I did not have a very healthy home growing up. My father an alcoholic, my mother a victim to abuse...and us kids, just learned to survive amongst it all, and searching for strength from others around us. My personal saving grace was going to school every day. I knew I was safe. I knew I could be successful. I knew I had routine, and people around me that cared. I could feel normal. I also know now; that my teachers looked out for me. They had this extra sense that I was a kid who just needed a little more… a little more attention, a little more patience and a little more love. I recall one of my favourite teachers from my late elementary years; Mme Frees. She would stay in at recess time with me just to listen. I could talk about anything I wanted, she would tell me, and she would be there to listen. I can’t even recall one conversation I had with her, but I can tell you how it made me feel. How she made me feel noticed, important, accepted, wanted, worthy, understood and loved. I did not feel these emotions anywhere else but in the presence of her, and she helped me in more ways I can recognize. Maybe that’s why I wanted to actually be a teacher at such a young age. They were heros in my young eyes every school year, I looked up to every single one I had, I admired and wanted to be just like them (in grade three, I even got a matching haircut). It was the only stability I could hold onto. I was so obsessed with continuing this vision at home, I played “teacher” when I would get home with my siblings. I would make up homework sheets for my brother and sister and I would make them sit at their “desks” to complete it. Of course it would even excite me to correct their worksheet and hand it back with a sticker, or smiley face in the top right hand corner. As an adult looking back on my school days, I am thankful for those teachers who had the time to give me...not just to make sure I understood a lesson, but more importantly to give me the extra time I needed to grow, function and feel like I belonged.
Today, I have been teaching for over fifteen years, and I value the time I have to connect with my own students. I take more pride in helping them with life challenges, than focusing on covering curriculum. I can admit to providing some kick-ass interactive lessons for my class, but I know in my heart, that’s not all that matters. I can tell you I have shed many tears, lost much sleep, missed out on my own family time, and spent many “planning times” helping a student because I care so deeply about my students. I want to be that person that hears and sees them for who they need to be, knowing that’s what they need most.
I know I surround myself in teachers and coworkers that beat to the same drum, and I can tell you; we live by passion. The passion that drives teachers to care for their students is IRREPLACEABLE! And these students are your kids, your nieces and nephews, your grandkids, your family. Teachers are essential, and not to be taken for granted!
Just SAY YES to… supporting teachers, not criticizing.
Just SAY YES to….recognizing they connect in ways the students need.
Just SAY YES to… understanding this is a challenging time for teachers and not just you.
Teachers are looking for a fair deal for the wellbeing of our students. What that means is adequate support for our Special Education programs, addressing classroom violence, keeping the full day Kindergarten program, class sizes that meet students’ needs and compensation that keeps up with inflation.
I can promise you, as a teacher; I want what’s best for my students and my heart and soul drives that passion. I need nothing but more time with each and every one of them. I need time to connect, reach them and support them in any way they need.
If you have it in you… reach out to the teacher in your life that made a difference, I can promise you, they need to hear it now more than ever :)
Former student influenced by a teacher,
current teacher influenced by students.