For me, the first six months of 1990 composed the second half of a crazy year getting a teaching certificate. I already had a Master's degree, and I'd taught two years in China and three years at a private (public, for those in the UK) school (St Mikes, for Victorians who know what I'm talking about). The BC government, however, had just decided that in order for private schools to be properly accredited, their teachers had to be certified, and as I wasn't they suggested that they'd like me better if I were. Sept. 1989 had seen me beginning a one-year certification program at UVic, to be a High School teacher, specializing in English and Social Studies. The first part of the January - April term consisted of continuing course work in English Methods, History Methods, Educational psychology, Adolescent psychology, Reading, Evaluation, and something I can't remember the name of but that taught you something about using "technology" in the classroom - not much with computers at this stage, more about overheads, film and video projectors etc.
The second part of the term was a practicum at Oak Bay High School (a nice gig, actually). I taught Grade 8 Social Studies and Grade 11 English. I was assigned a unit on the Middle Ages for the SS class - this was great fun - and one on Macbeth for English. Also fun.
I was not really cut out to be a High School teacher, although I was good at it, and did well in the practicum. I would have got into trouble eventually, though, because I despised taking attendance (mandatory) and dealing with parents (inevitable), and couldn't really get my head round discipline. My method of classroom management was getting the students on my side, and keeping things entertaining, but I did have a couple of irritants and really badly wanted to be able to tell them to get the fuck out of my classroom, but of course I couldn't. College teaching is much more my thing, so really it's all for the best that I didn't ultimately get a job in a High School.
Spring/Summer term, we had two more courses: Educational Philosophy and Educational Law. Both were very interesting, and the instructor for the philosophy one was inspired. The poor woman was wasted on a group of PE teachers and not terribly bright others, however. I think I was the only person to really enjoy the course and I did extremely well, ending up with an A+
Somewhere in there, there were also weeks of school board interviews, with all of us turning up to class looking nervous and uncomfortable in our suits. I did not get a job, discovering that often it was not how well you taught but whether or not you could coach rugby that was the deciding factor. There are an awful lot of really good rugby coaches teaching High School English, which is probably one reason why so many High School students come to us with such appalling English skills. I did, however, get taken on as a Substitute teacher for the districts around here. St. Mikes, who had sent me off to get a certificate in the first place, had given my previous job to someone else in the meantime and told me blandly that there were no openings, sorry.
A couple of months of unemployment, and no Employment Insurance or savings because I'd been at school for all that time, resulted in my finding myself with no money. I was staying with my mother, who had her first knee surgery that summer; in fact, this was, had I realized it, the beginning of what became my being swallowed up in long years of care-giving, when her knee replacement failed, she developed circulatory problems and ended up in a wheelchair.
I went on Welfare briefly, but gradually managed to eke out enough subbing and private tutoring to get off it fairly quickly. I remember vividly the humiliation of being asked to read something out loud to prove that I was literate - there was I with my MA and teaching certificate. Also, despite qualifications, being told that I pretty much had to take any work that was going, and that if I turned down a job I could be cut off.
I interviewed for a job as a Marker at the college where I now teach, and did not get it (this was when they still had markers in the English dept). The person who was to become something of a nemesis for me spoke against my being hired because my Masters was in Classics and not English. Ironically, by November, my nemesis was hospitalized with a brain tumour, and they needed another marker (the one who was originally hired got a job as a sub). Because I had been one of the top choices, they called me in, and that was effectively the beginning of my brilliant career as a college teacher. It was not the end of my Troubles with that person, but that's another story.
I don't remember much of a social life at this time in my life. The Education program kept me frantically busy, though I did hang out with some of the other students. There was a brief Relationship, but it was pretty unimportant and insignificant, beginning and ending that year without making much of a ripple in my equilibrium.
I remember STNG was on TV, but not much else. Was that the year Tehanu came out? It might have been the year I read Tigana for the first time, but I honestly don't remember much. Other than all that teaching stuff and the stress of being unemployed and looking for work, that year is a bit of a blur.
(oh, the sequel is that I got a job the following spring at UVic, and was hired as a teacher at Camosun in Jan 1992)