This year I made a very special friend. Theresa Russell teaches Computing to teenagers in Lancashire, England. We found each other on Twitter. I was looking to better understand the newest trends in #EdTech. She needed a female mentor for an international competition she had talked 5 students into joining. We soon formed a team of teachers, mentors, and more importantly, students: TechGirlsUK. With the energetic support of the inimitable Heidi Rhodes, the girls made it to London.
Instantly, my winter was made brighter by Theresa’s commitment to helping her students shine in the big world around them. Meeting over video-conferencing gave me the opportunity to see that Theresa was literally opening up the windows to a bright new day for her girls. They were waking up to hope, possibility, and began to smile more often.
Although we didn’t win the initial competition for which we partnered, TechGirlsUK is here to stay. The students are becoming teachers, learning to present, inspire and mentor others. Even boys are joining in the fun, helping grow the #TechGirlsUK brand.
The sun never sets on Theresa’s empire. Her computer lab is the brightest patch in northern England.
I asked Theresa a few questions, to find out what inspires her.
Who were your favorite teachers?
“My most favourite teacher in the world was Mr Scurrah, my Physics teacher.”
Who are your favorite students?
“My favourite students are willing to have a go. They are keen to learn, and also try to solve the problem before relying on me for the answer. I expect students to be respectful towards me and to each other. I have lots of these students – I am lucky to have the opportunity to be involved in their lives.”
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
“The impact of your time in their lives. You do not realise your impact until you see students you taught years ago and they are keen to tell you how they are getting on – how successful they are. During my teacher training (over 4 years ago) I taught a group of students for only 6 weeks (1 day a week). One day, I went to meet my 17 year old sister from work and she said she had a message for me. A girl who worked there had seen me and wanted me to know something (she had been taught by me during my training). She wanted me to know that she had sorted herself out and was back on the right path with her life, and when I had taught her she was not at her best. (She had a bit of an attitude.) She did not want me to have a bad impression of her and what that tells me is – ‘every moment, every statement, every look from a teacher has a massive impact on that child’. Be careful what you say … it has impact which can last a lifetime. I love teaching ”
Who better to spread sunshine than the sun itself? Be like Theresa. Be the sun in the lives of your students.