The most difficult, the most unforgettable

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Of all the stories about unforgettable students that I heard from the faculty associates in my first semester of the Professinal Development Program, it is K’s story that I remember to this day.

K told an amazing story about being genuine, getting to really know your students, and making a difference in a child’s life. When she was teaching late Immersion, K’s class accepted a student that had been previously expelled from several schools. K told us it was the most challenging year she ever had as a teacher. She used absolutely every trick she knew in order to make it work for herself, her new student, and for the rest of the class. It was also the most rewarding year because she learned a lot about herself as a teacher. I remember wishing to never have such a student in my class. I just didn’t think that I would be up for the challenge.

After graduating, I worked as a Teacher Teaching On Call (TTOC), and a high school science, math, and French teacher in the Yukon for two years. I had a Grade 10, 11, 12 class with eight students in it. Most of their work was self-guided, so I found myself acting as more of a tutor than a teacher.

In 2012, I came back to B.C. and got what I think of as my first real teaching experience. I was both excited and nervous for my Grade 1/2 French Immersion class: excited to finally have the grade level and subject I had always wished for, and nervous about getting my first ‘typical’ class. I had 23 students, two of which had individualized education programs (IEP). One because of his severe behavior problems and the other because of his newly diagnosed diabetes. I also had a student who suffered from severe anxiety because she had almost lost her father to illness the year before.

How was I going to handle all of this? I won’t lie – it was the worst year of my teaching career! And it was also the best! I learned so much about myself, about being a teacher, and about children that year. Whenever I was having a particularly challenging day, I would remember K’s story. There were so many similarities between her story and my situation.

I eventually figured out how to deal with my behaviour student by taking a page out of K’s book. I learned to see past E’s behaviour and got to know the kind-hearted, smart boy trying to overcome many challenges. Once he felt I truly cared about him, things got easier. We learned to respect each other’s boundaries and ended up having a great year—challenging yes, but great nonetheless. I can now say that I no longer fear the ‘unforgettable’ students. 

Thank you, K, for helping me see the potential in my most difficult student. And thank you, E, for all you taught me—you are that one student I will remember for my entire career.

Kim Vogler
B.Sc. 2008, PDP 2009, B.Ed. 2009

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