Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teachers: The Second Most Important Influences in our Children’s Lives

Second after us parents of course. They spend so much time each day with our kids, and play a huge role in preparing them for the future and supporting them through daily trials.

school supplies and apple for teacher
Second grade presented so many challenges for Boo. On top of the behavioural struggles we were working on, his ADHD and ODD and medication experimenting, he had four teachers over the course of the year. Four. That would be tough on any kid, but for one that thrives on routine and deals poorly with transitions, this had the potential for disaster. When I realised in September that his teacher was noticeably pregnant, I almost cried. 

You see, she was incredible. She listened. She was invested in Boo's success (and in the success of all of her kids). She met with me to discuss strategies. I was her biggest fan. And then she left. Early. We had a supply teacher for almost a month before the mat leave replacement came. And then she accepted a new position and we'd have teacher number 4 after the Christmas break. It all felt so unfair. Where was the stability my boy needed? But this is just life. (And, for the record, all of these teachers had been awesome with him - we'd been lucky.)

Ms. F. popped in the week before break, just to meet the kids. She visited and chatted with them and talked about how she'd be joining them in January. She learned their names. She suggested that they could bring in a favourite stuffed toy on the first day back if they wished. Everything was geared to helping them adjust to the new normal and make a successful transition. I so appreciated that she went this extra step, to ensure they would not be coming back to a stranger in the new year. Ms. F. rocked.

Her gentle (but firm) approach and dedication to her students was wonderful to see. A few weeks into the new year she noticed that a few of her students (including Boo) were way ahead in math. To keep them challenged she had the fifth grade teacher share some worksheets she could give them. They loved it! Once they finished their second grade lesson they could try their hand at harder problems, and they were proud of their accomplishments. It kept them occupied rather than bored, and acknowledged their growing abilities. And it was completely in addition to her required work.

Ms. F. was (is) a wonderful teacher who worked hard to understand her students and help them succeed. She spent a lot of time with Boo, helping him find ways to cope with frustrations and situations that caused him to act out. She created a safe place for him to be alone when things got too much for him to handle in the classroom. Working with other teachers, the principal, and support staff, she made sure that Boo had the supports he needed to succeed both academically and socially. And I am so grateful to her for everything she did!

biology teacher in classroom

I'm also grateful that she took a huge step and returned to school as an adult to get her teaching degree and obtain certification from the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT). She really is a wonderful addition to the profession. Did you know that all teachers in Ontario's public school system must applyfor and receive this certification? The College tracks each teacher's training and qualifications (what they are certified to teach) and provides their professional license each year. Just like doctors and lawyers, teachers are licensed professionals, bound by ethical and professional standards of practice. Our kids and their education are protected by the governance and oversight provided by the College.

You can even search the College’s database by name to find your child's teacherlearn about their qualifications, when they received their degree, and more. The College provides this public register as required under its bylaws, listing everyone who has been certified to teach in the public system. The register also includes information on any disciplinary actions that may have been taken against a teacher in the past.  Having access to this information, and knowing that public school teachers are bound by the standards of this governing body provides me with peace of mind.

Ms. F.? I looked her up. Turns out she not only has her basic qualifications in teaching primary and junior divisions (K-6), but has additional qualifications in special education. No wonder she was so amazing with Boo!

Do you have a question for the College, or just want to keep up to date with education happenings? You can sign up for their free, electronic newsletter, The Standard, where you'll learn about education trends and changes in legislation, as well as College services. As Chair of our school's Parent Council, I'm signed up for this one for sure. Or you can follow them on their social channels - TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Disclosure: This post has been brought to you by the Ontario College of Teachers. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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