Faculty Spotlight! We’re shining the spotlight on faculty members this fall so you can get to know some of the faces around the Faculty of Education.
Meet Dr. Cristyne Hébert, Associate Professor in the areas of assessment, education research, and digital literacies since July 2018.
Dr. Hébert is passionate about stress-free, learning-focused and equitable assessment. She says, “I am a strong believer that assessment practices should not be punitive. I do not deduct late marks, and students are given the opportunity in all of my classes to revise and resubmit assignments. My hope is that this approach both reduces stress and creates a more learning-focused and equitable classroom for my students, and that they carry some of these practices into their future classrooms.”
Why should students consider taking courses in assessment? Because, “it’s important that new teachers think critically about their assessment practices, moving away from some of those traditional approaches that we know don’t support all learners. Teacher education gives future teachers the space to really practice and try on something new,” says Dr. Hébert.
Digital literacies are another area of study that Dr. Hébert considers important for students: “We live in such a digitally mediated world. As educators, we need to know more than just what to do with technological tools. Developing a deep understanding of how media shapes lived experiences, and how power operates (often covertly) within systems to limit access and participation is of fundamental importance.”
Dr. Hébert’s current research involves both assessment and digital literacies. She recently (2020) received a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for her study on multimodal learning and assessment practices in the province. As part of a larger SEED grant-funded project, Dr. Hébert says, “I am currently analyzing provincial school divisions’ assessment policies, focusing on modernizing provincial assessment.” Dr. Hébert has a few other research projects underway, “working with both in-service and preservice teachers to look at how maker education might be enacted in the classroom.”
As advice for Education students, Dr. Hébert says, “Visit your professors during office hours. We set aside this time to meet with students to answer questions or talk through any course content or assignments, and are happy to see you there.”
If you are interested in taking a course with Dr. Hébert, she regularly teaches ECS401 (online): “This course takes a backward-design approach to assessment, narrowing in on curricular outcomes. Students gain experience with formative assessment, assessment tools, peer and self assessment, triangulation, and differentiation. My two favourite elements of the course are the assessment videos we watch, created by practicing teachers in the province, and the Rick Rant assignment, where students produce a three minute argumentative ‘paper.'” And she teaches EC&I 832 (online): “This course takes a critical look at digital citizenship and media literacies, focusing on how we might empower (rather than protect) young media users. Some themes we address include algorithms, technology and surveillance, memes and visual literacies, propaganda and fake news, and policing on line spaces. My favourite element of this course is the weekly collaborative work students produce, via Google Docs, applying their learning to analyze media.”
Congratulations to the Editors (alum) Lace Brogden (StFX) Andrea Sterzuk (UofR Education) and James Daschuk (UofR) on a new book L’enseignement des traités en français & to #UREdu faculty, students & alum chapter authors: Heather Phipps, Anna-Leah King, Michael Cappello, Claire Kreuger, Carrie Vany, Naomi Fortier-Fréçon, Leia Laing, Margo Campbell, and Sylvia Smith.
“Conçu pour appuyer l’enseignement des traités, cet ouvrage, orienté vers les enseignants en formation initiale et continue, met en valeur des approches pédagogiques et des apports théoriques ancrés dans le vouloir de veiller à la décolonisation. Ainsi, ce livre cherche à expliciter en quoi les pédagogues sont agents de changements et encourage l’adoption d’une approche proactive et anti-oppressive dans une pédagogie au service de l’appel à l’action no 62 de la Commission de vérité et de réconciliation du Canada (2015). Ainsi, les chapitres du livre adoptent une approche réfléchie, ayant pour but de préconiser une philosophie de l’enseignement qui dessert la population estudiantine, autant autochtone que non autochtone…” Read more https://www.pulaval.com/produit/l-enseignement-des-traites-en-francais
Congratulations to Dr. Nathalie Reid, Director of the Child Trauma Research Centre at the University of Regina, on receiving a Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) Research Connection Grant of $7,500 to study “Neuroscience, Play, Art, and Narrative (PAN) Woven Resilience-Enhancement Toolkits for Children.”
