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Teacher/sTaff appreciaTion week Inspiration through learning by J e a n n i e a r m s t ro n g

Great teachers do more than instruct. They inspire and motivate their students to develop a love of learning that will serve them well throughout their life. February 11 to 17 is Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week, a time set aside to honour the contributions that teachers and school staff make to the lives of children in our province. The theme selected for this year’s designated week is “Inspiration through Learning,” said Joy Bastness, director of the Saskatchewan Association of School Councils (SASC). “Teachers and staff inspire and motivate learners when they provide students with opportunities to understand, develop and practice positive attitudes and actions that will result in the achievement of their goals and dreams.” Educators are achieving these goals despite numerous challenges impacting their classrooms, ranging from budget cuts to overcrowding to constantly evolving technologies. “Teachers and staff demonstrate their own positive attitudes on learning. They provide leadership in overcoming obstacles and help students embrace change.” Being a teacher also means being a good listener, she added. “Teachers need to listen openly. They need to embrace and celebrate diversity in the classroom. When they take time to listen and answer questions, and provide strategies for student success, they infuse learning with life.” Teachers also need inspiration to succeed, points out Bastness. Ongoing professional development by

to our dedicated teachers and staff

Thank you for your commitment to inspire learning in our students. You are the essence of the values we teach our students:

Respect • Excellence • Joy • Responsibility

Teachers and support staff inspire students to learn and achieve their goals. G e t ty I m aG e s

such organizations as the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation is a vital means of support for educators. “It’s also important for teachers to receive support from their colleagues, from their school boards, from their provincial teachers’ associations and from within the administration of their own school. And one of the greatest sources of motivation for every teacher is seeing their students succeed. It gives them that drive to keep teaching.” Parents also play an important role in inspiring their children to learn, said Bastness. “Parents should ensure their children attend school regularly and are keeping up with their homework. Starting their children’s day with a healthy breakfast and preparing nutritious lunches helps improve their children’s ability to learn. Participating in school activities and attending sport events indicates their support for school functions. It’s

important for parents to express appreciation to teachers and staff often for everything they do to create a positive learning experience for students.” A variety of events are planned across the province this week to honour teachers and support staff, led by school community councils. In many schools, volunteers bring in tasty lunches and treats to thank teachers and staff for their hard work. “Parents will also volunteer to do lunchtime supervision so that all the teachers and staff can participate,” says Bastness. Many students decorate their schools with banners and posters. Students also have fun presenting special assembly programs or lunchtime events. To find out more about the Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week events at your school, contact your local School Community Council (SCC) or parent group.

Inspiration Through Learning is a reciprocal process While Teacher/Staff Appreciation Week is intended to recognize and celebrate the work being done by the province’s 13,000 teachers and staff, it’s equally important to contemplate the nearly 200,000 students in the province when you consider what public education is all about. It is therefore especially poignant that while the theme of this year’s event is Inspiration Through Learning, the fact is that this is a reciprocal journey for educator and student alike. Consider the example of Jeff St. Onge, who is a principal in Moosomin and happily spends his noon hours teaching specific one-off classes to students who show a particular interest in subjects not necessarily covered in the regular curriculum. “I love the relationship with the students and the fact that you help make a difference,” he said, while adding that there is not a day when he doesn’t also learn something from his students. In spite of numerous challenges facing education today, not the least of which is funding cutbacks and by extension cuts to support staff, teachers still go above and beyond to meet their students’ needs. For many, this is not a profession so much as a calling. Ask a teacher and they will invariably cite the “light bulb” moment with unabashed enthusiasm, which they fervently believe is what teaching is all about as opposed to the obligatory test scores. The relationship established between teacher and student is what is worth celebrating not only this week but also throughout the year. Being role models for our youngest citizens is an integral part of teaching and is perhaps the greatest source of inspiration and pride for teachers. This can mean being willing to step aside sometimes and realize that unlike years past, the teacher is no longer considered to be the “sage on the stage,” but rather “the guide on the side.” Math teacher Nat Banting fully embraces this approach with his high school students in Saskatoon. “As teachers, if we can be part of creating education that is vibrant and has deeper meaning, that’s what we are here for – to create a richer learning environment. It is very validating as a teacher, and at the same time fascinating, to see the emergent thoughts students bring to

A heartfelt thanks

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6,9*98612/% Nat Banting’s passion for innovative teaching of mathematics is mirrored by pupils at a recent math fair. Ph oto: s tF

the process.” Daryl Pearson is at the other end of the spectrum as principal of an innovative elementary school in Meadow Lake where it’s all about creating a safe and nurturing environment. It not only serves its purpose of helping students learn, but it is also a reminder of what brought him to teaching in the first place. “It’s all part of making a difference in these kids’ lives. There’s such a joyful energy in this building that you can fill your buckets every day.” For many educators this can extend to extracurricular activities, whether it’s sports or community involvement as part of the overall mosaic that contributes to building good citizenship and well-rounded individuals. Tina Edwards is a dynamic teacher in Watrous who has been recognized nationally for her efforts, and it’s not a responsibility she takes lightly. “For our staff, we work really hard at making sure our students know they are valued, and we want it to feel like home. It is not just about school. It’s about making them feel like this is their building and that we’re family and we care about each other.” This belief and commitment to a holistic education has long been the hallmark of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, dating back to long before this week was first recognized 31 years ago. Equally, it will

continue into the future. That future now very much includes an ever-increasing number of new citizens to Canada as part of the English as an additional language component. This is another example of where this learning is a two-way street with teachers playing a vital role in encouraging their students to embrace their new world. Laura Jorgenson of Saskatoon is buoyant about what this opportunity has provided for her. “I just love it and it gives you so much energy,” she said, while referring to this as the most enjoyable experience she has had as a teacher. As colleague Rebecca Schroeder said, “It’s like a garden and you’re planting the seeds and hoping it will grow. It’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of.” Banting, meanwhile, said being prepared to be surprised and then committed to work together to find solutions is critical for teachers. “That’s what makes you excited about future experiences with your students,” he said. So yes, if you happen to be in a school during this week, by all means show your appreciation for teachers and the staff. However, you could actually do that any week of the year because it’s the norm rather than the exception in our schools. - Contributed by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation for awareness purposes.

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Inspiration spiration Through Learning

Celebrating educators during

Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week February 11 - 17

Rooted. Growing. Reaching. Transforming www.gscs.ca

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SP - National Teacher Appreciation  
SP - National Teacher Appreciation