Today in my ECS 200 class we watched Rita Pierson’s TED Talk: Every kid needs a champion.
My first impression: I loved it. She made a lot of good points, a few of which I wrote in my notebook during class. The things I wrote down (and why) were as follows:
- “education is all about relationships” — I could not agree more. For myself, there were teachers at my high school that never taught me a class, but they taught me what is important in life, taught me that a successful life is one spent pursuing their passion, taught me that life is about laughing and loving, and so much more. I learned from those teachers that took the time to build strong, personal relationships from me. And I learned so much more than what 2+2 equals. I learned lessons that will last me a lifetime.
- “kids don’t learn from people they don’t like” — Again, I absolutely agree. Thinking back to elementary school, I recall my Grade 1 teacher who helped us build snow forts during recess. And I remember that same teacher talking to us about the First Nations’ culture, and about how to tell time, and how to tell the temperature, and about the importance of reading. I can honestly say I love my Grade 1 teacher and, because of that, hung on her every word and learned many, many things from her. Whereas, with teachers who spent class time yelling at us for every small thing we did, I cannot, for the life of me, recall what I learned in that class. I had a teacher who taught me French in Grade 6, 7, and 8. THREE YEARS I spent with her and not a thing to show for it. I did not respect the way she taught and did not want to get to know her because of how she made me feel. So yes, kids do not learn from people they do not like or respect.
- “10% — find the good in it and celebrate it” — In the TED Talk, Rita discusses how she had a student who got 2 marks out of 20 and, instead of writing a big fat “F” on the student’s paper, she wrote a “2” and a happy face. (The student hadn’t even attempted the other eighteen questions). Rita decided to celebrate the two that the student did get right because she wanted them to feel confident and encouraged for the next time an assignment like that went out. Teaching, I have learned, isn’t about the failures and disappointments. It is about the small victories. But from Rita’s video, I learned that teaching (because it is about relationships) is also about communicating those victories with the student. Helping them feel empowered is the best thing you can do for them.
Rita Pierson has been inspirational for me. I have seen many teachers teach for many years and lose their gusto and drive. They want to come to work, get paid, go home. But Rita, after 40 years of teaching, is still on fire for teaching and is passionate about making better educators of herself and everyone around her. I want to strive to be like Rita. I want to always find the good in my job, the good in my students, and seek to make them even better.