Category: Student Experiences

Student experiences of learning and teaching during a pandemic

One student’s experience of remote learning

Though students have experienced many challenges over the past year of remote learning due to pandemic restrictions, there have been some benefits, some unexpected moments of grace. Such was the case for Lakeland Scriver (BSc’18), a Bachelor of Education After Degree (BEAD) student, who has found remote learning both challenging and rewarding.

“Being in a pandemic, isolated, and under the stress of a busy university semester makes for a tougher experience in bringing your best self to the virtual classroom,” says Scriver.

The fall 2020 term was Scriver’s first semester in the Faculty of Education, and the challenges seemed daunting: “I was unfamiliar with the professors, staff, and nearly all of my classmates, and this was especially intimidating due to all first impressions being made on a computer screen,” says Scriver.

Scriver found ways to overcome feelings of isolation and intimidation, including being honest about the challenges they faced: “I found it helpful to use the chat function in Zoom and other programs to try and create the camaraderie I would normally build with my classmates. It was also beneficial for my classmates and I to be honest with our professors about our struggles with workloads and due dates. Everyone is in the same boat right now, and sometimes we just need to bridge that communication gap between the bow and the stern to figure out together how to keep the whole dang thing from sinking.”

Flexibility, transparency and honesty are aspects that Scriver hopes to model for their future students: “We moved deadlines, asked for changes or accommodations, and acknowledged when things were hard. I appreciated that very few people were shying away from discussing mental health, physical health, and how we were experiencing fluctuations in our well-being, now, during the pandemic, more than ever. I want to be an educator who practices this transparency with their students, and I hope my students will be transparent in return. We aren’t robots, we are people, and learning together means we need to demonstrate human compassion to our fluid, changing selves.”

Being the kind of teacher Scriver wishes they had as a student motivated their decision to do an after degree (major biology; minor general science) program. After pursuing and then withdrawing from an out-of-province Master’s of Science program, Scriver had an epiphany: “It turns out that the part of academia that is my greatest passion is the teaching and learning aspect! I want to be the kind of teacher I wish I had as a student: exuberant, enthusiastic, and authentically myself,” says Scriver.

Scriver experienced an unexpected benefit to remote learning as well: “As a transgender student,” Scriver says, “I’ve found that remote learning has been beneficial in presenting myself as I wish alongside my pronouns and chosen name. It feels less intimidating to challenge misgendering remotely than in-person. I have run into very few issues with respect to trans inclusion thus far. I’m not sure if that is the culture of the Faculty of Education or dumb luck, but I am grateful all the same!”

Remote learning has also given Scriver more opportunity for “introspection and metacognition,” which they feel has been reflected in their assignments. Further, Scriver says, “I feel like I handed in assignments that had more vulnerability and honesty in them than I might have demonstrated in busier, in-person classes.”

Though remote learning from home can allow for more vulnerability and honesty, these aspects can quickly turn awkward. Scriver recounts one instance in which the class watched as the instructor, who had muted their self momentarily, not-so-gently asked their partner in another room to turn down the volume on the TV, which was disrupting the class. Scriver says, “so awkward, but so funny…”

Students’ experiences teaching in schools

This academic year 290 interns and 297 pre-interns taught in schools! Practicums are an important part of our Education programs, but the prospect of doing one’s practicum during a pandemic can cause anxiety and new challenges. In this section, two students are introduced and their practicum experiences are shared: pre-intern Hanna Gross and intern Keelin Louttit.

Hanna Gross pre-interned at W.S. Hawrylak School

Hanna Gross has two major reasons she is becoming a teacher: She loves kids and has a passion for lifelong learning. A 4th-year student in the Elementary program, Gross hopes to instill her love of learning in her future students.

Gross loves the Faculty of Education program at the University of Regina because of “how much practical experience there is in the program and how close everyone is,” with the U of R being a mid-sized university with fewer students in classrooms. The most memorable experience in her program was her pre-internship. Gross says, “I was very excited for pre-internship and putting into practice what we are taught. Pre-internship was a confirmation that teaching is the most appropriate path for me.”

However, the prospect of pre-interning during a pandemic caused Gross some nervousness. “Not only was I nervous, but I was also concerned about whether or not we would be going out at all! In the weeks leading up to the pre-internship we saw Regina’s case numbers rising, and there was talk about not going out to schools. Also, I hadn’t been with students yet because we didn’t get our fall placements due to the pandemic. I was also fearful about how strict things would be in the schools and how I was going to adapt to an ‘in your desk and separate’ environment.” To ease her nerves, Gross talked with friends in the education program and some who had graduated and were already teaching about what teaching is really like during a pandemic. “They reassured me that it isn’t as scary as it sounds.” When Gross met her cooperating teacher Lori Burton, she began to relax: “Almost as soon as I met my coop and met the students my nervousness disappeared. She was phenomenal and the kids were excited to have me there.”

