My journey into teaching began as a camp counsellor for children and teens with intellectual disabilities. Through working with these amazing, inspiring kids, I learned the true meanings of respect, which encompasses choice and differentiated instruction; patience, in thinking, communicating, and taking the time to understand behaviour; and fostering inclusion, by celebrating students’ strengths and fostering a safe learning environment.
Studying abroad for a semester in England, I faced loneliness and isolation in a new country. Because of this, I made a conscious decision during my Master of Science to go out of my way to be especially welcoming to the international students in my program. Now, I still keep in touch with many friends from all over the world. This welcoming attitude is something I will take with me to my teaching through empathy, compassion, and understanding. When I teach I will consider the whole child: intellectually, physically, and emotionally.
Ever since I was young, I was drawn to nature. I am a naturalist learner, and understand the benefits of learning outside. Not only is it good for students’ mental wellbeing to spend time outside in nature, but developing a curiosity for the natural world encourages students to become lifelong learners. Seeing, touching, smelling, and feeling examples from the Earth really clicks for some kids. It’s one thing to talk about changes in the seasons; it’s much more meaningful to go out and look for them. However, I realize learners are complex. No person uses just one learning style all the time. This is why I feel it is important to incorporate the Arts into my teaching. This curriculum is a good challenge for some students, having their neurons fire and build connections in a different way, and a necessary outlet for others who crave creativity.
While at Brock, I have made many links between my background in science and my philosophy of education. Having students act like real scientists encourages them to collaborate and problem-solve through experiential learning and inquiry. You don’t need to be in science class to act like a scientist; this way of thinking is encouraged in literacy, mathematics, social studies, and the Arts. This hands-on, minds-on approach to teaching allows students to construct their own knowledge. When students are in charge of their own learning (with the teacher as a guide) they are empowered and inspired to learn.
During my teaching block, I experienced the value of proactive classroom management. My associate and I did not have serious behaviours to deal with because our students had clear routines to follow, prompts for transitions, opportunities to pause, think, and try again, and lots of positive encouragement. On top of that, I integrated technology and hands-on activities to engage my students in meaningful learning. The students in my teaching block were excited to come to school every day and even said ‘thank you’ when I handed out work!
This excitement for learning is something I share with my Block I students. I get excited about what I am teaching and celebrate with my students when they experience success. I even love assessment because it allows me to see the growth of my students. I have travelled a long road to become a certified teacher, but the journey has shaped me into a confident, passionate educator. I am so excited to one day share this passion and enthusiasm with a classroom of my own.