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You'll Know It When You See It

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I have had a week of driving, of not sleeping enough, of wearing myself a little thin.  When you work for a school board that is roughly the size of Albania, you go through a lot of coffee.  It's been an exhausting week but it's also been exhilarating.  This week I got to be a fly on the wall in some amazing classrooms.  It's an incredible feeling to be in the zone as a teacher, to get that feeling of flow as you work with students whose attention is engaged and whose energy is focused on a common goal.  It's an equally amazing thing to watch someone else do it.  

This week, while supporting a teacher, I got to see exactly that.  This teacher was everywhere.  She was both exquisitely focused on the students she was working with while at the same time being totally aware of those on the margins who were trying to get her attention.  Her whole body was engaged; she was up, she was down, she was moving in and out of the group.  Her face was expressive and her body language was electric.  At one point, she had to remove a xylophone and mallet from a child who, after several reminders, continued to be disruptive.  Without ever letting on that she was monitoring him, she noticed exactly the moment when he had calmed himself and immediately gave the xylophone back.  If standing up and clapping wouldn't have completely ruined her lesson, I would have done it, I had to fight off the urge.  She was that good.  

On top of her amazing skills, the best part for me was that she clearly loved kids.  She found them engaging and funny, she was happy to see them, and she noticed their strengths first.  I left the school that day in awe and feeling refreshed, reminded once again about the importance of the work that we do and how critical it is that we do it well.  That magic interplay of personal disposition and teaching skills is like lightning in a bottle; you never know where it's going to strike and packaging it is a fool's errand... but... you'll know it when you see it. 

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Emily Caruso Parnell is the K-12 Community Connected Experiential Learning Consultant/Coordinator in the Rainbow District School Board in Northern Ontario. Since beginning her teaching career in 2001, she has taught all grades from Kindergarten to Grade 12. She has taught in public, private, and independent schools, including teaching the IB Primary Years Programme and as the Arts-lead member of the local leadership team for Ontario's Early Learning Kindergarten Program. Emily is a dance educator who holds an MA in Dance from the University of North Carolina Greensboro as well as a Bachelor of Education from the University of New Brunswick, an HBA from York University and is a Registered Teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance. Emily writes regularly for the parenting website Kveller and for the Canadian Jewish News and she sits on the Sharing Dance Working Group of Canada's National Ballet School. Emily is passionate about education in, about, and through the Arts as well as experiential learning, parent engagement, play, and as much time spent outdoors as possible. She strives to bring the same enthusiasm and energy to parenting her own young children.

  • Guest
    Jon Harper Friday, 22 January 2016

    You captured so much in so few words. I wanted to clap along with you at one point. What a wonderful picture you painted. Well done!

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