Monday, 14 May 2018

My Mother's Influence on my Profession

At this point in my career, my practice is the product of many influences.

  • I have been guided by mentors, colleagues, administrators and students.
  • I am the sum of all my opportunities, from my early days on the supply list to my current role as an instructional coach.
  • I am shaped by my studies - from formal education to daily blasts of learning from my Twitter PLN (Professional Learning Network).

However, I have to give a nod to the influences that have been there for my entire life. Specifically, on the occasion of Mother's Day, my mum Doreen Hodgkinson (Sutcliffe).

My mom us responsible for so many things that shape me as an educator. I'd like to highlight just a couple.
  • From an early age, I was taking to the library regularly and she fostered my love of literature. She let me know that there was a world of wonder to be found in books and that it was up to me to uncover it. She read to me regularly, bringing the text to life with dramatic flare. She only stopped reading to me when I informed her that I preferred to read by myself - I sometimes wonder if this was something she viewed with relief, or sadness (probably a mix of both). When I embark on a read aloud (especially of a book I have read before) I remind myself of the need for panache - and I employ all the tricks of the trade - whether the text calls for a booming Scottish brogue or a meek and mousy whisper.
  • She took me (and still takes me) to the theatre. We attended everything from high school to amateur to top level professional productions. I was fortunate to see an eclectic mix - dramas, comedies, musicals and dance performances. I was introduced to "The Hobbit" as a play before I devoured it as a book. I learned about Canadian First Nation history by attending a performance of James Reaney's "Wacousta" at a time I was just old enough to understand it. I even intervened during a performance of "Pinocchio" when the titular character called to the audience for help. She is still a season ticket holder at the Grand Theatre - and she takes me to every performance. My love of theatre, as a performer, audience member and educator, can be traced directly to my earliest exposure.
  • She taught me about equality at a time when that was a message that I didn't always hear around me. It was the 1970's and racist or homophobic slurs were far more commonplace. However, my moral compass had already been well tuned by my mother's frequent statements about respect for all people. I wasn't perfect - I certainly said things that I now deeply regret. However, when I slipped, I knew in my heart that "my mother wouldn't agree" and that "this was not right". I eventually began to gravitate toward friends who felt like I did and helped me act like I should. She often said that "your friends should elevate you - and make you your best." I took this to heart and have lifelong friends who are kind, honest & generous.
  • She taught me that everyone deserves a second chance. She worked as the volunteer coordinator at the maximum security prison in London and at a number of group homes (mainly for young women). She approached every day with a positive attitude and the sincere belief that people could change - if given the chance and had a kind mentor to guide them. She even brought a former inmate to our home to spend Christmas with our family. A person who had no other positive options available to him. That decision has always stuck with me.
I  could go on, but I think those are the big four. Thanks mom, for helping me become a better person and for inspiring me to make a difference in the lives of others. Happy Mother's Day.

I'd love to hear how other's were inspired by their parents - I'll write about my dad next month.


  1. Wow! What a fabulous woman. I can only imagine how proud she is of you, Marc. She has raised a hard working, talented, insightful, caring and conscientious lifelong learner. And I’ve managed to see through that in the virtual world. Well written. It was quite enjoyable.

  2. Thank you so much. I'm flattered. She and many others have brought out the best in me.

  3. I love this! Looking back, I can definitely see your Mom's influence in your teaching.