British Columbia

'We're all being thrown right in': B.C.'s newest teachers suddenly in demand

Recent graduates say they're juggling multiple job interviews and requests to fill on-call shifts

CBC News

September 19, 2017

Teacher assistants help children with special needs in the classroom. (Shutterstock/Syda Productions)

These are strange times for B.C.'s newest teachers.

Elizabeth Riegert got the call that she had been hired as a teacher a day before the school year started earlier this month.  

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Brooke Sihota is enjoying her second year teaching digital media courses at Windsor Secondary School in North Vancouver — and feels hopeful about a full-time gig.

School districts in the province are on a hiring blitz to fill vacancies that suddenly opened up after a Supreme Court ruling in the spring restored class sizes to 2002 levels.

The province says school districts are in the midst of hiring 3,500 teachers. 

The B.C. School Trustees Association says that means recent graduates are now juggling phone calls from schools in desperate need of on-call staff.

"It's a lot of work right now for any teacher who's getting started because we're all being thrown right in," Riegert told host Rick Cluff on CBC's The Early Edition.

'Don't let it overwhelm you'

Schools are increasingly relying on on-call teachers to fill holes while recruiting.

Riegert said she had interviews lined up with multiple schools the week before the term started and was fielding calls "every five minutes" for on-call shifts.

She took a temporary part-time contract at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School, where she teaches music and band.

Riegert said some of her peers are getting so many on-call shifts that they're working full-time.

Sihota said the surge of temporary positions is actually a benefit for new teachers who get to test out different schools.

"I didn't go into teaching just to teach. You really want to make an impact on your school," she said.

With the hiring spree still in full force, Riegert has some simple advice for B.C.'s future teachers.

"Just breathe — and don't let it overwhelm you."


With files from CBC's The Early Edition

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