Rose Couture

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


1 Comment

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.

11235105105_5a332a60fc

 

 


Leave a comment

Curriculum as Narrative and Community: How I Contributed to the Learning of Others

As the semester comes to an end, it is fairly important to look back on the interactions that were made with classmates, instructors and presenters, either online or during face to face discussions, and reflect. To reflect on the thoughtful and critical interchanges one has had with others and to find out how this might have contributed to the construction of their knowledge. Throughout the semester, I have had many interactions with the online community on Twitter and read many educational, critical and inspirational blog posts and articles that have contributed to my personal learning. Feeling inspired by these new discoveries, I wanted to share the information that had contributed to my knowledge with the people who surrounded me, as it might also contribute to their learning. That is what I did.

Many individuals are life-long learners. Here I say many, because I personally believe that there are still people out there in the world who have yet to discover the beauty of learning and the concept of the happy learner. The concept of the happy learner is something I have come up with on my own, although it might already be out there and I am unaware of it. I believe that an individual who is learning what he wants to learn will be happy. By learning things he wants to learn, the individual remains curious, and I believe that someone who learns content that appeals to them will incite them to learn about numerous other things in addition to constantly be challenged. Something that many of us need to remember is that we also are at different learning levels, that we are not ready to learn the same things at the same time. Me and a few of my classmates had a meaningful discussion after our seminar one week where we discussed how we are at different learning stages, even at the university level. We discussed on how some people in our seminar group and lecture group might be ready to learn about social justice, respect, professionalism, the importance of stories, oppression, but that maybe some are not. Both of these situations are possible and nobody will hold where you stand against you. Everyone has a different background or living situation that influence their learning stage and engagement. Certain students might not even really know what they want to be doing in life, unsure if they want to be a teacher or not, and that is fine. I personally went through hair school, modern languages in college, translation in university before I even knew what really appealed to me. You need to try something at least once to see if you like it right? Things take time. This conversation permitted us to put ourselves in our peers’ shoes and to imagine different perspectives and different reasons why learning is very different from one individual to another. It was nice to see that everyone had something different to bring in the conversation, making many connections with all the amazing things we have learnt in ECS 210 this semester. All-inclusiveness, openness, critical thinking, justice, equity are elements that were touched during the exchange and it is really great to see our thinking and imagination blooming and shining through our conversations.

During his presentation on November 26th, Grant Urban put emphasis on how important our narrative curriculum is. Through our stories of personal experiences, people learn. If we all share our stories, the knowledge is immense. About a month ago, I commented on jordanlynnes Teaching Treaties and Disrupting Commonsense, in which he questioned the teaching of treaties and aboriginal content in Saskatchewan classrooms while pushing aside common sense. I shared with him that I was as well not introduced to treaties until my final years of high school in Quebec, and that we only brushed the subject, the focus being on the aboriginal peoples that were closer to our territories. In this short sample of my feedback, Jordan learnt that I attended high school in Quebec and that the content of our history lessons was completely different from the one taught in Saskatchewan. He might of also found out that the aboriginal groups that were established in Southern Ontario and Quebec were different from the ones that were found in the Plains. Furthermore, I informed him of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission event in British Columbia, where the devastating event of residential schools was brought and discussed to the daylight, where aboriginal people shared their stories with the thousands of teachers and students who attended the event. Many people attended this fantastic event, because people are curious and they want to learn, they want to be informed of all the horrible things the government was hiding in those places. The B.C. Teacher’s Federation also had in place a $100,000 program to help educators attend the presentation as we need to raise awareness of the many injustices that took place in the society and how it still impact the communities of today. Me and Jordan both agreed on the fact that “introducing aboriginal history or content in grade 11-12 is too late”, the content needs to be taught earlier on. If we are able to introduce our students to critical thinking, social justice issues as well as racial issues in grade 1, why is it not possible to introduce aboriginal content in the early years? The cultural diversity in our classroom will most likely be vast as many people have chosen to get established in Canada. Discovering the history of the land and all of its people is interesting, but discovering about other countries, cultures and languages can be amazing. If our students want to share, let them share and raise issues, this way they will learn and feel like they have also contributed to the learning of their peers, that it was not only “the teacher’s job”.