What surprised Gross about pre-interning during the pandemic was how open and helpful everyone was: “Teachers were inviting me into their classrooms. Kids were so open-minded and excited to try things, and even when it didn’t go great … Everyone was so forgiving and willing to help. I left the school with three boxes of resources, long lists of books to buy, and lots of advice.”

Star Quilt Fractions

Gross appreciates how much she learned about herself as a teacher especially when things didn’t go well or as planned: “My co-op was very reassuring, encouraging me to take those risks and try those things because you need to know and if it doesn’t work it’s fine; it won’t ruin the kids. Try again the next day. Have grace with yourself. You’re not going to be perfect.”

One lesson Gross feels went especially well was a math fraction lesson using the star quilt. “Each student received a diamond color using three to six colours. They labeled their fractions and then we hung them on the bulletin board. I thought this was kind of fun and the kids liked it. For me, the bigger piece was that everyone was doing something, and came out of it with excitement about what they did that day: I got to see their brains focussed—engagement—and appreciation.”

Keelin Louttit interned at Ecole Lumsden Elementary School
Keelin Louttit holding a kitten to bring a hands-on learning approach to animal classification.

Keelin Louttit finished her Secondary education program (Major: social studies; Minor: inclusive ed) with her internship in the December 2020 term at École Lumsden Elementary School. She comes from a family of teachers and grew up seeing firsthand how teaching could make a difference: “My Grandma was a learning resource teacher. Seeing her face light up when she could help kids—I want that.” The University of Regina Education program made the most sense for Louttit because it was close to home (Balgonie). She says, “I also knew that it is one of the best education programs in Canada.”

The prospect of interning during a pandemic also made Louttit nervous. “I didn’t want to have to go online because I didn’t know how teaching online would be.” However, Louttit was soon able to relax: “The first day I met my co-op Corinna Dahl-Ritco, I relaxed and knew it was going to be okay. My co-op was so amazing and willing to help me with everything. I felt assured I would have a great experience.”

What surprised Louttit about interning during a pandemic was that “every day I was excited to go to school and see my students. It didn’t even seem like we were in a pandemic. It never really felt like a big scary thing. It was such a smooth process.”

For Louttit, the most memorable experience as a student here was joining the Education Students’ Society (ESS) as VP of Professional Development (PD) for 2019-2020. “The PD team was me and Jordan Balfour (2020-2021 President) and Kiah Holness (2020-2021 VP of PD).” Her ESS connections were valuable during her internship experience because she was made aware of potential funding from ESS for interns to help with the costs of materials for projects.

A project that the ESS helped fund was a scarf-making project. Louttit’s class was responsible for the December Virtual School Assembly. Due to the season, Louttit wanted to focus on a theme of giving and kindness. Louttit says, “I wanted to do something special but not take away too much time from curriculum and instruction.” The scarf project had multiple connections to the curriculum. To fund the materials for the activity, Louttit sent a proposal to the ESS and received funding to help cover the costs of the materials. She also received funding from the school. Students made the scarves and the finished scarves were donated to those in need of them: “We took some to the Lumsden Heritage Home, a long-term care facility, and some to downtown Regina.”

After the scarves were delivered, “A lot of Heritage Home residents were smiling and some even crying at the windows and wanted to see the kids and watch them play. At a time when kids are thinking about receiving gifts, they got to give gifts and experience the joy of giving.” (See video below)

As advice to future interns, Louttit says, “Find one way that you can contribute to stand out. Find ways to empower your students. Not just on internship, but as a lifelong skill.” Louttit received a temporary contract at the same school as she interned at until Easter and she is now a substitute teacher. She plans to begin a Certificate of Inclusive Education in Spring.

Science kits make remote learning effective and engaging

Take-home science education lab kits were a great way developed by the science education instructional team to overcome the difficulties of teaching and learning science education remotely.

Teaching remotely has been challenging for many professors who are accustomed to face-to-face classroom instruction and methods. Transitioning into remote teaching environments is especially difficult for activity-based subject areas such as science education. Science education professor Dr. Shana Graham says, “the biggest challenge in teaching science during the pandemic is to find ways for students to engage in experiential learning.”

