I teach students with mild intellectual disabilities and with a variety of special needs. I went to York University for humanities and environmental studies and then I did my bachelor of education at the University of Toronto and a master's of education at OISE.
When I went to teacher's college I thought I wanted to teach outdoor education. I didn't think I'd enjoy teaching in a regular school or within four closed walls. One thing I've learned about teaching is that it's less about the subjects and more about the students. I'm teaching math this year. Twelve, 13, 15 years ago when I took my bachelor of ed, that would've shocked me.
I'm a queer and transgendered teacher. Facing transphobia and homophobia has been among the hardest things about teaching. But in my nine years, I have to say that, overall, being out as a trans and queer teacher has had way more benefits than drawbacks.
Teacher's college rhetoric asks us to be professional and bring out our true selves. The idea is that making genuine connections with students is essential to creating an environment that promotes learning. [During my studies] I had no idea how challenging and rewarding that would be.
I've learned how essential it is to have supportive colleagues, administration and our union, and how damaging it can be to the learning environment when that support is not present. I've also learned how important it is to have a loving and supportive family and community to survive the demands of teaching.
I moved back to Toronto after working in a small town for four years. At that time I had five years of teaching under my belt, but it still took me four years to land a contract teaching position. People coming out of teacher's college now face slim chances of landing jobs.
That climate has put me situations that I might not have chosen but that have enriched my teaching skills and experience. I've taken on teaching English, math, phys ed, geography and now special education. Each was both challenging and rewarding.
I've taught in nine schools, and in each one I've encountered a dedicated team of professionals who are generous with their time, skills and hearts.
It's tough when teachers are not valued and are slandered, misportrayed and denied the basic right to negotiate contracts.