The last 6 weeks have been full of challenges for our entire TIS family as we have had to adjust to online learning. Through this process, I have reflected a lot about what makes a great teacher, and why teachers are so integral to ensuring our children are happy, safe, encouraged, loved, and mentored in order to help them become better human beings each and every day.
When I was a little girl I was lucky enough to attend a brand new school on the outskirts of a city in Canada. My elementary experience was just the best!! I had several teachers and a principal who made a positive difference in my life during that time and I am grateful for every one of them.
My elementary principal, Mr.Wallace, was amazing. When I missed the school bus one time when I was 7 he took 45 minutes from his day and drove me home. I’m so grateful that I had a principal who cared enough to get me home.
Mrs. Webster (Grade 3) had many games and competitions in her classroom. We all pushed each other to see who could read the most books and answer the most questions the quickest. As a teacher, I tried to emulate that and I tried to make my classroom a fun place. I’m grateful that Mrs. Webster was such a fun teacher.
Mr.Falk (Grade 5) is still my all-time favourite teacher. He had so many animals in the classroom-snakes, lizards, hamsters, fish, and a bunny. We learned first hand about life cycles and how to be responsible and help others. He was also sooo excited about Halleys Comet that we all were too! His dictionary game was a hit with me-and when I had a class of my own, I always used It. I am so grateful that I had a teacher who loved animals and science as much as I did!
Mrs. Pederson (Grade 6) taught me about how much fun project-based learning is. We completed so many cool projects that year. There was a forest outside the school and we would spend countless hours exploring it, climbing trees, and playing hide and seek. I am grateful that I had a teacher who understood that learning in the great outdoors is an important way to teach students to appreciate the world around them.
In the winter the huge hill next to the school was filled with all of us on our crazy carpets and toboggans. We would build jumps to go over, and it was fun to intentionally try and crash into each other. I am grateful that our school let us take risks in order to understand what being brave feels like.
Every morning the school played the anthem and we raised the Canadian flag. I was part of the flag-raising team and learned how to fold the flag. I’m grateful that I got to learn about my country and why it’s so special.
My elementary school was filled with amazing educators and experiences. I learned how to downhill ski because our teachers organised it. We went on other amazing field trips. One of my favourites was to the Hutterite Colony near my house. We got to see the inner workings of their farm and the ladies baked homemade buns with us. In grade six I also got to go to Camp Goldeye and I spent the week with my classmates and my dad climbing mountains and glaciers. I remember the learnings from these trips far more than any lesson in a classroom. I am grateful that our teachers cared enough that they planned field trips and I’m grateful that they would sometimes leave their own families overnight so that I could have those memories today.
I had delicious hot lunches (hello yummy pizza dogs!) once a month at school because our Parent Association came in and worked hard to make that happen. I am grateful that our parents were partners with the teachers and volunteered their time to help make our school so wonderful (thanks mom and dad)!
So why am I telling you all this? Because none of my very best memories have anything to do with sitting at a desk and memorizing facts. My best memories are about cool experiences, projects, and learning in a fun and different way from people who cared about me.
And I see our teachers here at TIS creating these same types of memories for our students every day. I am fortunate to see our wonderful teachers going above and beyond in order to make learning fun, meaningful, and memorable. Our teachers could choose to come to school and simply “teach”. But they don’t. They show up every day ready to give everything they have so that when their students are 45 years old, they will have fond memories of their time here. Every day I see them taking extra time to help students with hurt feelings learn how to communicate their feelings to one another. They take the extra time to listen, and they help students develop their resilience and grit. They plan amazing inquiry and STEAM projects to appeal to all types of learners and to challenge their students to think critically. They plan field trips and celebrate accomplishments. They teach important things like being grateful and that it’s okay to fail. In fact, they teach our students that failure is crucial to ensuring we continue to grow into better people. These life lessons are integral to ensuring our students grow up as humble, appreciative adults who other people would want to be friends with, work with, and spend their lives with. There is no work that is more important. And our teachers are truly exceptional at this.
I am so grateful to work with these teachers every day. And I am so grateful that our parent community appreciates our exceptional teachers just as much as I do. I see appreciative parents telling their child’s teacher that they have had the BEST day, that they’re excited about a project that they’re working on, that they are grateful because a teacher has helped their child solve a friendship issue. I see parents bringing their teachers coffee and sending notes of thanks. This gratitude is SO appreciated and important. In fact, it acts as fuel-one small thank you makes it all worthwhile. So thank you to our spectacular teachers and thank you to our ever-supportive and amazing parents. You all make The International School of Macao a very special place. I can’t wait until we are all back together and I get to witness the magic again each and every day.
What teachers made a difference in your life? Or in your child’s life? I encourage you to reach out and thank one of those teachers today.