Science education professor John MacDonald concurs, “The learning of science content, skills and attitudes are all greatly facilitated by having the learners interact with the phenomena that illustrate the concept under study. Students communicating their observations and inferences with classmates is also an essential part of learning about the nature of science. Added in to the mix is the importance of students exchanging their reasoning as to how the activities add to their understanding of the concept and connecting this new found understanding to prior knowledge.”

In a previous term, professor Michael McCoy had developed math kits to help students engage with concepts and he found them successful.

“John, Shana and I decided the best way to go about teaching science education remotely was to develop a kit for our science methods classes,” says McCoy.

MacDonald, who had found that moving back to the university lab to teach had been helpful in that it “afforded access to materials and equipment not present in a home office,” knew students would also need to have access to materials to learn: “The kits were our attempt to provide our students with an opportunity to experience the activities that they should be using in their future classrooms.” The three professors put together 100 science kits for their elementary and secondary science methods classes.

Developing the kits during a pandemic presented some new problems. MacDonald says, “We had very little problem coming up with activities for the students to do. The real problems were finding sources for the materials that could provide them in a timely manner. Ordering balances and magnets from China was much easier than obtaining materials from Ontario.”

MacDonald says, “The reaction of the students to the activities seems to be largely very positive. Some activities we picked turned out to be less effective at a distance than face-to-face. We now have a better understanding of what constitutes a good at-a-distance activity and how to structure these activities for success. Doing activities at a distance should also help improve running these activities in a face-to-face setting.”

Besides the use of take-home science kits, Graham says she adopted a different way of teaching: “I found myself practicing more guided inquiry with my students, instead of coupled or full inquiry. When you cannot walk a round a classroom and observe students in order to determine how they are engaging and find ways to encourage them, you need to improvise. I found the use of guided inquiry created a less stressful and more encouraging online environment for online learning.”

Science education student Jaclyn Kearley says, “I think having this science kit … made learning more accessible in the virtual learning classroom. It kept me interested and engaged, and I felt like I was having a much higher quality learning experience than I would if we didn’t have the materials to interact with. In a virtual classroom, the science kits are an incredible tool!!!”

Student Ireland Sorestad says, “Getting the chance to use these science kits … made me excited to come to class as I knew I would get to be hands on. Compared to my other classes where I listened to lectures for hours, ESCI 310 was a breath of fresh air. Ultimately, I look forward to continuing using the science kit and implementing some of these activities in my future classroom.”

One student, Robertson, a mother of two, says, “This has been an extremely beneficial experience as I have learned an abundance of ways to incorporate the contents of this kit into the elementary classroom. Beyond this, it’s pretty incredible to see how much one can learn and experience from the comfort of one’s own home.”

Robertson continues, “Not only have I gained knowledge from this class but so have my daughters, who are ages 8 and 9. Mr. McCoy was kind enough to let my children join in the fun and learning. They looked forward to our Thursday night classes very much and I appreciate it as well.”

Robertson outlines some of the topics explored with the kit and the methods used in the course: “We explored forces and motion using toy cars and ramps (ruler and books), electricity as we saw what happens when you bring a negatively charged balloon close to a stream of water, investigating UV intensity with UV beads, aerodynamics using two cans and a straw and the list goes on. Throughout these Zoom classes, we have had the chance to formulate questions, design procedures, collect data and create explanations based on what we see. I never had this experience as an elementary school student, but I am sure I would have learned so much more if I had. My science class experience included reading a textbook and memorizing the terms to regurgitate on an exam or worksheet. It was quite mundane and not very stimulating for the mind. On the other hand, these classes have been exciting and inspiring. I have enjoyed watching my daughters learn how to think for themselves as they join me in these experiments. I appreciate this and want to do the same for my future students, as it not only betters them as individuals in the science classroom, but for life in general.”

Student Lakeland Scriver describes their experience of the kits: “Our professors gave us the kits with little to no explanation as to the contents outside of safety concerns. I love this: It makes the science kits feel magical. I may not know what an object or a chemical or a container might be used for, but I know that when the mystery is revealed, it will be spectacular. My professors are big advocates for inquiry-driven learning and having us investigate rather than go through cookbook experiments. This method helped capture our attention—no matter where we were attending class. I commend my professors for taking the time to put these kits together, and for having the patience to walk us through all of the activities remotely.” (See Scriver’s full story on the next page)

Professor Graham says, “The pandemic has not been easy for many people to deal with, so I have tried to be as flexible as possible with assignment deadlines. Similarly, my main goal is to push my students to excel to the best of their capacity, so I also allow them to resubmit work that is subpar. The point of teaching, in my mind, is to do whatever it takes to help someone learn and grow. It can be most rewarding when you help students to have higher expectations of themselves by insisting on setting the bar high and offering multiple chances to reach it, rather than having them, or you, settling for anything less.