In 2020, Dr. Reid was also a recipient of a SHRF Research Connections Grant of $10,000 for the project “Creating a Digital Connections Hub to Support Children in Care in Saskatchewan During COVID-19 and Beyond.”
We are pleased to announce the launch of the inaugural Gabriel Dumont Research Chair in Métis/Michif Education within the Faculty of Education, University of Regina.
Dr. Melanie Brice has been appointed to the inaugural Gabriel Dumont Chair in Métis/Michif Education for a 5-year term. Dr. Brice has been working with the University of Regina Faculty of Education since 2018 as an Assistant Professor in Indigenous Education, Language & Literacy Education, and Educational Core Studies. Dr. Brice a Michif (Métis) born in Meadow Lake and raised at Jackfish Lake, Saskatchewan has a strong understanding of Indigenous histories, cultures, languages and literacies, perspectives, educational experiences, and cross-cultural education issues.
The Gabriel Dumont Chair in Métis/Michif Education will increase research and teaching capacity in Métis/Michif Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina and enhance academic engagement with Gabriel Dumont Institute’s (GDI’s) Saskatchewan Urban Native Teacher Education Program (SUNTEP).
As Chair, Dr. Brice will focus on the research that seeks to understand and expand the scholarship of teaching and learning by building capacity in Métis and Michif education. The research program will focus on research, learning, knowledge-keeping, language and cultural revitalization, reconciliation, and inclusion with and by the Métis through formal education systems.
According to the Statistics Canada 2016 census, with a rising population of 51.2%, the Métis were the fastest growing population in Canada between 2006 and 2016. However, less than two percent of Métis people speak the Michif language, making the Michif language one of the most vulnerable Indigenous languages in Canada.
With the establishment of this new Chair, the first in a Faculty of Education in Canada, and many other endeavours toward Truth and Reconciliation, the Faculty continues to demonstrate a concerted and sustained commitment to teaching and research that is engaging faculty, students, and other education stakeholders in gaining a deeper understanding of our shared histories and a reconciliatory approach to a more just future. (Photo credit: Sweetmoon Photography)
An interview with Dr. Brandon Needham, Principal of Melville Comprehensive School (MCS) and 2020 CBC Future 40 Winner, who successfully defended his dissertation, “Critical Action Research: How One School Community Lives out the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action,” on February 16, 2021. Co-supervisors were Dr. Twyla Salm and Dr. Jennifer Tupper. Committee members were Dr. Michael Cappello, Dr. Anna-Leah King, and Dr. Amber Fletcher. External examiner was Dr. Nicholas Ng-A-Fook (University of Ottawa).
Why did you choose to do your graduate degree at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina?
I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Bachelor of Education – major in physical education and minor in history, and a Master’s degree in curriculum studies from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S). I chose the University of Regina (U of R) for my doctoral work based on the reputation of the school, specifically, the notable research being conducted in the area of treaty and Indigenous education. My supervisor, and former U of R Dean of Education, Dr. Jennifer Tupper’s seminal work in treaty education became the basis to explore areas of reconciliation education.
The University of Regina was also one of the only doctoral programs not requiring a one-year residency for doctoral students, which allowed me to study and continue my job as an in-school administrator. This was very important for me, as I was not able to take an education leave from my school division to pursue a doctorate. The flexibility in the graduate programs at the U of R makes academia more accessible to those educators who still want to remain connected to a K-12 context and for that I was grateful.
What were the circumstances that led you to your research topic for your dissertation?
Having enrolled in the winter term of 2015, just as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report and the subsequent release of the Calls to Action occurred, this topic seemed timely. Prior to choosing this topic, I had conducted a research project with Dr. Michael Cottrell from the U of S on the implementation of treaty education through treaty catalyst teachers. My doctoral work was an evolution of this earlier work, which sought to investigate the challenges and opportunities in teaching students about the Indian Residential School (IRS) project.
What need were you identifying?
