My first teaching job was in a ‘school of necessity’ in rural Southern Alberta. My grade four class had fourteen students, my 7/8 split class had twenty students, and my grade nine English class had four students. I taught in a small farming community that was far different than the big city in which I’d grown up in. I made friends with staff members during my term there, despite the fact that they were all approaching retirement and I was still in my twenties. And I was the first – and only –vegetarian the students ever saw.
When the school lost students, I lost my job. That left me feeling very scared. How was I going to pay my bills? How could I afford my rent? I had to find a new job, and soon. But what if I couldn’t find one? I was competing with all the new teachers graduating from college and would cost less on a payroll than me. At the same time, I was competing for jobs with teachers with more experience and education than me. I dreaded interviews, and I dreaded moving. I didn’t like the unknown and fragility of my situation.
But I managed to adopt a good attitude about it, over all. I did cry, but I did not mope. I drove home from work a bit sad, but tried not to dwell. I followed the mantra of the song “The End of the Road” as best I could. There’s a line in that song that says, “Don’t get to fix it if it doesn’t break,” and I decided to use this change in my job status as an opportunity. I sent out resumes and went for interviews, hoping for a new chance and a positive change. Even after a few rejections, I did not give up. I smiled and continued on.
It took a while – and a few scary months – but I did get a new job. My new position was teaching grade six in a larger town. This community was less isolated and closer to my hometown. I was given the challenge of teaching an entirely new grade and a few new subjects, but I also had more co-workers – many of which were closer to my own age. I was able to make new friends and tackle new challenges. In fact, this new school was a better fit for me, overall. There were more opportunities to engage with students at extra-curricular events. I was even able to create my own club for the students that was in line with my own interests.
Losing my job was a sad moment for me when it first happened. I thought about all the things I was losing. But a good shift in attitude allowed me to seek out a new job – one that actually worked out better for me in the long run. I was introduced to new challenges and a work environment that suited my personality better. So, not every closed door is a travesty. Sometimes good things arrive after a setback.