In this series, TalentEgg will be exploring the lives of young professionals who have gone off the beaten career path to find success. From artists to entrepreneurs, their stories illustrate the importance of pursuing your passion.
Kyle McGiverin is the kind of teacher you wish you had in middle school.
He’s passionate and irreverent, with an infectious enthusiasm for his work. His kids call him Mr. Kyle and instead of constructing geography dioramas, he has them build scale-models of imaginary cities on the classroom floor. In addition, the openly-gay seventh-grade teacher also comes out to his students at the start of every academic year.
To say that Kyle is not your typical seventh-grade teacher would be a huge understatement, but it’s exactly why he’s so amazing at what he does.
“There are kids who need a style like the one I present, or what someone more traditional presents. It’s so rare that an LGBT kid gets an LGBT teacher. There’s always a kid who’s going to need that.” – Kyle McGiverin
He was inspired to become a teacher by his parents, who both taught high school for 30 years. At first, he had his sights set on being a kindergarten teacher, but after starting an improv club in high school, a teacher suggested he might be more suited to teaching older students. His plans changed yet again when he was accepted to Brock University for Concurrent Education and got into the junior-intermediate stream instead, putting him on the path to becoming the middle school teacher he is today.
However, while his approach to teaching is refreshingly innovative, it was also born partially out of his own difficulties with the educational system. Having both a learning disability and ADHD made school incredibly difficult at times for Kyle as he struggled to focus and prioritize information.
“I’ve spent the better part of my life coming up with defense mechanisms and ways to work with the learning disabilities I have, rather than pretending that they’re not there,” says Kyle.
Now that he is on the other side of the educational fence, he is able to apply what he’s learned from his own experience as a student to his own practice. For example, there is no ‘busywork’ in Mr. Kyle’s class. Instead, he has his students do presentations, projects, or even simply talks to them to assess their progress. He does this partly to accommodate his students’ various learning styles, but also because the concept of purpose is incredibly important to him. With everything he does, he makes it a point to always ask himself: “What am I really looking for?”
“I think honestly the biggest career success I’ve had is in really figuring out a way to be constantly changing,” says Kyle. “I think the most dangerous way to feel in a career is comfortable.”
So what’s next for the ever-evolving Mr. Kyle? In addition to his teaching, he’s self-publishing his novel Wyvern, a fantasy fiction adventure starring a young trans boy. But more than anything, his goals in life are to never stop learning and to always do everything with purpose.
“I know that when I start the day; when I see those kids, I’m happy to see them,” says Kyle. “Watching kids become themselves – I love that. It’s so fulfilling.”
Kyle’s career advice
- Love the most important part of what you do. There will be high points and low points on your career journey, but as long the good far outweighs the bad, you’re probably on the right path.
- Keep being creative. ““Never stop changing it up,” says Kyle. “If you find you’re very comfortable in your routine, change it up. That’s the only way to learn anything.”
- “Don’t panic.” This quote from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the first rule in his classroom and two very important words for anybody pursuing a less-than-traditional career path. There will be times when you don’t know what to do next, but don’t panic. Relax and take a moment to breathe before you react to the situation.