A Letter to the Frustrated Con-Eddie

Somebody once said to me that they were surprised I decided to go into education as my field of study. When I asked them why, they said, “I don’t know, you just seem really disciplined, so I thought you’d choose something more…impressive, I guess.”

Though this may sound slightly mind-boggling, this is far from the first time I, along with most others in my program, have experienced a distinct lack of enthusiasm or support for our choice to become a teacher.

I’ve known I wanted to teach long before many people do: by the time grade 11 hit, I had my eyes set on Queen’s Concurrent Education program. Through grade 12, I put in 100% effort on every test, assignment, and exam. I made sure I had a multitude of extracurriculars and volunteer experience to pad my statement of experience, and I carefully curated each word of my supplementary essay, all in the hopes of acceptance. When I received my acceptance letter, I cried.

All that, you may ask? All that to end up in a seemingly thankless profession, surrounded by rambunctious kids and moody, unappreciative teenagers all day? To end up in a job that so many people view as “less than”, that is if they even consider it at all?

Yes. Without a doubt, yes.

I am in the second half of my second year in the Con-Ed program, and I can say that this “yes” has hardly wavered for a moment over the last two years. Throughout the unavoidable turbulence of the university transition, one thing has stayed static: my desire to share my love of language, of knowledge, and my passion for learning. While I fully respect and understand those who aspire to careers involving promotions, higher salaries, and consistent feedback from their employer, the idea of teaching, for me, has never been about those things.

Although terrifying when put in a negative context, the truth is unavoidable: sending your child to school is essentially sending them into the hands of strangers who influence them for six hours a day, five days a week. As a teacher candidate, one of my main goals is to instill a sense of trust and mutual respect between parent, child, and educator. I want my students to feel inspired by what I am teaching, and at the very least, feel safe and comfortable in my classroom.

Many times we are faced with educators who have no passion for their subject, their profession, or the wellbeing of their students. The countless peers who have told me how much they despised a certain subject or were made to feel incapable and unworthy of knowledge because of a certain teacher frightens me. While it’s overwhelming, the realization of the influence we can have as educators motivates me to become the figure that allows a student to learn, grow and flourish in a welcoming environment.

So to those out there who may scratch their head and wonder why we would ever consider this, I urge you to think back to your favourite teacher, one you feel who has positively shaped you into the person you are today.

This. This is why.