Friday, February 4, 2011

Too Many Teachers in Canada?

I have to admit that I have been feeling more than a little homesick these days. Although I really enjoy life in Japan, I miss many things about Canada. More than eight years in Asia and to be honest, I would love to be standing in front of a class again inside a Canadian classroom. I would love to try to connect with a group of kids who can relate to my cultural references and parents, whom I could, for the most part, communicate with without the need of a translator.

Of course there are other things I long for such as owning my own house, barbeques on a back deck I can call my own and being able to drive on the "proper" side of the rode! Again, like I mentioned, what I am really interested in is teaching in Canada.

There is a serious problem with my "plan" though. There don't seem to be any jobs for teachers out there. In the province of Ontario alone, each year, universities are pumping out 7,000 more new teachers than are retiring in the province. Friends of mine who graduated in my teacher's college cohort several years ago are still working as supply teachers and on short-term contracts. These are really good teachers. They are highly skilled and talented in the classroom and even they are having trouble landing permanent positions.

This bleak situation isn't just in Ontario, but across most of the country. Many areas are suffering from population declines and of course that means that there are inevitable school closures. Now of course, many urban areas are growing, but that means that many teachers simply flock to those areas in hopes of landing a permanent contract. Either way, things don't look great for a guy like me.

I am a qualified teacher and I love what I do. I have passion for my work and know that I am good at it. I even have a pretty impressive resume. Once upon a time, that would have guaranteed me a permanent contract in a good school board. In 2011 though, it means I am pretty much bunched in with the deluge of new teachers graduating and the folks who've been on supply lists for years.

People have suggested I think about moving to Northern Canada to work. I'm sure it is very beautiful in the more remote areas of Canada. I'm sure that the environment and nature would certainly tap into my sense of adventure, but to be honest, I would rather have the immunities of living in a larger center. The idea of a rural way of life is fine with me (I grew up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia), but the idea of an isolated one isn't so appealing.

I'm constantly reassured by friends back home that the situation will change in time. In time, more teachers will retire and there will be more openings. Unfortunately, I've been hearing this for many years and haven't seen it happen. Canadian universities make big bucks with their teacher education programs. It makes simple sense for them to train more teachers every year. The more students enrolled in their program, the more funding they receive! It doesn't seem to matter that they are contributing to the ever-increasing teacher surplus across Canada. It's somewhat of a no-brainer that university teacher training programs need to be capped asap!

I have thought often about the possibility that a career change may be in my future. Although I know I am a talented teacher, I may have simply decided to become one at the wrong time in history. Maybe I can use my knowledge and skills in the private sector? Maybe, I should just consider a drastic change in the future?

All in all, I really do hope things change. I hope there will be a demographic swing and job markets will open up more for people like me in the near future. I want to bring my skills and talents back to Canada and make a difference in Canadian classrooms. My feelings of pessimism have been far stronger than my optimism as of late. Let's hope I can turn that around and start feeling more positive about that sooner than later!

A little something extra: After I wrote this post (hours before posting it on my blog) I tweeted about what I had written. My great friend back in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Lonnie replied to me on Twitter. He wrote something very true: “ Reiki_Jones @jlandkev There’s a NEED for teachers in every province, but the governments don’t want to spend the money.”
I really think there is something to what my friend Lonnie has to say!

Follow more of what I think on Twitter: @jlandkev

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Just wanted to say thanks for all your vlogs Kevin! I enjoy them all, brings back memories of my own personal experience in Japan.

My wife is currently in the process of switching careers to teaching so I can relate to this posting. All I can say is just hang in there and lets all hope for the best.