Week 22 (of 38) – February 18-22, 2019
I went to my first WestCAST conference in Calgary, AB this week. It’s a conference composed of teacher educators and teacher candidates. I went with my colleague, Deb Koehn, from UNBC and we co-presented one session on “peer-oriented triads” during practicum as we frantically wrote a draft paper a few days prior for the conference. We hope to publish and continue on with our action research with our teacher candidates to find ways to enhance and deepen their learning during practicum in connection to their coursework at the university. We presented at the end of the day of the first day of the conference. I wasn’t expecting too many people to be present because it was 4pm, but we had a full room and our presentation tied so nicely to the one before us. They were talking about teacher authenticity and the relationship between the teacher candidates and coaching teacher. We were talking about giving a framework and autonomy to our teacher candidates during practicum so that they can find their voice and teacher identity, collectively and collaboratively. We were surprised by the support for our work in addition to the beautiful marriage of our presentation with the previous. Very encouraging.
We also presented in another session where we collaborated with instructors from VIU, UBC, and WKTEP in a metissage. We each contributed to the presentation by writing a 100-300 word excerpt on “self, place, and community” in teacher education. We submitted our thoughts and two of the team members took what was submitted, cut them into smaller passages, and then reconstructed the multiple entries into a singular coherent passage about “self, place, and community” in teacher education. We were telling a story. At the presentation, we each read out our part of the passage as we were individually situated in different places in the room. So what you experience are voices from all directions of the room telling the story of “self, place, and community” in teacher education. The metissage was a metaphor (or vice versa) of the Metis sash and how our stories were interwoven to create one. I loved the experience and equal contribution. I enjoyed listening to the composition as a whole and I appreciated how all of our diverse points of view could make an insightful and unique story. We talked about identity, transformation, and how we are influenced by others and where we are from. Writing my 300 words was very satisfying, but the cohesion of our collective voices was gratifying.
Three other teacher candidates from UNBC presented at WestCAST 2019 as well. Two candidates are in second year (their last year) of the secondary education cohort and finishing off their final practicum. One teacher candidate is in the first year elementary education cohort and just about to start his first 3-week practicum. The pair from the secondary education presented in the morning of the first day of the conference on place-based learning and eloquently expressed their passion, their practicum/teaching practice, and connection to community and self. They cited BC’s New Curriculum and beautifully made connections to their practice and interests by showing examples of how others could embed placed-based learning into their classrooms. Moreover, I really appreciated how they got us to acknowledge the territory by imagining a place that we love and adore. The first year teacher candidate presented in the last concurrent session on the second day of the conference about mindfulness and meditation. Again, he made connections to BC’s New Curriculum and First Peoples Principles of Learning. He described what he valued as a teacher and learner and got us to do several activities during his session such that we went outside twice!!! Furthermore, this teacher candidate had the with-it-ness to overcome technical difficulties, being in a basement, and having an unusual room set-up for his session. He was very natural and confident. It was amazing to see our teacher candidates present at WestCAST 2019. We are very proud.
What was great about going to a conference with your Teacher Candidates is that we are all going to the conference as presenters and learners. We were equals. EDUCATORS. The best part of this conference was that I could really see THE TEACHER in each of our candidates. Amazing!!! I look forward to attending WestCAST2020 in Vancouver, BC.