Science Education preservice teachers had the opportunity to take their learning on the road in the winter 2016 semester.
In December 2015, the Yorkton Tribal Council approached the Faculty of Education’s Dr. Shauneen Pete for assistance with science education. Dr. Pete asked Instructors John MacDonald and Michael McCoy, who were teaching secondary science education classes ESCI 350 and ESCI 351, to help out.
With MacDonald’s and McCoy’s support, preservice teachers taking ESCI 350 and 351 planned a two-day session from the Grade 10 curriculum on chemical reactions. Amy Martin explains, “As a class (all 10 of us), we constructed a science unit from scratch, and we actually got to go out and spend two full days teaching science on Kahkewistahaw First Nation and Keeseekoose First Nation reserves.”
On February 4, the preservice teachers traveled to Chief Kahkewistahaw Community School for the Day 1 activities. Students from Kahkewistahaw, White Bear, Ocean Man, and Ochapowace First Nations participated in the session. The next morning they traveled from Yorkton, where they had stayed the night, to Keeseekoose Chief’s Education Centre. There they had opportunity to work with Grade 10 students from Keeseekoose and Cote First Nations.
The following week, they repeated this schedule with Day 2 activities. (However, circumstances prevented them from returning to teach Cote First Nations the Day 2 activities.) The preservice teachers were pleased about this opportunity to work together to develop a series of activities that they also delivered, and the chance to teach at reserve schools, a first for all involved. Instructors John McDonald and Michael McCoy write, “As instructors, we were impressed by the professionalism displayed by our students: the extra work put into developing and organizing the activities, their ability to engage the students in the activities, their ability to reflect on the days activities and incorporate changes for the next day, all served to illustrate the quality of our future professional educators.” The preservice teachers involved were Mari-Anne Berriault, David Brown, Ryan Cherwaty, Shelby Fink, Jenna Hansen, Amy Martin, Laine McLaren, Zach Oleynik, Alyssa Walterson, and Ashley Wiley.
Preservice Teacher Comments:
The experience of teaching at the Kahkewistahaw and Keeseekoose Reserve schools was an eye opening one. The students had only really experienced science through what was taught in their textbooks, so being able to take part in hands on activities was a whole new world for them. It was rewarding to watch them open up throughout the day as they began to get excited about science.
Teaching is a profession that is structured on experience. Therefore, as a beginning teacher, this experience was monumental at this point in our teaching career. The ability to experience a diverse culture and environment in a setting that many would not get to experience was a privilege. These short two days allowed me to apply the information being taught in the classroom in a real life setting. One of the most important aspects the experienced offered was the ability to cooperatively plan lessons with fellow students. We grew not only as individuals, but as a cooperative class in order to provide the best experience we could for the students. This to me was the most rewarding experience.
Teaching at the Kahkewistahaw and Keeseekoose Reserves was a great opportunity for us to build some experience working with students who have had very little exposure to science. As a group, we worked hard to design experiments that would engage the students, and spike some interest in a field that they have spent very little time with. For many of the students, this was the first time they were actively participating in hands on science experiments. As the day went on, it was great to see the students excited, engaged, and asking questions. I enjoyed having an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone, and teach in an environment that I have never been exposed to. Experiences like this will only strengthen our platforms as young educators.
It was a really great experience; my classmates and I were able to gain some experience in co-planning as we created mini lessons for the students. Since there were so many of us, we were able to split the students up into small groups for the lessons, which gave us opportunities to ask the students their thoughts and feelings about being taught science and what they thought about the lessons that we had created.