I hope that my students take away that being patient, flexible, and caring are perhaps some of the most important elements of effective learning/teaching relationships.”

With students taking away those important lessons about caring for their future students, there is something to be grateful for in a trying time, an unexpected moment of grace coming out of the pandemic.

Moveable Pulley Photos

Of the science kits, student Chandra Palazzo says, “The kits were very helpful and interactive, making science come alive in these times when we cannot meet in the classroom. It gives hand- on learners a great visual rather than focusing too much on content heavy material. Without the science kits, it would be very hard to understand the concepts, tactics and science terms that come along with each activity.”

The ESS is navigating pandemic and making connections

Jordan Balfour, ESS President

When Jordan Balfour was voted in as Education Students’ Society (ESS) President for 2020/2021, he didn’t expect he would be navigating a pandemic.

“The world we are living in now, it isn’t what I signed up for from the start. There have been a lot of bumpy roads, and still are. I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate, how to communicate, how to represent the students, how to communicate with faculty and represent that to students. I wasn’t sure how to do this—it’s really been a complete adjustment.”

Balfour is a busy third-year secondary Education student, with a major in Biology and two minors, who is also working on a second degree in Indigenous Environmental Sciences. Despite the difficulties of remote studies and pandemic restrictions, Balfour with the ESS team are finding their way and making connections.

The addition of a new executive role, VP of Community Relations, is one way that the ESS is reaching out. “I thought we didn’t have enough representation in the community, so we created a new position called community relations,” says Balfour.

Paige Hamann, ESS VP of Community Relations

The position was offered to Paige Hamann, new to the ESS and in her second year of the Secondary program with a major in Social Studies and a minor in English. Hamann says, “I inquired about how to become an ESS member, had an interview to see what team I would fit best in, and then they offered me the position on the executive because of my experience with nonprofits.” Hamann had started her own photography business in Grade 10 and then last summer, following the loss of a friend who struggled with mental health, she incorporated Inside the Box, a nonprofit seeking to address the stigma around mental health within the sports culture.

Hamann says her vision for ESS community relations involves, “letting the community know that the University of Regina ESS wants to support them. We want to do as much as possible to help everybody in our community.” The Community Relations team of five has been providing opportunities for students to volunteer and creating spotlights on local organizations that support education, such as the Inspiring Young Minds book store and Ascendant Martial Arts.

The ESS is reaching out through donations as well. Balfour says, “we donated $500 to five schools for PPE funding because we could not go to the schools and volunteer our time. We also provided Street Culture and Rainbow Youth Centre a large sum of pumpkins and donated time to carve pumpkins with youth.” And they have purchased gift cards to contribute to giveaways for student draws.

Balfour says there have been many changes because the social events typically hosted by the ESS are restricted. “We just had a social event that we were worried about hosting. A month ago we rented a movie theatre, and we had to follow the COVID-19 restrictions, limiting our numbers from 20 to 15. We were worried about how it would go. We did get some backlash, but we followed our protocols. It was our last face-to-face social event.” To ensure they could keep to the restricted number who could attend, the ESS charged a $5 ticket price and had students register to attend. All proceeds from the event were donated to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Foundation of Regina.

Without face-to-face events, the ESS has found it difficult to connect with students and build an Education student family. Balfour says, “Because we are online we don’t have the same ability to build that connection, a culture of relying on each other for support while we are undergrad students.”

Danielle Meader, ESS VP Social
Sara Tokarz, ESS VP of Communications

Instead of face-to-face socials, the Social Team, headed up by Danielle Maeder, is offering giveaways and prizes in exchange for tags, follows, and likes on the ESS social media, managed by the VP of Communications Sara Tokarz.

Balfour has realized that remote studies due to COVID-19 have given ESS executives another new role. “We benefited from a really bad situation. We had a lot of first-year students sign up. New students who joined the ESS are trying to achieve this social, cultural connection with the University that they don’t get through remote classes. Some of them have never been on campus. We are trying to help them with that community. Some of the best aspects of the Faculty are the classes we get to attend. I was looking forward to the interactions and being a part of the educational experience in the Faculty of Education. We are here to provide…almost a peer mentorship. We’re like big brothers and sisters, cause we are experienced in the program,” says Balfour.

