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Daily Archives: July 12, 2012

Ode to Teachers

I wanted to blog and post pictures of some great cloud formations around Edmonton last night, but I received an email and there was an idea I could not resist. We each had teachers, and I use the word in its broadest definition, who made an impact on our lives. Ruth is someone I taught with for 12 years.  I use the word taught guardedly and refuse to use the work word to describe our relationship. We learned together. Learning is different and is relational. In her email, she described a visit with a parent of a former student and shared this phrase, ‘child whisperer.’

Each of us, had or have people in our lives in many forms who fit the phrase. They remind us of what the root word of educate is–educare. Even the Latin word speaks of care, which I think is vital to the relational nature of learning.

I can think of many who filled the role. Sister Phillips was my first grade teacher. She was a member of the Catholic order the Sisters of Service and it was special in her class. Later, in high school, I had Ms. Lyford, a short, stocky Australian woman who loved Shakespeare. She once said, “Ivon, if you only tried you would be an A student.” She did it loving and in a caring way, I think. I was good with a B and explained that to her.

Outside school it was my grandmother and mother. I still learn from them although the former is long past away and my mother lives 8 hours away. I learned from my father-in-law and mother-in-law and, needless to say, I learn from the daughter I married. I learn from our boys and my students in many ways. This list is incomplete, but the point is : Great teachers are great not because they tell you do something, but because they lead you to want to do it and ignite your imagination and spirit for learning in a magical way .”

Blend compassion and passion

Bring out the best in each child

Walk with them

Open your heart

Greet them

With your story

Receive their stories gently

Reveal vulnerability

Be a guide they need

In each moment

Learn, share, create

Listen and hear

And speak in a voice

Only a child whisperer can.

Take a moment, tell us about a teacher or teachers who made a difference for you, who whispered at the right moment and spoke the right words lighting a fire in your spirit.


ElkeTeaches brought this to my attention and I thought I would share. Public education needs to become public. What this means will require a grand conversation led by courageous people and eloquent questions. It is of concern when you hear that public schools in Michigan are sold to private interests or when Canadian politicians send their children to elite private schools. What are public schools not good enough? If not, what will you do to change that? Fortunately, we do have leaders, not manages, bureaucrats, technocrats, and autocrats, but real leaders who are finding their voices.

Diane Ravitch's blog

In response to today’s ongoing discussion about teaching and specifically what kind of teaching is right for urban students, this comment came from Ira Shor. Shor teaches at the City University of New York. He has written extensively about critical pedagogy. Our discussion began with the proposition that poor kids need a tightly disciplined environment, some would say a “boot camp” or “no-excuses” pedagogy. Others disagreed. Shor gives his view here:

Many thanks to Diane for for so decently inviting discussion on conundrums of teaching. Conditions for teaching/learning are outcomes of educ and social policy, though not reducible to these enormous factors. In terms of high expectations for kids of all colors and classes regardless of home address, I’d propose that all lessons in all classrooms should be designed for and with the students who are there. The local conditions, language use, cultural themes should be the starting point for…

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