Thursday, August 29, 2013

Teachers that Rock and How You Can Be One {Part 1}

This post is sponsored by Participant Media.

I went to Back to School Night last night for my son. He started kindergarten this week. It has been five years since I hosted my last Back to School Night for my own students... so I was feeling a little nostalgic.

As I listened to my son's new teacher explain the curriculum and tell us some simple ways to help our kids survive the first few weeks of K since it is all new and they'll be super tired, I thought... you rock... I can't wait to get to know you better and I really wish I could be sitting in your classroom all day long too! Teachers are awesome. 

Have you ever sat in a classroom and been inspired by a teacher? 

Have you ever been that inspiring teacher? 

This post is Part 1 of a series of 3 posts I plan to do over the next week featuring teachers that rock. 

This series of posts is inspired by the documentary TEACH by Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim.

The documentary asks the question: What Does It Take to Be A Great Teacher Today?

It follows four dedicated teachers from different schools across the country over the course of one school year and gives viewers a window into the challenges, demands and rewards of teaching, with the purpose of elevating and promoting the profession, as well as engaging new teachers and supporting current teachers. 

The film trailer made me want to get back into a public school and teach again too. Just click on the video below to watch it yourself.

As a teacher of children with moderate to severe special needs and as a teacher trainer, I've had the opportunity to see many teachers in action.

The remarkable things that teachers do often go completely unnoticed by parents or other staff members. From the outside they might even seem like no big deal... but to a child or a teenager... that one interaction could be life altering.

This is me in the photo below... back when I was 9 months pregnant with my oldest son. It was my last day as a full-time teacher.

The kids I was blessed to teach stayed in my special education classroom for most of the day and then went out and mainstreamed into other classrooms for specific subjects. On the other side of my wall was a phenomenal third grade teacher named John. I collaborated with him for several years and he is still teaching in the same classroom this year doing the exact same things, but probably even better now than before. He is the sort of educator that is always learning and growing.

One of the greatest things he did both for me and my students was that he shared.

He shared his time, materials, energy, creativity, and students with me. He also shared his classroom. My class was always welcome. He taught his class to be patient and kind to my students... and most importantly, inclusive. He answered a gazillion and one emails from me and parents. He attended long meetings outside of school hours and spent free time helping me and my students. I could go on and on. He is an extraordinary friend, teacher, and colleague. 

Teachers that rock do more than they are expected to do. They do what they need to do to help each individual student in their classroom (and outside of it) to succeed.

I love the quote I shared at the beginning of this post by Rita F. Pierson: “Every child deserves a champion—an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

I wish I still had an opportunity to sneak into John's classroom. The moment when a teacher helps a child understand something they didn't previously know is magical. The children that are in John's classroom this year are super lucky. 

Have you ever had a teacher that has gone above and beyond for you or your child?

I'd love you to share about a teacher that rocks in the comments of this post... or even better, shoot your teacher an email or write them a letter and tell them yourself. It is never too late to say "thank you" and make a difference in their life too.

The coolest thing about being a parent is that we are all teachers. We can make a difference in the lives of our kids in our own homes too. We can go above and beyond as well. We can help other parents and share what we know so that all kids succeed... not just our own.

Don't forget to tune into a two hour special television event of “TEACH” presented by Participant Media. It is set to debut on the CBS Television Network on September 6th at 8:00 pm ET/PT. 

“TEACH” will also air on the new network, Pivot on September 18th at 8:00 pm ET/PT

This post is sponsored by Participant Media. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but the opinions and stories are all mine. Thanks for supporting the things that I choose to share on my site! I think Toddler Approved readers rock too.

By the way... have you entered our current Away We Go! A Shape and Seek Book Giveaway yet? Away We Go! A Shape and Seek Book by Chieu Anh Urban is a great way to teach little ones about shapes. Head on over to our Shape Activities for Preschoolers post to enter the giveaway. 

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