Kiah Holness, ESS VP Professional Development

With new students in mind, the ESS’s Professional Development (PD) team, headed by Kiah Holness, offered their first virtual event, “Ed’s Declassified School Survival Guide” where more experienced students offered tips and tricks for when new students finally come to the campus, such as where to buy the best coffee, how to find parking, how to buy textbooks, and how to navigate their own involvement. Other PD events offered virtually were “Building Resilience for Stress of Teaching” presented by Dyan Roth and “Indigenous Brilliance” with Justin “Jah’ kota” Holness.

The ESS executive is also working with Dr. Pamela Osmond-Johnson, the associate dean for undergraduate programs, to develop a new pilot program to provide small grants to pre-interns and interns to support practicum-based projects. Balfour says, “They are the only ones out there facing everything going on with the pandemic. Interns and pre-interns are unable to connect with community resources and bring them into the classroom because schools are locked down. With funding, they will have the resources to assist their practicum experience. Students won’t have to pay out of pocket.”

Hanna Gross, ESS VP Finance & Secretary

To apply for funding to provide resources, to make community connections, or to assist in lesson planning, pre-interns and interns can apply to the ESS for a specific amount with a proposal for PD funding.

There are more plans for collaboration with undergraduate Student Services. Balfour says, “Pam is excited about what we are accomplishing. We will be working with Student Services to host events where they can provide feedback for students, such as town halls and other opportunities for students to learn to navigate the ‘what’s next?’ in their programs.”

The ESS is also looking into collaborations with the University of Saskatchewan Education Students’ Society to broaden and extend their reach to offer PD events to Education students across Saskatchewan.

“The ESS team is amazing this year. They are so thrown out there even during pandemic. They are doing so much with the resources they have,” says Balfour. “This year has brought more than I expected. I didn’t expect 25 team members. These young individuals are so self-driven with their leadership and where they want to take their careers and what they want to accomplish.”

Balfour continues, “The pandemic has really changed everything. The way we can support students and the University at the same time. We’ve had to figure out how to navigate through that. It has been a challenge to make sure we follow proper protocols and to make sure we are inclusive to team members and the student body. Some of the ESS executive has navigated in ways that they couldn’t even anticipate. The experience has been phenomenal.”

Finding Phyllis Webstad approved Orange Shirts at Karen Mah’s Inspiring Young Minds store in Regina was just the beginning of the ESS’s work in the community. Finding out that the store was doing a toy drive to support Gifts of Hope 2020, an initiative started by a Grade 12 student, Emily Messier, to give the gift of play to children in need during the holiday season, the ESS purchased items from the store to donate to the Toy Drive as well as purchasing gift cards to contribute to a giveaway at a Regina School.

Student donates November tips and wage to local organizations

Brayden Larson at work

An inspiring student story! Because of the uncertain and troubled times of the pandemic, 3rd year Secondary Education student Brayden Larson wanted to spread some hope and positivity, so he decided to give 20% of his Boston Pizza job wage and all of his tips for the month of November to three local organizations: The 4 Life Foundation, First Steps Wellness Centre in Regina, and Regina Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Regina General General Hospital.

Using his social media to spread the word about what he was doing, where and when he would be working, and also information about the organizations he would be donating to, Brayden was able to raise $2053.35!

Brayden says, “The amount of joy, support, and encouragement I have received throughout this entire month is something I am beyond thankful and grateful for. ⁣ Thank you to everyone that donated, tipped, or offered words of support and encouragement during this process. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. “

Le Bac student creating film series on Canadian languages

Le Bac #UREdu student Wahbi Zarry and Tony Quiñones have created a 1/2 hour film, 10 Days of Cree, which follows Zarry’s 10-day journey engaging with the larger community while working to learn the Cree language. This is the first of a planned educational webseries exploring Zarry’s experiences with Canadian indigenous languages

Interim President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Thomas Chase writes, “10 Days of Cree is a fine example of the quality work our students produce, and just as importantly, a fine example of reconciliation in action that should inspire and serve as an example for us all – particularly as we work to bring to life our new Strategic Plan, kahkiyaw kiwâhkômâkaninawak.”

Episode 2 on the Nakota language will be released in November. For updates follow Zarry’s Facebook site, Canadian Languages.

Canadian Languages is a webseries exploring indigenous languages of Canada through educational documentaries.

Click to read the University of Regina Feature Story

Educating about life with a service animal

Erin with her service dog Stella. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

Erin Strueby (BEd/BKin ’20) has a passion for working with students with exceptional needs. But teaching wasn’t Strueby’s career goal when she first came to the University of Regina (U of R). After being recruited to the U of R Cougar’s Track and Field team, she started out as a Kinesiology student. Teaching became her goal through working in the U of R Summer Sports School (SSS) as a camp leader.

