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What is it?

The purpose of our field experience was to introduce us to how schools work and how teachers operate in their classrooms. For our field experience, we were assigned a school and we have to attend that school for four half-days with the perspective of an educator. Each week, we were to respond to a variety of focus questions where we reflect what we learned about the interconnectedness of knowledge, school, and society.

Below are excerpts from my field experience blog posts.

Invitation and Hospitality (Week One)

For this week, I was assigned to a grade 6/7 mix classroom and a grade 7/8 mix classroom.

I noticed that while the teacher was talking in front of the class, some of the students were working on a worksheet, while others listened to what she was saying. It was up to the students whether to do the worksheet during the discussion or not. By doing this, she was honouring her students’ different learning styles since not everyone learns by just listening. Some learn by reading, writing, or some visual representation of that topic, which she also did by showing her class a video.

In both classes, when the teacher asks a question to the class, almost all of the students respond. This was a new experience for me. The students in the classes I have been a part of in high school were not really participating and engaging with the teacher. I realize that their students’ participation was due to them having a sense of community and belonging in the classroom.

Being in the classrooms, you are constantly surrounded by things that make the classroom a hospitable and invitational environment. Both the classrooms I have been in have a wall dedicated to student goals. It did not matter what goal that was. It could be a goal for their education or a goal for their personal life. I feel like this is an amazing way to make a classroom a hospitable and invitational one since it makes the classroom feel more vulnerable and personal.

Space, Place, and Boundaries (Week Two)

For this week, I was assigned to a grade 6/7 mix classroom and a grade 7/8 mix classroom.

Instead of the usual desks, the students had two or three-person tables. To me, the tables encourage students to help their classmates. So, not only are they engaged in learning and listening to the teacher, but they are also able to help other students in their learning in the classroom. In other words, the tables create cooperative learning spaces for the students.

The students having shared tables instead of individual desks is a new concept to me. Growing up, I loved and was used to my own little space to do my work in the class. However, I understand that having shared tables not only encourages students to help each other and discuss their work with one another, [but] it also gives back a little bit of power in their student-teacher relationship by learning how to be independent and helpful.

Truth and Reconciliation (Week Three)

For this week, I was assigned to a grade two classroom and a grade one classroom.

…I noticed that each teacher had different takes when it came to integrating and honouring Indigenous knowledge in their classrooms. In the grade one class that I was in this week, the alphabet was taped on the wall above the whiteboards. Instead of using the common alphabet objects, such as “A is for Apple” with a picture of an apple under the letter A, each object shown was associated to Indigenous history and culture. For example, “A is for Axe. My father uses an axe to chop wood,” “B is for Beaded. A Cree woman designed this beaded bag,” and “C is for Canoe. Hunters use a canoe when hunting.”

In another classroom, they had the First Nations Medicine Wheel, which had four sections for four concepts, which were Generosity, Belonging, Mastery, and Independence. For each concept, the students wrote something that they could do to enforce that concept. For example, one student wrote “Making people happy and making people laugh” for the concept of Belonging. In addition to that, several Cree words were written on the whiteboard, which changes every week, further helping students’ learning about the Cree language.

Near the principal’s office, there was also the same Medicine Wheel with the same concepts written on it. On the other side of that wall was a bulletin board which said “Every Child Matters” in respect to the unmarked graves found in residential schools.

Inclusive Education, Diversity, and Difference (Week Four)

For this week I was assigned to a grade two classroom and the music classroom.

By listening to their stories and experiences, you can really see and feel how teachers should be able to help, or at least try their best, in building and shaping these students to create a much better society than what we have today.

The school’s diversity and inclusiveness were shown upon entering the school. On a wall was the word “Welcome!” in many different languages. As soon as I saw this, I immediately looked for the one in my first language and when I did find it, I smiles and genuinely welcomed and comfortable. I realized that if seeing that made me feel welcomed, it would most likely do the same for the children.

In addition, the classrooms that I have been in also made me feel safe since all of them had the pride flag in them. As a queer person, seeing pride flags in both the public and in educational environments in important. I am aware that not everybody is inclusive and accepting of different identities and expressions. By having pride flags in classrooms and in public spaces, not only can queer people feel a sense of safety and security while they are in that space, but also a sense of safety and security for the children spending time in that space.

Interconnectedness of Knowledge, Schooling, and Society

This is an infographic of my overall reflection of my field experience. It contains what I learned and how each of the topics discussed in each week is connected.