In my time as a classroom teacher and an in-school administrator, I have identified hesitancy from students and staff to engage fully in the teaching and learning of treaty education, and other Indigenous topics found in the curriculum. This was initially the case for me, too, as I began my teaching career. Having grown up in a town void of experiences with Indigenous peoples, I had to (un)learn many of the things I had come to know about Indigenous peoples. Through my various educational experiences, I gained a more nuanced understanding of myself as a White settler and the privilege that accompanies that position. Wanting to create meaningful change in my school community towards the goals of the TRC, this project offered the opportunity to invite others to consider their privileged positions. Much of the research conducted to this point had been with teacher-candidates; I felt that conducting the research project in my school may serve to help clarify the complexities of reconciliatory work in K-12 contexts.
Briefly outline your research question and findings.
The study was informed by the following research question: “What actions can a school community take to engage in the TRC Calls to Action to become a site where truth and reconciliation become possible?”
The findings of the study have been encapsulated in the following way: By living out the Calls to Action in our school community we learned to:
Begin with ourselves
Locate oneself in the context of settler-colonialism by confronting the various ways we have and continue to be shaped by it.
Understand the context of where the work is happening, seeking to understand the community we wish to transform.
Build capacity in ourselves so as to engage respectfully in difficult conversations we encountered on our journey of reconciliation.
Practice critical reflection and understand that the journey toward reconciliation is on-going and evolves with time.
Walk alongside Indigenous peoples on this journey
Bear witness to truth-telling (survivor stories and other Indigenous counter-stories).
Build and foster respectful relationships with Indigenous community members.
Create a support network (Indigenous organizations, community groups, academic institutions) to assist in the journey.
Engage in disruptive work
Work collectively and collaboratively to transform the teaching and learning of the residential school project, treaty education, Indigenous sovereignty, and ongoing colonial violence.
Encourage and influence those around us to include and infuse Indigenous perspectives, values, and cultural understanding into daily practice.
Transform the spaces and places in the school to reflect the historical significance of Indigenous peoples.
Recognize the potential of schools and individuals in schools to be vehicles for reconciliatory actions.
What was memorable, a highlight about doing this research?
A highlight of doing this research project was having been fortunate enough to share this journey with the colleagues who participated in the study. Our group met several times over the course of the school year in the hope to live out the TRC Calls to Action in our school, which led to many meaningful conversations about the influence we have as teachers to make reconciliation more than aspirational.
What kinds of feedback have you received from others?
I have received very positive feedback from others. I have had an opportunity to share my findings through virtual conferences, with only positive comments coming from those sessions.
Were there any unexpected moments of grace coming out of your studies during a pandemic?
I would say an unexpected moment of grace that came out of this pandemic was shown by my supervisor, Dr. Tupper. She was extremely supportive and understanding of the challenges I faced as a graduate student, principal, and father of four children.
What are your hopes for how your work is taken up by others?
My hope is that this work is taken up in ways that continue to invite others to consider their positionality in our settler-colonial system and how they might use their privilege to explore the shared history between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. More work is needed in how students take up and experience reconciliation education and it is my hope that this project can illuminate some of those possibilities.
Congratulations to #UREdu Dr. Fatima Pirbhai-Illich and Dr. Fran Martin (UExeter) on being recognized by the Geographical Association with a Journal article award for Excellence in Leading Geography for their article, “Fundamental British Values: Geography’s Contribution to Understanding Difference” in Primary Geography.
Dr. JoLee Sasakamoose with the Wellness Wheel team is recipient of $49,982 from the Jim Pattison Children’s Research Grant program.
Guided by the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, to provide a culturally secure space for knowledge exchange, mobilization, and co-creation, Dr. Mamata Pandey (SK Health Authority) and Dr. JoLee Sasakamoose (U of R) will be leading the study entitled “Okawimaw Kanosimowin (Mother’s Bundle): A Peer-Driven Approach to Improve Indigenous Maternal and Birth Outcomes.”
According to the Wellness Wheel Facebook Page, the researchers aim “to train Indigenous peers to advocate and assist Indigenous mothers through pregnancy, labour and delivery to postpartum stages. Another goal of the study is to create a mothers care bundle consisting of individual support links and services, essential mother and baby products and traditional medicines in partnership with the multi-disciplinary team.”
