Image borrowed from: Punchko, K. (2013, February 20). ‘Dead Poets Society’ cast then and now.

As the Canadian Thanksgiving approaches, it gives us pause to consider all of the good that is going on in our lives. We are often thankful for our family, friends, and life experiences, but can many of us say we are thankful for our job? To my corporate colleagues, you may be asking why I am posting this on LinkedIn. The answer is that we are all teachers and can inspire and nurture growth in those around us.  My students represent the next generation of leaders, innovators, and thinkers, and I encourage them to get involved.

Captain, My Captain

Over the long weekend, I turned on one of my favourite movies – Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams. Without retelling the plot, the movie is about a teacher who makes a difference in his students’ lives through commitment and dedication. Williams’ portrayal of John Keating is both moving and, as a teacher, inspiring. I had a teacher like that when I was younger – Mr. Peter Kahro, who inspired me to great heights. So much so that I have dedicated my teaching career to impacting a student’s life as he did mine. Sadly, at the time of this exchange, I hadn’t recognized Mr. Kahro for the influence, or I would have stood on the desk at the end of my last class with him and said, “Captain, my Captain” as a tribute to his caring, kindness and most of all his belief in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

Ask me anything

As mentioned, during Thanksgiving weekend, I took inventory of everything in my life and acknowledged my career as a teacher. I hold “Ask Me Anything” sessions in my classes at #georgiancollege, and have done so at Lakehead University and #yorkuniversity , where the students are free to ask me anything they want to know. It is a concept borrowed from Reddit and born out of the pandemic as a way for me to connect with my students on a personal level. I had questions such as “what’s your favourite cookie?” – chocolate chip, “favourite pizza?” – pepperoni, “why do you teach?” – and then it hit me– because it is the single most rewarding experience I have ever had.

Thinking more about the profession, what other role is there where you can watch someone’s eyes light up as they get a concept with which they had struggled or they realize that the path they have chosen for a career is exactly what they have wanted to do all their lives, though they may not have realized it? What profession makes you want to get out of bed every morning knowing that your presence might just positively impact someone else’s life if you are very lucky?

To my students (past and current)

I appreciate your perseverance through difficult times in and out of the (virtual) classroom. Thank you for bringing your curiosity and desire to every class and seeking to question the status quo to make a better world. Thank you for pushing yourself to improve and inspiring me to be a better teacher. For this, I say, “Captain, my Captain.”

To my colleagues

I encourage you to take inventory of the great gifts fostering knowledge and growth in others brings us daily. Yes, the work can be long and, at times, tedious, but the rewards are immeasurable. To all those who have supported me in and out of school…thank you.

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