Field Experience

In the fall 2022 semester, I was enrolled in an ECE course in which one project included three visits to a school in the Regina school system. I went to a holistic, arts-based school. The class I was with would be considered pre-K to Kindergarten students in a traditional classroom. I would like to highlight the fact that these educators understand the importance of language in education as they use some of the tools in their practice that we have been discussing this semester. This is explained in the third portion of this assignment

The work attached below is the assignment I completed for these visits.
The names of the educators, students, and schools have all been changed for privacy reasons.

  1. Societies construct educational and care practices that reflect the dominant values, attitudes, and beliefs of their particular time and place. 

For this project, I went to Prairie Sky School which uses a holistic based education system that delivers the Saskatchewan curriculum through the use of art, community, and nature. Due to its education system, Prairie Sky tends to reach families around the community that have children that might struggle in traditional schools. Thus, Prairie Sky can provide its students with non-traditional learning. This means that the educational practices follow the school and community’s values, attitudes, and beliefs, rather than the dominant societies. 

As stated before, this school reaches a student body that may struggle within traditional school systems. Thus, the families that come to these schools are not looking for traditional education and learning practices created by the dominant society’s beliefs, attitudes, and values. They are instead looking for a school that provides an education their children can learn from. Prairie Sky provides education through arts, nature, and community, giving students a new way to learn. I worked with one of the teachers, Abigail, who teaches the Starflowers class, which has children aged 3-6. Abigail focuses heavily on teaching the curriculum through art and nature. For example, she uses music and dance to teach her students land acknowledgments, and respect for other living beings and to explain the changes that come with Fall. The students would sing along every time, which is a learning process known as rehearsal (Lewis et al., 2010). This is a wonderful reflection of the school’s values and beliefs in art and nature. 

Another non-traditional learning practice Prairie Sky uses is how students demonstrate their learning. Instead of having students write down what they learned in a notebook, Abigail and the other educators utilize Prairie Sky’s value in art and have the students create an art piece that reflects their learning. For all of the art pieces I witnessed being created in the Starflowers course, there was a nature aspect involved. For example, on my third visit, Abigail had the students create leaf rubbings using the leaves the students collected on their morning walks. Before creating these, Abigail had taught the students about Fall and used this piece to document some of their learning artistically.

Prairie Sky finds creative ways to incorporate Indigenous culture into its learning practices. One of the main ways they incorporate Indigenous culture is through storytelling. In Indigenous culture, storytelling has been used as a way of teaching since the beginning of time. Storytelling provides learning experiences that are fun, engaging, and challenging (Best Start Resource Centre, 2010). Abigail used storybooks as a way for the students to gain extra knowledge they did not receive through the dances, songs, and games they played. For example, on one of my visits, Abigail had the students play a game involving dancing and singing about leaves falling off trees during the fall. Afterward, Abigail used a storybook as a way to teach the students about change using fall as an example. Prairie Sky has a class for all grades called ICE, which is a class similar to Indigenous Studies. This class is taught by Kokum Wanda who does many different things with the students. For example, on one of my visits, Kokum Wanda taught the students how to make sage bundles using the sage from the gardens at the school. Indigenous culture was also displayed through how the school interacted with the environment. For example, Abigail wanted the students to pick rose hips for a pattern project. Before they were able to pick them, she had them thank the bush and sprinkle tobacco on it. 

Abigail tries to incorporate pieces of other cultures of students in her classroom by inviting parents and caregivers to display their cultures to the Starflowers. An example from my visits was when Abigail sang a song in Spanish with the students at the end of the day. She explained to me after that a parent had come in a while ago and taught the kids the song.

Abigail reflects on the beliefs and values created by the school community to decide what things she needs to teach her class. This year, she decided on social-emotional development. She attempts this by having her students practice being good friends and teaching them how to be emotionally supportive (Ormond et al., 2010).  She chose this as she noticed that some of her students do not think about others’ feelings, also known as displaying preoperational egocentrism (Lewis et al., 2010). For example, during my third visit, a boy named Malcolm accidentally knocked over a girl name Sandy. Malcolm immediately said sorry and asked if she was okay. Sandy said no and Malcolm apologized again. When I told Abigail of the interaction I witnessed, she was happy as Malcolm had been struggling with how to be a good friend. She told me that the next step would be for Malcolm to ask Sandy what she needs, as it will give him a better understanding of others’ feelings and how to help them. Abigail explained she was doing this so her students can interact with the community respectfully.


  1. Learning environments for young children need to extend from prepared classroom environments to the natural and social contexts within the children’s community/ecological region.

During my visits to this school, I realized how easily natural and social contexts can be included in learning. Prairie Sky prides itself on using nature and community as a tool and resources for teaching the curriculum. Throughout my visits, this school provided many simple ways I could incorporate the environment and community in my future classroom. These visits also displayed that using the environment and community not only provides a new way of learning but teaches students how to respectfully act towards the environment and within their communities.  

