Dear Mr. Ballantyne,
It's Mr. Ballantyne here. You made a big choice this year by deciding to become a teacher. After spending most of your working life as a journalist, I get why you're ready for a second career.
I know you're proud of the stories you reported on, but I also remember how disappointed you were when that work didn't always result in the changes you expected.
Staying neutral all those years was also a good way to hide your own creative voice. Before this year, when was the last time you wrote about yourself? Never, right? Right. This is a good thing.
This year, you're already discovering what kind of teacher you want to be, and what you're interested in teaching. Let's keep exploring who you are as a teacher, because, as you've noticed, it's reflecting discoveries of who you are as a person.
One of the main discoveries you've made is getting in touch with what kind of student you are. As an identified gifted student, you struggled in the public school system because of boredom and intellectual isolation.
Interestingly, you never considered yourself gifted until this year. When applying the theory in your everyday, it's been answering a lot of your long-lingering life questions, like, Why don't people see what I see? Why do people have difficulty understanding my ideas?
Let's continue to explore talent and giftedness in the classroom this year. Already, you're noticing students like yourself in your grade seven classroom; you see them sneaking in a book between assignments, staring around the classroom when an assignment doesn't challenge them enough. You've also been surprised by discovering talent in students whom you didn't immediately identify as having one. How can you get better at challenging and expanding your perceptions, to better identify and draw out hidden talents in all students?
In my early research, I am looking into Chinese and Indigenous philosophies that believe giftedness is innate in everyone and uncovered through learning and doing.
It's going to be a challenging year, especially since you notice there is a strong resistance to identifying giftedness in the Ontario school system (see the current debate in the Ontario-Carleton District School Board). It's hard to forget that on the first day of your community service learning, your teacher assistant said, "Remember, there is no such thing as a gifted student in this class."
Keep up the good fight, Rob, you know you're on the right track.
About Robert J. Ballantyne
Robert J.Ballantyne is a teacher-in-training at the University of Ottawa. In a former life, he was a journalist and producer/director at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked at the Toronto Star and freelanced at other publications.