“Through SSS, I discovered that I really enjoy working with children, building relationships, and teaching new games and skills,” says Strueby. After her second year of SSS, Strueby decided to do a joint degree, beginning her Education program while also completing her Kinesiology program. Because Summer Sports School had given her an opportunity to work with children of all abilities, Strueby says she, “developed a true passion for working alongside children with exceptional needs.” She thus decided to complete a Certificate of Extended Studies in Inclusive Education. Strueby says, “Although becoming a teacher was not where I thought I would end up, I am incredibly happy with the path I ended up on and cannot wait to start my career as a teacher.”

However, Strueby has concerns about her career path as a teacher because Strueby herself is a person with an exceptional need: She requires the assistance of her service dog, Stella. Strueby’s reasons for needing Stella are not immediately apparent to others: As a student, she has demonstrated academic proficiency having just finished her seventh year at the University of Regina and she is also a dedicated athlete, as seen in her competitive cross country and long distance running with the U of R Cougars for four years.

Strueby says, “Because my disability is not visible, I often get asked, ‘Why do you need a service animal?’ I have also been asked, ‘What is wrong with you,’ ‘Are you blind or something,’ and ‘Whose service animal are you holding?’ Fortunately, these questions do not easily offend me and I am able to respond in a way that provides people with further knowledge on service animals.”

In her public life, Strueby faces challenges and obstacles because of a lack of knowledge about the use of a service animal. For example, many public places do not know the difference between a service animal and a support/therapy animal. Strueby says, “According to the Saskatchewan Code of Human Rights, support or therapy animals do not have the same rights as service animals do, and are restricted access to many public places. I have often been denied access to places because people think my service animal is a support animal. Trying to explain the difference between a service animal’s role and a support/therapy animal’s role can be rather difficult when people are not open to understanding. This is where I have encountered many issues and struggles when I am trying to live everyday life.”

While Strueby turns many difficulties into opportunities to educate, she also experiences situations which can’t be responded to. For instance, she says, “People have glared, whispered, and said ‘I guess anyone can get a service animal for anything now-a-days’ or ‘They seem to just let dogs everywhere.’”

Another challenge Strueby faces is how others respond to her service animal. She says, “I have also had people swoon over my service animal, make kissy noises or whistle at her to get her attention, and mention how cute she is. Additionally people also try to take pictures of her as if seeing a service animal is a rare phenomenon.”

Strueby compares Stella to a wheelchair: “It is not often that people make snide remarks to people who are in wheelchairs, or to comment on ‘how cute’ a wheelchair is, or to take pictures of it.” Strueby points out that societal norms about visible disabilities teach the public not to ask about how another person is managing their disability, but these norms don’t extend to invisible disabilities.

For example, because Strueby requires Stella only in certain conditions, she is often asked, “Where’s Stella?” when she leaves Stella at home. Strueby says, “Seeing that I make use of my service animal only when I feel I need it, people often think I am faking mental illness, or only had Stella certified because I wanted to be able to take her places with me. This is so far from the truth—having to take a service animal with you in order to function can be such a burden; it is not ‘fun,’ it is not ‘cool,’ and it can make everyday tasks much more difficult.”

“Stella is an incredible tool I have the privilege to use. When I am in busy environments she acts as a barrier between me and other people to ease my social anxiety. During stressful and overwhelming moments in class she will lick my hand or become restless when she recognizes I need a break from the environment I am in. When I have panic attacks or moments of distress she will lie on the floor beside me and paw at me until I am fully focused on her. At home Stella can usually be found right by my side; however if she is not with me, she is constantly checking up on me. Whether I am napping, working on homework, or even in the bathroom… it is never long until she pushes her nose through to see what I am up to,” says Strueby.

While troublesome, these experiences have taught Strueby about what she needs and when she needs it. Though she has some bad days, she says, “I now have the ability to understand exactly what I need during those moments in order to push through.”

“Moving forward, I am working on feeling less guilt and judgment around how I use my service animal,” says Strueby. The use of Stella has been a topic that has weighed on Strueby for some time. Her concerns rise as she anticipates how misunderstandings around her use of Stella might impact her employment in the education field, the work she has become passionate about.

In the fall of 2019, the final year of her Education program, Strueby, with Stella by her side, was required to complete a semester-long, in-school internship. After some initial struggles, and with the support and encouragement of the field placement staff at the U of R, Strueby was finally placed at Luther College High School in Regina under the supervision of Erin Woods and Troy Casper, where she was encouraged by a successful internship.

