I taught secondary school for 30 years, and while I changed schools a few times, it was always between the same 2 schools. I was at school A for 10 years, school B for 6, A for 1, B for 6, and finally A for 7. There were other secondary schools in the system, 6 others at the height of enrollment in the early 70s, but I was always between those two, school A being a somewhat affluent suburban school and school B being a country school. All but the first shift were strictly my choice.
Back in university, I had majored in geography and took enough English courses, so that I would have a teachable minor, which was required, or so I thought. I specialized in geography mainly because I found it enjoyable and could also do it well. I could always pull off better marks in geography than English or even other subjects.
When I went to teachers college, the English prof who interviewed me, advised me to switch my second teachable to Elementary rather than English because I had only taken the bare minimum of English courses. As it turned out, I should have stuck with English, for in my 11th year of teaching, I was transferred to not only a different school in a different environment but also asked to teach some English. After that from years 2 through 6 at that school, I almost exclusively taught in the English department.
Amazingly, I loved it. Something about my personality seemed to do even better in an English class than in geography. I think it was because there was more discussion of ideas and not so much disseminating of information. I was a pretty good listener and liked to hear the students' opinions, and they seemed to like my way of encouraging them share.
I taught English to grades 9 through 11, but despite my enjoyment, I always had the suspicion that I was a fraud because my background in the subject wasn't as strong as it could have been. This is despite being spoken of highly by students, department heads, principals and supervisors. In fact I got more positive feedback in those years than in my geographical years. Go figure.
Without fussing over the details, I ended up back in geography for my last 14 years, 12 of those as a department head. But in retrospect, my favourite years were the English years and I certainly had never seen that coming. That was my personal career shape-shifting although not as dramatic as many people experience.
If I had seen back then what I see now I would likely have made any or all of the following choices:
- taken a few more English course in Uni;
- insisted on taking English as a second subject at teachers college;
- and/or chosen to continue teaching English rather than switching back to geography in the last half of my career.
Or at least I think I should have made those choices, but it is what it is. I had a good 30 years on the job after all, but the best were those 6 years as a English teacher.