I will admit it: I am an Olympics junkie. Over the past couple of weeks I watched countless hours of Olympic coverage and soaked up every moment. My favourite thing to watch is the athlete profiles where you get to know their story and who they are as people. While watching these Olympic moments, it struck me that each of the athletes have their own champion, be it their family, friends, coach, or teammates. They have their own unconditional support system who will go to bat for them, who will support them through the ups and downs, who will cheer louder than anyone else for their success and build them back up when they fall. How does this relate to education? Well, every student needs their own champion too, and that’s where the Teacher Champion comes into play.
A teacher’s role is always changing. Katie Martin talks about the ‘Evolving Role of the Educator’ in her book, Learner Centred Innovation. She states that teachers are the most important factor in creating twenty-first century classrooms through the opportunities he/she creates for his/her students. Our classrooms are changing and the students we are teaching are also changing. We can imagine and hope what kind of home life our students have, but in reality we have no real idea, only a perception. Students are coming to us with more mental health needs, greater levels of anxiety, and reduced social skills than ever before. Some of these students don’t have an unconditional support system at home. Enter the Teacher Champion. We need to become the person who supports them through their successes, encourages them when they falter, lets them know they are important and that they matter. These students need a chance to have their “Olympic Moment” at some point in their life. In order for it to happen, they need a champion in their life and their Teacher Champion will have played a significant role.
Being a Teacher Champion can be emotionally exhausting and mentally draining, but there are bright moments when it all makes it worth it. Just this week in Makerspace we introduced the students to finger knitting. One of the students who has multiple Teacher Champions at school was getting frustrated. I took some time to sit with him and model the finger knitting process. By the time I was done giving him that extra encouragement and support, he had caught on and had the biggest smile on his face. He was engaged and empowered like I’d never seen from him before! By the end of our Makerspace time together, he had finished one of the best finger snakes out of the group. He proudly showed off his creation to the group and talked about how it wasn’t working, but the help he got made him successful. On the way out the door, I turned to him and said, “Who knew you had a hidden talent for finger knitting?” and he replied, “I didn’t, but I loved it!”. He left feeling successful, proud, and hopefully in a positive mindset that would help him be able to tackle the challenges that would be coming his way during the remainder of the school day.