From the Teacher's Desk

Leonard Quilty
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The power of believing

While reading another educator's blog recently, ‘Learning is Growing’ by Kathleen M. Perret, I came across an inspiring video from Simple Truths that she had posted there. It's called ‘Walk the Talk’.

This short video encourages us to always do the right thing by living a life based on integrity.

With each new sunrise, we're all given a clean slate. It's a proverbial new beginning – a new opportunity to make a difference. As a teacher, each new day brings so many opportunities to make a difference in a student's life. As students file through our classroom doors (either physically or virtually), they definitely want to be put at ease.

Our students want to know their teachers believe in them. We can demonstrate our belief in them with a welcoming smile and a word of encouragement.

Then, as teachers do on a daily basis, we can supplement that belief in our students by assisting them in the joy of discovery – of learning something new.

As students progress along the learning path and arrive at new levels of understanding, teachers are buoyed by that development and feel a sense of humble pride that they played some role in the process.

Just yesterday, June 7, in my elementary French elive class, I experienced that ‘aha!’ moment that educators relish. During this 30-minute class, I had given the students a practice listening comprehension exercise – a dictation.

When ‘la dictée’ was over, I asked if anyone wanted to read it for the rest of the class. In the few minutes remaining, several students recited the passage en français. The readers did a superb job with their pronunciation and spoke with a level of confidence that totally impressed me. For students who had just begun the program last fall, I was amazed at how far they had come in such a short period of time.

"We can give no greater gift to others than putting them at ease." – John C. Maxwell

I’d like to take some of the credit for their rapid progress (after all, I did develop the course!), but I’ve been teaching French long enough to realize there had to be another reason for their level of expertise with the spoken language.

Of course, I cannot discount the support from their families at home, but beyond that (and the quality of the teacher lessons!); there is another resource that I was able to (with the assistance of our school and school district) add to the course late last fall. It’s called ‘Tell Me More’.

This website, especially the speech recognition activities on it, is an awesome program to supplement any French course at any level of schooling.

Hearing my students speak they way they did yesterday (and I did note their progress since last fall) not only validated the purchase of the site licenses, but it also spoke volumes (pardon the pun!) in terms of the dedication of these students to complete the assigned learning paths of the program.

Learning for the sake of learning is definitely its own reward, but when teachers believe in students and, more importantly, when students believe in themselves, the sky is the ceiling in terms of accomplishments.

Blessed Mother Teresa, a former teacher, certainly knew how to engender belief in her students.

She once said: "You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things."

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