Depending on our job within the school system, our impact may not be obvious. We continue with the understanding that we’re helping to build a better future. Even classroom teachers may not see their impact right away.
There is a pair of educators within the SCDSB who can see the influence we have on students on a regular basis. Elaine Vodarek and Jill MacAlpine are Student Work Study Teachers (SWST). They work alongside students in the classroom, observing and documenting the learning process.
While observing student thinking and learning, they are able to identify potential barriers and identify strategies based on current research that may help these students to reach their full potential. In collaboration with classroom teachers, they plan and implement specific strategies intended to move students forward in their thinking.
During implementation, they often have the pleasure of capturing the student’s growth in response to the changes made by the teacher. In the end, everyone benefits. What’s good for some will help all. The lessons learned will help students for years to come.
The SWSTs are a committed and dynamic duo. They’re transforming learning and teaching from behind the scenes. They’re passionate, and their drive is fueled by the understanding that they’re making a difference.
Our Principal of Program recently asked Elaine to describe what she does. For Elaine, it’s all about moments. Here’s what she shared:
It’s about moments
The simple moments
The moment when the student says something or does something that says to a teacher, you are doing things right, thanks for caring
The moment when teachers come dancing into the staffroom or skipping down the hall to celebrate a student’s growth or accomplishment
The moment when the student exclaims: I totally see it now!
Or school is awesome now!
Or can I share what I wrote?
Or math is alright, okay, pretty good, so fun, I love it!
The moment when the student raises their hand to share…
And is wrong
But then tries again and gets it right
The moment when the student is confident enough to speak on camera about a problem they have solved
Or when they stay to explain, instead of stray to learn from others
The moment when the student says I’m not working with you today, I can do this on my own
The moment when a student says I can be better
The moment when a teacher says thank you for pushing me, but not too hard
The moment when a parent says thank you for listening to my child
Or when they say, my son talks about school now, not just because I ask him
The moment when voices are felt, heard and listened to
It’s about the small changes that make these moments possible
“The things we capture, the things we share, can have such a positive impact on the people we work with – students, teachers, parents, admin – and we have the power to empower people. I think that may be one of the greatest elements to this role. Change is not always comfortable, but when we are feeling positive about ourselves and others, it becomes easier to adapt and change.”
May 2014 be a year of positive change in our classrooms, schools and communities. May it be full of many moments that help us appreciate life and each other. Moments that reinforce our collective purpose to make things better for those who come after us.