Day 14: Catherine Tenhage, Special Needs ERF (Massey St. P.S)


I am Catherine Tenhage, a Special Needs ERF at Massey St. P.S.; and a life long learner! I learned today that the dynamics of our “teaching teams” are not so very different from the
dynamics of our students and classrooms.

Our start to the new year of learning has been insightful, challenging and full of the usually
beginning classroom jitters. We have began with a gusto, looking to make good first
impressions. Our get to know each other games, and activities have quickly revealed a broad
range of personality, emotions, learning strengths and weaknesses. Not only in our students;
also in us as staff. I saw that we are so very much just “bigger” students. This hit me particularly
during our new principal’s “starter” activity at our first staff meeting. Thanks, Kathy!

We have had a large turn over of staff this year, and the activity involved standing in a large
circle in the gym; having to catch a ball that was thrown to us; introduce ourself, then say the
name of the person who had thrown us the ball. Some I knew, others I didn’t. Curiously, you
would think that a group of educators would have no issues with this activity; so similar to those
ice-­breakers we had used in our classrooms with our new and some returning students. But I
felt the same range of emotions mirrored in myself and in our group that our students had
displayed this past week. Laughter, some protesting, some boisterousness, some being asked
to speak up, some needing the directions repeated, some take chargers, and some wild ball
throwing but ultimately we got to know each other a little bit better! Suddenly we were the
students and I saw the classroom world through their eyes. If I as an adult educator suddenly felt intimidated, how much more so do our small students!

I left the activity determined to not loose that feeling but to take it with me and keep my eyes
and heart wide open to learning first from our students. Education will naturally follow when I truly”hear” their voice and they “hear” me. I’m so excited for that to happen this year :)!


One thought on “Day 14: Catherine Tenhage, Special Needs ERF (Massey St. P.S)

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