I have many experiences that my colleagues do not. Many do not have children with learning challenges. Many have not had to read over the Alberta Program of Studies every September and write a new learning plan for 3 different grade levels. Many have not had to meet with principals and superintendents to advocate for equity in the classroom. Over the last 9 years, to educate my children and to help other families like myself, I have spent many hours pouring over educational theories and learning as much as I could about learning styles and teaching methods. In this way I felt that when I walked into my first education class at Werklund that I was finally coming home.
My life experiences benefited me greatly while in the program. Many of the works that we were required to read were not new to me, and I recognized many of the Ted Talks and progressive thinkers. In some cases, I brought new resources to light for my professors as I follow educational news and politics very closely. When reading about critical pedagogy (Kincheloe, 2018) I started to cheer as I felt that I had found something that resonated with me deeply. In my assessment classes I was truly engaged, deeply understanding from experience, what this looked like when having to report to my facilitator 3 times a year. Through my practicums where I observed “when learning is activated through an interdisciplinary lens, with authentic and real-world connections, learning becomes meaningful” (Hartwell, 2018), I began to feel like I belonged.
Finally, I began to “weave a complex web of connections between themselves, their subjects, and their students, so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves” (Palmer 1997, p. 16) in my second and third practicums.
Each one of the artifacts that I have chosen shows who I am as an educator. My papers and lesson plans show deep engagement with the concepts. My posters show that I am also creative and I am someone who is deeply passionate about education and feel that students need to “make learning a process where self-understanding, self-direction, and learning to teach oneself are possible” (Kincheloe, 2018, p. 53)”. I truly feel that it will be the students that have a critical, growth, and design thinking mindsets that will be the ones to create solutions for today’s problems. However, as I continue my journey as an educator, I also have room for growth. Knowing that “each educator has a role, if not a responsibility, in changing her own and her students’ conceptions about First-Nations students, their heritage, and their contributions to society” (Battiste, 2013, p. 177) I have to make it a priority to let go of my fear of tokenizing Indigenous teaching and learning. I need to embrace that I am an authentic person with good intentions that will work to the best of my ability to hold space for students “to feel accepted, acknowledged, and respected in order to be engaged in school” (Anoee, 2015, p. 89).
It is with an open heart and an understanding that “good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; [that] good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher” (Palmer, 1997, p.16). I can use these strengths to speak my truth.
By understanding the history of the education system (Axelrod, 2003), to learning about the educational theories, to moving into practice in the classroom, and then to receive real-time feedback from students provides me with the ability to be the best educator that I can. Most people I know have at least one teacher that made a difference in their lives in some way. It could have been that they learned a different way to do math, that they helped them through a tough time, or that they simply smiled and made the day that much better. It is my goal to be the teacher that my students remember as someone who saw them for who they are and supported them no matter what.
The feedback that I received from my peers is that my portfolio is not one of a pre-service teacher, that it looks more professional, and that perhaps it is a bit over the top. I recognize that I spent a lot of time on this website, but it was honestly something that has needed to be done for years, and only by looking inward and understanding who I am as an educator was I able to create it. I am a modest person, and sometimes forget that others are impacted by the projects that I feel passionate about, and so when asked to place Inspired as a highlight, it had not crossed my mind that anyone would find it impressive.
The critical friends that I have made on this journey are irreplaceable. I have taken all of the feedback that was given to me, and have implemented all of it. It is with feedback and iteration, that we can continue to grow.
Anoee, N. (2015). Learning through tunnganarniq. In F. Walton & D. O’Leary (Eds)., Sivumut, Towards the future together: Inuit women educational leaders in Nunavut and Nunavik (pp. 89-102). Toronto, ON: Women’s Press / Canadian Scholars’ Press
Axelrod, P. (2003). The promise of schooling: Education in Canada, 1800-1914. Canada: University of Toronto Press. (Original work published 1997)
Battiste, M. (2013). Decolonizing education: Nourishing the learning Spirit.
Hartwell, A. D. (2018). The life cycle of a salmon: Robotics and 3D printing in grade two. The Canadian Journal for Teacher Research. Retrieved from https://d2l.ucalgary.ca/d2l/le/content/277367/viewContent/3573604/View
Kincheloe, J. (2018). Curriculum Understanding What We Teach and Where We Teach It. In J.L. Kincheloe & S.R. Steinberg (Eds.), Classroom Teaching: 2nd Edition. (pp. 47-55). New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Palmer, P.J. (1997). The Heart of a Teacher Identity and Integrity in Teaching. Change: The Magazine Of Higher Learning, 29(6), 14-21.