Teacher says caring makes the difference

Eric McCarthy
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BLOOMFIELD -- Lori Gard wants to pass on her passion for writing to her kindergarten students.
“I have budding writers. I call them writers and they refer to themselves as writers,” the Bloomfield Elementary School teacher said during an interview in her classroom. 

“When we’re in this room, we know that we are readers, we’re writers and we’re friends.”

Love and caring are common themes in her classroom.

“For me the writing is about developing a relationship and a conversation,” Gard said.

And lately Gard has been having quite a conversation with her readership about a Huffington Post article she posted in December, “What Students Remember Most About Teachers.”

The set-up for the article was a conversation Gard had had with a teaching colleague, and how that colleague was stressed about lesson plans and all that had to be done.

Gard had counseled her colleague that it won’t be the lesson plans, the straight and neat rows of desks or the amazing décor that the students will remember. “But they will remember you,” Gard wrote, referring to teachers’ kindness, empathy, care and concern.

“You are that difference in their lives.”

The article only garnered a couple dozen views in December, but when it was put back up on the Huffington Post website in mid January it took off, resonating with teachers at all levels of the education system.

“I came home from work (Jan. 17) and I had 800 likes and I was over the top. I thought, ‘800 likes: that’s a lot of people who read my blog.’”

It was only getting started. By February 4 the article had received 260,586 “likes” on the Huffington Post site and “What Students Remember Most About Teachers” had been shared 55,290 times.

The P.E.I. Teachers Federation posted the article on their website. Universities had re-tweeted it to their followers. She received tweets from Thailand and New Zealand and from universities and schools across the states.

Teachers can develop those relationships with their students, and they can do it in unique ways Bloomfield Kindergarten teacher and Huffington Post blogger, Lori Gard

“I’m connected with many universities now and I’ve heard from professors saying they’re going to use it in their programming and their university curriculums,” said Gard, still marvelling at the interest her article has generated.

“It was K to lifelong learners; it was from one end of the spectrum to the other, and everybody identified with the fact caring is something we can all do for our students; it doesn’t matter how old they are or how young they are,” Gard said in summarizing responses she has received.

“Teachers can develop those relationships with their students, and they can do it in unique ways,” Gard offered. “I think it doesn’t matter what you teach; it doesn’t matter what Grade it is, teachers can care about students.”

Gard, who is working on her Masters with a focus on writing, believes writing can often serve as a conduit to those relationships. “A lot of writing that goes on at high school kind of reveals the inner thoughts of the student, and the teacher can then carry on a conversation or a dialogue,” she suggested. “It’s a springboard sometimes.”

Gard, who is a regular contributor to Huffington Post and other blogs, says she’s finding a niche right now in writing about her daily experiences as a teacher.

“As a writer, you want connection. We write for intrinsic reasons, but we also write for extrinsic reasons, too. I want to connect with people.”

 

Organizations: Huffington Post, P.E.I. Teachers Federation

Geographic location: Thailand, New Zealand

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