My career path since high school was pretty well laid out for me. I earned my degree in business and then invested two more years of my life in school to get my Certified Management Accountant designation. Why? I liked math, and it seemed like a logical choice. I knew that job opportunities in a booming Alberta would be plentiful.
At the point when Dalene and I began pursuing our dream to travel, I was the Controller at a small oil and gas services company. I was doing well, I enjoyed my job, but of course, the open road was beckoning. We had made the decision that a change in our lives was necessary, and I sadly, but eagerly, left it all behind.
Fast forward almost two years from my last day of work, and I have been putting my math skills to use again, but in a totally different capacity; instead, beyond my duties volunteering at the Sandy Bay Alternative School in Roatán, I have also been a substitute teacher for both math and language arts.
Never, in my days as a young corporate climber, could I have projected that this was even a possibility for me. But, like nearly all occurances of change in my life, it has been a great experience.
It is also a very different experience. I have taught a bit before – I’ve given countless presentations on Excel training, on how to become a lean organization, and on how to create a balanced scorecard – but that was to adults. Not to kids.
Kids have attitudes. Some are eager to learn, others are annoyed to even be there in the first place. Instead of having adults who pay to attend a course and truly want to further their knowledge base, these kids are forced to be at school. And, of course I can relate to them from my days as a student. There are days when school was just an annoyance, a nuisance, and it was against all reasoning that I would actually have to use permutations and combinations at some point in my life.
So when I got the lesson plans from their teachers, I embraced the subject matter and tried to make it fun for the kids. In language arts, we talked about current events to gear them up for a lesson on writing news stories. Not only did we talk about the earthquake in Japan or violence in Libya, we touched on Lady Gaga and Charlie Sheen, and how to write good headlines. One girl discussed current events going on in Honduras and ended up teaching me. The kids then presented some poetry and I made them recite it as rap stars – it was a huge hit.
They were learning, at least I think they were. And it went fairly smoothly, barring a couple of incidents that resulted in some minor discipline.
At the end of my three days of teaching, I was exhausted. I don’t know if I could do this full time, and I sure have a new respect for people that do.
Numerous kids commented about wanting me to teach full time. So then I had to wonder: do they really like me, or is it just because I was a change from their regular teachers? I know the other teachers, I am in their classes a couple times a week as an aid, and they are great educators. Would the students think the same of me if I was a full time teacher? And if I was, and then had a substitute fill in my place for a few days, would they also want him/her to take my place?
Like the adjustment in my life from accountant to traveler, these kids embraced the change I brought to the classroom, with gusto. And while I don’t want to discredit how uber cool and fun I obviously was (ha), I must also give credit to one of life’s basic principles: change is good, whether big or small.
I’ll probably never be a teacher. But I also know I won’t return to the corporate accounting life either. Instead I am choosing to embrace whatever change comes next.