Rose Couture

Aspiring teacher. “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ― William Arthur Ward


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Communication And Students Are Key to Change Education

As I was reading Students Ask: Why So Few of Us at CEA’s Calgary Conference?I was shocked. Why wasn’t I aware of this Canadian Educators Association? Of course I knew there were teacher federations for each province in the country, but I had never heard of this one association. And they had this gathering in Calgary? So close to me. I would be interested in participating in such event, but their online upcoming events calendar does not seem to be working, so I am unsure of when and where the next events will take place. It was very interesting to find out that people who attend the conferences have name tags that only display their names. The titles and surnames of individuals are left out so that participants can have meaningful conversations about education matters without feeling judged or left out for where they stand in society. At each table, students, educators and others are mixed to have different perspectives and ideas. I really like this aspect as it represents really well the current approach in teacher education at the University of Regina about how important social justice is and how we are still far from this in today’s society. Everyone has an opinion and can bring meaningful insight even if they are not an important director of a district, board or school. Individuals are given the opportunity to have a voice and to bring ideas to the day light and discuss them with amazing educators, directors, teachers and students. I would personally love to attend one of these conferences as I would have the opportunity to grow and learn, even if I’m “just” a student.

The CBE (Calgary Board of Educators) students also mentioned the important lack of students at the conference. This poses some problems as students are in “training” to become open-minded and socially just educators that will bring change to the country’s current education system. The majority of students in the classroom hope to make a change, they want to change education for the best. Yet, most of the time they are not at those “important” conferences that focus on changing education and communicates these issues. Some students are not as privileged as others and unfortunately, are not informed about the importance of the changes that are made to improve the education system. I do not like to brag, but we are the future of education, we are important too. Tell us about these conferences, tell us about the changes, give us feedback, have meaningful exchanges with us. I have said it before and will say it again, feedback is so crucial! Feedback helps us improve ourselves, we learn and grow from it. Change can be scary, but who said it was going to be easy? Students need to be more involved in these meaningful events that take place all over the country. It might be a bit intimidating to go to one of these conferences, as you might not know anyone, but it is good to get out of your comfort zone and to make changes, you will definitely need to cross some lines and be uncomfortable. But guess what.. When we are uncomfortable, we learn. We all have a role to play into changing education for the best, we all have the power to make a difference, even if you feel you are insignificant. Things take time, but if we all get together and work together, we are powerful. We really can make a difference. Be involved, inform yourself, connect with educators (Twitter is great for that
) and do not be scared, your opinion matters.

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Hidden Messages

As I read over my autobiography in the course of ECS210, I discovered, to my surprise, that there was indeed hidden messages and political implications in my work. Indeed, in the first paragraph of my autobiography I spotted the words “as a young woman living in the 21st century”, definitely telling the reader my gender and what kind of woman I am. I do not live in the early 1900’s, therefore, by living in the 21st century, I have many rights that women then did not, showing that I am different. I am aware of women’s past situations in Canada and their situation all around the world today, it might affect me in some ways when I can connect to these women, while a man might have difficulty connecting in the same ways I did. I did not include my race or my sexual orientation in my autobiography, as they are not things to which I can easily identify, but I know that because I am “white” some might think that I believe I am better than others, which is false. “White privilege” might influence some events in my life, but on a personal view-point, it is not my intention, in no ways do I think that “white privilege” should be something that makes me “better” than other people. I strongly believe in equal treatment of individuals, no matter who they are and from where they might be. As I was getting further in my text, I realized that, indeed my mom had introduced me to the English language early on as we resided in a bilingual province. She wanted me to be bilingual so that I could grasp more “opportunities” in life that she was not able to grasp herself because she is monolingual. As I read into this, I can see that bilingual people are favoured over monolingual people in my birth province, as well as in Canada and other countries. There are “common sense” reasons to this, but really, why should a monolingual person be penalized over someone who has mastered more than one language? There are many other things in my biography that I have seen differently as I acquired new knowledge, and put on different lenses. My point is, we do need to look more in-depth to something that is familiar to us and that contains many, many hidden messages, as this could tell us more about who we are and how we got here.


