Tina Chen

Teaching in Qikiqtani School Operations School District | Elementary (KIPP, 2012)

 

tina-chen-rocks_RGB72I developed a great interest in going to the North when I was completing my undergraduate studies. As a result, when I graduated from the UBC Kindergarten–Primary cohort program in 2012, I decided to pursue an adventure of heading to the territory of Nunavut. I did not have a teaching contract nor did I know what I was getting myself into. I felt that I had nothing to lose in seeking this adventure and therefore, I left the comfort of my home in Vancouver, and my support group of family and friends, in order to seek employment—as well as to have an experience of a lifetime.

Upon my arrival in Nunavut, I substituted for a few months and then I was hired as a full-time grade 7 teacher. I had a challenging class but I was fortunate enough to have supportive co-workers who were willing to support me academically; they were also demonstrating more effective classroom management styles that worked well with some of my students within the classroom. I did some co-teaching with my co-workers implementing these teaching methods, which helped strengthen my teaching practice.

In my second year of teaching in the Arctic, I decided to relocate to a much smaller, isolated and more traditional community. I took on the English/Social Studies teacher position ranging from grades 8 to 12. The first few months of being in this community was fantastic as I was well-liked and had a fairly good rapport with the students, parents and community members. I did a lot of fundraising for my after school badminton program and through this opportunity, I was able to establish a close relationship with most of my male students who were on the badminton team. I had a challenging experience with the girls, but I was able to overcome it. I am now using these experiences as material to write my master’s thesis.

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What my experience has taught me was that living in the North was a different and life changing opportunity. I have learned a tremendous amount about myself as an individual, but most importantly I have learned what my strengths and limitations were. With this new self-knowledge, I hope to return to the North with a different perspective and outlook on the students, parents and community members.