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Celebrating the 26th Annual World Teacher’s Day with Zachary Anderson

October 5, 2020

Today, October 5, 2020 marks the 133rd show and counting of The DesignMakePlay Show, an educational program led by our Director of Engineering Zachary Anderson and brought to you by the team here at Zen Maker Lab. Anderson usually begins the second half of our show with a Maker Highlight, showcasing some of the work our students create in our lab, as well as an engineering tribute that exhibits historical outliers in the world of STEAM. Today however, he began the second half of our show with a tribute to World Teacher’s Day. Anderson speaks for all of us when he expresses both the appreciation and admiration he has for educators worldwide who persevere in the ongoing struggle of nurturing the next generation of professionals and problem solvers.

Celebrated annually on October 5 since 1994, World Teacher’s Day is a festivity where we pay tribute to the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This mandate benchmarks the rights and obligations of teachers on a global scale as well as the standards they must be able to meet as educators. To celebrate World Teachers' Day, Education International (EI) and UNESCO administers a campaign to promote a better understanding of the role teacher’s play in the development of our youth, and subsequently our society as a whole. These institutions partner with media organizations and other firms in the private sector as a means of achieving this purpose. Each year’s campaign encompasses a different theme. 2017’s theme was “Empowering Teachers; last year’s was geared towards “Engaging Teachers”. This year’s theme, to no one’s surprise is “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future".

A joint statement from members of UNESCO, The International Labour Organization, UNICEF, and Education International stated that throughout this crisis, teachers have exemplified leadership and innovation as they seek to ensure that #LearningNeverStops, and that no learner is left behind. Stephen Price, a fourth and fifth grade teacher and guest of ours this past August can be quoted saying that as an educator, he feels as though he has learned to type, and now somebody has moved around all the letters on the keyboard. Samantha Smirfitt, another teacher and guest of ours also alluded to the fact that the challenges this year’s return to school has presented endows her with feelings of both excitement and nervousness.

Around the world, teachers have worked individually and together to find solutions and create new learning environments for their students that allow education to advance. As educators here at Zen Maker Lab, we have had to be creative in order to do the same.

“Here in our maker lab we have actually been working on a facilitator's guide to assist teachers in teaching a variety of topics related to their curriculum across Canada”, Anderson told DesignMakePlay, “this is known as the DesignMakePlay Facilitators Guide”.

The DesignMakePlay Facilitators Guide is a free resource and something our team has worked tirelessly to create. Educators had a lot on their plate prior to the inconveniences this year has presented. According to the PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools, 86% of parents would like to see greater effort taken in consideration of attracting and retaining good teachers and 50% of teachers have considered vacating the profession. We have worked so tirelessly because this is how we do our part in finding new solutions and creating new learning environments for both teachers and students.

Available free for teachers, this guide contains over 100 pages of content accompanied with worksheets and videos related to a variety of STEAM and physical literacy based topics. Every lesson in this document ties into each Province's specific curriculum and learning outcomes. “We have learning curriculums from all across the world” stated Anderson, “ we've actually combed through all of Canada's curriculum; the Yukon, Northwest Territories, etc. --- we've combed through them all, and tailored this resource so that it covers and meets specific learning outcomes for every single one.

Teachers are responsible for fostering the next generation of professionals and problem solvers who will hopefully endeavour in making the world a better place. This designates them as arguably the most important members of our society. The teacher shortage is real, and could have major implications on the fate of our world. An uneducated population leads to one that cannot thrive because it does not have the intelligence or foresight to build and maintain. As a communications specialist for this institution, I spent a lot of time working in conjunction with our engineering and design team so we could fine tune this finished product. As we worked through it, I myself was able to imagine filling out these sheets and watching the instructional videos as a child. The way this program ties in the importance of physical education while simplifying complex STEAM based projects in a way that is fun is truly remarkable. In celebration of World Teacher’s Day, I could not be more proud of the work my team and I have exerted to create this amazing resource, and am even more excited to see how it will be utilized by teachers world-wide who are under appreciated in many regards.

Happy World Teacher's Day everyone!

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