Strueby says, “Luther provided me such a positive internship experience. Everyone at Luther welcomed me with open arms, was continually supportive, and made my teaching experience one to remember. The Luther community accepted me for who I am and was more than open and willing to learn about my needs, and how a service animal can be used to help those with all types of medical complications. I loved every minute I spent at Luther and I am so thankful for everyone who pushed and challenged me during my teaching experience. I made many relationships with the staff and students and I am looking forward to strengthening those relationships through volunteer work (ex. coaching), and through continuing to share resources and regularly connect with my co-operating teachers and colleagues.”

Through telling her story, Strueby says, “I hope others are able to gain a better understanding about how people’s needs are never the same.”

SUNTEP Regina students engaged in project replicating Road Allowance home

Follow along the Twitter journey posted by SUNTEP Regina professor Brenna Pacholko, outlining the student project that resulted in an accurate portrayal of the interior of a Road Allowance House. The display can be viewed at the GDI Library, 2nd floor of the College West Building. They will be presenting about the project on February 27 at 7:00 pm @ the Artesian on 13th as part of  the Heritage Regina Lecture series, “gee meeyo pimawtshinawn It was a Good Life. Stories from the Road Allowance People.”

Mother and daughter from Nunavut: Students together at the U of R

Pauline Copland has come a long way since her years of working as a clerk interpreter at a health centre in her small community of Arviat, Nunavut. A love for learning and a latent desire to become a teacher induced her to quit her job to pursue a Bachelor of Education degree at Nunavut Teacher Education Program (NTEP), which was offered in partnership with the Faculty of Education, University of Regina (U of R) for over a decade.

“My teachers inspired me to become a teacher. I had been a long time employee at our local health centre, but my love for children and education was always with me; so, after I had all my children, I decided to go back to school to pursue a teaching degree,” says Copland.

In 2013, Copland applied, was accepted, and began her B.Ed. program. Going back to school was challenging at first with adjustments to academics, while also parenting her five children, the youngest of which was only 15 months old when she started the program. Copland says, “I often had mom-guilt feelings because I closed the door on my kids so many times and found a quiet place to study. After the first year, things got easier and my brain got back to student mode.”

Adjustments made, Copland thrived, graduating from the NTEP/U of R Elementary Education Program with distinction in June 2017. But she wasn’t ready to stop learning: “My love for learning grew throughout the program; the more I learned about children and their development the more I was inspired to dig deeper and gain new knowledge. I had my own sense of raising children through a mother’s lens, but it was interesting to learn more about children from an educational perspective.”

Choosing a master’s program with the University of Regina made for a smooth transition: “I decided to take my Master’s at the U of R because I took U of R courses throughout the undergrad program. U of R was partnered with the Nunavut Arctic College at that time, and I kind of knew what to expect from the courses because of my experience at NTEP,” explains Copland.

With only her internship experience to qualify her for a Master’s of Education (M.Ed.) program, Copland decided to apply anyway and was accepted to the U of R program in Curriculum and Instruction: She says, “I knew I had the determination and work ethic to pull through another program after completing the NTEP program, even without the teaching experience that was required upon application. I remember telling myself, ‘I don’t have to believe everything I read, so I’m going to take a chance at this.’”

The difficulty would not prove to be academic; the decision to take the degree in Regina meant she would be leaving behind her children for extended periods of time. She says, “The hardest part of my journey was leaving my kids. It was a different story every single semester. First semester, I had two of my kids who were 5 and 12 years old and in my second semester, I had just my youngest. In my third semester, I left home without any kids to attend the spring semester.”

Each semester, leaving home was a struggle: “It was so hard to board that airplane, but I didn’t turn back and I constantly reminded myself that I am doing this for them. The first few weeks away were brutal, but as soon as I got into a routine, time went so fast. I went home in between semesters so that breather really helped me get pumped up and prepared for another semester.”

In Copland’s second year and final semester, she had the unexpected pleasure of studying alongside her daughter. Copland says, “My daughter, Michaela, decided to come to study at the U of R because she wanted to ‘take the road less traveled.’ A number of our young high school graduates go to Ottawa or Winnipeg, but she wanted to try something different. She was accepted to the Faculty of Arts, but now she is thinking about majoring in education.”

Copland says, “We both felt so lucky to study alongside each other. I think it’s rare for a mom and daughter from Nunavut to attend the same university at the same time. The best part of it all was the support I was able to give her. We are from a small community and there was a big change in scenery so being there for her when she was trying to adjust to all the change was something I’d want to do with all my children. I want them to know that there is a whole world for them to explore out there—‘it’s a small world after all!’”

