Noble Profession

An interview with Erin Moore, a grade two teacher at Kerrisdale Elementary School
Interviewed by Barb Mikulec*
*Director of the Provincial Retired Teachers executive
  *First Vice-President of the Vancouver Branch Retired Teachers Association
Photographs by Noriko Nasu-Tidball
Q: What interested you in becoming a teacher?
A: I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. My mother and aunt were teachers and I saw how much of an impact they had on their students’ lives. I wanted to be able to show each child that they can succeed and reach their goals even when faced with challenges. The journey so far has been even better than I could have ever imagined.
Q: What are some of the creative things you enjoy doing with your class?  
A: I love showing the students that there are many ways to learn and understand new concepts. Due to the various learning styles, using manipulatives, technology and hands-on experiments can really be beneficial and helpful. Fine Arts is also a way for the students to show their creativity.  I like to use many different types of materials and techniques to produce pieces of art that center around  class themes or holidays.
Q: Where did you go to university, and why did you choose it? 
A: I went to UBC Vancouver, as I was living in the area and knew they had a great Education program. I also did my Bachelor of Arts degree there.
Q: What can a class do to promote harmony and prevent bullying?
A: Discussing and preventing bullying is one of the most important concepts I focus on each year. It really is important to do so at an early age so that it does not become a problem later on. I create a classroom community in which each person attaches a drawing of themself around a large circle on the wall and must sign the middle of it if they agree to follow our class rules and respect each person in this community. By doing so, they agree to share only positive comments about another individual and treat each person as they would wish to be treated. I also discuss how lucky we are to be living in such a wonderful place and how many children are much less fortunate. I also encourage them to play with different groups of children outside and invite those who appear to be alone to participate in their game.
Q: What are the positive things that a teacher can do to help the self esteem of all students?
A: All students are different, and respond in various ways to forms of encouragement and support, though one thing that I try to focus on is positive reinforcement. This is especially important for those students who do not feel successful or able to complete assignments. Each student needs to be given the proper tools and encouragement, and it is our job as educators to make sure they receive that. Expectations may have to be modified so that their self esteem is not lost, and can remain there even through difficult times.
Q: Are there examples of class buddies?  
A: I had a grade 6 big buddy class last year, and found it to be so beneficial for the students so I decided to do this again this year. We have a grade 4 big buddy class which we see once a week. The activities vary from reading together, doing art projects, writing poetry, doing P.E. and playing games as a whole group. The grade 2’s really look up to them, and this gives the grade 4’s a chance to step up and take on a mature role. I have seen the positive interaction between them and know how important they have become to one another.
Q: What are the joys of your job, what you enjoy most when the students are learning?
A: My favourite part of the job is that everyday is different. I am fortunate enough to get to work with 23 students who make me laugh and surprise me with their abilities each and every day. When a student who is struggling with a concept finally gets it, and I see the spark in their eyes, I am convinced that I have the best job in the world!
~ Editor’s Note~ 
The community’s perceptions of the teacher affect their perceptions of the school and subsequently student morale, school resources, and support for the school… So, the role of the teacher in a positive school-parents-community-relationship is extremely important, since it is the teacher who is the backbone of the educational system; teachers serve as not only educators but also mentors and role models. Students are strongly influenced by teachers’ love and compassion, character, competence, and his or her moral commitment. My 7 year-old daughter goes to Kerrisdale Elementary, and I LOVE the fact that my daughter tried to follow her teacher in her behavior, dress, etiquette, conversational style, etc….The teacher has become her ideal!  Witnessing the daily progress of my duaghter both inside and outside school makes me think of the true meaning of education and how to support this noble profession……