3 Lessons Learned from my First Term of Teaching

Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley lessons learned

As I make my way through grading 25 marketing and small business proposals, here are three lessons learned from my first term of teaching:

1. Um, I really enjoy it. Seriously.

I am shocked! I decided in the sixth grade that I didn’t want to teach. What a mistake!

I like getting to know the students. I’m getting better at lesson planning on the fly and creating in-class activities to match the lessons. I am inspired by students’ creativity, which is why I opted to test as little as possible. I’m empathetic at almost the right level. I still need to figure out how not to feel as nervous as my students when the present their final projects.

Sorry Dad. I shouldn’t have avoided teaching for so long.


2. Not everyone will pass. And that’s not (necessarily) my fault.

I’ve worked to understand where my responsibility lies and where it ends. I’ve learned to shrug off no-shows, people who want to squeak by with the bare minimum, and the occasional attitude.


3. I don’t mind commuting 9+ hours in two days for a job I enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong. I sleep a lot on Wednesdays when I get home. But it’s a far cry from commuting on an overcrowded, overheated subway on a Monday morning in January. And it’s a far cry from commuting at least an hour in any direction from Boston to audit clients, a commute that induced road rage (and also introduced me to the soothing power of audiobooks).

I could probably use the drive time to learn another language. I do enjoy much of the programming I listen to on satellite radio on Monday mornings: the TED Radio Hour on NPR, the Doc Project on CBC, and the Current also on CBC. If you have any podcasts that you enjoy, particularly around small business or marketing, send your recommendations my way.


Other lessons that didn’t make the top three:

  • We need a second car for me to continue teaching.
    • I’ll have another Subaru in my life soon. (RIP dark blue Impreza that got me through the ODAN program the first time.)
  • Beer or wine makes lesson planning that much better.
    • Lesson planning was my Sunday activity for this fall. On one occasion when I was feeling particularly uninspired, I enjoyed a beer and got back to it.
    • Snowshoeing also makes lesson planning (and grading) better.
  • My “tripping” weather good luck runs out in late fall particularly in the Ottawa Valley.
    • There have been a few hairy drives between Toronto and Pembroke since late November.


Have you ever tried something new for work? How did it turn out? Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Published by Kate Monahan

Travel happy. Outdoors professional. Writer. Photographer. Educator.

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