by Dianne Conrod

Creative Commons license

I wish to take the opportunity provided by Quebec’s Teacher Appreciation Week (February 5 – 11, 2012), to salute the online teachers with whom I have the pleasure of working.  This year, LEARN provides synchronous online courses to twenty schools in five boards and a few private schools.  LEARN’s online teachers, Kerry Cule, Peggy Drolet, Audrey McGoldrick, Alessandra (Alex) Pasteris, Paul Rombough, and Andy Ross, are:

1 – Talented!  The above-mentioned individuals are very talented people who could be doing many other things but they choose to teach and their students are grateful!  They are experts in the subject areas they teach but have many talents and interests beyond these areas.  Ballroom dance, social media, sports, astronomy, website design, yoga, baking, and gardening are just some of the passions of these amazing teachers.

2 – Creative!  Problem solvers all, they tackle the challenges of working online with gusto.  They explore and push the limits of online tools.  They design innovative activities to engage students they can’t see.  Creativity and innovation are encouraged in their students, too.

3 – Enthusiastic about teaching and technology! These six wonderful teachers get very excited about online tools.  There are so many great web-based tools but when they find one that fits perfectly with how and what they teach, then I see some excited teachers.   Some of their favourite tools are blogs, VoiceThread, Explorelearning, GeoGebra, Google Docs and Prezi.

4 – Persistent!  I love their push to keep learning, discovering, and questioning, and helping students learn, discover and question for themselves.  They don’t give up… on kids, with tech issues, on what they believe in.  Some call it stubborn, but their persistence is what gets them and their students to the next level.

5-Inspiring!  They inspire me, their students and each other.  What amazing team players!  Every week at our staff meetings, there are at least two teachers who have something new and amazing to share about something they tried in class that they are excited about.  If a colleague has a question about something they need help with in class, others are anxious to share and support.

They also share to inspire the greater community through other work at LEARN. See #6.

6 – Hard working!  They work incredibly hard over long hours, as teachers do, to prepare for classes.  These teachers contribute beyond the teaching they do in the classroom.  Below are links to just a few samples of the fine work they do outside of the classroom:

Blog posts:  here, here, and here.

Some online teachers are also LEARN consultants responsible for maintaining the Social Sciences and Math and Sciences pages and Twitter feeds for  LEARN.

And others have participated in special projects featured on the LEARN site (you must be logged in to view some of these projects): Career development podcasts, Success Checker, Physics videos

7 – Student-focused!  It isn’t all about the teachers – the students take centre stage.  Whenever a teacher tells me about a creative activity in class, he/she always says, “The kids were amazing!”  They connect to, care for and develop mutual respect with these students even though they do not meet them face to face.  With smaller class sizes and the ease of communicating outside of class hours, there are many opportunities for online teachers to help students individually.

8 –Funny and positive!  Their enthusiasm and good humour is contagious!  I love sitting in on online classes.  I always learn something and I always laugh.  Classes are fun!  Students interact with their peers and teachers in a relaxed positive way.  Even on their bad days, LEARN’s teachers still talk about how much they love teaching online.

9 – Lifelong learners!  They love to learn. These online teachers are constantly growing and improving.  Whether in PD sessions, at conferences, through professional reading, in learning networks using social media, or in university courses, the teachers are always learning.  They learn from students and they learn from each other.

10 – Open!  Their hearts and minds are open to new ideas, students, criticism and differing opinions.  They are open to taking risks and making mistakes.  They model this openness to their classes so that the students are not afraid to try and fail either, learning from mistakes.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to Andy, Paul, Alex, Peggy, Audrey, Kerry and to all of the teachers in Quebec!  Thank you!

Please feel free to add comments of appreciation for the teachers you work with.

Dianne Conrod