A Message from Margaret Boersma
We all have defining moments in our lifetimes and they shape who we are and what we do with our lives. I will share a few of my defining moments to inspire you to think of your own. I believe we are here to make a difference; however, it can be challenging to discover our purpose and where we should focus our energy. They say hindsight is 20/20 but in the present and looking into our future, things can be very unclear.
I am the oldest child of Dutch immigrants. Learning English as a second language was not considered novel, but weird, in the area where I grew up.
At 11 years old, I am on the back doorstep and I hear my Mom talking on the phone exasperated, “She just can’t learn!”
What I hear is, “I am stupid. Life will always be hard!”
I remember all the times Mom would help me with homework. It was often so frustrating! Spelling, Math and Reading comprehension! Aaahh!
In grade 10 my marks really drop. It is my first year in high school and I am in survival mode.
Mom says, “I talked to the guidance counsellor and she highly recommends you go to the general stream next year.”
In a way I feel relieved but I wonder if this track is cutting off future opportunities. I ask, “Can I go back to academics if it doesn’t work for me?”
“That is never done. Once you are in general, it is too hard to go back to academics.”
I try it in the general stream but don’t see myself as one of “them”. I feel like I don’t belong.
I make a plan. I work hard all year so I can ask to move back to academics for the last year in high school…something that is never done.
I am in my last year of high school, back in the academic stream. As always, I walk past the elementary school. Only this time I hear children singing.
I remember the lightness and fun I always had singing with my sisters in the back seat of the car. I remember dancing to the music of Mary Poppins.
I think, “If I were a teacher, my students would learn through singing, dancing, acting and playing games.”
“What should I really DO with my life?” I wonder.
Change school. Change school! Change school!!!
I will make learning fun!
The next few years, I excel at teacher’s college and at my practicums. I love children and I love teaching them about life. I love those “aha!” moments when kids really get something for the first time.
I realize I am an artist as well. I teach using the arts all the time as it gets to a heart level. The insights children get are profound!
As an artist, I love coming up with new ideas, performing and communicating deep issues through mime and creative dance.
I love people. I love walking alongside them and supporting them emotionally.
Now I am still passionate about changing the way things are taught at school. And my passion has expanded. After teaching for many decades, I am making a difference at the school and board/district level. Working as a consultant, speaker and teacher trainer, I work both at home and abroad.
Teaching social and emotional learning inside a school curriculum or inside a company’s goals radically improves the entire mission of an organization. Using a unique methodology involving the entire brain, allows for engagement and transfer of skills. My gigantic goal is to transform the school system so affective skills are taught inside a robust curriculum. The result is students and teachers thrive. That is my purpose.
I imagine a better society when all children and adults have a mature development of essential skills such as collaboration, creativity, innovation and problem-solving. This includes social and emotional learning such as knowing how to de-escalate a conflict and bring down one’s own stress level and that of another.
I never would have guessed this path when I was struggling in school as a child. But looking back, I was not served by the school system in which I was raised and I am still working to transform it now.
What is your path? What is your purpose in life? How can I support you in making your difference?