Several adjectives come to mind when you think of a teacher: passionate, intelligent, understanding, and many more. However, you may not think of resilience—the ability to withstand and recover from difficulties—to weather storms, so to speak. It’s rare for careers or life to always move smoothly, making inner strength an essential quality for anyone to have.
Teachers need resilience when they step into the classroom for the first time. For Calgary Academy Assessment Lead Sara Tkachuk, it’s the word she uses to describe her teaching journey thus far.
A “Supportively Immersive” Practicum
Growing up, Ms. Tkachuk loved learning but hadn’t realized her desire to teach yet. Her mom ran a daycare, so she was used to being around children, but Ms. Tkachuk’s passion for teaching stemmed from her time in the classroom as a student. She wanted to emulate the role model teachers she had and felt the urge to “be the change” as an educator one day.
Her post-secondary career took Ms. Tkachuk to Mount Royal University (MRU) for its education program. Little did she know she was going to be a part of the first graduating class of the MRU practicum program. Ms. Tkachuk’s program included third- and fourth-year practicums, where she spent countless hours in the classroom, learning the ropes of teaching.
“I would describe my practicum as ‘supportively immersive…’ Everyone wanted you to pursue your passion. They made sure you had the support you needed.”
After graduating, Ms. Tkachuk worked as a substitute before settling at a school in Bragg Creek. She remembers walking into the classroom for the first time as a fully certified teacher, feeling the weight of responsibility on her shoulders.
“The craziest thing when I was first teaching was realizing that: ‘I’m the only adult in the room. I have to teach these children and progress them through the curriculum.’ Before that, it was always me and another teacher working together.” – Ms. Tkachuk
Working as an Experienced Educator
Ms. Tkachuk began working at Calgary Academy in the 2021–22 school year. As the current Assessment Lead for the Learning Team, she supports other teachers from all grades. Ms. Tkachuk is passionate about assessment—she sees it as the centre point of education.
“One of the reasons I got into assessment was because I was misunderstood as a student… We can’t push learning forward without knowing what support each student needs.” – Ms. Tkachuk
Several years into her career, Ms. Tkachuk is grateful for her practicum experience, feeling that MRU prepared her as best as possible for teaching. She’s gone back to speak at the school as a panellist for other students and even as a keynote speaker for being a young leader in education.
“MRU did a good job of showing you the realities of the classroom… If teaching is what you wanted to do, the school showed you what it looked like.”
Ms. Tkachuk is proud of her accomplishments as a teacher and looks forward to finding new ways to help students. On top of that, she has almost completed her master’s degree.
Her career began in Rocky View Schools, but now at Calgary Academy, Ms. Tkachuk notes the different environment CA provides, believing it can benefit teachers early in their careers. Working in the classroom with a partner teacher offers you that extra support.
“I think I could have grown differently as an educator if I started my career at CA with two teachers in the classroom. I’ve only been at CA for two years, but I love the school and wish I could have gone here as a kid.”