Impart life


The most memorable person in my Education training was Dr. Selma Wassermann. Her warmth and passion for teaching influenced me tremendously. It was Selma who, when I was a shy, insecure young student, believed in me when I found it hard to believe in myself. Her emphasis on values education, individualized instruction, reflection and teaching for thinking became integral in my practice.

Dr. Selma Wassermann

My first teaching position in 1971 was with a class of 34 grade 3 students in northern BC. At the end of the year, the principal told me it was the most difficult class he had ever seen. That first Christmas, three students proudly brought a tree into our classroom; later, I was told they had cut it down from someone’s front yard! I remember watching a student do forward rolls down the hard wood floor and gasping as others leaped out of the window at recess. From my training in the Faculty of Education at SFU, I brought an intense desire to help each child know his or her own worth. I remember taking the time to write personal notes telling each child the gifts I saw in them.

Once, a professor told us that most teachers teach the way they were taught; I was determined not to do that. I strove to learn from others and to stay open to latest research on learning and child development. Dr. Wassermann’s books were a guiding inspiration. In 1976, while living in a log house my husband and I built, I took a Montessori training correspondence course from England. I used what I learned as I home schooled my own children and later when teaching on a First Nations reserve.

Once, when I was nervous about a particular teaching assignment, a teacher looked me in the eyes, and with her hand made a line from her heart outwardly. She said, “It is about the impartation of life from you to the child.” That was another defining moment. Years later, after returning to Vancouver, I taught grade 1/2/3 Montessori classes in a public school in Vancouver, retiring in 2013. Maria Montessori said that a teacher should be three things: a scientist, a servant and a saint. As a scientist, you observe what is needed, as a servant, you offer the prepared environment and as a saint, you love the child.

That is what I experienced in my training at SFU, what I practiced in my teaching and continue to follow in my life. As scientists, we observe and reflect and, hopefully, following our discoveries, change our beliefs and practices, this influences our offerings as servants, and love never fails.

That’s it! My reflections of the past 50 years. Stay humble, stay open and impart a life of love.

Tannis Fisher
PDP 1971, B.Ed. 1972