Congratulations to MEd student Whitney Blaisdell on winning the University of Regina 3MT® competition. Along with the recognition, Blaisdell takes home $1500 and she will represent the U of R in the Western Regional 3MT® competition.
The three-minute thesis competition proved to be a “great challenge,” says Blaisdell: “I was surprised at how challenging it was to attempt to describe the importance and current state of play, the research methods I used, the emergent theory, and the implications of the research in three minutes!”
Blaisdell says she benefitted from other aspects of participating in the competition, including the “opportunity not only to share this research on play in an accessible format but also to listen to other students share their fascinating and important research. The finalists had the opportunity to attend a workshop on presenting with Dr. Kathryn Ricketts that was so helpful.”
Overall, Blaisdell says that she has had, “a wonderful experience studying here at the University of Regina in the Faculty of Education with the supervision of Dr. Marc Spooner and the support of Dr. Valerie Triggs and Dr. Patrick Lewis as members of my committee.”
As for the future, along with supporting the offshoots of her current research and doing more research around play, Blaisdell plans to follow her own advice–to play: “I look forward to taking a small break to play and enjoy some warm weather with my family.”
The University of Regina Graduate Student Association (URGSA) described the competition as follows:
The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an internationally recognized competition for thesis-based graduate students in which participants present their scholarly and creative activity and its wider impact in 3 minutes or less. The challenge is to present complex research in an accessible and compelling way with the assistance of only one static slide. Created in 2008 by Dr. Alan Lawson at the University of Queensland, Australia, the 3MT® competition celebrates exciting and innovative graduate student research while promoting communication, public speaking, and storytelling skills. The competition offers an exciting and thought-provoking opportunity for graduate students, pushing them to consolidate their ideas and crystalize their research discoveries. Presenting in a 3MT® competition increases the capacity of graduate students to effectively explain their scholarly and creative activity in a clear and concise manner, and in a language appropriate to a general audience.
URGSA has posted a video of the competition to YouTube:
This story started with an invitation to do a play reading from my sister and playwright Alanis King, who had been invited by the University of Wisconsin (UWM) to write the script titled Sharing Wisconsin Sky.
The reading was part of a Greater Milwaukee Foundation Grant-supported collaboration between Peck School of the Arts, UWM Planetarium/Physics, and UWM’s Indigenous Language areas, including American Indian Studies and the Electa Quinney Institute. The project team was led by UWM faculty Robin Mello, Jean Creighton, Margaret Noodin, and Joelle Worm.
After a postponement due to the pandemic, the project began in late fall and the students were tasked with a writing assignment: to think of their experiences of the sky, the stars, and their relationship with the planet we are all living upon. Alanis was given the students’ writing contributions, which she then artfully wove together with her own written pieces and scenes that connected the stories together from the Anishnaabe worldview of our relationship to the cosmos.
Given the number of characters and Indigenous songs, I was invited by Alanis to take part as a reader. I in turn offered an invitation to the First Nations University’s Dr. Kathleen O’Reilly, who has a penchant for theatre. Both of us were thrilled to kick off our international acting debuts!
I was given the starring role of Giizhigokwe – Sky Woman (no pun intended) and to be a Beneshiisuk Singer of two Anishnaabe songs. Kathleen was invited to read the role of Eclipse.
The 11 readers, comprised of UWM’s project team, students, and guest readers, Kathleen and I, presented on Zoom on December 19, 2020. The reading took about 2 hours with sound checks and introductions. After the play, Alanis thanked everyone and remarked that, “The opportunity to hear the voices of the characters and their stories lifted from the page and brought to life by the talented cast is an excellent way as a playwright to envision possibilities for a future script workshop and eventual production.”
I really cherished learning another Anishnaabe word song and it reminded me of my love for music: Bin bin bindigenGchimiigwech gaabiizhaayan translates to mean ”come in, thank you for being here.” This whole experience that included many Anishnaabe songs and our language lifted my spirit.
Likewise, Kathleen says, “It was a wonderful experience acting and working with so many talented people. The play is beautifully written and merges Indigenous and non-Indigenous voices through spoken word and song. Reflecting on people’s memories and experiences of the sun, moon and stars, it is a reminder that no matter who we are, or where we are from, we all have looked to the skies with wonder and awe.”
