My name is Elena Baker, and I teach grades two through eight French in Ontario, Canada. I also have a small business teaching flute and piano lessons from my home. I graduated from my teacher training program in 2019 and have been teaching full-time for two years. Although beginning my career during a pandemic has been challenging, I really enjoy working with my students, colleagues, and school community.
Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to be a teacher, but I wasn’t sure which subject I wanted to teach. When I was in the sixth grade, I started playing the flute in my school band and felt like I had found a place where I belonged. I looked up to my band teacher, who was very kind and gave me leadership opportunities. When I was in eleventh grade, I completed a co-op placement with my former teacher and decided I wanted to pursue a music degree at university. I wanted to help more students to express themselves artistically in a welcoming classroom community, just as my teacher had done for me.
Simultaneously, I also studied French in high school, and I enjoyed working with my language teachers. They always made a huge effort to make learning fun and relevant to our lives. I went on a language exchange during the summer before twelfth grade at their encouragement. I spent six weeks entirely immersed in the French language in rural Quebec, and it was a life-changing experience. I came back in grade twelve knowing I also wanted to continue studying French in university.
In 2014, I went to the University of Toronto to pursue a Bachelor of Music with a minor in French. University was challenging, but I loved my music education classes. By the end of my degree, I had decided that I wanted to work in the school system, so I applied to complete a Bachelor of Education degree at Queen’s University.
At Queen’s, I was in a specialized program called ‘Artist in Community Education,’ where we learned how to use our teaching degree both in and out of the traditional classroom setting. During my degree, I also completed a number of in-class placements as a trainee teacher. I spent two placements working in a French classroom with a wonderful mentor teacher from France who had a doctorate in linguistics. He was a very inspiring figure to me and encouraged me to move to France for a year to teach English and immerse myself in the culture.
After I graduated from Queen’s in 2019, I did just that. I was accepted into a program through the French Embassy to move to France for seven months, and I worked as a teacher’s assistant in the public school system. I lived with an amazing host family overseas and learned much about the language and culture. When I returned to Canada in 2020, I felt inspired to start teaching, despite the stress of the pandemic.
I began teaching full-time in the fall of 2020 in a small private school. I really love my school’s culture and administration. They have supported me as a young teacher and allowed me to get creative and innovative in the classroom. This year, I also started teaching music lessons from my home, which has been wonderful as I had been missing that part of my life. I am so happy to share my love of French and music with my students daily. Watching them progress throughout the year is very gratifying to me. I am very grateful for my life and that through teaching, I can hopefully make a positive impact on my community.
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