18 Nov Reflections on Tutoring as an Ontario Certified Teacher
Deanna Williams, OCT
When I became an Ontario Certified Teacher, it was after knowing for years that I would be teaching for the rest of my life. I was always enthralled by my teachers and took the responsibility of being a student very seriously. I always imagined having my own classroom of course, because this is what being a teacher looked like to me. My experiences after graduation completely changed this picture.
The fall after graduation, I jumped at the opportunity to volunteer weekly at a local high school in the Durham Region. I was so lucky to go there every Tuesday for the entire year, and soak up as much experience as I wanted teaching senior Physics from an Associate Teacher. One of my placements had been there and some of the older students even remembered me with warm greetings. This was what it was all about, I thought. It was exactly what I expected, demanding and rewarding.
Volunteering gave me real experience in only one of my teachables and practice managing a large class of teens. After a while, I began to feel I had not made too many connections that were very meaningful beyond tolerating me and respecting me enough to sit through my lessons. There simply was not time to make learning personal it felt like to me.
Things really shifted for me the following fall. In the summer, I had learned of an opportunity tutoring students one-on-one through A+ Tutoring with Certified Teachers. I began with only a few students but immediately felt what a difference I could make in their day and in their education. Students can be near tears when I arrive, but smiling after a session.
I loved getting a chance to make math and science less scary. Before I knew it, I was teaching 4-5 different senior Math and Science courses to a variety of learners! It is so rewarding to share my passions with my learners every day. This is what it is all about. I know when I spend an hour paying close attention to my students they feel connected and engaged. I leave knowing I made a difference in their understanding of a topic that otherwise intimidated them.
One-on-one, I can identify a student’s working understanding of a concept or equation in real time and adjust in meaningful ways. When I see one explanation is ineffective, rewinding and trying another route. What a unique and rewarding challenge. As an Ontario Certified Teacher, I can provide feedback with insight into their coming assessments and expectations. I’ve watched this improve many of my learners’ experiences in the classroom, as well as their self-esteem.
My tutoring experience validates my career choice daily. I am proud to call myself a teacher and make a difference to my students one-on-one. Teaching is not about what the classroom looks like, or what letters I write beside my name. To me, teaching is having compassion and understanding for the learner in front of me. This is why I now hope that I will teach as a tutor for the rest of my life.