Meet 2015 Teacher Awards Winner Amanda Wilson

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Amanda Wilson’s classroom looks a little different than most; the Grade 4/5 teacher shares the space with a teaching partner with a Grade 3/4 class of her own. “A typical day probably does not look like a typical teaching day for most people just because we’ve got double the kids, two teachers and three grades happening in there!” While the space can be divided by a large folding wall, they leave it open throughout the year, says Wilson. “We choose to run it like a team teaching situation with a 3/4/5 split.”

When the curriculum overlaps or allows, the teachers create activities amanda-2for groups of three with a student from each grade. It gives Grade 4s and 5s opportunities for leadership while the Grade 3s receive extra help and support from some of the older students. “It’s been a really awesome experience,” notes Wilson. Last year’s students were the first to experience the set up in the newly-built school and she says she’s looking forward to having a shared classroom again this year.

For Wilson, being a teacher comes down to more than just making sure her students grasp the curriculum. “I know the content that we’re teaching kids is important and obviously there’s a reason that’s what amanda-1 we’re expected to teach. But the teachers that I remember from elementary school — I don’t necessarily remember what math skills they taught me or what I learned in their science class — I remember the way they made me feel. I think it’s all about building relationships and trust and knowing what each individual student is about and what they’re interested in and what makes them tick.”

A traveller in her spare time (part of her summer was spent in New Zealand and the Cook Islands), she enjoys sharing her experiences and adventures with her students. “I think they enjoy hearing about it and seeing the pictures,” says Wilson who says it also gives kids a bit of a global perspective. But, if she inspires them, it’s definitely a two-way street. “I’m always amazed by how much they can do and how much they know,” she says. “They are only nine and 10 so sometimes you have to explain things differently or in a way that they’ll understand but I feel like they’re capable of doing just about anything that you ask them to do as long as you take the time to make sure they understand what your expectations are.”

Q&A WITH AMANDA WILSON »

  • Q: What do you love the most about your job?
    A: The students — they inspire me and make me laugh every single day. There is nothing more rewarding than helping them and watching them grow.
  • Q: What is your teaching philosophy/creed?
    A: I believe that children are simply adults-in-training, and should be treated as such. It is important to always assume competence and to set high expectations for them so that they can unleash their full potential. My goal is to be a guide for them and to create lifelong learners who have the skills to satisfy their own curiosity and learning needs.
  • Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learned from your students?
    A: It’s all about relationships! Every student can learn… maybe not in the same way or on the same day but, as a teacher, it is important to know your students as people first so that you can provide them with the guidance and tools to help them succeed as students.
  • Q: What was your proudest teaching moment?
    A: There are too many to choose from. I am proud of my students every single day. I love watching them learn, grow, and become respectful, responsible, resilient people.
  • Q: If you could have any person, dead or alive, fictional or real, come in and speak with your class, who would that be? Why?
    A: Albert Einstein. When he was a child, he had difficulty learning in a traditional way and didn’t speak until he was nine. He was labelled, called names and held back because people thought he was incapable. I think his story is one of true resilience and I would love for my students to hear and be inspired by his story firsthand.
  • Q: What tips do you have for parents on how they can help prepare their kids to get the most out of the school day?
    A: School is a full time job. They need time to be kids and exercise and play and have fun at home!
  • Q: Favourite pastime?
    A: Travelling.
  • Q: Favourite after-school snack?
    A: Peanut butter and rice cakes.
  • Q: If you win, how will you allocate the Teacher Awards prize money?
    A: I will put the money toward creating a maker space in our school for students to create, play and collaborate.
  • Q: Something you may not know about me?
    A: I have both Canadian and Irish citizenship because my grandma was born in Ireland.
  • Q: Who was your most memorable teacher when you were a student, and why?
    A: My most memorable teacher was Mr. Dave Weir. He was the Gateways teacher at my elementary school and going was always my favourite part of the week. Mr. Weir did an amazing job of catering his projects and activities to student interests, differentiating instruction and promoting discovery learning. He always believed that his students could take on any challenge and gave us the tools to succeed and to learn from our mistakes.


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Teacher Awards 2014 Teacher Awards 2013 Teacher Awards 2012 Teacher Awards 2011 Teacher Awards 2010 Teacher Awards 2009 Teacher Awards 2008 Teacher Awards 2007
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