More so than ever before, educators are called to personalize educational experiences for each and every student in their care. To the extent that each student is uniquely different, instruction must be differentiated and tailored so as to support each individual student. In this light, the needs of struggling, average and high-flying academically-oriented students are being addressed. This diversity provides unique opportunities for teachers and staff who are supporting these children. However, with all of this, comes a tremendously busy schedule and often an unpredictable set of circumstances and outcomes.
The negative effects of this uncertainty can most definitely be mitigated. Fostering and nurturing strong interpersonal relationships with students is arguably the single most important responsibility of any educator. Perhaps equally important to knowing the content material in a given subject area is the importance of developing fundamental relationships. Once these important relationships are established, then effective pedagogy and instructional practices can be employed to maximize student learning. In these environments, the initial focus is on the student rather than on the material. As the old adage goes, “Teachers who love teaching teach children to love learning.”
Through all of this, we must constantly reflect upon the many gifts and blessings that have been bestowed upon us. How very fortunate educators are to be responsible for programming and support to all of these children and youth in our schools. For many of these students, school is the one secure place that they feel consistently safe, cared for and loved. This alone is the predominant reason why so many enter this profession; it is a rewarding vocation and something to feel grateful to be called towards. One of the greatest gifts any educator can receive is for students to willingly share thoughts, stories, interests and goals with them. Because we are relational by nature, we want our students to keep coming around, asking questions, seeking advice and sharing laughs. All of this is really music to our ears.
Henry Adams, a famous American historian and educator, tells us that, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” As we reflect on our own experiences in school, we are all aware of the influence that a great teacher or support staff has had on us. As educators, let us take a moment each day to be thankful for the many gifts and blessings that we have received. I challenge teachers and support staff to express this gift of gratitude to one another regularly and see what kind of a different world we can create together.
Written for the Lethbridge Herald’s “Eye on Education” – January 8, 2020