This reading was a learning opportunity for us towards our future research collaboration between the University of Regina and First Nations University, a research project involving diverse storytelling on depictions of racism whereby we will be creating artistic vignettes on race issues. This research project is inspired by, and will be directed by, our new colleague and collaborator Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, a MAP faculty member at the University of Regina.
The play reading was one of our last community engagement initiatives of 2020 and was well worth the effort and time as well as an opportunity to help out where script readers were needed. To our good fortune we have been invited to a second reading in person on the real stage under the Wisconsin sky at the nearby Electa Quinney Institute, the Potawatami community school’s amphitheater.
If all our stars align, there will be more to come!
by. Dr. Anna-Leah King
Alanis King is an Ottawa-based Odawa artist originally from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve. Her other playwriting credits include Bury, Morning Becomes Electa, Kawabin Elvis, Born Buffalo, Teacher, Kohkum’s Good Medicine Journey, Treaty Daze, Bye Bye Beneshe, Song of Hiawatha: An Anishnaabec Adaption, Order of Good Cheer, Gegwah, Lovechild, The Artshow, Heartdwellers, The Manitoulin Incident, Tommy Prince Story, and If Jesus Met Nanabush. Her published works include 3 Plays by Fifth House Publishers and coming soon The Manitoulin Incident written in three languages. She is the first Aboriginal woman to graduate from the National Theatre School of Canada.
Anna-Leah King (PhD) is an Associate Professor of Indigenous Education, Educational Core Studies and Language and Literacy Education and serves as the Chair of Indigenization at the University of Regina. King is originally from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve.
Kathleen O’Reilly (PhD) is the Graduate Program Coordinator and Associate Professor Indigenous Education at First Nations University of Canada in Regina, Saskatchewan.
When Sara Schroeter set out to attend a local musical theatre production one evening, an outing with one of her children, she didn’t expect she would have to have difficult conversations with her family because of the problematic racial representations.
“As a mother of mixed-race children, when I started going to the musical theater and seeing the problematic representations and after talking with my husband and hearing him say the damage was already done, and that this was one of many, many experiences that our children will have, that they might not understand right now, but one day they will, and these experiences will have an accumulated impact [sigh]—that’s when I realized that this is what we are doing with musicals.”
Musical theatre is a popular and traditional feature in many high schools across North America, including Regina. When Schroeter first joined the Faculty of Education as an assistant professor of arts and drama education, she realized she needed to gain a better understanding of musical theatre:
“Musical theatre is what many of my students in Arts Ed understood theatre to be. I needed to better understand what’s going on in musical theatre. I was told that musicals are really big for the local high schools and the community attends these musical shows.”
Schroeter set out to investigate and says, “I went to two musical theatre productions the first year I was here and both had really problematic representations of either race or gender and sexuality—some of the most troubling representations that I have seen recently, certainly something I didn’t expect to see in 2016.”
Her experiences caused Schroeter to start questioning the pedagogical value of musical theatre. She wondered where teachers were drawing their inspiration from and how they were contending with issues of representation in a field that, she says, “is known to have quite a problematic history.”
Though a drama educator, this exploration into musical theatre has been a new focus for Schroeter, whose research has mostly focused on youth representations of self and other through drama.
“I study applied theatre and drama in education, and am interested in youth making their own stories and telling their own stories. My research has also examined representational practices, often drawing on critical race theory and cultural studies,” says Schroeter.
Schroeter’s research project involves two parts: “Part of my research is to look at what is going on in high schools, interviewing teachers, and part of it is to go and see contemporary progressive shows, or shows said to be doing progressive things.”
Though her research is not complete yet, and no in-depth analysis has been done on the data, Schroeter is able to share some of her understanding of the issues so far.
Musical theatre productions are essentially money makers, Schroeter says. As such, “they are meant to have an appeal to a large audience. To do this, they rely heavily on stereotypes and tropes to make easily recognizable characters so that everybody knows what story is being told. These representations always comes with issues.”
