Today is the anniversary of my first day teaching. I was 20 years old. I had moved to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. I found myself on a handpicked staff of amazing teachers. It was the beginning of the first of many amazing years teaching in the North.
There is something very special about teaching in the northern part of Canada. It is an opportunity to make a difference not just to students in classrooms but also to the community. Like other teachers who choose to teach in the small rural and northern communities, I found myself involved in professional activities in my school and across schools. We depend on each other so everyone needs to contribute. And, as much as I gave, I received so much more. I also met my husband in Yellowknife – this is what we looked like way back then. Memories are so great!
Next week I will be back in Yellowknife working with educators as they prepare for another year of making a difference. I will be able to visit with and work alongside colleagues I taught with years ago and who continue to be in my circle of friends today.
As teachers we learn to build relationships with our colleagues, our students and members of the school community. And, as a result, we learn as much as we teach. And, it is through being learners ourselves that we teach some of the most powerful lessons.
The first learning I deliberately set out to do each year is to understand and appreciate the gifts, talents, and knowledge of every single learner no matter different they are than I am. After all, I must first seek to understand before being understood.
Step 3 is about collecting baseline evidence. It’s an important part of learning about one’s students. It’s not sufficient. I also need to learn about what matters to each one. What do they love? What do they care about? How can I tap into their expertise? Because, if this is to be a powerful learning community, then I, as the teacher, am the one who needs to carefully help every learner be appreciated and valued.
All my best,
PS Now here is the scary part... if that other picture was the baseline... here is the AFTER picture. Couldn't we just do an "We used to.... but now we..." And guess what, we do! On the anniversary of the day we met:- )
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