Laurie is a mama to three, wife of one, and kindergarten teacher to many. She thrives on creating a culture of kindness in the classroom, fostering community collaborations with those who believe in the power of connection and building relationships with learners and their families in unique ways. Laurie is forever grateful for not 1 but 2 appearances as a guest on The Ellen Show in Season 12, where she was recognized for her teaching and incorporating Ellen’s “be kind to one another” motto.
Q: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever heard in your classroom?
Laurie: My very favourite story to tell is this one: I got a dog over the weekend. I went into the classroom and explained to the kids that we had added a member to our family, and that no, it wasn’t a baby. They guessed a Grandma? A Grandpa? A teenager? Another husband?
So, then I said, “It has more than TWO legs” And one little guy, without missing a beat, said, “Holy shit you guys. She got an OCTOPUS!” It basically sums up exactly why I am a kindergarten teacher!
Q: What was writing a book with Dr. Jody Carrington like?
Laurie: You know when people say, “Dreams come true?” And you think, “But was it really a dream come true?” Well, yes it absolutely was. I remember seeing Jody on stage thinking how I would literally love to write with her. And even though she had already authored Kids These Days, she was so patient, kind and supportive of me being me and finding my own voice. It was incredibly touching and moving to be acknowledged by someone who had changed my life and kept me in the teaching game when I was ready to quit.
Q: What do you think educators need most right now?
Laurie: Acknowledgement. We are called “professionals,” but we are not treated that way. We work so hard in our classrooms each day but when it comes to making important decisions around education, best practice, curriculum or what changes need to be made to our unjust system, we are not asked and not treated as though our opinion is valuable or trustworthy. It hurts. We want to be seen and recognized for the humans we are. Teaching is only one part of our identity. Acknowledge that we are doing our best despite mindset, mood or mistakes and that our voices matter.
Q: What content are you currently consuming?
Books: A Man Called Ove, The Firekeeper’s Daughter, Self-Compassion for Educators
Shows: After Life on Netflix, 90-Day Fiancée, and Ellen everyday (obvs!)
Q: Can you tell us the best thing about Kindergarteners? And how about the worst?
Laurie: The best? They will buy into anything I am selling. They are just so eager to take part with their whole hearts. They are unapologetically and authentically themselves. I wish I could bottle that for all of us forever.
The worst? They have no qualms telling you if you have bad hair or smelly breath or if anything is wrong with your face. I had one say this week “I am sorry your eyes look the way they do. They must make you sad,” Like what the actual hell? They love to point out my mistakes and flaws. Lucky me.
Q: What is your biggest challenge as an educator?
Laurie: Remembering that I have enough, I do enough, and I am enough. Period.
Q: Have you always had a passion for teaching? Did you grow up dreaming about being a teacher?
Laurie: I did! I used to go ringing all the doorbells on our street asking the families if I could take their kids outside. I would take them all day and we would put on fashion shows and parades and shows and make our own school complete with snacks and field trips. I have always loved planning and providing opportunities for others. In Grade 6, a teacher I adored created a “Leadership Club” and it made me feel like I belonged. I couldn’t wait to start my own club in my own school someday. Another dream come true!
Q: Are you feeling any symptoms burnout? If so, what do you do about it?
Laurie: Yes! Medication and regular therapy have helped me to identify that I am definitely feeling burnout symptoms. Without those tools I have often burnt out before I even realized it. Apathy, panic and focusing on mortality are all warning signs I need to keep in check right now. My boundaries are in place, and I do not let anyone budge them right now. I don’t have the capacity for it! I believe that clear is kind so being able to identify those boundaries to others, saying no to anything I don’t have the passion/energy/will for, and spending as much time as I can creating vs. consuming with my own little family is key to saving myself right now.
Q: What’s the best teacher hack?
Laurie: First off, bold flair pens. Do it, teachers. They will rock your world.
- I have a Teachers These Days list on Spotify, with perfect songs to pump you up on the way to school!
- Find your favourite hashtag on Instagram and use it for the best ideas. For example, #iteachone, #iteachtwo, #iteachthree, etc. Your feed will instantly be filled with ideas from those age groups.
- This mantra: “My accomplishments are not your failures, and your accomplishments are not my failures.” This is an affirmation for me every single day.
Thank you, Laurie, for sharing your insight. You are amazing.