The Career Expo, hosted by the U of R Career Centre and the Faculty of Education Student Services annually, is a great place to meet potential employers and explore career options in education. Education students attended looking professional and ready for their next steps in their education journeys–careers! Dean Jerome Cranston provided a brief welcome address.
In July, five B.Ed. students, eight M.Ed. students, and one professor boarded international flights and converged in Belgium for a 10-day course exploring the theme of Social Justice and Globalization from an Educational Perspective. Students spent time in Leuven and Brussels for the course. Leuven is a university city in the Flanders Region, a region established mainly along ethnolinguistic lines. In Leuven, the dominant language spoken is Dutch (Flemish), and in Brussels, just a 20 minute train ride away, French and Dutch are spoken. Brussels is the capital city of Flanders, Belgium, and Europe. Belgium has three official languages, Dutch, French, and German. Belgium students learn, as part of their core curriculum, four or five languages. All of the UCLL students in the summer institute spoke fluent English as well. Fittingly, in this multilingual context, the U of R course was offered in both of Canada’s official languages: French and English, and students could use any language of choice for their assignments.
Dr. Heather Phipps, Assistant professor in the Bac program, spent many hours over the past two years organizing the course in partnership with the UC Leuven-Limburg (UCLL) University colleagues. She says, “We aimed to connect students internationally in a bilingual course that focused on global citizenship. As a language education professor interested in social justice, the whole experience was both rewarding and transformative, from planning the course to travelling with the students in Belgium.”
For undergrad students, the experience included volunteering for one full day in a summer language camp for young Flemish-speaking children who were learning French and English. Dr. Phipps says, “It was a very memorable day as the students worked alongside camp monitors from Italy and Turkey who spoke many languages. The students gained confidence through this experience and also made new international friends!”
As part of the course, the University of Regina students joined with five undergraduate students from UCLL and a teacher educator from Bhutan for a 4-day institute on global citizenship, which explored UNESCO’s key concepts for a sustainable future, and was facilitated by UCLL’s Katrien Goosens and Leen Alearts. This diverse community of learners and educators generated international and even intergenerational perspectives on current global issues. Ashley Churko, a teacher working in French and a graduate student, found the diversity of perspectives a highlight of her time in Belgium. She says, “The class was not simply a master’s class, but was combined with undergrads as well. I found that the undergrads from both the University of Regina and those we connected with from Leuven gave very interesting insights and perspectives… I very much appreciated the mixture of people that we had in our group as it always led to fascinating conversations.” Erika Baldo, also a teacher working in French and a graduate student says, “I thoroughly enjoyed this cultural, educational, and bilingual experience. In addition, I appreciated meeting wonderful people and making new friends.”
Leaving one’s country, one’s comfort zone, and exploring another country takes courage, requiring one to meet new people, and navigate new cities and multilingual contexts. There were many ‘firsts’: for some students this was the first trip overseas and for many of the students, the tour was their first time staying in International Youth Hostels. Discomforts were met with courage by the students. For instance, one of the Canadian student’s luggage didn’t arrive with her and she only received it when she got back to Canada. And, two students spent a night sleeping on the floor of an airport due to delayed flights. Despite these difficulties, everyone remained in good spirits.
Walking and talking, and at times jointly solving navigational problems, was a big part of the learning experience. Professor Phipps says, “I learned alongside my students as we explored the goals of the course through experiential learning, local visits, and workshops on topics related to social justice and global education. Being in Europe, we spent a lot of time walking and having conversations along our walks. One evening, a student pointed out to me that we had walked over 15 kilometres that day in Brussels. Walking and taking public transit was aligned with the course focus on sustainability and global citizenship education. Importantly, those long walks enabled deep conversations, often sparking a desire to make changes in society. From my perspective, it was refreshing to take learning outside of the classroom, to a new context, and to see the professional and personal growth occurring during the course. I am also filled with hope about the positive changes that the students and teachers will make in their own classrooms.”
