these goals until now because it became part of me—from the culture where I grew up. Although it was not a specific sign towards taking the pathway of teaching career, these goals are persistent reminders and inspiration of who I want to be in the future.

Honestly, being a future teacher has never been into my intuition. Science has been deeply uprooted into my family from generations, so I thought that I would eventually become a doctor or a nurse who will go abroad after graduation. However, unlike some families, my parents allowed me to search for my own passion and gave me their assurance of support in whatever field I will take. I eventually found my passion in cooking and baking after my family owned a small restaurant when I was in high school. I was about to enroll in Hotel and Restaurant Management or HRM after graduating from high school in 2009 when my family got accepted to migrate to Canada. Our relatives in Canada suggested to postpone any enenrollmentor further classes and just wait for our visa—since I will be taking high school again in Canada due to K-12 system which is not applicable in the Philippines. I still have the passion for cooking and baking but I lost the notion of having them as my future career when we arrive in Canada. Nonetheless, my parents allowed me to keep the freedom of choosing my future career and their assurance of support. Their support helped me to pursue a future career in education.

Curiosity has recently been a big factor within me. I cannot claim that I am curious about every single subject matter, but there are several topics that trigger me to quench that thirst for knowledge behind the concern. I used to lack interest towards my milieu because I am comfortable with it. I was born and raised in the same community that allowed me to be familiar with everything within the area, to the point that it seemed everyone’s life is just part of how it was supposed to be, a “common sense”. However, everything felt confining when my family immigrated to Canada about five years ago. I was transferred to a different environment that immediately made me feel alienated—and that is when my curiosity started to build. I needed to instantly acculturate to be able to, as my relatives would say, “continue walking on my pathway for a better future” while at the same time start a new lifestyle. It cannot be denied that learning everything all at once stressed me—and even depressed me sometimes—although having fluency in English have helped me along the way. Nonetheless, the harmony within the diversity in Regina fascinated me. The younger curiosity that I have when I was eager to learn about Science, English, Math, etc. during my elementary years extended and matured to be keen in learning the uniqueness and commonality that each culture shares. In time, I was able to plant my roots in what I used to call “foreign land”. The curiosity within, allowed me to consider myself as part of this milieu and build interest in helping other people around us. This is the main reason why I wanted to be a social worker after I graduated from high school.

I spent my first year in the Faculty of Social Work. I applied in the mentioned faculty because I already imagined what career I wanted to have in the future: I want to be the social worker that helps students in school—whether they are at risk or they are immigrants who are transitioning to familiarize into a Canadian lifestyle. I was just about to finish the second semestre of my first year in university when my faculty advisor asked me about my plans for my future career. I told her my well-outlined blueprint but my idea was just not how reality works. She told me that I will need my Master of Social Work (MSW) if I want to apply in a school-related field. The concept of studying for two more years is not my problem, as I always enjoyed studying and being in school; the problem is the lack of assurance of being employed in school even if I will have my MSW. Some may call me selfish but I cannot take the position of a social worker who will separate children from their parents and try to explain that what I have done is for their better future. I know this is not the only field I can work with but I cannot keep the burden of the work to my personal life. The solution that I found was simple. If I really want to be part of school, then I can just pursue a degree in Education.

From the start, I never consider being a teacher just because I don’t have enough patience to deal with lots of kids. I have a six year-old younger brother so I thought I will be overwhelmed if took my brother’s energy and multiply it by fifteen or thirty. The escape plan is to teach in high school. I applied to the Faculty of Education and was immediately accepted. I took my first education class during the summer of 2013 and I realized that this is where I want to be. My passion to teach grew when I had my first field experience from my ECS 100 class. I was placed in a kindergarten class. I was nervous but they warmly welcomed me. At the same time, I volunteered in Mother Teresa Middle School. My week was filled with being in a field work after class or volunteering in MTMS before going to class. It was the busiest semestre of my life but I enjoyed every part of it. From then on, I opened myself to the reality that I can teach any grade level. My classes and experiences every semestre intensifies my passion to teach. I may not immediately saw myself in this career but I am thankful that now I know I am on the right path.

It is beyond my expectation that the detour I made will actually lead me to the right pathway. Like many future educators, teachers were part of my journey in becoming an educator. I want to think of them as signs I did not immediately decode because they are general bridges for anyone’s success. I have always been grateful to the knowledge, effort, and passion that my professors share within the classes. However, I did not fully pursue to become a future educator until I met another becoming teacher. My curiosity leads me to seek for the process of becoming a teacher—how do teachers teach becoming teachers to teach effectively? If teachers are bridges for success, then how does the society build these bridges? For some time, I shadowed the mentioned future teacher and read his works. I was not sure if it was part of my personality to connect through writing or reading but I felt his passion to teach when I read his works. I was deeply inspired by the dedication and determination that he has and I told myself that I want to experience that too. However, I took some more time to fully reflect before making a decision to change lanes. I met with my advisors, did further research, and reflect again.

Fortunately, I did not have a hard time choosing my major and minor. English, especially my grade 12 class, was the best class that I had in my two years and three months in high school—I was supposed to be grade 10 when we arrive in Canada; I tried classes for the remaining three months of the school year and was accelerated to grade 11 the following school year. Certainly, my high school experience and passion for writing and reading convinced me to try majoring in English. Then, I decided not to choose between Social Studies and Religious Studies so I have both of them as my minors. I am glad to be in the faculty but it cannot be denied that I had hesitations, especially with my major. I was worried that I cannot meet the standards of my English classes simply because English is not my first language. Nonetheless, my passion for reading and writing helped me to exceed my expectations. I discovered new skills within me that lead to the creation of new passion. Indeed, this is not the first problem that I had. Through my classes, I learned how to work with curriculum and criticize it at the same time. Even so, curriculum was not my biggest problem but rather time management. I was so passionate in my five classes, field experience, volunteer opportunities, and managing my newly ratified cultural club in the university—I am the founder and president of the UR Filipino Students’ Society—that I ended up being overwhelmed. I thought that I would lose all the hard work I put into everything and I almost gave up the path I have been searching for. I told myself that I cannot afford to lose the opportunity of being in the right path so I tried to be resilient, tried to hand-in what I can finish and genuinely talked to one of my professors. I never thought that I can be that vulnerable in front of someone else, especially with my professor. This is because people typically see my blissful side and never my weaknesses. However, by expressing all the stress that I have, she was able to help me accordingly. I never told my other professors about my real situation but I am grateful that I passed. From then on, I learned how to manage my time and priorities—to the extent that I attended workshops to help me properly organize my schedules.

Now, I look forward for what else can this path offer me. Surely, it gave me obstacles but I knew that it only made me stronger. Also, I am eager to learn the knowledge that my professors will share. Furthermore, I am keen to discover more capabilities that I have within, as well as to develop further expertise. I am deeply grateful: for the culture where I grew up which urges me to keep moving forward because it will help me have a comparative perception about schools and curriculum; for my parents who gave light to whichever pathway I choose; for the teachers who have been and will be bridges for my success; and for the becoming teacher whom I have encountered along the path, who was a tall and bright sign that leads me to take the detour to where I really belong.

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