I am thrilled to announce that I will be joining the Heart and Art blogging team this school year. I look forward to time spent being passionately curious with all of you.
As educators, it feels we are under the spotlight this year to openly reflect in conversations with curious strangers on how the school year is going amidst the pandemic. Everyone is wondering how educators are creating activities and lessons for students that involve social distancing, mask wearing and constant hand sanitizing. When asked personally about how this crazy year is affecting me, I often find myself replying with “I am just an Occasional Teacher”.
I love my job and feel valued in the school system, especially this year with the demanding need for Occasional Teachers across Ontario school boards. I feel important, worthy and necessary. Why do I sell myself short each time by adding the word “just” in front of my job title?
The word “just” has so much power and holds the potential to remove importance from meaningful concepts. As I reflect upon my own use of the word “just”, I begin to think about how this small but significant word can affect my students. Psychologist Carol Dweck talked about students’ growth mindset and the power of the word “yet”. In terms of growing and learning, students can use the word “yet” to talk about what they cannot do, but will learn to do after practicing, taking chances and making mistakes (for example: “I do not know how to multiply… yet”).
Does the word “just” have the opposite effect? Instead of granting power and adding room for growth like the word “yet” does, “just” seems to diminish the power of whatever follows.
Let’s harness the power of “yet”! Here are some phrases that should not follow the word “just”:
- Students are “just” playing.
Play is how students explore, investigate, discover and create what they don’t know yet. No matter age or ability, each student deserves play opportunities in an environment that respects and celebrates the benefits play can have on academic progress, social and emotional growth and overall student well-being.
- “Just” Art, Phys. Ed, Social Science or any subject that isn’t Math or Literacy.
Each subject and learning area contributes to holistic development while providing opportunities for learning and success in areas which students have yet to grow. Students deserve to know that each subject is important and personal accomplishments can be celebrated in sports, the arts, etc. With the pressures to push for success in reading, writing and math, we must not let talent and passion in other areas go unnoticed, unacknowledged or undervalued.
- You are “just” an Occasional Teacher/Rotary Teacher/whatever your role is in a school.
To all my fellow educators out there, no matter what you are doing, no matter where you are, you will ALWAYS be more than “just” a (insert job title here) to your students, their families and the school community.
You are passionate.
You are important.
You are valued.
For what you know now and for what you do not know yet.