Guest Post by Rachel Weinstock
I once heard at an education conference “There are not many jobs in the world that you get told “I love you”, yet as a teacher this is one of the many blessings of our job! Children are so authentic and share how they feel which is a true treasure in this world. There are days that I have things on my mind, things I am worried or stressed about. It never fails, to have a tiny child run up to you and say “I love you Miss Rainbow Fairy” to instantly change how I feel! And the truth is, I love all of them, especially the ones who are the hardest to love and test my patience the most. My key to this is in my heart of hearts, I truly have a “never give up” foundation. I take breaks at the times I need it but ultimately my goal is to connect, care and love my students.
I am conscious of, and take it really seriously, that I have a chance to make an impact every single day. There are so many ways to help students grow, support them, cheer them on and hold them accountable to be their best selves. One of my biggest goals is to make sure my students continually are evolving into the best human beings they can be with as much mindfulness, kindness and self love they can embody. This allows them to be a shining beacon of light in this world!
I get to hangout everyday with kids who are some of the most creative, playful and funniest people on this planet! Their creativity is absolutely mind-blowing! The more we as educators and adults engage them in this, the more they shine. One of the biggest gifts children offer the world is their creativity and divergent thinking. As I always say to my students, “your imagination is like a muscle and it is so important to use it, especially as you grow older”. This is the secret to creating a happy life filled with passion, joy and creativity.
4) Role Model.
I get to step into being a role model every single day. I hold this position with a huge commitment to reflect on how I can continue to be worthy of this role. This awareness inspires me to continually strive to be more compassionate, kind, empathetic, funny, creative, supportive and patient. Being a teacher helps me grow as a human being for I want to be the very best I can be for my students. I am very aware of the enormous responsibility we have to the future through the work we do with our children now. Thats one of the reasons I am so committed to teaching because I want to work towards a better world.
5) Create a Safe Environment.
When I close the door to the classroom I do my very best to facilitate a healthy, supportive, fun, accepting, playful, kind and creative space. I want being at school to be a magical experience, one children love and feel excited to be a part of. The reason I care so deeply about this is because as a child I often did not feel that way in school. Now as an educator my goal is to create an awesome environment for my students to thrive in and that only happens when people feel safe, heard and validated.
6) My Own Style.
As a teacher in an elementary school I get to be myself and dress creatively. My creative expression through the way I dress is very important to me. It is a form of freedom and art. If I am wearing clothes that don’t “feel” right I literally feel like I am in the wrong “skin”. To have a job where I can dress and be myself, even though I might not dress like the typical teacher, is so important to me and affects my happiness. My students also happen to be my biggest fans! They are always complimenting me on my clothes, feather earrings, crystal necklaces, hair style and funky boots. This is another way I am a role model, by expressing my own authenticity, even through clothing it gives them permission to be their authentic selves.
7) Larger Impact.
As a supply teacher, I get to move around to a variety of different schools and make a larger impact. Over the years I have had many students ask me if I could stay and be their teacher forever. It is such a sweet question and I always tell them that my goal is to help support and inspire as many kids as I can in this world. In order to do that I need to go to different schools and work with different children. As soon as I explain this, there is always this greater understanding and they usually say more kids need me as a teacher. I truly see the world as my classroom and all children are like my students regardless of if they are in my class.
8) Passionate Colleagues.
It is so incredible when I am blessed with the opportunities to work with colleagues who are passionate about education. It’s great to also see the variety of approaches to working with children and all the creativity, kindness and passion we can bring to this field. It is amazing when we get to team teach and really share the experience of teaching together, as most of the time as a teacher it is just you and your students. The team work, collaboration and support really elevates teaching practices and creates even more of a community!
9) Humour & Play.
I heard once how laughter is a deeply bonding and collective experience and I could not agree more. I love laughing and playing with the kids I work with and I do so whenever I have the chance. Everything can be turned into a game and something magical. I remember one time I was teaching a kindergarten class and I had a snack bag to open and share with all the kids. I decided to turn the entire experience into pretending every single thing I took out of the bag was literally the most amazing thing I had ever seen! The kids were cracking up. I had them on the edges of their seats as I pulled out the bag of crackers, and then the cheese and they were so excited to see what I was going to take out next. When I pulled out the tongs to serve the cheese they erupted into laughter and cheers. It was so healing and there was such a joy to share such a collective human experience. The ability to be able to bring in my sense of humour and play every single day and have it met with so much enthusiasm and joy is truly priceless!
10) Future Generations.
I love the teachings of thinking about seven generations in the future when making a decision. To me, each interaction with a child means something and the impact I make on a student could have lasting affects. If I can reach their heart and soul, connect with them so that they know they are cared for and supported, great things always unfold. With all my heart I want children to grow up respecting their own feelings and personal needs while also doing the same for those around. My goal is always for the classroom to be like a mini world, an example of how we as humans are able to live together, harmoniously and being supportive of one another to achieve greatness both personally and collectively. This is my prayer and wish!
This is why I love teaching!
Rachel Weinstock, B.F.A & B.E.d., is an elementary school teacher, professional artist, public speaker, workshop facilitator & blogger. She has been teaching both locally and globally for over fifteen years. Rachel is a member of the Toronto District School Board and has taught thousands of children. She is best known as “Miss Rainbow Fairy” because of her alternative approach to teaching. She is passionate about making the world a better place through education!