For teachers, professors and students, September is the real start to the year. It seemed to us the perfect season to explore this issue’s theme of teacher engagement. What keeps teachers passionate about their role, eager to learn new skills, excited about their students’ learning?
The Canadian Education Association’s own research initiative, Teaching the Way We Aspire to Teach, provides an inspiring window into the passion and dedication teachers bring to their work, and the conditions that sustain their engagement. In “The Teacher I Dream of Being” (p. 26), Stephen Hurley reflects on what we learned – and why it matters. But that’s only the starting point. In this issue, authors from B.C. to P.E.I. add their perspectives on what makes teachers tick.
If anyone doubts the direct link from teacher engagement to student engagement, I can think of nothing more persuasive than this issue’s Voice of Experience (“Escape from the Classroom,” p. 62), written by Grade 7 student Nicola Lawford. In this delightful essay, the contagion of enthusiasm from teacher to student is palpable. For the students in Nicola’s classroom, learning is an adventure, and the remarkable quality of her writing suggests that no rigour has been lost along the way.
Nicola’s testimony to the value of getting beyond the classroom – whether physically or virtually – is echoed by teacher Chris Peters in his essay “In and Of the World” (p. 57). The message from both is that schooling needs to be connected to “real life,” whether that’s the local community, the global community or the earth itself. “Let’s face the facts,” Nicola writes. “School is no longer defined as a classroom, where the only tools for our students are a desk, a pen, and paper. School can be everywhere, and students can use anything to learn.”
As the world changes, so, inevitably (though sometimes more slowly!), does education. But committed, skilled teachers – engaged teachers – and the relationships they build with their students, are still the heart and soul of good education. I, for one, hope that never changes.
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First published in Education Canada, September 2013