Why I Love Teaching

The lesson lies in learning
And by teaching I’ll be taught
For there’s nothing hidden anywhere
It’s all there to be sought

Procol Harum- Shine on Brightly

Congratulations Grande Prairie Public School District and Crystal Park School for some of the best Professional Development I have participated in as part of a start up…ever. I did grumble a little bit when it felt like summer was ending all too quickly and then a little bit more when I left the long to do list on my desk to gather with teachers from Crystal Park, the district and then the region. But now I feel ready…maybe not in the “got my to do list under control” kind of ready. More like the “my head is ready”.

My first two sessions were at Crystal Park with a focus on Google Drive and FNMI. Technology is definitely transforming how we teach and I am excited about the ways I can use Google in my work. Stacey Running Rabbit made us ask the difficult questions of ourselves that we must ask: What is it that each of us individually is going to do to make a difference for our FNMI students? What is it that is keeping us from doing it? It’s way past time to commit to making a difference for these students.

“Kids do well if they can” was the message from Dr. Ross Greene. Challenging behaviors emerge when the demands placed on us outweigh the skills we have to respond and so instead of focusing on the behavior, we need to identify the unsolved problem…a lagging skill that is keeping the student from doing well. For some students it might be double digit division. For others it may be how to make a friend.  In either case, the resulting behavior could throw us off track so we need to learn how to get to that unsolved problem. There is a lot of information about is Collaborative and Proactive Solutions on his website: Lives in the Balance. But the message came across very clear: if we don’t take the time to identify the unsolved problem and work on a collaborative solution, we will waste a lot of time and energy focusing on the behavior…and that’s when we all lose.

Dr. Lynn Miller was of particular interest to me as she is an expert on anxiety in school settings. She confirmed something that I was already concerned about: there is a correlation between IQ and anxiety levels. While anxiety is a normal human emotion essential for survival, excessive untreated anxiety can have an impact on our academic achievement, our relationships, whether or not we are bullied, depression and is the greatest predictor of suicide. She told us that 12-20% of children are affected by anxiety disorders which can take the form of specific phobias, separation anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. The good news is that most are highly treatable, particularly if we catch them at a younger age. So there are things that I know now that can help, and more training is on the way. There are also some good resources for students, parents and teachers at the AnxietyBC website.

When Professional Development leaves you feeling empowered to make a difference in the lives of students, it has done its work. I have learned so much and feel so ready to continue on that journey of learning for another school year.

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