It’s hard to have a bad day when everything starts with music—and even dancing. And that’s how every day begins in Jordan Smith’s classroom. Sometimes, the sounds (and accompanying images) are based on a unit the students are studying—for example, if the class is covering the biology and ecology of a swamp, the kids will come in to the sounds of croaking toads and chirping waterfowl, while wetland scenes play up on the Smart Board.
And the good times roll all day.
Bells have no place here, and the lessons flow naturally—unless they’re interrupted by an impromptu yoga session. Students help set the course of the school day, exploring topics they love—individually, in pairs, or small groups, it’s up to them.
“Have Fun, You’ll Learn More”
At the end of the day, they leave dancing, of course. “My educational philosophy is, ‘Have fun, you’ll learn more,’” says Smith, adding his second tenet—that his class will be the hardest working one in the school.
But Smith’s efforts aren’t restricted to the classroom. He organizes an annual, multi-day camping trip, runs the loom club and the movie club at lunch hour (when he’s not providing extra help for students), helping run the school’s Young Author’s Conference, Brentwood’s Terry Fox Run and other charitable efforts. He also initiated a clothing drive for a local shelter, and each year heads up the effort, from gathering the clothes to loading up the bus. And he helped found the Elk Island Public Schools Young Speakers Invitational, something that started with just three schools that has grown to a major event—it now involves 24 schools, has celebrity judges, and even had the premier of the province introduce the festivities.
“Aside from being an amazing teacher, Mr. Smith is a great guy. He built a relationship with each of his students, and he put in extra time to make our year as enjoyable as possible,” says former student Cara TK. “He always had a kind word to say, and knew how to make anyone laugh. We still keep in contact, but I still remember crying on the last day of grade five!”
Two Questions for Jordan Smith:
Canadian Family: What was your proudest teaching moment?
JS: Seeing my student receive the first place award at the district speech competition. She worked so hard and it paid off—she was the top speaker out of more than 1,500 Grade 6 students.
CF: If you could have any person, dead or alive, fictional or real, come in and speak with your class, who would that be? Why?
JS: I would have Louis Riel come in and talk to them. His passion for his purpose was remarkable, and I would love for the kids to have an opportunity to meet and hear from someone who gave everything he had, including his life, for what he believed to be fair and just.