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32 Professionally Speaking | March 2018 W illiam Snodgrass is all about variety. Since becom- ing a certified teacher, Snodgrass has taught at six schools, and he is grateful for that. Each school has given him diverse perspectives, new chal- lenges and different rewards. Snodgrass has taught a number of subjects and now teaches English and music. He admits that music has been the one subject he always returns to. Snodgrass didn't always view teaching music as a career; instead, he saw it as an enjoyable pastime. But somewhere along the way that changed. His pastime became a career and his passion, something he could pass onto others. But even before deciding to be a teacher, he was a natural at it. Snodgrass had a lot of experience working with children and music, so it was logical for him to combine the two. "It's a wonderful thing to do something you're passionate about and make a career out of it," he says. Teaching actually fits right into Snodgrass's love of variety. "Every day is a new challenge with new ways to explain things. It lets you have fun and be creative." Sometimes, his creativity needs to be applied to problem-solving — like the time one of his students managed to get a sandwich stuck in a guitar. "Expect the unexpected. And be ready to laugh." Snodgrass started teaching seven years ago, at a time when there were few full-time positions available. While job prospects for teachers in Ontario have improved (see the latest Transition to Teaching report on page 27), his advice to new graduates seeking a permanent position is to look at the upside: "There are lots of benefits to being moved around — you get to network, gather resources and ideas from everyone you meet. It can make you a better teacher." When asked what other advice he has for new teachers, he says, "Enjoy every moment. Enjoy everything that happens. Be easy on yourself and let go of your expectations. Approach every teaching experience on its own terms." N ow in her 12th year as a teacher, Tracy Beck has dedi- cated her entire career to supporting students with disabilities. She has a degree in disability studies, has taken AQs in Special Education and, before becoming a teacher, was an education assistant. She has also spent the last 14 summers volunteering as a program director for the Youth Leadership & Diversity Conference, a camp that teaches Canadian and U.S. youth how to be better leaders. As an Ontario Certified Teacher, she teaches her teenage students how to stay organized, juggle their course load and manage their emotions. And while there's no doubt that Beck can have a profound impact on her students' lives, she isn't always trying to do that. Instead, she focuses on "living moment to moment" and how she can make a moment better for her stu- dents, many of whom are vulnerable. "What can I do right now to make a student feel better? It's not always about focusing on the big picture — the little things matter too." One of the "little things" she does is provide an open and inclusive space every lunch hour at White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville, Ont., where she teaches. Students are wel- come to drop in and play games, eat lunch, socialize or just sit. Beck firmly believes that building a community and making students feel accepted and welcome — on their terms — is the best way to connect with them. She has her teaching routine down now, but this wasn't always the case. Many new teachers struggle with the transition into teaching and Beck was no exception. "I've learned that I can't do it all, and that's OK. You're teaching because you love it, and this should be evident to your students." PS William Snodgrass, OCT 2009 recipient of the Joseph W. Atkinson Scholarship for Excellence in Teacher Education Tracy Beck, OCT 2004 recipient of the Joseph W. Atkinson Scholarship for Excellence in Teacher Education The Ontario College of Teachers Scholarship Program awards scholarships that provide financial support to teacher candidates. The program identifies exemplary role models and pays direct financial assistance to those with a passion for and dedication to the highest ideals of teaching. Financial awards are made possible through donations. Awards are paid directly to individuals according to the College's criteria. For more information, please visit oct-oeeo.ca/scholarships. N O W A C C E P T I N G S C H O L A R S H I P A P P L I C A T I O N S

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