JUST MY OPINION...: Teacher appreciation

Teachers are appreciated.

I was delighted to read the article in the tribute Ian Williams wrote in the Toronto Star, an appreciation of his elementary school teacher. As he recounted, in his early years at school he was a blossoming writer of poetry. Even at age 11 he was creative and talented and exhibited a great deal of promise. Through the intervening 25 years, he worked hard where he excelled the most, – writing, that led him to the stage and to the spotlight and to his winning the prestigious Giller Prize for fiction.

It wasn’t always easy for Ian Williams. While he possessed raw talent, it still had to be nurtured, encouraged and developed to gain the confidence he needed to go on to be a successful writer. He attained that through the years in his early formal education. He was in an environment that fostered the love of learning, the love of reading and for him, the love of writing. Where would society be without teachers who are the “secondary responders” to children’s educational needs, while the parents are the first responders?

Upon reflection, teachers have a huge influence on students. One might say, they are todays’ “influencers.” They spend more time in the classroom with their students on a daily basis than the parents do as the school day is long and so are the work days. School becomes the solid, consistent and safe environment which creates the favourable atmosphere for learning. Behind every annoying assignment, there is a teacher who cares. Teachers care about imparting knowledge to their students and they strive to instill solid work ethics as roads to success. I never taught a student who worked hard and failed. Teachers have a way of taking the word “failure” out of the classroom daily vocabulary. Most teachers I have known promoted success, confidence and the ability to stand up to the daily challenges. They framed organizational skills and goal-setting skills as the necessary tools for life skills. It’s being done every day in the school year. That is what we do because we love our profession and it is our job to educate young minds who will become the leaders of tomorrow. So, it was delightful to hear a shout-out to a teacher who lit that one spark in that one student who was grateful for his success.

Educators hope to have made a difference in the pupils who passed through their classrooms. They can only hope that in some small way they contributed to their long-term success. Often the feedback is sparse as teachers are the “visible invisibles.”

As Ian Williams reflected on his success while clutching his Giller Prize, he acknowledged the influences in his past and acknowledged that one teacher who encouraged him and who made a difference in his life.

That was gratitude enough!

Merry Christmas to All.

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