When Copland first arrived, the only person she knew was Faculty of Education Instructor Julie Machnaik, whom Copland had met through Machnaik’s work as coordinator with the NTEP partnership program for several years. Copland says, “Julie’s nice warm welcome to Regina made me feel closer to home. I live in a close-knit community, and she made the adjustment so much easier to cope with. My friend helped me in more ways than one; she took me and my kids to our new home and made sure I was settled before she left us. She was also my ‘go-to’ person as both campus and city life was new to me. I am thankful she was part of this journey.”

Living on campus gave Copland the opportunity to meet new friends who also gave her support throughout her program, and helped her deal with the hardship of being away from her children. “I met amazing people throughout the program; it was a bonus to have the support from my circle of friends,” says Copland.

Copland graduated from the master’s program in June. She says, “It was an amazing feeling to walk across the stage even for a short moment. Time went way too fast so the convocation ceremony was a great way to wrap up my thoughts around being a long time student.”

Her education has fortified her vision for education: “Every child deserves to learn in a safe and respectful environment. I think each individual should be valued in the classroom as we all learn at our own pace and time. More importantly, giving them the opportunity to learn with respect to their culture and background is something I strongly support,” says Copland.

Reflecting back on what she has accomplished, Copland says, “I close my eyes and I see and feel the campus atmosphere—I never thought, 18 years ago, that I’d get back into books and study alongside my daughter. I was a young mother so I thought I had lost all my chances of getting back into something that I liked doing and dreamed of becoming. Turns out, there is no age limit; you just have to go after your dreams and never stop believing.”

Copland has returned to Nunavut and will start her teaching career in the fall, teaching Grade 3 students. She says, “I will start in my home and comfort zone, but who knows where I’ll end up in a few years time.”

By Shuana Niessen

U of R doctoral candidate returns to China for EFL internship

Moving Towards Ethical Internationalization: Bridging Plural Knowledges in English as Foreign Language Curriculum and Instruction.

In 2014, as part of University of Regina/Chengdu University of Technology’s (CDUT) partnership, an ethical internationalization in higher education research and instructional program was conceptualized and initiated by Professor and Dean, Duan Cheng and Associate Professor, Zheng Huan (CDUT, College of Foreign Languages and Cultures), Dr. Fran Martin (University of Exeter, Graduate School of Education) and Professor Fatima Pirbhai-Illich (University of Regina, Faculty of Education).

Over the past five years, Drs. Martin and Pirbhai-Illich have engaged in academic work at CDUT that has focused specifically on learning and engaging in ethical internationalization practices in higher education in the College of Foreign Languages and Culture. Dr. Martin, Associate Professor Zheng Huan and Professor Pirbhai-Illich conducted research and in 2016, disseminated findings at a conference on Internationalising Higher Education at Simon Fraser University. They have also co-authored one journal article titled “The critical intercultural dimension of the processes of internationalization in higher education” which is under review.

Graduate Students Invited to University of Regina for Doctoral Program.

As part of the overall project, for the past three years, Dr. Pirbhai-Illich has invited one graduate student each year to apply for entry into the Faculty of Education’s doctoral program. Each doctoral student takes their required courses with faculty members and for their doctoral research project, engages in academic work with Dr. Pirbhai-Illich to understand issues around plural knowledges, curriculum and instruction in teaching English as a Foreign Language, and working towards ethical ways of doing education that honour and bridge the best of these knowledges for their particular context.

CDUT Sponsors Former Student to Return to China for EFL Internship,

Miss Feng Leyuan, doctoral candidate, University of Regina

In 2018, CDUT sponsored Dr. Pirbhai-Illich’s doctoral student, Fadi Tannouri from the English Language Institute at the University of Regina to visit, learn and teach Academic English in the Chinese context. This year, CDUT has sponsored one of its own former graduate students, Miss Feng Leyuan. Now entering her third year of the doctoral program in the Faculty of Education, University of Regina, Miss Feng Leyuan has returned for two months with Dr. Pirbhai-Illich as a preservice teacher to her alma mater to teach and engage in a 3-week English as Foreign Language internship program under the guidance of lecturers, Ms. Chen Fan, Ms. Luo Yuan, Mr. Zhou Yi and Dr. Pirbhai-Illich.

On June 19, Miss Feng Leyuan presented her first paper to faculty and graduate students at CDUT titled, “A self-study of my journey: Working towards becoming an ethical global educator of English as a Foreign Language.” Miss Feng Leyuan is the first of the three doctoral students to return to CDUT.