When musicals are purchased for reproduction at the high school level, as commercial enterprises, strictly guided by copyright law, there is little room for local teachers to make adaptations. This is a problem because, Schroeter says, there are “so many ways in which race, religion, and gender and heteronormativity are written into the productions as a way of telling a particular story about how Americans see themselves and the image they want to portray in American society.”
Summarizing Hoffman (2014) in The Great White Way, Schroeter says, “the musical is in essence part and parcel of the invention of Americanism and white supremacy, with roots in minstrel shows from the 1800s and early 1900s when performers did dress up with blackface, and used quintessential stereotypes, such as mammy.”
As a form of public pedagogy, Schroeter views high school musical theatre as “teaching all of those things that make up what we are understanding and learning—how we construct knowledge.” Referencing Donatella Galella’s work, Schroeter says that “musical theatre is a form of public pedagogy because it tells us stories about who we are and who we imagine ourselves to be.”
As an example, Schroeter points to Hamilton (2015), which is purported to be a very progressive musical production. She says, “Hoffman (2014) writes about songs in musicals, such as the song for change. The main character goes through immense change and the person who sings the song for change is usually a white character who has multiple dimensions, whereas characters of colour are presented as flat characters; they stay the same throughout the show. Hamilton (2015) plays with this by representing white characters through actors of colour. Actors of colour get to play this range of emotion and change, but it is still problematic because they are still representing White folks, so they haven’t changed and disrupted what happens in the structure of the musical.”
Schroeter highlights other problems with Hamilton (2015): “The way the American history is told through hip hop makes history relevant, but it also makes the history irrelevant, because it is a story from which the actors of colour in the cast have historically been excluded—in some ways a re-appropriation. Why aren’t they telling the story of the Haitian revolution or of the theft of lands; there are so many others stories that could have been told that would be relevant to the students who would then see their histories represented in the play. Instead they are being told what is ultimately a white story—a slave-owning story—that has been re-imagined to maybe include the possibility of mixed heritage in Alexander Hamilton, which perpetuates the idea that he was mixed race, but we don’t know that.”
Though musical theatre is problematic, Schroeter understands that it fulfills a purpose: “The musical fills this void in not requiring audiences to work very hard to understand what is going on in the story,” she says. Musicals also “bring various departments, music, dance, theatre, and art departments together for these wide scale productions that involve a lot of kids.”
Schroeter clarifies her position saying, “I’m not taking away from the bonding experience or artistic learning, but I want to know what these productions do to us as a public, pedagogically, and to students in particular, and also to acknowledge, as Gastambide-Fernandez & Parekh found in their 2017 study of arts programs, who is included in those productions and who is excluded historically in drama and theatre programs in our schools.” Schroeter is encouraged that increasingly IBPOC scholars, educators, and artists are raising their voices about this exclusion in representation and taking on leadership roles in musical theatre, such as director and producer.
Schroeter still wants to see plays integrate music and art with drama, but she would love to see them be stories relevant to youth. “I’m not going to deny that kids want to do Grease (1971). I get that teachers are in a delicate position of having to do what kids want and push them.”
Avant garde theatre is one alternative to musicals because “avant garde theatre artists are often trying to avoid stereotypes or trouble the tropes. Then you get really controversial theatre because opinion is divided—with some hating and some loving it,” says Schroeter. Likewise, “when you make original theatre and stories told by students and their points of views, sometimes parents don’t like the stories that kids have to tell and sometimes the stories are experimental and people don’t get it.”
Through interviews with local drama teachers, Schroeter is finding some teachers “that just won’t do the musical because they are going to create plays that involve music and singing, but not musicals—once you open that door, you can’t close it because that is what people will want and expect.” With student-created theatre, Schroeter says, “you can cast more diversely, and the tools you are giving students are much bigger because you are training them as story tellers.” Other teachers in her study, she says, “are aware of the issues, and are trying to address stereotyping and problematic representational practices by having conversations with their students about it and by not letting the problems disappear.”
So far, Schroeter says, “my research is reinforcing what I already know about the value of arts education—giving students the tools to come together and make and create original art.”