Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Me: Janna's Questions Part 1

Janna Qualman asked: “You've mentioned in passing you used to teach (which no doubt changed when your twins were born). What subject and grade did you teach, and what would it take to get you back into the classroom? Would you ever be able to pick between teaching and writing? (Horribly unfair to ask, I know.)”

Back in the days when I wasn’t married and didn’t have children, I was a teacher in Canada. Yep, I’m a Canadian now living in the US. I taught in French Immersion schools, which means English speaking children are plunked into a French environment where everything (except English class) is taught in French. That’s right, everything, even gym and music classes are in French. So, if you didn’t already figure out from my last name (Labelle), I’m a Frenchie. Well, sort of. My mom doesn’t know much French, even though she tried to learn when we were little. And because of this, my dad didn’t really speak to us in French either. We had to learn it all in school.

I love teaching. I really do. I love the smell and feel of being inside a school. I love the kids. I love being the center of attention. Hehehe Well, in front of kids anyway. Not so much in front of the parents during our open house presentations. I found that to be rather intimidating. Because they were THE PARENTS and I just knew they were judging me. Except maybe the single father who was attempting to flirt with me, but that’s a whole other story. Unfortunately, I have a few of those stories.

What I love most about teaching is finding creative ways to present the information and methods that made learning fun for the kids. I achieved this. The kids and their parents told me that every year. However, being in my class wasn’t easy. I pushed the kids harder than they’ve ever been pushed before. Something they didn’t like when they first met me, but appreciated by the end of the year. Not that it took me that long to win them over though. I wasn’t a mean teacher. I just knew the value of hard work. Granted, I was more strict on the older kids than the younger ones because the 7th and 8th graders I taught needed to be prepped for the big school. With me, they technically couldn’t fail because of the “no child left behind” policy, but once they left our school, they were in for a shock. Homework not completed = fail. Tests not studied for = fail. Poor grades = fail. I didn’t want those kids to figure it out the hard way, so I showed them what kind of expectations their teachers would have in the following years. I’ve run into some of those students, who’ve since graduated, and they thanked me for showing them the way. They said without my help, they surely would’ve failed their first year of high school. What teacher’s heart doesn’t turn to mush when they hear stuff like that?

Come back tomorrow for part two of this post.


  1. Wow I'm honored to be in your presence! I really wish I gleaned more from my stint in French class. I literally remember so little. =(

  2. La Belle = The Beauty. How approprpriate. :)

  3. What an interesting past you have, Lynette. I bet you were a fantastic teacher.

  4. I have such great respect for teachers. They truly have a profound imapct on our children.

    Part french, oh la la... That sounds fun! Have you ever been to France?

    Thanks for giving us a deeper glimpse of you.

  5. I've been thinking about going back to school to become a teacher. I think teachers are awesome, especially the ones like you:)

  6. You sound like my wonderful English teacher who was my very favorite of all time :) She made it clear that it wasn't her job to sugar-coat things for us and make our way easy; we had to earn her respect and in the end, the grades we got in that class were worth so much more than the easy A's in other classes.

  7. So interesting! I love hearing about this. Teachers don't get near the credit or payback they deserve.

    Can't wait for part 2!

  8. I may come to you for tips in a few years when I go back to a paying job. I have gotten alternatively certified, so I can now teach middle or high school, but haven't actually done it yet. :)

  9. teachers are special - they can make a kids life.

  10. Sounds like work you really enjoyed. Good for you.

  11. T.Anne: Awwww. You're making me blush.

    Amy: Blushing even more now. Sanks.

    Heather: Thanks.

    Tamika: Yes, I've been to France twice.

    Tina Lynn: In this day and age, you REALLY have to want to be a teacher to put up with all the crap that goes with the job. It's been my experience that many new teachers don't last beyond five years of teaching before they move on to something else. Teachers who are close to retirement have told me how different the job is now. Less aids, more kids, no funding, more pressure, more behavior problems, and the list goes on. Before you go back to school, I'd shadow a few teachers in several schools to get a real idea what it's like.

    Julie: I'm glad you had an experience like that. I had a teacher like that and he inpired me to teach in the same way.

    Janna: Thanks again for the great questions. I could talk on and on about teaching, but thought I should probably limit it to two posts unless people ask more teaching questions.

    Roni: Sure, I have tons of tips for you. Just ask.

    Shelli: I agree. I've felt that way about several of my teachers.

    Dawn: I did enjoy it. A part of me misses it, but going back isn't really an option, not in the traditional sense anyway.

    Lynnette Labelle