9121803419_5d167672af_z

This semester, I have been particularly fascinated by the online community, but specifically by Twitter and blogs, thanks to my amazing ECMP 355 class which I suggest every educator at the University of Regina should take. Even if you are not studying in Regina, he often travels places to give presentations and he is very interesting to listen to. In Teacher As Learned Practitioner by Jordan Grebinsky, she raises points about how teaching should not be a “comfortable” profession and that students should not be “comfortable” in the classroom, as many of them learn better when they are challenged and found in an uncomfortable situation. I told her : “There is no way that we know ‘enough’ as our profession consists of constantly learning about new things and growing upon situations that will shape us, and our teaching methods. As a teacher, it is important to get out there and also connect with the aid of social media, which allows the discovery of new techniques and knowledge from all around the world”. Educators have a dynamic profession. Every single day students bring content from their personal “backpack” in the classroom and raise questions that we might not have answers to. But what better way to learn than looking for those answers together and visualizing the many outcomes or possibilities one can come up with. I have grown a lot in the past couple weeks by connecting with amazing educators on Twitter, reading their blogs and others’, as well as watching some inspirational education TEDTalks. I would love if some people would take the time to make those important connections that allow us to share, grow, to collaborate with others, and this also gives an amazing example to the children. Take the time to connect, you will construct your own knowledge and it brings us a very gratifying feeling. I can recall many occasions during the semester where I have told some of my peers to try to connect on Twitter, “just to see” and I know that some of my colleagues read my posts from ECMP 355 that teaches them or gives them more information about how technology is a powerful educational tool.

Overall, I cannot be sure of the ways in which I have contributed to my peers learning, but I know I have tried and they greatly influenced my personal learning too. I always look forward to feedback from my instructors or classmates and the questions they raise in their comments. I keep writing because I can see that some of you are reading and this motivates me to share, even though I do not always think that the content is “good”. It is crucial to remember that information, as insignificant as it might seem, can teach a lot to somebody else. Remember, learn and reflect.


Leave a comment

Renewed Programs and Social Justice

During last week’s seminar, our prof listed the following questions on the screen in front of the classroom:

When you applied to the teacher education program at the U of R, did you know that you were applying to a renewed teacher education program, whose focus is social justice? Did this influence your decision to come here? What do you think it means to be oriented towards anti-oppressive education or what do you think it means to teach for social justice?

As a student from the French Education Bac program at the University of Regina, I thought that these questions applied differently to me, compared to my peers in the classroom. During the second year of the program, all the students get to study for a year at the Université de Laval in Quebec City, in order to be immersed into the French language. For a certain reason, I remained in Regina to complete my second year instead of accompanying my peers in Quebec and as a result, have to complete my education classes in English with the English Education program students from the institution. So in answer to the first question, no, I did not know I was going to be taking classes from a renewed education program that is focused on social justice. Am I glad I am taking these classes? Yes, very.

Attending my ECS200 and ECS210 classes, I have been given tools that have strengthened my desire to become an educator. Being in a classroom and studying social justice and oppression in society is a big eye opener of all the hidden and not so hidden things that happen all around us. I believe that social justice is something that should happen all around the world, and it does not, even in 2013. We still have a long way to go, but by slowly trying to raise awareness and trigger minds to open up to change, we will get there someday, it has to be a collective effort. Not everybody is aware of even the small injustices that happen in our daily lives, but I believe educators should be aware of social injustices and try to make their students aware of it as well. Education should also be anti-oppression oriented. We should not be scared of bringing controversial subjects in the classroom for people to make them feel uncomfortable. It is okay to be critical and look at the many possibilities and aspects of a specific situation or event. In no way should we ever feel like we need to “hide” things from our students, as we aim to be as open-minded and as critical as we can. Critical thinking, creativity, curiosity, social justice, anti-oppression are all terms that should be included in your teaching philosophy, well it is in my philosophy that is still under construction. What are the main elements of your teaching philosophy? On which aspects do you agree or disagree with me?

Glass_creativity_finalrevis

 


5 Comments

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. 🙂