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Curriculum as Narrative Part 2

Working Effectively with English Language Learners – by Rob Peterson and Kelley Dawson Salas

For the second part of Curriculum as Narrative, I chose to analyze more in depth the story about English language learners. But for a moment, let’s pretend this is about “Working Effectively with French Language Learners”. I know the assignment is designed for us to make connections with the short stories, and this is the way I connect with this one. As some of you might already know, I am part of the Bac program for education at elementary level (K-5). Therefore, I am aiming to be teaching in a French Immersion school or a Fransaskois school at the end of my bachelor’s degree. I found the short story to be very interesting, but the whole time I was reading it, I tried to imagine how it applied to me. Why would I be working with English language learners? I am going to be in a francophone environment… VOILA! Having this enlightening moment, I then tried to read the story and apply it to a French context. Why would it be any different from English to French right?

In Saskatchewan, there are multiple French programs for both francophone and anglophone peoples. First off, there are francophone schools, usually called “école fransaskoise” where students, who have parents that attended a francophone school, can be found. In these type of schools, every single subject is taught in French from kindergarten to grade 12, aside from the English class. Then we have French Immersion schools where students who don’t have French as a first language, can go to school and learn in French from kindergarten to grade 3, and then be introduced to English classes in grade 4. It is also possible for some student to partake in the Late French Immersion programs starting in grade 6 through grade 12. In addition, there is a Core French program where, depending on the grade you are in, are taught French as a subject for a certain amount of time every week. For example, kindergartener to 5th graders will be having French lessons for at least 30 minutes four times a week (120 minutes) whereas 6th to 9th graders have to learn French for 150 minutes every week, and so on. For anglophone parents who decide to send their children to a French Immersion school or a Core French program, there are many resources available in order for them to be able to help their children with homework and lessons taught in French, such as Canadian Parents for French.

As a preservice teacher aiming to teach in a French environment, I found the short story by Peterson and Dawson Salas really applied to my situation. Like it is mentioned, I will have to constantly remind myself that my students’ first language might not be French unlike me. Therefore, I will have to be extra cautious to speak very slowly and clearly so that my class can understand what I am saying. There is also a possibility that I will encounter students who just moved to Saskatchewan or Canada and don’t speak English or French. That’s where visual aids such as pictures, posters, videos, books, slide shows will come in handier than verbal instruction. By showing kids something visual, they know what the animal, action, tree, etc. is in their first language and therefore, they are able to make connections and for example, be like “oh chat [in french] is just like gato!” (which is spanish for cat). I will definitely use the idea of introducing vocabulary and concepts to my students before jumping into lessons, which will also allow me to evaluate the levels at which my students are at. I probably would also review vocabulary and concepts related to every week’s lessons before starting to teach so that my students are really comfortable with the terms. The idea of using songs, skits and games to learn is also very appealing to me. I even find myself singing French songs to my anglophone niece sometimes and she thinks its hilarious and she really enjoys trying to sing along with me. I have also discovered that many French songs and rhymes have an English version. That would be a very helpful tool for my anglophone students to use in order to make connections with their first language.

The only aspect of the short story I am “iffy” about is the one that suggests not to use whole-class instruction. I understand that not all the students will be at the same French level, Fransaskois or Immersion school, but I think by reviewing vocabulary and concepts with all the classroom would benefit everyone. When it comes to projects, readings and assignments, then yes, I believe working in smaller groups would be more beneficial and I would probably tend to put together teams containing a diversity of students so that everyone in the group gets the chance to be in the shoes of both a learner and a teacher. Including words and expressions from other cultures in my lessons is also part of my plan, as I find myself easily entertained when finding out the meaning of certain words in languages that are unknown to me. This could be an interesting idea of an activity to do with my students. I could give them a sentence in English and have them translate it to French and two or one other language and have them make connections between the words. What are the similarities and differences? Of course the root of the language and the words can be a little complicated, but there are ways to have this activity adapted to different levels.

Overall, I thought the reading of The New Teacher Book to be very interesting and constructive, and I will definitely be using the book in the future. It is something that I will want to have close to me during my first few years as a teacher as it touches multiple issues one can encounter in different contexts. In addition, I will definitely be taking the time to read the whole volume once time permits!


