My teacher story, The life of an Ontario Occasional Teacher, I got the OT Blues....
My road to teaching has neither been straight nor narrow.
Such is life, it's a twisty path.
Where to begin....I'll take you back to 2006 when I got my law school acceptance letters, buckle up baby it's going to be a wild ride!
So in 2006 I knew exactly what my life was going to look like! I was in my 20s, accomplished (whatever that means) engaged, bright eyed and bushy tailed. I was going to be a criminal lawyer. I was going to be Marie Henein.
I was going to make a billion millions.
So I spent my under graduate degree laser focused on getting into law school. I talked my way into interning at some down town criminal firms (which is legit unheard of for an undergrad whose daddy doesn't own the joint). I entered, and won juried, art shows (gotta be rounded), I had some of my writing published, I made myself a fixture in my prof's (who was also on the admissions board of the particular law school I hoped to attend) office. I may as well have been a broken lamp I was there so often for no good reason. The man eventually let me draft my own reference letter from him and signed it, his only direction was "don't go claiming you are the second coming of Christ"...so I deleted that paragraph... I was a big sister, I volunteered at food banks, I even lead Sunday School at my Church. I received a coveted government grant for young female entrepreneurs and then went on a recruiting/speaking circuit for them to encourage other young woman to do like I did. Outside of building schools in South America I followed the law school script to a T, and it worked...well, sorta!
I got in!
Then I had a summer existential crisis!
I couldn't afford law school; I am not now, and never have been, a daughter of privileged...c'est la vie!
But not only did I not have the funds, I also realized I didn't actually want to be a lawyer. I think I just wanted to prove that I could be, you know? I wanted to feel like I was capable, worth something.
So I did what any self-respecting twenty something would do, I called my fiance and ugly cried into the phone for hours (He is my husband now, he can't say he didn't see me coming!) Later I ugly cried in his car, on his couch, on park benches, in burger joints...you name it, I bawled there!
So what was a lady to do?
I'll tell you she doesn't do, she doesn't listen to her mother who spent 10 years telling her she should go to teacher's college!
HOW DARE SHE TRY TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO? I WAS GROWN!
So I went corporate and took a position in sales. I made too much money for a kid my age. Guess what? I didn't want to do that either. So I started teaching dance and art on weekends at studios, community schools, and private language schools. But I was NOT going to be a teacher! Then one day I realized I wanted to be a teacher! (Sorry Mom!)
I went to teachers college and was quickly hired to the OT (occasional teacher) lists upon completion of the program. I got married, got pregnant, went into kidney failure (no I am not making this up, if I were I would be employed as the head writer for a Latin American Tela Nova) and then got pregnant again when my first was 6 months old.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
So I didn't leave the boards per se, I kind of just faded out. Still not being of means I started an at home business to do cool things like pay for milk and diapers. I stayed home with my two under two and ran myself delirious building the business. I told myself when my youngest goes to school I will go back to teaching!
As luck would have it that year, when he went to school, I got pregnant again!
Lucky number 3.
So again, my plans to teach were put on hold. I pushed through the business further, it was kind of killing me, and when she was born I applied to the board's not realizing fully that in my absence a cool new regulation had been put in place, Regulation 274 .
What is Ontario Regulation 274 you ask?
Confusing and annoying, that's what it is.
So in short all incoming teachers need to get on an OT list and supply for at least 10 months before they can apply to the LTO list (Long Term Occasional). Then they have to do a 4 month LTO before they can be considered for permanent positions. Then those permanent positions have to interview 5 candidates and offer it in order of seniority first and the more senior candidates need to turn it down before it can go to the more novice.
What does this mean? It means that it is literally taking teachers between 4-9 years to get a permanent classroom! Rumor has it that it is getting better because of two year teachers college and retirements BUT now it taking on average 2-4 years, or so they whisper. But along the way there are more obstacles, fun, fun. fun...like there are year long waiting lists to get an interview for the board if you are one of the select few who made it to that waiting list. Then from that interview you can be put on another wait list for a supply spot to open. HUH? Yes, that is right you were one of the 20% of applicants put on a wait list for the supply interview, you waited a whole year and you killed your interview and now you are a successful candidate on a wait list for an opening on that supply list. OK so you are on the list now after 1-3 years of hoop jumping, yay!!! Now that list is seniority ranked too friend so hold your pants. If you are on the C list of the OT list you won't get called more than once or twice a week but if you wait and hold your breath you could make it to the A list and get called insistently starting at 5 am!!!
You have to take at least 14 supply jobs per board to stay on their lists. If you get kicked off those lists I wish you luck starting that 1-3 year process again to get back on all while explaining why you got kicked off in the first place.
After the 10 months supplying you can apply to the LTO list and hope you are again one of the 20% who gets an interview (not all interviewed get hired btw). This happens twice a year in October and May. Hey you failed your interview in October, just reapply in May, then again the next October, then again the next May. Wash, rinse, repeat!
Now your on the LTO list, YAY!!!!
Get those 4 months done if you can but remember you are on the LTO list C again and they offer to the A and B lists first!
Now you want permanent after 7 years of LTOs?
Go for it and hope you are the most senior person at those interviews!
OMG I got permanent and after only 6 years...don't forget you are under observation for the next 2 years so don't drop the ball now!!
What a horror show.
I would also argue the system is sexist and a human rights violation that is throwing highly educated women into a precarious work trap that breeds poverty all while further marginalizing teachers of lower socio-economic means, and 'older' teachers who have children.
Why? Because let's be frank, who can afford to work precariously for 10 years?
But it is what it is and I don't see it changing anytime soon. So I trudge forward.
I will wait for that 5 am ring on the daily to see what my fate will be in that exact moment in time!
It is quite the adventure.
Do I crave a permanent class? You betcha...but until that is a viable possibility I will do what needs to be done! I guess it's my own fault, I did take 10 years off to have children and raise them...oh wait, what? Did someone say family status is a protected human right?
Don't cry for me teacher friends, I cried enough in my 20s for the lot of us!
My heart is full of hope!