Be their cheerleader
This post was inspired, in part, by a future colleague whom I follow on Twitter: Spencer Burton (@spencerburtonca). Spencer is a teacher candidate in the Education program at the University of Ottawa and he inspires me on a regular basis. He is so advanced in terms of his sense of purpose, his understanding of the role of education and the teacher, and his philosophies of learning. I am truly inspired by the fact that people like Spencer are the future of teaching.
Spencer shared a wonderful quote by Lori Bard on his Twitter page the other day which speaks to the true role and impact of a teacher:
The reality is, that for some kids, they will remember what was taught in the classroom and the skills that relate to their learning of a subject; that said, the majority of students will look back and remember that teacher who they 'connected' with. The teacher who went out of his/her way to really help, inspire, guide, support him/her.
Knowing this, I make it my goal to not only try to make connections and build relationships with my students but also to be their cheerleader. I want them to know that I am in their corner - not just in terms of school work, but in terms of their lives and passions. I know that the term "champion" is often used, but for me, the term 'cheerleader' is more apt. To me, my students are the champions - I am just there to cheer them on - to teach, encourage, inspire, motivate, enable, push them towards their goals.
I love sharing good news stories about my students and shouting their successes from the roof tops! I use my social media presence (including Twitter and Instagram) to promote them and brag about them!
I love meeting my students AT their successes and passions. Maybe their passion isn't English or History (mine wasn't and never will be Math!). But just because I don't teach their favourite subject, doesn't mean that I can't build those connections with them! I can take an active interest in their life passions, interests and goals and show them support in those areas. It's about building RELATIONSHIPS.
My schedule is no where near as flexible as it was before I became a mom. Before my son, I could stay late any day or come back to school for any event. Now I don't have that flexibility because I have responsibilities to him and my husband's job with the military means travelling so I am often flying solo. That said, I still make it a priority to try to attend as many important events to my students as I can. Be it the school play, arts showcase, an award ceremony, a big game... all the more if they ASK me to be there. If they ask me to, I will do whatever I can to be there.
(Important note: Posted with permission). Josh is a grade 10 student who I taught last year in Grade 9. This kid has the best personality. He is almost always smiling and you can't help but smile when you talk to him. Josh asked me to be there at his quarter final basketball game the day of the game and I couldn't be with such short notice. I told him that he just HAD to win because if they made it to semi-finals, I WOULD be there. They won the quarters and he asked me if I was still going to go to the semis. I told him I made a promise and I was going to keep it even though it meant getting my Mom to pick up my son from daycare because my husband is out of town.
Two days before the semis, I made him another promise. Friday (today) is Jean Day at work. I promised him that if the team won, I would PROUDLY wear HIS JERSEY with my jeans on jean day (inspired by something amazing that I have seen one of my favourite educators, Nicholas Ferroni, do). He was absolutely ecstatic and made me pinky swear that I would!
He made eye contact and greeted me almost as soon as he stepped onto the gym floor. I said I would be there and I was! After an incredibly intense and emotional game, which went to double overtime (!!), the boys lost by a SINGLE point. It was absolutely heartbreaking. I won't soon forget the looks on the faces of those boys, especially Josh. They were devastated. I'm sure the last thing he wanted to do after that game was talk to anyone, especially me, but I needed to right a wrong.
My intention was GOOD but it wasn't RIGHT. It's not about WINNING or LOSING. That shouldn't ever be the message. It is about the heart that you put into something. Josh gave that game his heart and soul.
I went over and asked Josh for his jersey. His soaking wet, drenched in sweat jersey!! I told him I was so proud of him for giving it every ounce of what he had (he played the entire 4 quarters and 2 OT's with no break) and that I was going to wear that jersey tomorrow with the utmost PRIDE.
So here I am... wearing his jersey today because there is NOTHING I would rather be wearing all day long (except maybe sweatpants... I like sweatpants!) ;)
Teachers.... if I can offer you one piece of advice, be the cheerleader. Be there in their corners, cheering them on. Literally and figuratively.
"Kids don't care what you know until they know you care".
Get out of your comfort zone
I have once again been humbled and honoured by the opportunity to discuss my life and my thoughts about education and teaching with another amazing educator, Rolland Chidiac.
When Rolland asked me to participate in his podcast, I was taken aback (as you'll hear in our discussion about this in the podcast). I felt really inadequate as a participant compared to the other amazing people he had previously had as guests on his podcast. I couldn't imagine what I could possibly have to share that other people would want to listen to!
Rolland convinced me (I think he uses the word - strong armed?!) to join him for a chat about inspiration and I'm really glad I did. We had an amazing conversation and I got to share some thoughts on things that I love and am passionate about, especially in the realm of education.
Thank you again so much for this opportunity Rolland.
If you'd like to take a listen, you find find the Podcast - Rolland Chidiac Connects - Episode 35 here.
Here is what Rolland had to say about our episode:
This episode features Megan Valois, a High School Teacher at St. Pius X in Ottawa, Ontario. She is also a Mom, an Army wife, and a fitness enthusiast. With respect to teaching and learning, Megan is passionate about 21st Century Learning and the use of technology in the classroom (Edtech), Differentiated Instruction, Assessment for Learning, and a variety of other topics that make her an effective educator and an asset to any Professional Learning Network.
Listen in to hear what Megan has to say about how we connected, her current work as a High School teacher, working with English Language Learners, how it came to be that she became a teacher, past students who connect with/visit her, what she might be doing if she were not a teacher, what motivates her day to day, finding the time to eat well and work out, being married to a soldier and what it is like to deal with deployments, resources/support for military spouses and her volunteer work, the experience of parenting her 3 month old on her own for a period of time, what she would tell someone seeking motivation/inspiration, and fear of failure and the power of taking a step in a different direction.
Who am I?
Hi! I'm Megan. 21st century learner and teacher. I am passionate about DI, assessment, student success and #edtech. My blog is where I share what is happening in my classes, my professional learning and sometimes things that are on the outer circle of education. Comments always welcome!