Week 1: April 25- 29, 2016
For my CFE placement, I will be spending the next couple weeks at my alma mater, Little Flower Academy. As I drove in Monday morning, I experienced a large dose of deja vu, but also a hint of nerves returning to the place where I went to high school, this time not as a student! I continue to be grateful to the faculty and staff who extended a warm welcome back, of course without joking about how I shouldn’t be in the staff room eating lunch with them! The transition from student to colleague is still one that I’m navigating, particularly how to address my old teachers…!
Surprisingly, I’d forgotten what it’s like to be in a faith-based single-gendered/ girls only environment for 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, and these characteristics were certainly juxtaposed with my practicum school experience. The LFA ‘vibe’ is considerably different compared to McMath because the school is made of 500 students, three times smaller the size of McMath. There’s a sense of community that’s built into school day structure. For example: morning announcements include a sung birthday greeting for that day’s celebrants, a daily song is played in between the first and second bell before class starts to accompany students as they rush to their classes, students are organized into homeroom where they meet 10 minutes every morning to have attendance and discuss any announcements, there are school wide-assemblies to celebrate student council speeches or choir performances… all elements of community that are made possible largely in part of the smaller number of students! Thinking back to my own teaching philosophy that is deeply rooted in creating a comfortable learning community in the classroom, I understand now that my concept of ‘community’ was fundamentally shaped by my time at LFA. Being able to foster a sense of rapport with one’s peers and teachers shapes relationships inside and outside of the classroom, but deeply impacts the way that students feel comfortable interacting in their learning. While the role of the teacher may be to convey content material, I know now that an equally if not more important role of the teacher is to communicate effectively and respond the needs of their students. If there is no foundation of trust or communication in the classroom, there is imbalance.
This week served as a reacquaintance with LFA’s systems and ways of being. I was lucky to participate in going with the Social Justice club to Union Gospel in the DTES. As a humanities educator and as an individual, I highly value opportunities to widen my mindset and explore other ways of beings. This chance for students from a west-side Vancouver private school to engage with patrons of Canada’s poorest postal code was certainly different and certainly uncomfortable- but the sort of discomfort that is healthy / makes you re-evaluate why that is, and to learn from the experience. This goes for students and teachers alike, I’d like to believe! I also spent the weekend chaperoning the Debate/ Public Speaking team at their Provincial Public Speaking tournament. I used to be involved with the club throughout my time at LFA and even throughout university, so it was a familiar chance to reacquaint myself with that realm and to support the humanities/ arts programming at LFA. Looking forward to the next couple of weeks, and grateful to have been asked to teach a few classes/ host a few workshops/ events!