Celebrating Excellence in Education in Collingwood

Students and staff celebrated today with recipient of Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence

A salute this morning to Nottawa Elementary School Grade 3 teacher Pareen Gill – one of 35 educators from across Canada to receive a 2019 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

“Ms. Gill understands that when students feel safe and cared for, their sense of worthiness and belonging grows and, with it, their sense that they can work with others, in their homes, schools and wider community to ensure that everyone is treated equally and respectfully.”

– parent

from federal government website

One of Pareen Gill’s first lessons with her young learners is about how various parts of the brain work to support learning. She then encourages the children to develop a growth mindset—switching from a lack of thought to positivity—something they remember long after they leave her class.

Teaching approach

For Pareen, character matters as much as academics. She focuses on bringing out the personal—with emphasis on the person—best in each student, profiling character strengths and boosting areas for improvement by asking students to identify where they can continue to grow.

In the classroom

  • Integrates various media into class to make learning personal and tangible: young students performed at the school’s poetry café, using poetic words to describe the best parts of themselves, reciting poetry they had written and performing with drums and other instruments.
  • Excels at meaningfully including all students: for example, set up an Independent Education Plan with realistic attainable benchmarks for a struggling boy, secured a personal laptop and learned about apps to support his learning; his marks soared and his confidence is now booming.
  • Sets up students as leaders in parent-teacher interviews: they walk parents through their work and review their report cards, commenting on the areas in which they excelled and those in which they could improve, showing that they had consolidated their learning and can explain what they know.
  • Brings board focus on wellness to the classroom in tangible ways: brain gym sees a student lead the class in a grounding exercise to help them refocus their brains after recess; mindfulness activities and tools help students self-regulate and focus.

Outstanding achievements

  • Publishes weekly blog: content includes acknowledgements for students who applied the curriculum at home and brought this work in to show their peers.
  • Leads school’s Empathy Spirit Assembly with unique content each year reinforcing key messages about what empathy means to students through discussions, songs and even sign language.
  • Students succeed in provincial, board and in-class assessments due to her ability to engage students through meaningful learning and being prepared for what to expect; supports students with clear, calm instructions, encouragement and perspective that “it is just a test.”