I feel the most engaged and excited about my education when I am in the field putting what I have learned into practice. That is what I was able to experience this semester along with uncovering some crucial conversation around what is expected of me as an educator along with some controversial topics and situations I may encounter. Engaging in uncomfortable conversations and challenging dominant discourses around education is crucial, because that will be the reality when I go out into the field as a certified teacher. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to engage in some of these conversations in ECS 311, and I have learned some very valuable information from which I will apply to my career.
Some key elements I am taking away from this semester are the importance of the TRC, putting words to actions, and the fact that engagement is the key to classroom management which stems from relationships (being the most important). If I am to teach from an anti-oppressive perspective, I believe I need to be proactive in my involvement with treaty education as well as be aware of the many oppressed voices that are all around me. Students come from diverse backgrounds, and I believe it is my job to determine what these backgrounds are in order to adjust my instruction and role accordingly.
In addition, there were many learning experiences I gained from my pre-internship. I knew adaptations were inevitable, yet I never experienced it until this semester. Teaching is hard but rewarding work, and there were days when I went home and needed to go for a long run because I thought I failed, but also, there were days when I went home with the biggest smile on face with such reassurance of my career choice. It was the balance that challenged me and the acceptance of criticism that made me grow through this experience. Changing and adapting lessons was very much the most challenging aspect for me, but I would argue that I would not change the amount of preparation I did before hand because it definitely was not wasted. I rarely followed my unit plan, but it was very useful to have access to the ideas, resources, and assessments that it entailed. For the fall, I plan to have an even more detailed unit plan even though I know I will be changing it everyday!
Creating and maintaining the relationships I gained with my students as well as my coop benefited me greatly. Lessons became more comfortable, I was able to be more honest with myself in terms of pedagogically practises, and I become more confident in my own day to day teaching. I was thrilled on Sunday evenings to get to see my students the next day because as relationships grew, I was able to enjoy and step out of my comfort zone during my time in the classroom even more. Leaving was very difficult, and I am so overwhelming grateful to have had the class I had. Next step, internship!
Throughout my midterm conversation, many insightful topics, discoveries, and reflection occurred. I came prepared to discuss how I see myself as challenge to implementing Treaty Education and how I see others as challenges as well. The goal, for me, is turning ignorance to awareness and acceptance. I see this being done through actions, and these actions take place in the form of doing something as simple as reading the TRC and as complex as actually putting thoughts and words to action. Participating in reconciliation requires actions, and that was the most important thing I took away from my conversation with Mike. He gave me some great insights on how to put these words to action by emphasizing the importance of creating relationships through getting involved in the Indigenous community around me. So, in order to “put my money where my mouth is,” that following day, I spent my Friday evening visiting with Jack Saddleback and Jasmine K as we attended a Feast and Pipe Ceremony.
I want to avoid the idea that I did this just to say I did. We become involved in our communities for a variety of reasons. Some being because of genuine interest, compassion to help others, to make ourselves feel good about something, or to grow in areas of life that require relationship building. I want to be clear that I genuinely believe that in order to teach Treaty Education, I need to adopt a lifestyle, not just facts and timelines. In order to do this, interacting with First Nations communities and creating relationships will allow me to acknowledge the voices and teach from first hand experience what I have seen and what opportunities are out there for students to learn from.
I remember sitting there with Jasmine at the Feast and thinking, these people have no idea who I am, and they are serving me food they have prepared and blessed. They were serving me. Something about that made me feel instantly humble. I was accepted and welcomed in their ceremony, and it made me realize how important it is to establish these types of mutually accepting relationships. As I progress to read the TRC, I know there are more ways to bring this is my classroom community, and that I need the Indigenous voices because I know mine is not enough. Mike and I talked in our conversation that I need to acknowledge my place in being a Treaty Person and what that means to me, but I also think it is so crucial to hear the voices of those who are oppressed because until we know how they feel, we cannot begin to embark on an emotional empathic journey of our own.
- What will it take for you to feel confident in meeting the treaty education mandate?
