TEACHING - ONE WAY OR ANOTHER
by Carol Baird-Krul and Enise Olding
Over the past few issues we have focused on sharing the experiences of educators who
have chosen to continue teaching after leaving their primary careers in education. These
new positions are as diverse as the retirees’ reasons for deciding to stay involved in education.
Volunteering is an interesting way to continue to teach and in this issue we will hear
about the reasons and the rewards that led this respondent to choose this path as a way to
continue teaching after retirement.
After she retired, Linda decided to teach overseas for a period of time, and realized on her return to Canada that she wanted to continue to teach in some capacity. She tutored elementary students for awhile but eventually decided that using her skills and experiences volunteering in a literacy program for new Canadians was what she really wanted to do. By doing this she combined a variety of elements that have helped to make her retirement interesting and gratifying.
What was your original area of work in education?
I was an intermediate school teacher for the majority of my career.
How many years did you work within the educational system in Canada?
I worked for 36 years.
Did you work outside of Canada or in another field and if so where/what?
I taught ESL at a high school and also Grade 1 in an English Immersion School in China for a period of 3.5 years.
What type of work/volunteering are you now involved in?
I volunteer as a tutor for adult new Canadians in ESL in a local literacy program.
What were your reasons for deciding to continue to work/volunteer after retirement from your primary career?
I am skilled at teaching and enjoy it very much. I identify myself as a teacher and plan to do it as long as possible. I also like to be useful. My experiences with the Chinese was so wonderful and I learned so much about them and the culture— doing this local literacy program is an excellent way for me to continue that learning. My current student is Korean and will soon become a Canadian citizen, so this also makes me feel useful.
What made you decide on this particular type of post-retirement work?
After retiring, I volunteered at the Cancer Society where I ran the speakers’ bureau, and then moved to the cancer unit at the hospital and then to the hospital thrift store. Meanwhile I was going to China to teach. After I reached the age limit for China, I realized how much I missed teaching and saw a request for volunteers put out by our district’s teachers’ association and joined.
What challenges did you encounter in your new endeavour that you did not expect and how did you deal with them?
My learners are adults and have jobs and families and there is much adjustment needed to have a meeting time. We are not able to meet as often or for as long as we both would like.
What have been the rewards of your new endeavour?
The rewards are somewhat like regular teaching. Watching the student have success is awesome. Also the way we teach each other about our cultures. We have become close and I am able to help with other matters such as required exams or driver’s licences.
What impact if any has your choice had on your life in general?
It has invigorated me as learning does to everyone. It has made me see the world in a different way.
Were you ever worried that you might have made a mistake in your choice? Do you have a Plan B?
No, after I returned from working in China I thought being a volunteer was what I wanted to do. I feel I am very successful as an ESL tutor. I also volunteer elsewhere. I don’t have a Plan B as I intend to continue with tutoring as long as I am able and I’m needed.
Did your new position require special training and if so what was it?
If you are a Canadian teacher you only have to take a brief (three hours for two nights) orientation. If you have ESL credentials the same goes. If not, there is a longer orientation held on weekends. I noticed that many of the tutors have English as a Second Language. There is also Aboriginal Education, Literacy, Computers and tutoring at a prison if ESL is not for you.
How has your background in education aided you in what you are now doing?
My teacher training and experience makes lesson planning and finding different ways to help students learn easy for me. It also helps with making or adapting and using resources that are available.
How long do you intend/hope to be doing the type of work you are now doing?
I hope to teach until I drop.
Any further thoughts or comments about your retirement choice?
All my volunteer work is geared to working with people but one-to-one tutoring adults has added a whole new dimension to my life and I have China to thank for this renewal of my spirit.
As you have read here and in past issues of the magazine, the reasons educators choose to continue to teach are very personal and unique. Whether they are following new interests or pursuing long held dreams or giving back to the community by volunteering, each one has achieved a positive result and enjoys satisfaction in retirement, something you can do too when the time is right.
Note: Many literacy programs have a newspaper for adult ESL learners and these are especially good for learning about Canada. One example is The Westcoast Reader. For more information, visit their website (thewestcoastreader.com) or Facebook page (facebook.com/ thewestcoastreader).