Math teacher and graduate student Mike Stumph, reflecting on his experience and study tours in general, says, “We often hear in Education how concepts and ideas come ‘full circle.’ As a grad student, the pursuit in making connections between theory, practice, and experience is one of the key features of these programs. This course reminded me of the full circles that are continuously happening within my own teaching experiences. For me, this course was different in so many ways. Firstly, it happened in Belgium. Secondly, it required an urgency to understand, to communicate, to question and to listen that is indicative of study tours that lead to impactful learning. I couldn’t help but be reminded of my experiences with Canada World Youth many years ago, traveling and living in South America where my desire to become a teacher began and where the learning was profound. Spending time in Leuven, Belgium, our traveling group and hosts were incredible, adding so much to the experience. We shared ideas on social justice, oppression in education, multicultural viewpoints, immigrant perspectives, and global issues within the classroom.” Erika Baldo, also reflecting on the value of the study tour, says, ” As a student, I look for new opportunities to acquire more knowledge with different people in new environments. As a traveller, I seek out new places to explore and new adventures to embark upon. Finally, as a lifelong learner, I try to push my boundaries to challenge myself. I am thankful that this study tour gave me the opportunity to do all of the above and more. Overall, this was a powerful and rich experience that I will cherish forever.”
Students had opportunities to tour the sites, including museums, historic and heritage sites, art galleries, a bell tower, university library, abbeys, local agencies, the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training, and an amazing learning facility called Arts Basics for Children.
An especially unforgettable experience for many students was the walking tour guided by a medical student who came to Brussels as a refugee at age 16. The group walked the path that a refugee or asylum seeker would take in seeking permission to stay in Belgium, a grueling process involving long line ups and interviews. Teacher Ashley Churko gained insight into “what it is like to be a student when you are a refugee or immigrant,” and has changed some of her classroom practices as a result. She says, “It was very sobering to see the journey that refugees must take once they arrive in Belgium. One of the biggest take-aways from my conversation with our guide was that I need to make more of an effort to value all languages in my classroom. As a French immersion teacher, I tend to value only French. My days are spent constantly reminding students to « parlez en français » and I didn’t appreciate any other language in my classroom. After this class, I have given myself the challenge this year of letting go of that need for full time French, and I have started to let the students use their language of choice during the planning stages of writing. It has made an incredible difference. My students are actually writing better in French because they are organizing their ideas out without worrying about the restriction of language. They are more willing to look up words in the dictionary without complaint or me telling them to do so and take risks with their writing.”
Remembering her experience on the walking tour, undergraduate student Nicole Gebert says, “Before the tour started, I asked the guide “What is this?” I was referring to the rows and rows of sleeping bags occupied by people in the park. He told me they were refugees, waiting. They were people without homes who came for a better future.” As an art student, Nicole was asked by a graduate student to create a piece of art from a quote in the course text. The excerpt, referring to Mark Cocker’s Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold (2000), went as follows: “Europe’s conquest of indigenous peoples all over the world was bent on a unilinear but multidimensional project of achieving riches via creating extensive streams of blood, which eventually created and sustained the world order we have today.”
Nicole created the following piece:
In explanation for her art, Nicole wrote in her travel journal: “As one steps into society on a daily basis one is bombarded with hate and racism. Whether they experience it for themselves or see it happen right before their eyes it is evident that people stand on uneven grounds… Hence the curtains. Perhaps this is a show to some people or a form of entertainment to see who is better than the other. Battles are fought, people are hurt, the pain flows like a subtle stream where no one seems to notice or care about its impact. The bump in the roads are represented by rocks, the broken bridge is the broken connection to humanity itself. But wait… There is hope. There is a glimmer of light in the sky of lost languages and memories trying to break through the walls of society. Perhaps it is such that we need to break free and gain a rather different perspective on who we are as a nation. Break the stereotypes, and repair society.”
Grad students contextualized their learning by their professional employment. Teacher Ashley Churko has incorporated into her classes a new discussion method, learned in the Philosophy for Children workshop during the summer institute: She says, “An idea I took away was the red, orange, and green papers for discussions. It is such a great way to entice all students to participate in a discussion, even if they are not speaking. Since September, I have used this system so much, that anytime I say ‘discussion,’ my students automatically take out their papers, even without me saying so. I love it so much because I know the opinions of my students who barely say a word in class because they show their opinions. It has been a great way to encourage participation without forcing everyone to speak.” Teacher Erika Baldo says, “I found the session on Philosophy for Children to be particularly interesting and relevant. As a teacher, I search for creative and innovative ways to engage in critical thought, challenge perceptions, and enlighten the minds of my students.”
