Great teachers have a heart for the difference they make, whether or not that influence is ever fully rewarded. It is why technology is never the complete answer when it comes to the transformative experience that education should be.
Over the years of teaching, it has been a constant pleasure to work with young people full of energy and hope for the future. Whether they be rambunctious or quiet and reflective, like being a parent and raising a child, education is full of challenges, complexity, ever-changing trends, but above all love is always present.
Great teachers have a heart for the difference they make, whether or not that influence is ever fully rewarded. It is why technology is never the complete answer when it comes to the transformative experience that education should be. Attending school is one thing, but participating in the wider concept of education is aspirational and involves far more than learning knowledge.
This ‘difference’ in what is a good or an inspiring education was succinctly reflected in this beautiful piece of writing by a teacher Eileen Riley-Hall (Why Tech Is The Last Thing Our Classrooms Need) from the New York Post 31 Jan 2020 (abridged).
“A former student of mine recently dropped off donuts and a funny note for me at school. The gift was extra special because this was a student who really struggled with the expectations of school. But as I got to know him, I found him to be funny and sweet. With some extra help, he passed the English Regents exam and graduated.
The glazed donuts reminded me that building relationships with students is the most important part of my job. Children learn the most when they feel valued as human beings, when they feel part of a community, when they know we are in this thing called “school” together.
In an increasingly lonely world, where kids spend so much time virtually existing on social media, school must remain an interpersonal experience. It requires a lot more of a teacher to get to know students and extend their concern and humanity. Truthfully, it’s exhausting, but that connection is what matters most and what kids remember the most.
Teaching has always been about helping kids. Today, they need help learning how to put the computers and phones away for a while, and participate in life.
No app or device will ever be as glorious, confounding or inspiring as the person sitting next to you. In an increasingly detached and isolating world, teachers need to be present to remind kids that no matter what they are struggling with, math or literature or sadness, they are never facing it alone.”
Eileen Riley-Hall teaches high school English in upstate New York.
This article is a fabulous insight into the challenges we face in education and how important for us all to reflect on the role of great teachers and the importance of raising our young people with empathy, honesty and love. This takes courage in a world where it is often easier to avoid these values. An education is not just about learning knowledge, it is about how to become an enriched human being.
- Heather McRae, Principal.