3 :58 p.m. The afternoon workshop on differentiated instruction has ended. I thank my audience for their attention and engagement, and add that I hope to see them again the next morning to talk about assessment. I turn off the projector to let it cool, and begin to gather up the small library of tantalizing professional resources I’ve laid out on a table.
My audience, however, nine French Immersion teachers from across the province, is in no hurry. They do not disperse. In fact, quite the opposite. They huddle together like long-lost relatives, exchange names and email addresses, and make plans for the evening. Their banter and excited chatter counterpoints the routine packing up, and I pause for a bit to watch them trail out of the room for a night on the town. In these young teachers, the profession is in good hands.
1. They understand the importance of relationships. They gravitate to each other, eager to build their professional network. During the workshop, they have already shared strategies for building rapport with their students and a sense of community in their classroom.
2. They have a sense of adventure. Only two are Saskatchewan born. Four have come from New Brunswick, two from Ontario, one from Quebec. All have come to work in French, all have arrived on their own, and all are very happy to be here. I sense that this propensity for risk-taking translates into openness to innovation in the classroom.
3. They are knowledgeable. Kudos to their professors and mentor teachers. They have a solid grounding in assessment research, and they are applying it in their classrooms.
4. They are are eager to learn, and consider various points of view. Their questions target thorny, controversial, issues. Even more important, however, they listen to the diverse comments their questions generate. No close-mindedness here, only a desire to honor research and to understand.
5. They are enthusiastic. I don’t sense any fatigue or discouragement, as I sometimes have in new teachers, even barely a month into the new school year. They love what they are doing, and they are grateful to have an opportunity to make a difference for their students.
6. They are authentic. They arrive on time, and monitor the breaks. They engage, and are attentive, careful to exemplify the behaviors they expect of students in their own classrooms.
I leave buoyed from my afternoon with these young teachers. For the profession in which I am so invested, the future sparkles.