During my visits, Abigail explained to me that the older grades are rarely ever at the school. This is because they bike and walk around their community to learn. For the younger grades, their experiences with the community are different. The Starflowers typically take trips to parks and their local farmers market as part of their community learning. Abigail explained to me that she used the farmers market as a way to provide students with a visual of what can be grown in Saskatchewan. These interactions are also a way to improve the student’s social skills by having them interact with the vendors (Ormond et al., 2010). She explained that the students may watch and mimic the way she acts or will use their ideas based on their experiences with the community. By having these interactions, students learn how to interact with the community in different ways. 

Prairie Sky has a strong focus on the environment. This includes using it as a resource for projects and learning. Focusing on the environment presents many different resources for teachers based on the season. For example, I went to this school during the fall and Abigail was using fallen leaves and garden produce in a lot of her lessons. Prairie Sky has many gardens that are used as a learning resource. They use these gardens as a way to teach Indigenous culture and cooking. The one garden Abigail explained in specifics was the Three Sisters Garden. This is an Anishinaabe style of gardening that involves companion planting maize (corn), climbing beans, and squash. Abigail explained to me that the students were taught the story about the garden, planted the garden traditionally, and then harvested it.

As explained prior, this school uses the environment as a resource for projects. These projects include art pieces that provide a record of students learning.  This was displayed in many different ways during my visits. One example is from when the students learned about the Three Sisters Garden. Abigail had the Starflowers use the corn husks they harvested to make corn husk dolls as a record of their learning. (Below, I have included a rough sketch of how these dolls ended up looking.) Another example is when Abigail had the students pick rose hips. She had her students use the rose hips to create patterns on strings to display their learning. 

Lastly, there is a major focus on teaching the students how to interact with the environment and other living things. Students are taught how to interact respectfully with the environment and other living things in different ways. One is that Abigail teaches the students land acknowledgment songs and songs about being thankful for the world to teach them to be respectful to the earth. An example of showing respect for living things was when the students sang a song to a caterpillar. The students had two caterpillars in a jar that had created a chrysalis. The students and Abigail felt as though the caterpillars had a hard life in this jar so they sang an apology and good luck song as they buried them in one of the gardens so they could survive the winter. By teaching students to respect the world around them, students are creating a moral development of how they are supposed to think about and understand the earth (Ormond et al., 2010).

  1. Educators’ practices are a reflection of their beliefs and values. 

While visiting this school, I observed not only the students but Abigail as well. During this time, I observed how passionate she was about teaching and how the values and beliefs of Prairie Sky seemed to reflect her values and beliefs. I did not interview her during this time,  rather had many different conversations about the educational practices of Prairie Sky School. 

The main way I noticed Abigail’s passion for teaching in this school was when she interacted with the students. Abigail’s value for music came out as she sings to teach the students and as a tool to get their attention. Her value of visual art is present in the art pieces she gets her students to create to document their learning. She spends a lot of time on the gardens around the school and works at finding funding for improvements so the students can use them to learn. Abigail also takes the time to learn a bit of Cree and Spanish so she can be inclusive of some of her student’s cultures. For example, while we were talking, she told me that as she drives to school, she will count the rabbits she sees in Cree as a way to learn the language. These all reflect her practices being created due to the values and beliefs created by the school and the community. 

Abigail displays her and the school’s value of community by focusing on students’ social-emotional development (Ormond et al., 2010). She does this as she had noticed many of her students struggle with being good friends because they did not recognize others’ feelings (Lewis et al., 2010). She has taken the time to teach students techniques to calm themselves down when they are angry or sad, reinforces ‘good friend’ behavior, and reminds students how to talk to their friends. Abigail also taught the students about bodily autonomy. This became noticeable during one of my visits when Sandy told another student, Alex, that she did not want a hug and Alex respected that. By teaching her students this, Abigail is hoping to lessen arguments, allow students to have control of their bodies, and help students understand how to communicate with and respect others in the community.

During my visits, Abigail would make the effort to converse with me and her TAs about the good and bad things we noticed. During these conversations, Abigail would take our point of view and use it to reflect on what went well that day and what may need improvement. For example, during a few different conversations, I explained to her that I noticed a couple of issues occur between a few different students. She reflected on this information and other observations she had made and decided that the students needed to focus more on social-emotional development as it seemed to be difficult. Abigail had another reflection that stood out to me. She had the students create patterns with rose hips and during this time, some of her students struggled to get the berry on the needle. She used this information and concluded that some of her students should be praised for completing a portion of a task, not the overall product. This was interesting as not many teachers typically have this reflection. They usually view information like this as the student is lazy and not trying their hardest. 

All of these things represent that Abigail’s teaching practices reflect the values and beliefs of the school and the school community. They also display that Abigail is a great teacher as she reflects on her teaching practices, values, and beliefs to make sure they are benefitting the students.



Best Start Resource Centre (2010). A child starts strong: Journey through each stage of the life cycle (pp. 1-14). Best Start. 

Lewis, P. & Massing, C. (Eds.) (2010). Orientation to teaching children. Pearson. (Ch. 2) 

Ormond, J.E., Saklofske, D.H., & Schwean, V.L. (2010). Principles of educational psychology. Toronto, ON: Pearson  (pages 60-81)