February 05, 2016
Music and kids have always been the refrain of Joel Corriveau's working life. Before becoming an occasional teacher at JR Wilcox Community School with the Toronto District School Board, he taught at a Toronto-based music program for toddlers and pre-schoolers.
The decision to switch careers wasn't an easy one, he admits. He and his wife are raising two young daughters in Toronto, where the cost of living is weighty. But, the long-term security of a defined benefit pension plan helped to tip the scale. "I'm winning both ways, because I am investing in my future, but I am also loving what I am doing each day at a time," Joel says.
Joel reflects on his first career, which gave him a chance to sing with kids, parents, caregivers and grandparents. "I would see some of the kids on a regular basis from when they were babies to pre-schoolers. It was pretty awesome to see that development happen."
A vocal injury forced Joel to hit pause and take a three-month break. "When that was my sole source of income that was terrifying. It was right around the time that teachers' college applications were due," he said. "I had always thought about applying to teachers' college, but never made the leap. At that time, it seemed like my body was telling me it was time to change."
Family members and friends warned him that starting a teaching career wouldn't be an easy road to take. "But, I maintained a sense of optimism and volunteered to build experience and relationships," he says.
Finding a full-time permanent position is tricky. Roughly 1-in-5 of our working members are occasional teachers. In 2015, shortly after he graduated, he landed an LTO position teaching music in an elementary school.
"A lot of what I'm doing as a first-year teacher is finding out what works. So, I feel like I'm learning as much as the students are," he says.
"If I had a lesson plan on paper and it's not going where I want it to go, I'm going to change it to what my students need, rather than ride that lesson plan right into the ground. There is so much room for improvisation in teaching. I love it," Joel continues.
"I really want to continue to be a music teacher. There is so much uncertainty about where I'll be next year, but to know that there is some financial certainty at the end of my career, that's a bonus of the investment of my time and experience."