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Even Teachers Need Help

by Aviva Dunsiger

When I was in school, I remember thinking that teachers knew everything. After becoming a teacher, I thought that it was also my job to know everything. It was really just in the past couple of years that I realized it was okay to admit that I don’t know it all and that I need help.

 At the beginning of next term, I need to teach geometry in math. I’m petrified. As I’ve shared before on my professional blog, I have a very significant non-verbal learning disability. Over the years, I’ve learned ways to cope, but I’m really aware of my weaknesses, and I don’t want these weaknesses to impact on my students.

With this in mind, I decided to talk to my school’s Math Facilitator, and ask for help. He’s been wonderful! He sat down with me for 40 minutes today to go through the geometry unit: not just helping me figure out an order for teaching it, but also helping me understand it. There were lots of concepts that I struggled with and many times that I didn’t understand what he was saying, but I asked questions, and he slowly walked me through the process. He re-taught when necessary. He also helped me see the value in what I contributed, even when some of my contributions were incorrect. He made me feel smart, and he made me realize that I can teach this unit, even when I was convinced that I couldn’t.

Our planning session today really had me reflecting on teaching and learning. As teachers, we need to set high expectations for all of our students. We need to support our students to make sure that they meet these expectations. This often means reviewing concepts taught in class, and teaching the same concepts in different ways to different students. If this is what our students need, shouldn’t it be okay that this is also what we need?

How do you address your own needs in the classroom? What resources are available to support you?


Aviva Dunsiger taught Junior Kindergarten to Grade 2 for 11 years before moving to Grade 6 this year. She’s passionate about using technology in the classroom to support student learning, and she’s presented on this topic numerous times both online and offline.

She enjoys maintaining her blog, Living Avivaloca: My Many Musings on Life and Learning. Aviva’s reflective writing about her professional practice inspires communication between educators, administrators and parents.



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  • http://www.weinspirefutures.com Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca)

    Thanks for the comment, Neil! You make a very important point about just how much we can learn from our students. Your question really intrigued me, especially this week, when I blogged on my professional blog about a very similar topic. The students have actually been teaching me about how to use multiple tools and programs in the classroom to help them learn. They’ve done some pretty incredible things with programs that I never really considered for serious classroom use. It’s amazing how much students can surprise us!


  • neil

    Hi Aviva. What a great moment to experience as a lifelong learner! I think that it is so very important to appear fallible and honest to our students. We don’t (as teachers) have all the answers. In fact, I don’t think we could be effective teachers/facilitators if we did. When we are perceived as people who share a common interest in learning, we can capitalize on our ambition and desire to become more well-rounded and informed educators. I ask my students their interests in hopes to connecting with them as individuals. I ask questions of my students when I hear a term I don’t recognize from the intermediate vocab. Even when we think we are knowledgeable on the content and material we teach, there is always room to grow when it comes to our audience – the students – and how they are best engaged, motivated and taught.

    How do you rely on your students to keep you “current” and “informed?”