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Navigating Your Teaching Career: From Exciting Beginnings to Leadership Opportunities

Navigating Your Teaching Career: From Exciting Beginnings to Leadership Opportunities

Your Teaching Journey Begins

As a teacher just entering the world of education, the journey ahead is both exhilarating and filled with challenges. The start of your career is a pivotal moment that sets the tone for years to come. The big question on everyone’s mind - do choices you make early in your career determine your path for the years to follow?

Critical Choices Along Your Career Path

You will face many choices, each with the power to shape your professional path. Opting for a French teaching position might commit you to this specialization for an extended period. Conversely, embracing a role in special needs education, supporting students in an ASD resource room or developmental disability program, raises questions about the ease of transitioning back to mainstream teaching. Additionally, does the initial school where you choose to teach influence future locations in your career?

Diverse Perspectives on Career Options

Before I accepted my first position in a public school board over twenty-five years ago, I recall talking to my peers and getting a different response from each person. In reality, while some answers are clear-cut, others are nuanced and influenced by a number of factors. Rest assured that this profession promotes attaining diverse experiences that strengthen each succeeding position that you take on.

What’s really exciting in education is the ability to teach and support students in a vast array of subjects if you are in the Elementary panel and while you have fewer grades to choose from in Secondary, there is flexibility in course offerings and grades. Each new opportunity brings freshness and a chance to work with new curricula and content.

Succession Planning

As you build your resume from one year to the next, you will benefit from career planning. Consider where you want to be in the next three to five years. While it’s important to be exposed to a variety of programs, school demographics and grade levels, it’s wise to craft a succession plan that supports your next move. Immerse yourself in teaching different grade levels, subjects and specialized programs. Allow yourself to discover passions you may not have known existed. 

Teacher Leadership Opportunities

If you enjoy taking on additional responsibilities, then put yourself out there. Remember, every role requires leadership whether it’s being a classroom teacher or a secondary department head. Offering extracurricular clubs and teams or leading professional learning communities for colleagues to improve student achievement, all require leadership. 

Make Connections

My advice to teachers entering the profession is to initially focus on applying theory to practice. Make connections with your new stakeholders as they will provide invaluable resources and constructive feedback to help you strengthen and refine your skills. Your colleagues, students, community and administrative staff want you to succeed. You’ve been hand-selected because you will meet the diverse needs of your learning community. Take this time to understand the demands and joys of supporting student achievement as this role is the core of being an educator.

While there will be times when you will feel like you’re on a rollercoaster, savour the memories you are making. The victories will add up and you will feel the gratitude that many of us experience in this dynamic and fulfilling profession.

For more insightful tips from Nina, you can continue reading here.

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Meet the author:

Nina Jaiswal, an Educational Consultant and former Superintendent of Education, offers valuable insights for educators, both experienced and new. As an expert witness in school liability, discipline matters, compliance, and policy, her perspective is essential for understanding the complexities of education. In addition to consultancy, Nina dedicates her expertise to coaching staff at all levels, focusing on career growth, promotion preparation, leadership development, and competency strengthening in educational matters.

With over 13 years on the Accreditation Review Panel for the Ontario College of Teachers and a history of teaching at the University of Toronto and York University, Nina's voice is grounded in extensive experience. She has significantly contributed to professional learning at the Ontario Public Supervisory Officers’ Association (OPSOA) and served as a coach for the Ontario Principals' Council. Recognized for impactful partnerships with community agencies and families, Nina is a driving force behind fostering public confidence and elevating student achievement.  

Nina's writing is an indispensable resource for anyone eager to delve into the dynamic world of education.