November 8, 2018
To you who every day watch about 30 15 to 16-year-old students come into your classroom, full of life, cheerful, laughing, happy to get a taste of knowledge! Hats off to you! I’m telling you CONGRATULATIONS! For, maybe without even knowing it because way too often you read articles about detached teachers or the flaws of the school system, you probably changed the future of hundreds of these young people!
Getting there took you a long time. On your first day teaching, you were shaking with fear at the thought of having to stand in front of all these teenagers who possibly did or did not really want to be there. But throughout the weeks, months and years, you developed your teacher’s personality and you discovered your true passion: to be a MOTIVATION for all these students who have thousands of reasons for wanting to give up along the way.
Mister the teacher, did you know that, for 65%1 of high school students, you are THE main source of motivation to persevere and complete their education? Madam the teacher, you may have thought your profession was “like any other one”, but no. You made an exceptionally good job of keeping potential dropouts on school benches. But what is so special about your work? Let me list the keys to your success, according to these young people:
- You truly listen1. You put yourself in their shoes and try to understand the difficulties they encounter on a daily basis. Yes, I know, those listening skills, this empathy you feel, most of the time, it goes beyond the academic aspect and the training you received. But without even knowing it, or wanting it, you become a therapist. Know that they are grateful for this attentive listening and that it can make all the difference in the world!
- You are interesting1. When you talk to your students, these teenagers who are slowly growing, you catch their interest. You know how to grab their attention by talking their own language and simplifying information so it can fit their learning and attention levels. You are aware that the subjects are sometimes difficult and that for the third — if not the half — of your students who have an attention deficit disorder, concrete and eloquent examples are necessary. And you know how to give them that!
- You are funny1. You may be a natural, or you may make the effort because you know that humour is appealing to young people. So, you willingly make a joke to bring them back when you feel you are losing their attention. Keep it up, it seems to be working.
I know you are making a big difference because every day I have the opportunity to talk with students who are subject to drop out or were able to persevere, and they tell me how much their teachers played a key role in them staying motivated in school. Every time you also think of giving up because it is not easy, do what I say to my teenagers: do not let difficulties or mean comments drag you down, on the contrary, try to become stronger because of them, try something new, PERSEVERE! It is worth it for the sake of their future, trust me!
Tina Fournier Ouellet, general manager at Educaid
Educaid is an educational assistance fund established to offer financial support to students from less privileged backgrounds, enabling them to complete their high school education. Mainly, the organization offers perseverance scholarships from the 3rd year of high school up to the first diploma. http://www.educaide.ca/en
1. Source: study conducted in May 2018 with a Web panel including 500 of Educaid’s scholarship holders.