Deni Miclea, who works as a Student Success Analyst for Treaty 4 Education Alliance, had another perspective to offer on the learning in the course. He says, “I learned that Belgium has a complex education system that is governed by national, regional, and local authorities. In Belgium, students learn in the country’s three official languages: Flemish, French, and German. Each language group promotes their unique language and culture while meeting similar Educational outcomes. In Canada, there is an increasing need to cooperate between Provincial and First Nations educational authorities to shape our curricula. It is important to promote Indigenous language and culture instruction in schools.”
Mike Stumph says, “So what does a senior secondary mathematics teacher do with an experience such as this? The simple answer is; be a better teacher. The complete answer is to weave the ideas from this experience, along with further readings of Paulo Freire, Marilyn Frankenstein, Eric Gutstein, Andrew Brantlinger, Ole Skovsmose and others, into a pedagogy that is inclusive, flexible, decolonizing, empowering and emancipatory. Many of my colleagues argue that mathematics is neutral, its universality and bias-free perspective is how every class should be taught. Mathematics is a human endeavour, complete with bias, perspective, purpose, and influence. It can be used to build or destroy systems of oppression as well as empower or disenfranchise citizens. The role the teacher plays is a crucial one.”
Mike is looking forward to applying his learning in his Spanish classes, too. He says, “I’m hoping to bring the world into my classroom, relying heavily upon my interactions with Spanish speakers and experiences living in Mexico and Uruguay. I feel ready for the language component but I will also be working hard to include the concepts brought forward from this tremendously valuable study tour. My gratitude cannot be understated to the organizers and participants who pushed me to see and understand more.”
Another ongoing effect of the study tour is the community that formed through travelling and learning together. On one of the final evenings of the tour, the group sat late into the night on the terrace of a youth hostel in Brussels, chatting about their experiences, discussing global citizenship issues, and telling life stories. Their level of enjoyment was evident to others: another guest at the youth hostel asked if they were having a family reunion. Going through this experience together, walking, talking, getting lost, and sharing food and stories, formed family-like bonds, but also a professional learning community. Even now that the students are back in Canada and working in their separate environments, the conversations continue.
On Tuesday, April 10, graduate students from Dr. Marc Spooner’s ED 800 course, an introduction to educational research, hosted a Poster Fair, sharing their poster research proposals around (new and interesting) food and conversations. Spooner, who invited faculty to attend, says, “This is a perfect opportunity for our graduate students to see what ED 800 and research is all about and for faculty to see and discuss what our students are thinking about researching.” Through experiences such as this, Spooner says, students gain “some conference-like experience in a warm, familiar, and supportive environment.”
On March 26, Education students from Audrey Aamodt’s Treaties in the Classroom (ECCU 400) section overcame their own discomfort to engage in conversations with peers and profs in the hallways at the University of Regina about the many ways of taking action towards reconciliation. Aamodt says, “Students decided to host these conversations in the halls of the University to remind themselves/us that they not only belong, and have a responsibility, to the more intimate Faculty of Education, but are also part of this larger learning community and beyond.”
Bert Fox High School students and their teacher Sheena Koops, as regular facilitators of the Blanket Exercise, travelled from Fort Qu’Appelle to join the conversations, to raise awareness about the Blanket Exercise, which is an activity in which “participants take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance ” (Source).
SUNTEP students and their instructors Brenna Pacholko and Russell Fayant visited the stations, and offered, in instructor Aamodt’s words, “critical and courageous conversations with students and myself.” Aamodt adds, “We extend gratitude for their generosity, wisdom, and patience with us.”
Regarding what the students learned, Aamodt says, “I think the most important overall learning that could potentially come out of this experience for us was that listening to and reflecting on critiques takes practice and is necessary. Treaty Education, along with potentially associated reconciliation, decolonization, indigenization, and social justice efforts should always be submitted to critical reflection and none are without tension. So, we ask who benefited from this event and if it was truly ‘action.’ Perhaps it didn’t amount to anything of significance, except to make us feel good. Then, we reminded one another about Pam Palmater’s claim that “if it feels good, it’s not reconciliation.”
