Madison Wagner started as the Reading Intervention Teacher in Fort Severn First Nation in September 2017. Originally from Stayner, Ontario, Madison completed her Bachelor of Education at Nipissing University.
As the Reading Intervention teacher, I have the pleasure of working and connecting with a variety of students at Wasaho Cree Nation school, where I work. Connecting with my students and letting them know that I care about them and want them to succeed is my number one priority. By engaging them in meaningful activities based on their interests, I am able to further connect with them and increase their desire to learn.
In all honestly, after spending a lot of time and energy connecting with students in the fall, the exhaustion had started to set in when December rolled around. I was counting down the days until the holidays, not because I was looking forward to leaving the community that I had grown quite fond of, but because I was looking forward to spending time with family and friends back home. I was particularly looking forward to some much deserved relaxation. Little did I know, I would be spending a great deal of time thinking about my students and wondering how they were doing during my break.
While at home, I went out for a snowmobile ride, which made me think of my students towing each other on sleds behind their ski-doos for hours every night after school, yelling and waving to me as they zoomed by. When I went to the grocery store and saw kids running around, I thought of the smiling faces and warm greetings I would get when my students saw me shopping at the Northern Store. All of these memories inside and outside the classroom made me miss those goofy kids.
After the holidays and a good rest, I couldn’t help but be excited to see my students again the first Monday morning back at school. It was humbling to see the excitement that my students showed me. The grins, hugs, and sly smiles made my return that much brighter. While not every student was excited to be back at school, I made sure to let them know that I had missed them and was excited to see them again.
When it was time for my daily oral language lesson with the Kindergarten students, I made my way down to their classroom. I brought a group of students to the carpet to engage them in some pretend play and, to my surprise, was greeted with a big bear hug and a smooch on the cheek from one of my students. While this is not encouraged, it is also not condemned.
In my students’ eyes, I passed the first big test. My return showed them that I do love and care about them; that I do want to be here with them.
These past few months have been the most challenging and rewarding months of my life. I have grown both personally and professionally. I have learned so much from my students and I am excited to continue learning and growing alongside them. This unexpectedly warm welcome back after the holidays makes the experience even more worthwhile.