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Navigating Personal and Professional Development Amidst a Pandemic

In my previous experiences with youth as a camp counsellor and private English teacher, I was focused on practical knowledge; how to gain children’s attention, how to maintain engagement, how to instill respect with one another, relay content, while stating clear guidelines to follow. Although these tactics facilitated to keep a group of children cooperative, safe, and involved, I had not inquired greatly into the depth of the learning at hand. With the start of this program, I began to investigate what makes a remarkable teacher, what external factors are contextualizing each child’s experience, as well as theoretical approaches to pedagogy.  Furthermore, by exploring Helen Timperly’s Adaptive Expert (2012) I have gained the tools needed to embark on a cyclical reflective process consisting of assessment, refinement, application and professional conversations. This year has been full of uncertainties, but one thing that is for certain remains that teachers must be adaptive.

Despite just graduating undergrad, there is a lifetime of learning ahead of me with infinite room to grow as an educator. Often time growth feels uncomfortable when learning novel content, and unprecedented modes of instruction, but to me, this development serves as an opportunity to remind me what the learning process feels like for students. In turn this joy and challenge of learning will further equip me to understand the student perspective.

Commitment to lifelong learning is integral so students can receive the utmost current and engaging pedagogical approaches and content. After being exposed to the Communities of Inquiry, I have never been more motivated to participate in and promote various educational contexts.  Coincidentally, over the course of the pandemic, expert knowledge has never been more accessible as numerous institutions have been offering free master classes, and live streams. Apart from the B.Ed. program, I am currently furthering my practice by enrolling in “Art & Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies For your Classroom” a course offered by the Museum of Modern Art, I have attended virtual events hosted by the Art Gallery of Ontario, and numerous Scientific conferences offered by Labroots. Moreover, I have also expanded my listening to podcasts including Science Vs. and Ologies, which delve into various scientific topics and address common inquires. As a future teacher I realize that it is my responsibility to seek knowledge from extended learning communities so that my students receive an expanse of insight from diverse contexts. Furthermore, within my practicum I aim to promote extension of learning by facilitating a learning community in a leadership role.

Over the past few months, I have been fortunate to participate in concentrated discussions with peers and professors to refine my professional knowledge and reframe my beliefs.  Within these groups, we share areas of strength while teaching, areas of worry, and areas that can be improved upon. This supportive and collaborative space assists to take collective agency to create the most valuable learning environment for our students.  

One of many themes that remains consistent through all courses, outlines above all, students are at core of all pursuits. When deciphering what to teach and how to teach it, I will stop and ask my self what will offer the students the most positive and productive experience, to guide instruction. Likewise, I am dedicated to providing students with the most accurate assessment of their skills, in a mixed ability classroom this does not always look identical as fairness does not always mean ‘sameness’. In this respect I will uniquely tailor learning plans for individuals who are struggling and instill differentiated instruction when necessitated.

Lastly, I resonate on three areas; what I know now, what I continue to struggle with and what I aim to achieve. What I know now is that within education system there are hidden agendas, expansive social inequities, and diverse theoretical approaches to pedagogy.  What I continue to struggle with is how can I diverge from Eurocentric approach to curriculum content, when majority of policy makers represent the colonial perspective. What I aim to achieve as an educator is an inclusive classroom, appreciation of diverse culture and expertise, a classroom that uniquely challenges and supports students to their own potential, and eliciting engagement and fostering connectedness.


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