When I arrived in Ms Scott’s class I had been an EA for six years. I was in many classes from grade 5 - 11. I had seen many teachers. Some really great, like Mike Brown at the time I met him he was a grade 6 teacher at West Meadow Elementary School. He taught me one of my most essential tenets - “it doesn’t matter what was said, what matters is what was heard.” This means, “perception is everything.” I LOVE that. I had also seen some not so great teachers - I like to think I am a consummate professional so I will not mention any names - but they taught me a lot about what not to do in the classroom. For instance, if you have a student with ADHD in your class and he is new to the school do NOT bring a study carol in and stick him in it to keep him away from the other students - good grief! I can see Shelley Moore rolling her eyes and nodding her head right now. I knew I could do better than ostracising students and I hoped to be as good as Mr. Brown.
I quit my job as an EA and enrolled in post-secondary (again) this time in hot pursuit of my passion - Education. When I was thinking of resigning to become a student I asked the veteran members of the school I worked at what their teaching philosophy was - no one could tell me. I found that very strange. I do have a philosophy, I developed it while at university and I still live it. I aim to be respectful of every interaction I have with students. My goal as an educator is to reach every student in my care. That may have nothing to do with the instruction of the curriculum. I have no idea what each child goes through just to walk through my door each day. I aspire to reach my students in whatever manner they need on a daily basis. That could look like an extension for no reason given other than a student asked and the look in their eyes tells me all I need to know. That could mean that I take my lunch to help a student with a paragraph because they can't string three sentences together, let alone write an essay. That may mean I give my sandwich to a student who does not have a lunch. It could be as simple as a heartfelt hello. Recently, Shelly Moore summed up what I am talking about in a hashtag #connectionbeforecurriculum. This has become my mantra.
I love connecting with my students. I want to know what books they like to read - if they like to read. What sports they take part in or clubs they belong to. I get to know my students as people. I have attended hockey games, soccer games and dance recitals to watch my students do what they love. And I try to be as real for them as I can. Dr. Jody Carrington says we can’t tell we have to show. I show them I am real, that I make mistakes. When I do I apologize. I let them teach me if I know what we are talking about is an area of interest for them. I am sincere. I really want to know what is going on with them. The good, the bad, the ugly and I want to help and if I can’t help, I will find someone who can.
This is my purpose - again judgers reserve judgement - I get a rush helping children. I am elated if I can be the first person to introduce a concept to my kids (I call my students my kids), I am genuinely excited when a student can teach me something, and if I make a mistake I own it and humbly learn from it. I can’t imagine any other job in the world I would rather do. It is not what I do, it is who I am. I am a teacher.