Parents of school-aged children have a unique perspective on teachers.
Most parents are far removed from the days sitting in classrooms listening to lessons. Regardless how they view their own experience, their interest in education takes new emphasis once their kids begin school.
Mount Douglas secondary parents advisory council president Wendy Joyce, a public school parent since 2000, knows some teachers have more impact than others.
“When I look at all the teachers we’ve encountered over the years, it’s not necessarily about who’s got the most experience, but more about who can inspire the kids, who’s engaging and who can make that connection with kids,” she says.
Taking time to get to know a student and what makes them tick is also a key ingredient to making a difference, she adds.
She recalls her son’s Grade 5 teacher took an interest in him and enjoyed his writing, but was also aware he had a younger sister. Upon being shown a colourful painting by the Grade 2 sibling, the teacher bought a matte for the work and gave it to the brother, saying the painting would look nice framed.
Fast forward eight years to today. Having heard her daughter remark how she is enjoying social studies class for the first time, Joyce gained a glimpse into why, during a parent-teacher interview.
The teacher said he doesn’t focus solely on marks, but notices whether students are stressed out or anxious about school or life in general. Such an approach seems to get the best out of students, who feel they are special or that they matter, Joyce says.
John Bird, president of the Victoria Confederation of PACs, has been around local schools for 26 years and has had six children in the system. He says technology has played a part in children being more knowledgable when they get to school these days.
“We’re moving from simply giving them information to teaching them how to process information,” he says. The best teachers get students excited about learning, he adds, not try to make them conform.
Bird uses an analogy from his basketball coaching experience as an example. “(Kids) know more about the game by the time they (start),” he says. “The best teachers make sure they don’t dampen it.”
Joyce has heard from fellow parents over the years how “that teacher just does not get my kid.” She doubts anyone could go through the entire K-12 with their child and not encountering both types of teacher.
She lights up talking about running into her kids’ past teachers who ask about them, their unique interests and the direction they’re heading. That kind of connection, she says – clearly they were paying close attention at the time – can’t help but have an impact on children down the road.
“That says to them, ‘I’m a special individual to this person, I’m important,’” Joyce says. “All those things that really make a difference.”
• Tell us about the teachers you feel are making a difference in schools. Visit vicnews.com/contests/ and click on the Great Teachers nomination icon. Nominators are eligible for a draw for a $50 Thrifty Foods gift card.
• One teacher from the elementary, middle school and secondary levels will be chosen to be honoured in June.