'I count my lucky stars that I teach in Ottawa'

This French teacher absolutely loves teaching in Canada – and does her best to empower her pupils to follow their dreams

What's it like to teach in Canada?

Imagine if every morning you woke up excited for the day ahead. Imagine if no day ever looked the same. Imagine if every day you were humbled by the learning shared with you by others. Imagine if your day was filled with laughter and celebration. 

That’s what every day is like for me. Teaching in Ottawa, there’s never a dull moment and I’m thankful that there’s more excitement and positivity than anger and negativity. Sure, there are always moments that can prove to be testing, but what job doesn’t carry such moments?

I count my lucky stars that I teach where I do, I have support systems around me and I work and play in a learning environment that, for the most part, sincerely celebrates students.

Living relatively close to my school, which teaches children aged between 12 and 18, I can cycle, walk, take public transport or carpool when need be. It can be fun to see the expression on students’ faces when they see my bike tucked away in the corner and ask, "Mme, wasn’t it too cold to bike this morning?" Probably, but that’s life in Canada.

Teaching in Canada

My days are busy at Bell High School. Even getting to school early doesn’t seem to create enough hours in the day. Nethertheless, I always hit the ground running with a check on emails, chit chat with colleagues, meet with students and blast some music to set a positive tone.  

My homeroom is a gifted grade 7 and 8 class, and I teach them a mix of geography, history, French, science and health. I'm constantly reminding them of the community we live in and the one we have created as a homeroom: something that I know means a lot to some of my students.

The students integrate all sorts of technology into their learning, like Minecraft and various Google tools. I encourage them to reflect on what is happening in our world in connection with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by looking at the news from various perspectives and mediums.

And, above all, we remind ourselves that our mental health is important: we listen to each other and share our stories. This allows us to take the time to live in the moment without stressing about what is yet to come.

Every day presents its own set of memorable moments. From times when the pupil who wasn’t sure of something the day before suddenly gets it, to students putting forth their ideas to shape a more inclusive school for all, to former students sharing their successes.

There’s always a curious and fun-filled learning opportunity around the corner. My students learn very quickly that they can veer from the "learning plan" if they ask me about something they’ve seen on the news – but I don’t mind. I love that they come to school bubbly and ready to tackle the day with a million questions and ideas. 

For me, education is about being totally present for the students and the wider learning community and building relationships that empower students to advocate for themselves and pursue their passions.

Canada, teaching in canada, what's it like to teach in Canada

Perhaps I'm looking through rose-tinted glasses but I fully recognise how lucky I am to be a teacher in Ontario.  We have our ups and downs: there are increased class sizes which hurt students in all aspects of their learning, cuts to support systems for students who need it the most, and the battle to address equity in the classroom – an ongoing area of growth across our country.  But would I change much about my daily position as an educator?  Probably not. 

We live in a world where our students need to see positive role models, who don’t just talk the talk but make an effort to walk the walk for the sake of a better world. Part of me truly believes that being an educator is a calling. If you don’t love what you are doing and see it for the good that comes from it, then why do it? That’s why I became a teacher: to celebrate curious attitudes towards learning, and foster a positive learning environment for all. I want students to be empowered to reach for their dreams. 

Allison Fuisz is a French teacher at Bell High School, Algonquin Territory in Canada 

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