It brings a smile to my face when I look back and recall just how I came to the profession that I now am truly passionate about and fully committed to. My very best friend at the time decided to become a teacher, so after little thought I concluded that I might as well do the same. We were going to the same teachers college and we could share a room and continue our friendship. Why not? As it turned out, she taught for only a short time whereas I grew eventually to love teaching. As I reflect, it seems that over the years it has often been what I have done outside the classroom that has motivated me to remain in the classroom.
Before my oldest daughter was born, I resigned my position and had no intention of ever returning to the classroom full-time. I immediately signed on as a Guider with Girl Guides of Canada. For the next 15 years my daughters got carted off to every kind of guiding activity while I took on a wide variety of roles in the organization and eventually became an International Advisor. My love of camping and the outdoors was a strong motivator. During this same time, financial pressure pushed me back into the classroom as an occasional teacher. It was during those years that my confidence as a teacher began to increase and I began to value myself as an educator. Finally, my husband’s illness left me little choice but to return to teaching full-time.
It was a very different person who stepped into the classroom from the one who had abandoned it years earlier. For some years I had been heavily involved in pursuing my First Nations roots and learning about my forgotten cultural heritage. In this new beginning, my heritage played a definitive role in my teaching. It seemed natural to incorporate the ideas and teachings that I had gleaned from my heritage into what I did, and continue to do, in my classroom. I now had much to share and much less time to share it in.
Each year, I set out to make my classroom a unique learning place so that my students would sense from the beginning that they have arrived somewhere special . . . as special and unique as they are! People need to feel that they are valued and are in a place created to honour their uniqueness in the world. I include the colours of nature in my room and there are lots of green plants. I have tried to create a calming, soothing, and safe place.
TALKING CIRCLES ARE A MAJOR FOCUS.
I use a talking stick that I have carved myself, which depicts the Seven