Tucked away in rural B.C., William Eaton has been quietly changing the world in his classroom for the past six years. A thinker, a leader and always the philosopher, Mr. Eaton is one of those teachers who lets students in on his thoughts and empowers them with a sense of pride and ownership in what they do.
Three years ago, Mr. Eaton made a move that remains symbolic of how he sees his role and how he wants his students to see him. He decided he’d prefer to be addressed as “learning facilitator”, rather than “teacher”. Teaching students to be leaders and to teach each other is the very simple philosophy that guides his practice.
Mr. Eaton’s student driven class website is exemplary. Not just a hub for teachers, students and parents, it serves as an information portal maintained by the students that teaches them responsibility and leadership. An empowering tool, it is updated daily by students who also weekly train and trade off their responsibilities to the next student. Check it out at: http://www.youlearn.ca/rm_24.
Always one to grasp on to a metaphor, Mr. Eaton inspired his students to create a 26 Bikes webpage to show students that learning math skills is like learning to ride a bike; it’s fun, and once you really get it, it won’t be forgotten. Each prescribed learning outcome is represented by a bike and is supported by student selected games and activities. Students have started to incorporate videos into the project and are learning and perfecting their teaching and video production skills.
Mr. Eaton’s students applied for and won a Healthy Schools grant from the school district and Ministry of Education to create a collaborative school-wide art project. The result was an 18 x 5 foot multi-panel mural that welcomes visitors as they enter the school. On another occasion they joined forces with another class and won $900 in a Grassroots grant for their Biogeoclimatic Zones website.
Mr. Eaton’s knowledge and opinions are highly regarded and often sought out. He was recently asked to sit at a Roundtable with the Premier’s Technology Council as a provincial educational leader.
“When I was introduced to Mr. Eaton’s class, I expected another year, another teacher, nothing out of the ordinary. (…) I had always liked school before, but in his class, I honestly can’t remember a time when my mind was not becoming more open and constantly expanding.” – Former student
“I think Mr. Eaton’s active role in his students’ learning inspires them not only to seek greatness, but to be great themselves. He is always telling them there is more to learn, and he learns with them.” – Parent
– Contributed by Judy Hsu, National Public Relations