“Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
~ Julie Child
It started before I can recall. A love for teaching. I remember winning a “Principal for the Day” contest in grade 1. It was in the old Thorhild Primary School. In fact, I saved the local newspaper article that highlighted the contest, and it’s winners from each grade. It was an essay contest. I truly wish I had a copy of the essay I wrote to win! I wore a red and white blouse and had my mom do my hair in braids the night before so that it would be full of wonderful kinks the next day. I was dressed for success. That experience happened when I was five years old, but it isn’t my first memory of wanting to teach. I don’t know when or how it happened, but for as long as I can remember, teaching is all I ever wanted to do. An innate calling.
I would race down the drive way everyday after school straight to my bedroom. This was the center of learning for many a teddy bear and my little brother when I could convince him to endure it. My classroom where I had a chalk board that could flip over to a white board was always ready for action. Teaching action. I wrote notes, made lesson plans, gave detentions, and read out loud. Everything I thought teacher’s did every day. Thirty years later when I became an Alberta Provincial Teaching Excellence Award semi-finalist, my dad said – “of course she is a good teacher. She sure had enough practice.”
With fifteen years of actual experience under my belt, obviously I have a different / deeper understanding about the profession than I did at five years old. Furthermore, teaching has evolved several times since then. Teacher’s that taught me are now nearing retirement and reiterate this often – “teaching when you were in my class was completely different than it is now.” Of course it is! Education has to change as clientele and societal needs change. We are no longer preparing students for post war, factory jobs. The world and people have evolved therefore education follows suit. There is definitely more to the “job” than is seen / understood by the general observer especially if one is passionate.
Yo-Yo Ma said “Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you are passionate about something, then you are willing to take more risks.” The last six years of my career have been the most challenging and the most rewarding for many reasons. The challenges have created opportunities to take creative risks. I am blessed to have found a “home” professionally that allows and encourages creative licence; out of the box teaching strategies so to speak. Creativity is drawn out of me by students who need different strategies to be successful. This quote by Ignacio Estrada says it best, “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” Teachers need to adjust their teaching to meet the needs of students not expect the students to conform to them.
There is more to being a teacher than disseminating the information kids need to learn. In fact, working with at-risk youth has taught me that the most important aspect to teaching has nothing to do with curriculum at all. The key element, the secret so to speak, is building positive attachments / relationships with the students, parents and greater community. Making people feel like they belong. Dr. Martin Brokenleg is an expert in this field. I have incorporated his Circle of Courage philosophy teachings into my program creation, interactions with students, parents and the greater learning community. Dr. Brokenleg’s website: Reclaiming Youth International: Equipping Adults to work with today’s youth (https://www.reclaiming.com/content/about-circle-of-courage) is a wonderful resource and also where one can find online and in-class professional development in this area.
Circle of Courage Philosophy has become my philosophy because it works. Interestingly enough when a positive relationship is formed, people feel like they are valued and belong, they are more willing to follow rules and policies and complete daily tasks. In this way the LEARNING happens. That part takes care of itself.
This is my journey, my story, my evolution as a teacher and a human being. I hope you follow and enjoy my blog as it evolves with me!
What are you passionate about? How did the passion evolve? I would love to hear from you!!!