Courtney Ott was part of the inaugural graduating cohort of the Mount Royal University Bachelor of Education: Elementary program. She is now a Grade 3 teacher at St. Isabella School with the Calgary Catholic School Division. Her journey began with the local school board hiring fair that was held in early December at MRU. Courtney was very impressed with Calgary Catholic’s presentation and she submitted a teaching application before the end of 2014. In early January 2015, she received a phone call for an interview and a few days later Courtney became the first person in our B.Ed. program to be hired with the Calgary Catholic School Division.
Upon completing her 4th year practicum, Courtney was given the choice to either have a temporary or guest teaching contract with Calgary Catholic. She “chose the substitute route because I wanted to see what it was like to be in different schools and classrooms. For the months of May and June I pretty well substitute taught every day.” Towards the end of May, the hiring process for the new school year begins with Calgary Catholic. Courtney applied to 27 job postings. “You submit your applications by Sunday night and then on Monday they let you know by 8 pm if you have an interview. I received 6 interviews so I was running around like a crazy person. St Isabella was my second last one. They called ten minutes after I finished my interview with them while I was on my way to another school interview. I accepted the job right away. So at the end of June, I knew I would be teaching Grade 3 at St Isabella and then I was able to get into my classroom on August 18th. Over the summer, I started collecting supplies for my classroom. I made a class mailbox system from scratch and ordered a number of items from Scholar’s Choice.”
There are four other Grade 3 teachers at St. Isabella and Courtney has partnered up with one of them. Courtney teaches Science for the two Grade 3 classes and in return the other teacher is responsible for Social Studies. Courtney has been impressed with how helpful and supportive her School Administration has been with her transition to first year teaching.
Courtney indicates that the MRU B.Ed. program, the 4th year practicum and assessment course in particular, helped with her transition to becoming a full time teacher. “Honestly I do not find first year teaching as stressful as my 4th year practicum. I am now in charge of my own classroom rather than having someone trying to micro-manage my teaching practice. And, the assessment course was valuable for providing me with a range of assessment strategies and techniques beyond a simple rubric”.
Courtney’s advice to new students in the B.Ed. program is “be sure to try and collect letters of reference throughout the entire program starting with your first year school placements. The more you have, the pickier you can be about the ones you use for your actual teaching applications. I had nine and I used seven to apply. Also, don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Others have probably developed resources that you can tweak for your own classroom context. Work smarter not harder. Finally, strive for balance. I could stay at St. Isabella and work until 9pm each night. At the end of each day, I’m spent, I’m done and I need some personal time to rejuvenate. This also provides me with the energy to arrive at school early the next day to begin a new planning/teaching cycle.”