As for her own learning, Aamodt adds, ” I have learned how I might better invite students to consider who might be the right people to talk about particular issues, some of the problems with being perceived as positioning ourselves (settler-Canadians) as experts about MMIW, residential school legacies & intergenerational trauma, FNMI identities-histories-cultures-communities, FNMI languages, reconciliation, decolonization, indigenization, and even treaties.”
Below are student comments about what they were doing, and what they thought about its importance.
On Friday, March 2, a make-shift Theatre in the Round in the Faculty of Education drama room set the stage for Globe Theatre Actors Daniel Fong, Angela Kemp, David Light, and Kaitlyn Semple as well as Craig Salkeld, the Performance Pianist, to perform two short excerpts from Us, which is currently being performed at the Globe Theatre Main Stage.
“Us is a heartwarming, brand new musical that explores what happens when LGBTQ+ youth come together in a group of peers at a summer camp. Created by award-winning playwright and radio producer Kelley Jo Burke and internationally renowned singer-songwriter-pianist Jeffery Straker, Us is an uplifting play about “coming in”—finding acceptance within yourself and in your community.” (Globe Theatre)
Arts Ed students were privileged to be part of this up-close performance and discussion as part of their PLACE experience. Playwright and alumna Kelley Jo Burke talked about her experience at Camp fYrefly, where she listened to LGBTQ+ youth and counsellors talk about their experiences of coming together at summer camp, the research she drew on in writing the script for this fictional play. Other members of the creative team, such as Director and Musical Director Valerie Ann Pearson and Set and Costume Designer Wes D. Pearce, discussed the thought behind their areas of development for the musical.
A panel presentation followed the performance moderated by Dr. Kathryn Ricketts. Panel participants discussed the importance of the play (and summer camp) for youth who have identified as LGBTQ+, who are needing to find an Us to which they belong, and addressed current issues around diversity and inclusion.
On December 11, 2017, Math 101 students held a mini Math Fair, presenting their posters which reflected the Indigenization of mathematics concepts. (see photos above)
The concept of Indigenization is identified as “one of the University’s two overarching areas of emphasis” within the 2015-2020 Strategic Plan (https://www.uregina.ca/strategic-plan/priorities/indigenization.html). Depending upon the definition consulted, Indigenization may or may not be considered the work of settler/immigrant Canadians for it involves first-hand revitalizations of First Nations, Inuit and Métis languages, legal systems, and ceremonies, among many other aspects. Indigenization, however, lies in relation with decolonization and thereby challenges all Canadians to work at disrupting and changing current institutions and systems, including those educational. Thus, as a doctoral candidate of mathematics education, Shana Graham has been studying Indigenization and decolonization so as to inform her dissertation research which involves (re)imagining possibilities for mathematics education.
The idea for the implementation of a Mathematics 101 final project as poster and Mini Math Fair was informed by Show Me Your Math: Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities, a program developed by Dr. Lisa Lunney-Borden and Dr. David Wagner (http://showmeyourmath.ca/). While a final poster project is not unusual within education courses, it is unique to a Mathematics 101 course. Decolonization, however, encourages considerations of context/community, which for this particular mathematics course involved only preservice teachers from the Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP-Regina). Thus, in adapting/decolonizing curricula for context/community, the arguments presented for changing the Mathematics 101 final evaluation from exam to project were accepted by Dr. Shaun Fallat, Head of the Department of Mathematics & Statistics. The support of Dr. Fallat and the Dean of Science, Dr. Farenick, need be acknowledged for reconciliatory acts may not otherwise be possible without the support of such powerful individuals.
On Wednesday, December 6th, Education students attended an Education Internship Fair, with Alumni and School Division Panels discussing diverse internship placements. (See below pre-intern Janae Prediger’s comment posted on Twitter)
Attended @URFacofEd Internship fair today and learned so much about interning in rural areas! I’ve lived in a city my entire life… Can’t wait to request to intern in small town Sask and experience something new!😌👩🏫 #education#internship
Wednesday, November 8 was a busy night for the Faculty of Education. Education Students’ Society organized a Bowling night for students, faculty, and staff. The event was well attended and pizza well enjoyed. Graduate students held a potluck and students attended from as far away as Nunavut (NTEP)! TEP (Teacher Education Program) graduate students were here for a TEP Indigenous Knowledge Exchange.
To view the photo album, place cursor over the photo and click on arrow.