Education and Schooling #12: The Champions


Hands up if you had a favourite teacher. You can read about some of mine in an earlier post in this series, and plenty of yours are celebrated in the comments below the post.

A passionate teacher is gold. Gold.

Rita Pierson was one, and in this 7-minute TED talk, she rouses her audience of teachers to take on the challenge of educating tough kids (‘And you know your toughest kids are never absent’) in a tough school system – and do it joyfully.

Her not-so-secret weapon: connection. As she wrote in the Huffington Post:

Unless there is a connection between teacher, student and lesson, learning becomes tiresome to all involved. Veteran educator, James Comer, states that, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.”

There is the belief among some that camaraderie between teachers and students leads to unprofessional familiarity or places the teacher in a weakened position in the classroom. Nothing could be further from the truth. Strong relationships encourage learner exploration, dialogue, confidence, and mutual respect.

I made it my business to know everything I could about my students. Where they lived and with whom, how often they changed schools, how many siblings they had, whether or not they lived in a house or an apartment, whether there was trauma or drama in the household. I went on home visits and shopped in the neighborhood stores so I could be certain to run into my students and the folk they lived with. (Some of my best parent conferences were held on the produce aisle at the grocery store). Many may consider my actions extreme. I called it “preparation for what might lie ahead.”

She’s a firecracker and an inspiration. Have a watch.

Teachers among you, I’d love you to tell us in the comments the very best thing (right now, or some days) about being a teacher. Tell us some good news stories. How are you making a difference? How are you enjoying it?

Non-teachers, tell us one of your best memories of interacting with a teacher – your own, or your children’s, perhaps.

The last word goes to Dr Pierson, and is for all you teachers who need a word of encouragement, as we all do sometimes:

Is this job tough? You betcha. Oh God, you betcha. But it is not impossible. We can do this. We are educators. We’re born to make a difference.

This post is part of an occasional series on all sorts of aspects of education and schooling. You can see the series list here, and suggest a future topic or guest writer here.

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Over yonder I’m posting links to things you might find stimulating or enraging or fabulous, but that I don’t feel the need to write a full post about. Click here to check it out, and do feel free to both ‘like’ and ‘share’ 🙂

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