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Climbing the Ladder

Four years had passed by, and I was very invested in my teaching career. In fact, I was so settled there that I couldn't see myself leaving to go on another path. The students were making tremendous progress, there was a lot of free time for planning so I didn't have to work late and the commute was great. I was really enjoying all of the advantages of this job and was very grateful for this opportunity especially after conversing with friends and hearing how much they had to endure at their jobs in different sectors or even at other schools.

I had finally found my comfort zone and everything was so much easier. However, this soon changed. I was working at a denominational school which meant that the students were achieving far above average in comparison to other public schools and the principal, Ms. Hosein, wanted to ensure that we maintained these high academic standards. As a result, she decided to select teachers to lead each subject area and she chose me to head the languages department. When she informed me of this, I was shocked to say the least. There were so many other qualified teachers who had more experience and would be a better fit for this position. I didn't immediately accept the position but instead told her that I would think about it.

A few days later Ms. Hosein approached me for a response because she needed to submit a name for this role to her supervisor. I declined the position indicating to her that I was relatively new to teaching and that I was not prepared to undertake such a leadership role at this point. She listened to my rambling and then simply responded with 'You are going to do a great job.' She convinced me that this would be a wonderful means of learning and acquiring experience. It was like she didn't even pay attention to my rationale but rather had already decided that I was her choice and she was not going to have it any other way. Although I was reluctant to accept this position, I realized that for the first time in my life someone actually believed in me. She was confident that I was the right person for this new role and I was the one who was denying myself the opportunity because I thought that I was not good enough.

I had to attend training and conferences during my summer vacation in preparation for my role as Head of the Languages Department and although it was quite inconvenient because I wanted to just get a break and enjoy my two months off, I knew that I had to make sacrifices if I was going to advance in my career. As the new academic year commenced, I was still unsure of what my role entailed. The workshops and training had provided a lot of theoretical knowledge but now was the time to delve into the practical aspect of it. Time was allocated each week for meetings and I had to ensure that I had an agenda to discuss with fellow teachers. So on top of teaching my classes, I was now responsible for planning and conducting meetings as well as devising strategies to help educators ameliorate their pedagogical approaches in their classrooms. Given my introverted nature, I was extremely uncomfortable in this position. I disliked being in the spotlight and having to address issues. This role however required me to be more assertive and display more leadership qualities and this was a new side of me that I had to discover. As expected, some of the staff members whom I worked with were not pleased that I was selected to be Head and they blatantly voiced their opinions about my lack of experience, but my principal didn't entertain any of their complaints. She was very supportive of me and constantly checked in to ensure that I was doing well. She offered assistance whenever she could and always provided words of encouragement. I think that it was her conviction that gave me the motivation to persevere in my new role and to prove to myself that I was fully capable of accomplishing anything.

After a few months in this position, I was learning so much. Not just about teaching but also about my colleagues. We discussed the challenges that we encountered in our classrooms and brainstormed techniques that we could implement to engage students more and attain academic success for all. The interaction was helpful because there was such a great exchange of knowledge and the teachers actively participated in our meetings. This gave me hope since it was quite collaborative and I was not there lecturing to them. Their attitudes changed so much towards me as time progressed since they saw that I was willing to put in the extra effort.

In retrospect, Ms. Hosein played a pivotal part in my teaching career. She helped me to foster my leadership skills and to realize my potential. Had I not been given this role, I would not have learned the value of taking risks. I discovered my inner strength to overcome obstacles and to persevere in the face of adversity. She taught me that I needed to see my worth and to understand that someone's experience was not necessarily an indication if they were the right person for the job. It was actually the qualities that they possessed that would make them victorious and accomplish what they set forth to do. I am forever thankful for these lessons that I learned from her. They were valuable then and became even more so as my life unfolded.

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