You know when I first knew I had an unusual appreciation for reading and writing? When my high school English teacher laughed at me.
I had just brought him back two pages that had fallen out of my copy of “Field of Dreams.” I wanted him to glue them back in to save the book.
“Delaney, you’re the only student I know who would bring me back two pages to save a book,” he laughed.
I kinda built my whole career around that discovery. So you could say that teacher had a pretty big impact on my life.
It’s funny how as an adult you find yourself thinking back to the seemingly small ways that teachers impacted your life, and sometimes realize they weren’t that small at all.
It takes an extremely special person to be a good teacher. To devote your life to not only putting up with annoying kids all day, all school-year long, but to try to help them become better versions of themselves along the way.
Which is why, this back-to-school season, I decided to honour an incredible local teacher by her a little blog-love (“blove” – you heard it here first) because they certainly don’t always get the appreciation they deserve in everyday life.
School: Ethel Milliken, Regina
Works: 50-80 hours/week, depending on the time of year
My friend Jan has been a teacher for eight years. She originally got a university degree in business but then realized that NOPE.
“After extensive traveling and avoiding going into the work force, I did some deep self-reflection and found that education was calling me,” she says.
“I wanted to be a teacher my whole life. I come from a family of teachers. It’s in my blood.”
I know Jan is an amazing teacher because she is one of the most energetic people I know and every time I see her she tells me how she is channeling that energy into some fun, crazy new project designed to inspire her students.
(Example: Here’s a look at the “Beginning of the Year” video she made.)
She also wears a lot of costumes to school. I don’t always know why (I just see them on Facebook), but come on – that is commitment. (See photos for examples.)
“I still feel as excited about this job as I did my very first day,” Jan told me. And I believe it.
Herein, five questions with the amazing Ms. Hiebert.
What do you love about teaching?
Pure and simple, it’s so much FUN. I need fun in my life and so do kids. There’s so much creativity in planning lessons. I get to experience a little bit of everything – physical literacy, healthy life choices, visual art, real life math scenarios, building things with my hands. The new experiences are endless.
And of course when you can be a real life role model for young people. That’s a pretty special feeling that many professions don’t offer.
Greatest teaching moment?
When an 8th grade student wrote me a letter to tell me I saved her. And that if she could ever grow up to be half the woman I am, she would consider herself the luckiest person on Earth.
Sidenote from Delaney: I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Worst teaching moment?
Crying profusely after a particularly challenging day where I felt I could not do anything for a large number of kids in my room. There were so many bad scenarios happening all in the same day, I couldn’t keep up and put out all the fires. It had been building for a few weeks. It was one of a very few days where the hopelessness creeps in. You feel like it is constantly an uphill battle and that what you do really doesn’t matter. I had to get myself over that doubt, in a matter of minutes so I could continue teaching.
Greatest challenge about teaching?
1. Always needing to do more with less. The diversities that surround our kids and our profession are very demanding and exhausting. And if we complain or vent, we get the general response of “well you knew what you signed up for.
No we did not!
Our experiences as students/children and those of an educator are so completely different, their Venn diagrams aren’t even on the same page. I came from a family of educators and STILL had no idea how challenging this profession can be.
2. Showing families/parents/guardians that we, teachers, are humans who make mistakes. We make more than 1,500 decisions for other humans every single day. We teach, we counsel, we love, we hug, we play with, we coach, we fix up scrapes, we guide, we role model, we wear so many hats in just one day. Every day. We may make a mistake, so be OK and patient with that. Remember we are “parenting” 30 kids at a time (who are not ours), not just one or two.
How can everybody be better “teachers” to our children?
- Let them make mistakes.
- Teach them from a young age how to do things that help them take responsibility for themselves as they grow older.
- Do not change every environment for them. Allow them to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
- Do stuff with them – stuff that doesn’t just revolve around meals.
- Don’t put them in school activities every day of the week. I’ve seen way too many kids who resent that by the time they hit middle school.
- Don’t be a helicopter parent but do develop a real relationship with their teacher, keeping in mind that you are all on the same team. You will get much more honesty from your child and their teacher if you all get along.
- Model behavior that you find admirable for your kids. You would be surprised what they pick up from you, without you noticing.