Growing as an Educator
As a teenager, I seemed to have a knack for teaching my peers, but because of my love of numbers, I really wanted to become an accountant. It was the influence of my Math 30 teacher that led me to pursue the education field. And I’ve never looked back…
I earned my Bachelor of Education degree with distinction as a Secondary Math major. Funny how things turn out… I have never had a job as a high school math teacher! I began my career teaching grade 8 Social Studies and Language Arts- I cringe when I think back to those days when my students used to tell me, “Mrs. Lander, it’s like you have eyes at the back of your head!” Yes, I learned quickly that keeping one step ahead of grade 8 students in a Social Studies class was more than a full time job; one that I didn’t relish. When a job opening came up for an Elementary Special Education teacher, I jumped at the chance. After a few years in that role, I scooped up a Grade 4 teaching position- I loved grade 4!
During the first few years of teaching grade 4 students, although I knew my students were learning, and I knew I was working hard and even received an Excellence in Teaching award, I felt insecure a lot of the time. I had no background training in elementary education, and I always questioned if I was teaching the right things- it never occurred me to read the programs of study. Back then, we thought our text books were the curriculum; the programs of study were those big scary binders that sat on the back shelf collecting dust!
There weren’t a lot of PD opportunities at that time, but I participated in whatever PD I could find. Still feeling like I wasn’t doing justice to the Language Arts program, I took a year off of teaching in 1997 and went back to university to earn my Elementary Education Diploma, specializing in literacy. Wow, was I ever an awesome LA teacher when I returned the following year! Besides learning lots of great reading and writing strategies, I learned to rely on the programs of study to guide my teaching.
A much more confident me continued to teach grade 4 until 2005 when I was seconded by Alberta Education as the Project Coordinator for the Social Studies Online Guide. In addition to helping develop Social Studies resources for the Online Guide, part of my job involved facilitating workshops to share all the resources we were creating. It was during that secondment period that my relationship with programs of study grew even stronger, and I realized that I no longer needed to be in the classroom; I needed to working with teachers, to help them get hooked on the sweet taste of the curriculum.
This is such an exciting time in education! I feel so fortunate that my journey has led me to this position in Parkland, where I am afforded so many opportunities to continue to learn and grow as an educator.