This year marks my return to the classroom as a teacher for the first time in… well, let’s say it’s been a while. Currently, I am teaching an online class to 15 students who opted for this course. The students, who range in age from 9 to 16, are culturally diverse and are even dispersed along the gender spectrum. Firstly, I had forgotten what it was like to interact with such a diverse group and how varied the personalities and interests are. I had previously taught high school English for over 12 years, and I loved most every moment, but as I
teach this online class, I remember how drained I often felt at the end of the day, and I was much younger then. Beyond the preparation for the class and the actual physical demands of teaching a class, being aware and sensitive and responsive to young and inquisitive minds takes something out of a teacher. It is undoubtedly exhilarating at times, frustrating at others, and certainly puzzling at others. Any teacher who has not asked themselves at some point why they are doing this to themselves is lucky. Teaching requires a wide range of skills and qualities I don’t believe are required in most any other vocation, and teaching is most definitely a vocation. If you don’t love teaching, you really shouldn’t be anywhere near a classroom.
Of course, teaching online means even more preparation, more skills, and heightened communication skills. Part-time technology fiend, social media specialist, subject matter expert, communications guru, teaching online is not for the faint of heart. And it is not for all teachers, even though most were pushed into the virtual classroom during the pandemic. Many realised this online setting did not suit them, or they were not able to adapt to the different requirements.
Somehow, and almost miraculously, the teachers who are part of the LEARN Virtual Campus make it look and feel like they have been doing this for a long time (and yes, I am aware that they have been, but it is not polite of me to mention this). While it may appear to the uninitiated as effortless, it is nothing of the sort. The LEARN teachers are excellent, not by chance, not by circumstance, but as a result of hard work, dedication, and a commitment to excellence. Moreover, they are engaged in continuous professional learning and they are models for teachers everywhere.
I salute them all. I thank them for their love of their students and the devotion they bring to each class. Nothing of this quality is accomplished without the requisite love and devotion. Well done, team, and congratulations!
Michael J. Canuel, Ed.D.