It's all about the kids

Eric Walker, a Grade 4 teacher at Ken Sauer school, feels it’s important to recognize “the purpose of why we do the job we do. We are here to be all about the kids. No matter where we are at or what is thrown our way, being able to recognize we are here for the kids and want the best for kids.”

The last couple of years through the pandemic was tough with unique changes such as masks, virtual learning and the loss of connection to the parents.

“For a long time, even last year, we could connect with the kids without masks on for most of the year, but it was hard to connect with parents because it was by phone or virtual. Even the start of this year, it’s only been a month, but it already feels different.” The school is a community and when one aspect is removed, it become hard for teachers to fully do their jobs.

Walker believes transformation starts in the classroom by understanding where students come from, their baggage, what they are missing and what they bring. Transformation goes both ways though, as students change but so do teachers. Walker, who has taught everything from Grade 2-12 and one semester of college, continues to change and evolve, always looking for the best way to teach.

At the back of his classroom is a double door which opens to the other Grade 4 class, and they are starting to integrate again this year. Walker, who has a masters in history, teaches both classes social studies and his teaching partner, Allyson Hall, teaches both classes science.

Walker went into teaching after one of his professors mentioned he would be good at it. Thinking about his teachers growing up, “I remembered the different things we had, like my Grade 3 teacher had a piano in his room and we would learn Beatles songs in the middle of the day. Just having the opportunity to work with kids. I love kids, I have four of my own, just being able to spend every day with kids is awesome.”

Teachers aren’t always good at talking about themselves so it’s nice to have a day that recognizes the important work they do.

“We aren’t just a teacher, we are a counsellor, a guide, a friend, a support, sometimes a parent,” stated Walker. “We are everything to lots of these kids and noticing my colleagues, how early they are to school, how late they stay, how much they spend of their own money to buy things. Knowing how hard we work and how much we care is important to know.”

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News