Enjoy the Adventure that “Yes” Can Bring: an Interview with Sarah Easterbrook

It’s such a pleasure to introduce Sarah Easterbrook in Toronto.  I’d say something more about her, except that her words on teaching and children say it all.  We are so lucky to have the commitment and enthusiasm of wonderful teachers – it’s an honour to shine the light on them this week at 4Mothers.

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What was your proudest moment as a teacher?

My proudest moments are when I have been working with a child on a concept, or an idea that they have found really difficult ~ and then they have that ‘lightbulb’ moment.  That feeling always gives me a buzz, and I’m on cloud nine for the rest of the day.  It can be something as simple as a child recognizing the first letter of their name for the first time, or a child using their words to ask to play with a toy rather than snatching it.

What would you like parents to know (but are too polite to tell them)?

I think I would tell parents anything ~ but only if they asked!

One thing I think we all do, and I constantly challenge myself as parent on this, is to ask “why am I saying ‘no’”?  It can be something as simple as letting the children explore mixing sand and water, to mixing up the different colors of play dough, and now that my children are older, to when they ask to play an online game.

Now I think about why I am saying ‘no’, and try to say ‘yes’ a whole lot more.  I think about what is the worst  thing that can happen if I say ‘yes’ ~ and most of them time, if the worst happens, it may not be a bad thing.

So I would like parents to say ‘yes’ more often and enjoy the adventure that a ‘yes’ can bring.

What has been one of your biggest challenges as a teacher?

Making sure every day is different for the children, and that I don’t give everything at the beginning of the week and have nothing left for the children in my class on Friday.  Pacing myself is something I find really hard, because I want to give 110% to everything, and I can’t all the time.

Who is one of your mentors?

That’s a hard one.  I take inspiration from lots of blogs on the Internet, people coming up with amazing ideas that I can spring board off to adapt for the children I work with.  Examples would be Teach Preschool, The Crafty Crow, Pink and Green Mama, and The Artful Parent.

There is also a wonderful educator called Ken Robinson – I love his ideas and thoughts.  He believes that every child is unique, and that too often education emphasizes academic attainment over creativity.  Creativity is what we should nourish in every child.

I enjoy this cartoon that draws along one of Ken Robinson’s speeches:

I often recommend this talk Ken Robinson gave at a Ted Talk in 2006, about how we need to create an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.  A little irreverent in places – but he makes his points really well with humor.

What do your students teach you?

Lots!  The main one is how they take something I have set up, and play with it in many unexpected ways I haven’t thought of.  I love how the children turn my ideas upside down and come up with something much better.

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