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  Weekly Feature: (June 22, 2003)


Learning at the ALC
Brad's Weekly Feature



His graduation cap at a jaunty angle, George beams at the gathering, and says, “You need to learn. . . .” For George, who had studied at the graduate level already in his life, grade 12 graduation in Canada was the fulfillment of years of diligent study. The Pearson ALC is a unique place where all of us, teachers and students alike, work together to help fulfill our common goals.

People’s varied personalities, quirks, individual strengths, make my day, not just the teachers, but also our students, in all their variety. As adults, we share a lifeboat together, each dependent on the other. Students might need repeated support to know that indeed they have found the right answer (or, sometimes, that answer keys can be wrong). A teacher may need to verify a curious grammar rule. If one of us has a bad day, then so do I; if something clicks, if it all works one day, I share that too.

We often conference at the ALC, making quick decisions around the teachers’ desk. Teachers are part of a team and strategy, as it is in sport, makes days go more smoothly, makes it easier to face any new challenge that comes along. Students, too, meet minds and give the day a shape, a new edge, and learn something new. One shows the other an answer, a way to solve a tricky problem, and another mystery is illuminated, another darkness gone.

And we laugh. Days are hard to get through, sometimes, but are made light by our laughter. During classes we work together in groups and the blend of cultures and individual experiences often leads to the humour of strange, new situations. A stranger passing by our staff meetings might also be excused for thinking that a party was going on in the classroom and not the serious discussions needed to ensure a smoothly functioning centre!

At the ALC, no teacher is an island of knowledge in a sea of students, no teacher has every answer; instead, teachers and their students work together to find ways to a common goal. Teaching in a learning centre is like no other teaching I have ever known. At one moment, a student may be working on basic grammar and vocabulary; at the next, a student may need information on a difficult question in Mathematics 12. No one teacher knows everything, but knows where to find out, and how, and thus demonstrates an eagerness for learning to all the students around them.


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