- What barriers to teaching First Nations, Métis and Inuit content and perspectives do you identify as being significant?
- In what ways are you a barrier to this work and incorporating this content?
- Given the challenges that we have discussed in class, what will you do to prepare yourself to do this work?
My initial response:
I think the main thing that it will take for me to feel confident in meeting the treaty education mandate would be to know where the Indigenous voices are in my community. I will need to know who to contact and reach out to in order to feel comfortable in teaching the Indigenous ways of knowing when that arises through treaty education. In addition, I know I will need these remaining 10 months of my education to thoroughly read through the Treaty Education curriculum and TRC, as well as put effective strategies into practise within the internship portion of my educational journey.
In response to the second question, I was going to say, because I am not FMI person, but then I corrected myself. I am a treaty person, and I believe it is my obligation to expose students to the reality of Canada’s past and the implications for the future. So I guess the biggest barrier would be that not everyone shares this ideology or has seen and heard what I have seen and heard through my education. I know I will not be able to do this on my own, and that lack of support will most definitely be a challenge.
I am a barrier because of my lack of experience and practical use of all that I have learned theoretically. Furthermore, I’m a barrier because of my whiteness, privilege, my internal racism, and the system I identify with. As Mike says, “the air we breathe” has the power to reinforce this oppression and I struggle with the reality of facing how and why I think and I am able to be who I am. I am going to prepare myself to do this work by establishing relationships and putting myself out there. I want to keep an open mind and act out on my beliefs on equal and equitable education. As I read the TRC I can definitely see the opportunities for learning and I plan to use this as a solid template for teaching and learning experiences.
Discussing and dissecting the importance indicators has really helped me in understanding how to create a lesson. From here, I now understand what a unit could look like, and how big ideas are found in small ideas. Focusing on blooms taxonomy also really helps in developing lessons. As Jessica, Laura, Payton, and I started doing this assignment, we wanted to move beyond having students explain concepts having to do with Canadian events and multiculturalism. So, we created the modified indicator as analyzing effects of colonization and assimilation of the Canadian government on First Nations and Metis to demonstrate trends in Canada’s current demographics.
After looking at what this lesson would entail, we realized we create a research and presentation type outcome. This required prior knowledge of historical events that resulted from colonization and assimilation and the current implications these have. With this prior knowledge and decision of what we wanted students to get out of this outcome, we realized that other lessons could easily be added around this particular lesson. It came to my attention that we basically had a unit in mind. It is reassuring to know that this was a possible way to create a unit around such heavy topics, so I now have an understanding on how to do so. I found that incorporating treaty education into an outcome like the one we were given was not that difficult with the help of the OTC website. Referring back to this website is definitely something I will be doing in the future when taking on an outcome that looks too closed ended.
A very bittersweet day. I am glad I am one step ahead in my educational journey, however leaving my classroom for 3.5 months was a little sad! We were able to engage in a little potluck type thing at the end of the day that tied into my lesson, being that it was around pacific rim countries and their resources around food production. Teaching from a multicultural lens was an interesting experience because I am aware of the idea that teaching about multiculturalism can be problematic. The reason for this is that I do not want to “celebrate” other cultures without acknowledging the beliefs and values within a particular culture and the relationship between dominant western cultures that may under-value a minority culture. As these thoughts were going through my head, I wanted to, at the very least, give my explanation of the particular dish I had brought to the class. I wanted to make sure students knew that this El Salvador dish meant something to my family because my cousin’s husband is from El Salvador and makes an attempt to introduce us to his culture by means of showing us how to make different foods. I was very pleased to see how much grade 7 and 8’s enjoy refried beans!
Overall, I appreciate everything my coop teacher has done for me in providing guidance, as well as I appreciate having the opportunity in putting theory to practice in terms of teaching. I learned many things including classroom management, how to facilitate different types of lessons, and the importance of building relationships with students in order to create a positive learning environment. There were a few challenges I faced including time management, the preparation of a stand alone lesson, and how to create an even flow. Thankfully, I was able to overcome these challenges or at least ways in which I can overcome in the future.
