I first knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was still in elementary school, teaching others how to do math (which is ironic because now I teach in the arts). Iloved everything about the process: devising creative instructions, writing down notes for people, watching the fog lift. I also often bartered snacks for tutoring. I have continued to teach in various capacities over the past twenty-five years, ranging from basic survival skills and meteorology as an air cadet to ESL when I lived in Montreal and now creative writing.
The best part about my job is helping students realize their stories are important and people are listening. They are beginning to understand the transformative power of language. My second year students run a literary magazine, and watching them take ownership of all aspects from promotion to selection to editing makes me so proud. The classroom is the best place on earth.
During my first two years of teaching in Toronto, I was contract faculty. I faced many challenges during that period, the greatest being poverty. Fresh out of grad school, I was given three courses per semester at a wage that was about 30% less than the wage of permanent faculty. We sat on the same committees and planned our courses together. yet I could barely pay my rent. Sometimes, during the first week of school, courses would be taken away from me and given to those with tenure. Once, I was promised four courses and ended up with one. At that point, I realized I needed to get a part time job to support my "teaching habit." The only job I could find that was flexible enough for my erratic schedule was temp work, answering phones at a medical clinic. The way people treated me at the clinic was so incredibly different than how I was valued as a teacher. It was a humbling experience.
Eventually, I moved across the country, chasing the promise of full-time work, and I was able to secure a permanent position at Selkirk College. I joined the fight for fairness because I will never forget when I received my first T4 as a teacher and realized I'd only made $22,000 in a year, teaching three courses per semester. Contract faculty works too hard for that kind of salary.
I'm a contract faculty member at Vancouver Island University. I started as a regularized faculty member and chose to move into a non-regular position about 4 years ago.
Teaching is another leg of my 44 year journey as a nurse. Half of my nursing career was spent as a military Nursing Officer, and the last half has been in nursing education and health promotion within medical clinics. When I retired from the military, I knew that I wanted to continue to contribute to the advancement of the profession.
I love seeing the lights go on in students’ eyes as they make the connection between theory and practice and I really am thrilled about focussing on first year student success. I love taking my students to long term care facilities to focus on making a relational connection with their clients; “being while they’re doing”. Many people can do the technical skills of nursing, but to really be a nurse I believe that you need to enter into a professional relationship with the client.
I am extremely fortunate that I am able to secure the work I want that fits my lifestyle as a semi-retired person, but I know that others in VIU have no guarantee that work will even be available on a semester to semester basis. I joined the Fight for Fairness because many of our members don’t know about or appreciate the precarious nature of non-regular work.
Are you a non-regular faculty member at a post-secondary institution in BC? Do you have a story to tell? We would love to share it! Send us an email answering these questions and we will post your story here.
I'm a contract faculty member at:
What brought me to teaching is:
The best part about my job is:
The biggest challenge I face as contract faculty is:
My greatest teaching/research/scholarly accomplishment is:
I joined the Fight for Fairness because: