At each start of term, I feel a kind of excitement brewing inside of me. The prospect of meeting new students and getting ready to greet them, fills me with a kind of pure enthusiasm. I love to see the students milling in the hallways and gathering outside. Their smiles and nervous frowns, the hopeful expressions, the worries about being out of place--all lead me to think of how far each and every one of these students has worked to be here. They have all done extraordinarily well to have been given a seat in one of our programs. Many have came from far away to join us. I mean really far--like Japan, China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Isle of Man, etc. Each of these students, in their own way, is stretching beyond their comfort zone. They are trying so hard to learn and grow, and eventually contribute to our greater society. I am proud of them.
When the class begins, I feel a little nervous. I struggle to get my power point to work. I notice that all of the technology has been upgraded and I do not know how to use it. Everything is touch screen. There are no more buttons to hold down for a few seconds to make the projector work. Everything is in a kind of big circuit that is unfamiliar. I rush to our tech support door in the hall and no one is there, and so I call the emergency cell phone number and leave a message. I rush back to class and imagine how to teach the first class in a kind of "tech-acapella." But, then, our beloved tech master walks through the door with his co-op student and all is well. Whew!
There are no more blackboards, no more white boards, no smart board even--instead, every inch of wall space is painted with a kind of material that allows you to write on it. You can write all over all of the walls like you are in kindergarten again. Blows my mind.
The room is bright and looks small, yet 47 students are carefully arranged in layers around me. I am not on a stage, but rather mere metres away from them. I have no microphone, no podium. The space feels intimate. The power point projects directly onto the special kindergarten drawing wall.
I welcome the students. I try to find my flow. I try to help them understand where I am coming from, what I find important, what I hope to teach them.
They are eager. They look at me hopefully, encouragingly, attentively. I feel my words rushing into place. I find my voice. I share.
This term, I hope to share what I have learned over 20 years of teaching, research and clinical practice. I hope to inspire young people to become great--no, more than just great--I hope to inspire young people to become exceptionally great teachers.
Dr Jillian Roberts