Today, I was reminded of the importance and satisfaction of building teacher-student relationships. Before I taught my lesson in the last period, during literacy, I was able to sit with 4 students while they worked on an assignment about their novel study. I enjoyed working with these students on a more personal level, and was able to establish a relationship with them because we had meaningful conversations. They valued my help and I valued their willingness to learn. This was an encouraging moment, and by doing this, my interaction with those particular students was reinforced throughout the day based on our communicated earlier that day. I believe it crucial to take time to establish this with every student in a class. In my own class, I may have around 25 or more students and, I want to prioritize the idea that getting to know each and every one of these students will create a learning environment in which everyone wants to be there and want to learn, because they know their opinions and feelings matter and are valued.
I did some more group work today, and a useful management technique I found was moving around to each group constantly. Something even more effective to add is giving expectations that should be met next time I come around. For example, they had to write ideas on a poster board, and if the group was in discussion, I would stay, next time I come back, I want to hear about another idea! This gave them motivation and encouragement to move on. I think this is important because group work with grade 7/8 can lead to some irrelevant conversation, so it is important to keep them on track.
A target I wanted to work on this week was allowing students to engage in meaningful discussion. With prompts and guiding questions from myself, I encouraged students to “answer their own questions” so to speak. My goal was to challenge thinking and not just spoon feed students the answer. For example, on the subject of homelessness, students knew that one cause of homelessness could be because of job loss due to drug use. In order to get this individual off the streets, I asked my students, “this person has an addiction which is clearly effected the way this person lives. They are now homeless and jobless, what do they need?” The students were actually able to come up with a idea of support and that a support program should be put in place for individuals who suffer from this type the thing. Focusing on the target of allowing response time and critical thinking is not only beneficial for the student, but it is rewarded for me to see that students are actually comprehending what I am trying to get across to them.
Yet another successful day in the field. I was able to observe some different lessons today with different teachers which was very insightful. Today turned into a “day 5” instead of the “day 2” that we have been observing thus far. For the first period, we went with our class to their french lesson. It was interesting to see how the same group of people act differently or the same in a different environment with a different teacher. In this case, I found that because some students had the option to sit in large groups with their friends, controlling the noise level and participation was more difficult for the the teacher. I realize that sometimes, allowing students to have the freedom of group discussion and work periods may not always be effective. For some lessons (like a groups project), I think it would be effective. But for a lecture type lesson, students need to focus their attention on the content coming from the front (in this case, french), and not their classmates.
The lesson I taught today was a lesson on systems of government. My coop had suggested teaching a lesson using group work and to split the class up in four groups. For this particular assignment, Kelly and I kind of team taught in a sense that we were teaching the same material, but we were in different spaces managing the class in a different manner. Getting the class into smaller groups, then only teaching half the class, allows for higher quality conversations, and more teach-student engagement. However I must realize that the majority of the time, this is not how my teaching career is going unfold. I have witnessed some team teaching with my coop and another teacher, but again, this is an exception in some schools and subjects. Nevertheless, I am glad I at least got a sense of how that would go if I ever do get the opportunity to team teach.
An important learning experience I had this week was learning about a way to allows students to do effective internet research. Part of the assignment was to do some research on the type of government that particular group was given. Each student had access to a chrome book and they logged on to their google classroom where our coop had posted our link to the google document that they were to make a copy of and fill in the chart. I was impressed of the student’s ability to navigate the chrome book and online assignments that was asked of them. I want to teach my future students this skill and the importance of how useful these tools can really be. We provided them with some websites to go to to look for some of the answers, and something my coop mentioned to me was to mention to the student why I provided them these resources. I explained to them that I gave these sources to them because I knew they were credible sources and “kid friendly” as in, if someone does not know a lot about a complex subject, these resources lay it out in a simply yet effective manner. This piece of advice from my coop is very valuable, and I will definitely address this to any students I teach about online resources.