Great Teaching: Lynn Wilkins, OCT

Great Teaching: Lynn Wilkins, OCT

November 26, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


If I can gain that trust
for those 10 months and have this experience with them
where we just have this fun journey and we fail along the way and it’s messy
but we’re having a good time, then when they leave they’ll believe a little more
in themselves. They’ll be a little more resilient. They’ll take some risks and
they’ll have confidence in their abilities. I grew up as an athlete,
playing every team sport that I could play in school, and so I played varsity soccer
for my University of Toronto career. In my last year of playing,
I suffered multiple concussions. I ended up having
an acquired brain injury. I knew that I could be very successful
prior to the head injury — then I sustained the head injury and
I struggled with whether or not I can continue to be successful. So, it was a journey for me
to learn what I needed. When I had the structures in place
that supported me, that helped me in my areas of need,
that allowed me to be successful and utilize my strength, then I could achieve
a lot in school. Every year I’m given
30-plus new students and they all come in
with their different needs and different experiences. It puts me in a unique position to
understand that everybody brings a different set of needs
to the classroom. I love the fact that she looks at
every single kid in her classroom and she sees them for who they are, and all of those students who
don’t fit this specific mould, she actually zones in on those kids.
She connects so well to them. She brings out all of the things
that they may have felt, Maybe almost even
insecure about in the past, and she embraces them. She uses them almost as an exemplar
to the other kids in the class. If you have a model
in your classroom where students are in a space
where failure is OK, where they know “I can mess up. This can go wrong
and that’s OK because somehow we got to where we are and
we had a lot of fun doing it.” When you’re doing something
like the “egg lander,” you’re not just
building the egg lander. When you’re doing something
like the rocket you’re not just
building the rocket. There are so many components and
facets to the project that a student with any interest can
find something that they like. If you have a group of four to five students and there are four or five different tasks, each child can slide into
their interest naturally. Once they have that they are
able to follow their interest and then they contribute to the
larger group’s success, so each child has had a part
in that final compilation. Lynn is uber calm,
which I think you have to be as an intermediate teacher. She makes the learning fun,
she brings it to life for the students, and she’s super passionate
about her subject areas — but, in fact, everything.
That’s really important. That’s an amazing trait to have and that’s what makes her
an excellent teacher. I just love that atmosphere where we
are working together toward something. Whether that is toward
this science project or working together toward
this team I am coaching. For that small window,
if I had helped them a little bit, that means I’ve done my job,
and I’ve been a part of their story.