A Whole New World: The Change from Public to Private School Teacher

“Be willing to be a beginner every day.” Meister Eckhart

Two years ago I began my paid journey in education as an Occasional Teacher for the York Region District School Board. While this was certainly not the beginning of my journey as a teacher, there are many reasons that I’m pleased to be at The Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre this year. Smaller Class Sizes While there are some advantages to having a large group of students who are the same age in the same classroom, having 20-30 students in a class at once can be overwhelming for students and teachers. Learning is largely self-motivated and monitored in public schools, as there is truly little time for the teacher to work one-to-one with each student. It has been such a pleasure to work with small class sizes at the LLDC. Having a small student to teacher ratio allows for much more time for teachers to guide students in small group and individual settings. This close supervised guidance facilitates true growth in independent learning skills as it doesn’t leave the onus on the student to be successful independently the first time; rather giving them the opportunity to learn more fully with a teacher before branching out on their own. This additional guided time increases the chances that students will be successful and feel confident to move on to other learning challenges. Greater Flexibility in Planning and Instructional Program There can be no question that private schools like the LLDC have the ability to offer more versatile and flexible instructional programs. For instance, the in the Senior class, we have been taking advantage of riding the YRT to the public library on a bi-weekly basis. All classes plan impromptu field trips and walks to local areas, depending on the weather and special events circumstances. This flexibility allows students to be in touch with their surroundings and be active participants in their learning experience. As a result, student engagement is higher, which increases both academic and social program performance results. It’s also just a lot of fun! A Welcoming and Secure Learning Environment For both students and teachers, feeling secure at school must be a priority. Unfortunately this is not always the case in many public schools; often not without the sincere and dedicated efforts of teachers, parents and administration to create safe spaces. As with any bureaucracy, changes are slow and subject to long processes which makes quick and efficient response times to situations of need in schools harder and add to student stress. Having a small student population and school space allows for parents, teachers and administrators to work collaboratively at the LLDC in an extremely timely way to create a space that is welcoming, warm and secure for students and staff. Students are expected to do their best but because the emphasis is on individual learning goals, the pressure to compare to peers is removed, which lessens students’ academic stress. Truly, as anyone who has visited our beautiful facility can attest to, the LLDC is an oasis of calm, warmth and security in a sea of academic and social concern for many students. While private schools are not for everyone, looking at the differences between the LLDC and other public schools helps me to feel assured that I made the right choice in being here as an educator. I can’t wait to see how it grows as a space and institution in the coming years. By: Lily Pollard, Senior Teacher

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