Meeting Children at the Door

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Ryan Richards [BEd 2009] knows that every child who walks into his classroom comes with his or her own story. For many of Ryan’s “at risk” students, that story can include such issues as a destructive home life, bullying, or even trouble with the law.

“I’ve had students come into the classroom and they’re crying even before attendance has been taken or a book has been opened,” says Ryan. “The reality is many students need support before learning even happens. Sometimes an issue needs to be addressed before class.”

Ryan works with the Toronto District School Board as a coach for Model Schools for Inner Cities Teaching & Learning. He partners with lead teachers and administrators from 12 different schools to plan and facilitate learning communities.

One of Ryan’s grade 5 students was sure she hated math. Ryan used a combination of engaging learning games and a positive attitude to help the student see her relationship with math differently. Not only did her marks improve, but math is now one of her favourite subjects.

“I want students to feel good about being able to figure out something they didn’t know,” says Ryan. “Celebrating those small victories, giving her a high five and telling her to keep going – that impacts the way she sees herself as a math student.”

He supports students by using a model he learned at Tyndale. “A strategy Tyndale taught me is to meet children at the door,” says Ryan. “If you greet them and see there’s a problem, sometimes it just takes a quiet word before class. What students walk away with is that supportive relationship.”


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