Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Plenary Talk by Vicky Loras - report

The Human Touch

In her plenary, Vicky touched us all.

Starting off with her personal story, about how a colleague – not just anyone but an international figure who, however, took the time and interest to advise another  colleague – virtually changed her whole perspective in life and helped her become who she is today by simply communicating with her, advising her and offering her ideas. It is this, she pointed out, that makes us teachers a special community who support each other, encourage, mentor, share and make this a better world for all, this human touch that unites us, wherever we are and whatever our teaching situation, from novice to university professor.

She then moved on to reminding us of how many souls we touch every single day of our teaching careers. All those children, ‘our kids’, as she rightly put it, that we teach. They quite often spend more time at school than at home and we become their parents, confidants, mentors, carers and they trust us with their secrets, their anxieties. Our kids that we watch grow and grow up and we grow fond of, that inspire us and are inspired by us, their teachers. It is they that feel comfortable at school even after their lessons are over, that just pop in on their way to their friends, just to say hello, they that are our treasures.

Vicky then took us on a journey to meet some colleagues who really fired us up. Starting from home, with two teachers who tirelessly work for their children, two passionate colleagues who, with whatever means they can, share everything with  other colleagues round the world, and their respective pupils, children from Taiwan and their teacher communicating with children from Greece, children from Argentina sharing projects with  children from Greece. Then a colleague from Turkey who has 55 little souls in his classroom and has the passion to be with them daily, influencing, as he put it, not every one every day, but at least some everyday. Particularly inspiring was the teacher from India who swims across a river daily to get to his classroom sooner rather than later, one who finds the time to teach his children to swim and to care for the environment. And the novice teacher from the U.S. who worked three jobs to buy books for her kids in a school at Long Beach, a crime infested community, and formally gave them the books they were denied by the management because they were  ‘underachievers’.

The Human Touch, then. We all interact with all, and in our wonderful global village we all influence and are influenced. And how easy today to get this touch. Social networks, blogs, journals, conferences, webinars or just the plain old snail mail. All it takes is not to isolate ourselves.

Thank you, Vicky!

By George Raptopoulos

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