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Little Break

Some of you might wonder why I am not in class this week or why I will be absent next week and for other weeks as the semester goes on. I know I don’t have to share this with anyone, but I want to explain my situation a little bit. This week I received a phone call from my mother and she is very sick. I am not sure of all the details, but she is in the hospital and there is a big team of GREAT doctors looking after her. My father has currently left his work in order to be with my mom and well, I will be leaving shortly to go and join them during this difficult time. It was something I was definitely not expecting, everything was going so well, I am loving all my classes in university (maybe for the first time in my life) and I am just eager to learn. Although I will be making regular trips to Quebec during the rest of the semester, I will be back and participating in class when I am not in Quebec. Family comes first, but I am so in love and interested with everything I am learning. I will try my best to keep up with assignments and blog posts, but if I am away, you might not hear from me until I am back in Saskatchewan. I also want to thank all my teachers from the University of Regina for being understanding and supportive during this time, it really means a lot to me and my family. Things might change as time goes by, but for now all we can do is have a positive attitude and look at the bright aspects of life.

Me and my foster kitty Khaleesi learning about storytelling and doing some blogging in bed this a.m. :)

Me and my foster kitty Khaleesi learning about storytelling and doing some blogging in bed this a.m. 🙂

 


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En Français?

Philosophie d’enseignement (en construction)

L’enseignement et l’apprentissage sont deux éléments qui vous suivront dans plusieurs aspects de votre vie. Que vous soyez au primaire ou que vous soyez un adulte, en tant qu’individu, vous enseignez et vous apprenez à tous les jours.

Je crois qu’il est important que mes étudiants apprennent de leurs propres expériences. Je préfère que mes étudiants travaillent en équipe, car il est plus facile pour eux de retenir de l’information de cette manière. Il est aussi plus intéressant pour eux d’apprendre de cette manière que d’avoir à écouter une leçon longue, sans vie et remplie d’informations. En encourageant le travail d’équipe, je permets à mes étudiants de développer leurs aptitudes sociales et je leur permets d’avoir leur propre opinion sur différents sujets. De cette façon, ils construisent leur représentation du monde extérieur et, en même temps, ils enseignent de nouvelles connaissances à leurs coéquipiers et apprennent de ces derniers. Je veux que mes élèves aient la chance de jouer le rôle du professeur et de l’élève qui apprend. Le socioconstructivisme promeut la construction de l’élève et le développement de leurs interactions sociales.

En tant qu’enseignante, j’aurai le pouvoir d’influencer l’apprentissage et les expériences de vie d’un nombre indéfini d’étudiants et cette opportunité devrait être la plus agréable possible. Il est important de fournir le plus de ressources possibles dont l’étudiant aura de besoin afin de contribuer au développement de sa perception de l’environnement dans lequel il vit. À l’école, l’enfant possède plusieurs ressources tels que des enseignants, du matériel de construction, des livres, mais sa ressource la plus précieuse sera ses compagnons de classe. Pour moi, l’enseignement est l’élément clé du développement de l’enfant. En tant qu’enseignante, je donnerais donc des défis à mes élèves, au quotidien, afin de les stimuler mentalement. De cette manière, ils retiendront l’information plus facilement. Enseigner au primaire sera un défi pour moi, car je devrais constamment avoir l’attention de mes étudiants et trouver des façons d’y parvenir.

Lorsque j’aurais l’occasion d’enseigner au niveau primaire, je toucherais plusieurs sujets avec un même groupe d’étudiants. Je suis particulièrement intéressée à enseigner de façon collaborative avec les élèves de la classe pour rendre cette expérience agréable. En formant des groupes composés d’élèves «forts» et d’élèves plus «faibles», les étudiants auront l’occasion de s’enseigner entre eux et d’avoir différentes perspectives sur plusieurs sujets, ce qui rend le travail d’équipe intéressant et enrichissant. Après les travaux, les étudiants partagerons leurs opinions avec le reste de la classe et nous pourrons comparez les réponses et les opinions ensemble afin de contempler la diversité dans une même classe.