Four years ago, on the first Thursday morning after Labour Day, I woke up nauseous as hell for a job that I couldn’t believe I was about to start. All day, I couldn’t fight the butterflies. Was I really going to teach at Laurier, my alma mater? What if I fell flat on my face? Should I do the Ellen dance as I walk down the stairs to music?
I showed up to class 15 minutes early, with a stack of course outlines so high and so heavy that I thought I would drop them. A student interrupted me on my way in. “Hey!” he called out. “Sweet,” I thought. "This guy’s going to help me carry this monstrous pile!" Instead, he gave me a puzzled look and asked “Are you the TA?”.. haha. At least I didn’t fall flat on my face. (I also never worked up the courage to run the Ellen bit at the start of class.)
The minute class started, I knew with more clarity than I can describe that I was in the right place; I could just feel it. Two hundred bright eyed students were looking at me with anticipation, excited to start their undergraduate careers.
Four years later, it’s time to move on. Just like the students who started their first year with me, I guess I’m also graduating in some way.
I have learned so much from my time teaching at Laurier. I loved my job, I loved my classroom, and I was passionate. Passionate about my students’ development, and about doing my small part to incorporate international perspectives and relevant material. Of course, there are many areas where reform is needed in postsecondary ed, and I'll get to that (in upcoming posts).
But for now, I am grateful to my students, first and foremost, who reminded me why there is good reason to have so much optimism for the future. From my international students who left families in Syria, Ghana, Kenya and Jamaica to come here to learn, to students who are already running businesses of their own (and socially conscious businesses at that), to my Enactus crew, you have inspired me. You care, you struggle, you connect and you challenge norms. In short, you are shaping our future for the better.
Then there are my TAs - some of the brightest people I have ever gotten to know. It is incredible to get to work with people who complement your passions and sense of adventure with their own, but are also striving for personal awareness. You guys and gals kept me ‘real’, relevant, and made me laugh so hard during our trivia nights, games nights, and even our TA meetings! I hope your enthusiasm and respect for self and others keeps growing as you move forward.
As for my colleagues, I’ve learned that it is so important to have at least a few people you work with who inspire you. I learned about the balance that strong women can have in work and life, the importance of diversity, marketing yourself, creating relevant cases for students, and the importance of service to engage with students outside of the classroom (shoutout to DRose!).
Moving on is not something I do very gracefully. (Boyz II Men had it right in this track: it’s so hard to say goodbye!) I awkwardly ramble on about the next time I’ll see you, or give you multiple hugs and handshakes or walk away swiftly to pretend this is the coolest good bye ever. I’m also not great at keeping in touch consistently. But I do work hard at staying connected. So I look forward to the next time I get to catch up with you, work with some of you (let’s make our ideas come to life together!), and just hang out and share a good stomach-hurting laugh as we all continue on our journeys.
So thank you Laurier - my students, TAs, and colleagues, for a fantastic four years. Stay golden!
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!