The Surprise Pandemic Journey


By Amy Ve

Moving back to Canada from teaching in Korea in the midst of a pandemic was a whirlwind experience of emotions. I had an idea in my head that I was going to finish my contract, say goodbye to my students, and then plan my organized return to Canada to head into the next chapter of my career. That didn’t happen. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my students. They were all still at home and had yet to return to school for in person classes, and I had to end my contract a month early as a result of the border closures. My planned transition of finishing up one chapter of my life in one country, then coming home and continuing the same style of career was disrupted. 

My planned transition of finishing up one chapter of my life in one country, then coming home and continuing the same style of career was disrupted. 

The Disappointment & Decision 

After I was able to get home and finish my two week quarantine I slowly began to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to find a job teaching EAL like I had hoped I would. There weren’t many EAL teaching jobs available that I was qualified for, so I made the decision to return to a job I had done before so that I could pay my bills. I have worked in the customer service industry for most of my working life before getting into teaching abroad. There’s comfort in being able to build connections with the people you serve in any job, and it was a great comfort to be able to return to something I was familiar with. However, something still felt like it was missing. I wanted to find something more meaningful in terms of really being able to help people in a purposeful way. 

The Search & Support 

Getting back into job searching was not as easy as I expected it to be. There were many jobs still available, but not many that I really wanted to do, or the ones that I did want to do I didn’t seem qualified for because I had little formal experience. A friend referred me to reach out and try an employment services organization that helps people find work. You can work with a case manager (or independently) and access supports that help you with finding a job that is sustainable and (hopefully) meets your needs.  Through these job searching supports, I ended up applying for and getting a job as a job counselor. The very same job that helped support me in discovering a potentially new and permanent career path. 

A New Chapter 

It was very surprising for me, but as I experienced being supported in this way while looking for work, it made me realize that I really wanted to find a job like this. Now, I want to help people find the kind of job where they can feel like they are working with purpose, or even just one that gives them the job security they need to be able to pay their bills. To me, being able to assist people in that journey to employment, is amazing.

Bio: Amy Ve is currently working as an Employment Counselor and previously spent time working as an EAL Instructor in South Korea. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work and TESL Certificate from Thompson Rivers University.


Did you leave the EAL field due to COVID-19? What are you doing now?

#CdnELTchat Summary for September 24, 2019 (Self-care for teachers)


#CdnELTchat Summary for September 24, 2019 (Self-care for teachers)
By Bonnie Nicholas

#CdnELTchat returned from our summer hiatus on September 24th with a timely discussion on teacher self-care. We were thrilled that Patrice Palmer (@positiveupside) accepted our invitation to be a guest moderator. Patrice is well-known for her work as an advocate, adult educator, trainer, and writer. As she writes on her website, “Teachers need to put themselves first and adopt self-care strategies to reduce stress, build resilience, promote physical health and increase their well-being.”

As always, during the live chat, participants had a lively discussion responding to the questions posted by our moderator, Augusta Avram. And as always, people who couldn’t participate in the live chat added to the richness of the conversation afterwards through the #slowburn format. Thanks to everyone who participated! A couple of themes emerged from the ongoing conversation: #ELT can be stressful work, and we need to take care of ourselves and support each other. Some ideas that were shared included having an emergency self-care kit, remembering that “no” is a complete sentence, making  time and space to debrief, blocking off me time, advocating for ourselves as well as for our students, setting boundaries, and remembering the importance of exercise and physical health.

Patrice shared a favourite quote from Eleanor Brown, “Replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” Wise words! We’d like to thank Patrice for generously sharing her time and expertise with us. 

These were the questions that we used to ignite discussion during our chat:

Q1: What are some beliefs around what it means to be a “good teacher”  that impacts or impedes self-care? How can we challenge these beliefs to positively influence our well-being? 

Q2: Most of us went into ELT because we care and want to make a difference. Our work has a lot of inherent stress. How can we learn to set boundaries and say no?  

Q3: Many of us have stressful work environments, with ever-increasing demands. How can we advocate for ourselves? 

Q4: How can we carve time in our day for self-care? 

Q5: Many of us are once again back in the classroom after the summer, hoping to avoid the stresses and near burn-out that often happens as the term progresses. What’s one thing that we teachers can do to take care of ourselves?

You can find the tweets by searching Twitter for our hashtag, #CdnELTchat, but we’ve also collected the tweets from both the live and the follow-up asynchronous chat using Wakelet: #CdnELTchat Summary on Teacher Self-care

The #CdnELTchat team is looking for people who would be interested in facilitating one of our bi-monthly chats.  Please let a member of the team know if you are interested in co-moderating a love chat, or in collecting and writing the summaries which are posted on the BC TEAL and TESL Ontario blogs. Other provincial #ELT associations are also welcome to share. If you would like to volunteer, or have ideas for chats, contact any of us: Jennifer @jennifermchow, Augusta @ELTAugusta, Svetlana @StanzaSL, or Bonnie @EALStories.  Post ideas anytime on our Padlet,

zAB6NaOy_400x400Bonnie Nicholas (@EALstories) is an enthusiastic participant in the bi-monthly #CdnELTchat as well as a member of the #CdnELTchat team along with Svetlana Lupasco (@StanzaSL), Jennifer Chow (@jennifermchow), and Augusta Avram (@LINCInstructor). Bonnie teaches LINC at NorQuest College in Edmonton.


December 11 #LINCchat Summary: Self-care for Teachers



How would you define work-life balance? What are some quick self-care strategies you use during a typical work day to stay grounded? What can evening teachers do as part of a self-care routine to help them unwind? What policies and procedures should employers have in place to promote employees’ mental health and well-being? What are some strategies we can use to “work smarter”? What are the most common symptoms of burnout? What self-care advice would you give to your colleagues who are feeling stressed? What is one thing you will do to take better care of yourself?  

In this new format, the questions for this #LINCchat were kindly provided by #LINCchat enthusiasts on @Padlet. Thank-you to the educators who found time to share their thoughts about the importance of remembering to practice self-care during the last #LINCchat of 2017:  @StanzaSL, @PSCCESOL, @JoyOfESL, @ram_diane, @shafaqmkhan, @gabyG_jolie@thespreadingoak, @DawnTorvik, @seburnt, @LINCInstructor, @NancyVanDorp, @ElleninSaigon, @SumaBalagopal, @PervinFahim and @tarabenwell. 

I (@jennifermchow) had the privilege of working with Bonnie Jean Nicholas (@EALstories) to moderate #LINCchat for the first time.  

Please find a summary of this chat below. To read it, hover over the Twitter bird next to the subtopics in the image below. The interactive image was made with Canva and ThingLink 

To read all the tweets on this topic, follow the complete discussion HERE.      

New to #LINCchat?   

If you have never participated in #LINCchat before, go to for more information. #LINCchats occur every other Tuesday, with the occasional Friday.  If you have any ideas for topics or have comments about #LINCchat, please send @StanzaSL or @EALstories a tweet or post a message on Tutela. #LINCchat is taking a break until January. See you all again in the new year and let others know about #LINCchat as well. Feel free to use the #LINCchat hashtag between chats to share thoughts and links with others.   

Jen Bio Pic

Jennifer has been teaching in the LINC Program for more than 10 years. She loves using Twitter to stay connected as a mother, an educator and an active citizen. 

Twitter: @jennifermchow