Focus Questions (ECS 101)

Focus Question #1 – Teachers, Knowledge, Building Relationships: Invitation and Hospitality

In my past educational experiences, I have seen teachers honour both the object-based and relational ways of knowing. In my lower, elementary grades the object-based way of knowing was very prominent. I remember clearly having to sit a certain ‘proper’ way and we would get stars beside our name if we were and we could get them taken away if we were not. An example of the relational way of knowing that I remember from elementary school was working on assignments where we got to look into our personal history, such as family trees.  Each teacher had a different way to build a sense of community in the classroom. Many teachers I had would get us to do assignments about ourselves and then we would get to present them to our classmates or they would be posted around the classroom. This did not only create a student-teacher relationship but it also created student to student relationships since we all got to learn more about each other that was not just the tip of the iceberg. Another way a lot of my teachers created a welcoming classroom was putting us in groups where we were given topics to discuss about ourselves and we were able to build relationships. As well, many teachers I had that were very welcoming would always talk to each student one-on-one at least once a day if not more. Overall, the teachers I had who built a sense of community in the classroom all made the students feel welcomed by letting us be who we were and express ourselves in the classroom.  Teachers can do many different things to build a hospitable and invitational educational environments and relationships with all students. As Fatima’s article expressed teachers need to invite students as who they are and not what they want them to be, therefore teachers need to get to know who the student really is rather than the students dominant radicalized categories and stereotypes. I think that this is really important for a teacher to build that hospitable and invitational classroom and relationships with all students. If all the students feel accepted and welcomed for who they truly are and get to express themselves, as well as share their story they will want to be at school and to learn. To create this welcoming environment teachers can give the students a sense of power by allowing them to teach things they know well such as their culture background. 

Focus Question #2 – Students & Learning Environment: Focus on places, spaces, and boundaries 

Every teacher creates their own space in a classroom and they can look very different. Although they all usually fall in the category of a relational space or an object-based space as talked about in the article and lecture. Relational spaces will generally have open space where students are free to move around, have everything like chairs, desks, work stations moveable so you can have easy access for switching from group work to individual work, has a welcoming sense, have trust between teacher-student and student-student, and where everyone is able to share their story. Where teachers with an object-based space it will generally have bounded space, there will be a clear hierarchical stance, there will be many boundaries where everyone knows their place, no room to move around, and all relationships will be fixed like the mobility of the classroom set up. As I grew up in the education system there was a mixture of type of space. The sketch above is a representation of how the space was used in most of the classrooms I was in throughout school. It was more of an object-based space and it is clearly seen that the teacher has the power in the relationships, as their desk is at the front of the room distant from the class. However, we were usually seated in pairs so you were able to make connections with your seat buddy and these would change each month so you were able to make connections with more than just one classmate. Being able to sit with a classmate and engage with other students, rather than sitting individually in rows made going to school more fun as you were always with a buddy and able to make connections and help each other. These seating arrangements made it a safe, fun environment and made sure you never felt isolated and all on your own. For example, if the teacher was busy helping other students you were easily able to ask your seat buddy for help. An easy way to make classroom spaces more relational teachers can make their seating arrangement so that students are closer with one another or make their desk be closer to the students. For example, you can do pairs, or squares with groups of four, depending on what you are teaching you could do a circle and they can take their students on nature walks, or have a movement time each day. As a future educator, I hope to make my classroom a very relational classroom as it will allow the students to create relationships and make school more fun. 

Focus Question #3 – Indigenization Core Questions 

In my K-12 education I learned many things about Indigenous history in Canada. One of the main focuses was on Residential Schools. In elementary, our classes never got into a lot of detail, it was more so learning what these schools were and being told they were bad. It was not until my high school years when I started to learn more details of Residential Schools and what happened at them, which made me really realize how awful it was. In the senior years of high school, I was taught about the First Peoples of Canada and the history of the land and how awful European settlers treated the Indigenous Peoples. I was also taught on the Indigenous religion and their culture, learning about storytelling, and their way of teaching. This course has given me insight in how I can create a welcoming environment for all children. As well as learning how each students culture is very important to take into consideration when you are teaching, and should allow the students to share and embrace their culture with the class. I also learned that as a teacher you have the power to educate students in a way to remove stereotypes about cultures as you are teaching the future adults. Educating students on the truth about the Indigenous history in Canada would be a small way to participate in the call to action. I, myself will continue to learn more each day on the truth of the Indigenous history and educate others on truth. I will also be more cognizant to recognize that I am on treaty territory and pay attention to which treaty I am on when I go places. Listening to Joseph Naytowhow, I have gained more knowledge and perspective to not only Indigenous culture but to the world as a whole. One of the main messages I got from one of his songs is, we may have differences but at the end of the day we are all people living in the same world. From listening to his experience of how his wife believed in him and encouraged him to go to University is what helped him do it; I hope to use this as a future educator and believe and encourage all my students in their dreams and goals. Joseph also taught me that staying true to your identity can be very challenging in today’s society but it is important to do so. From learning this, I as a future educator will strive to embrace everyone for who they truly are and have a safe environment where students feel safe to be themselves.