Week 2: May 2- 6, 2016
This past week at LFA I was grateful to participate on the Holocaust Symposium fieldtrip with the History 12 students at UBC on Tuesday May 3. We spent the day on campus listening to speakers: those who work with Holocaust educational programming, Holocaust historians, and Holocaust survivors themselves. The conference itself spans 2 days, and that’s hardly enough to begin uncovering such a tragically devastating and impactful history. During my time at my practicum school, I was fortunate to be able to coordinate a fieldtrip for my socials 10 students to Vancouver’s early neighbourhoods (Gastown, Chinatown, Strathcona, Hogan’s Alley). Comparing these two fieldtrip experiences, it was interesting to observe the difference in students’ attention or engagement. Of course these are two completely different kinds of fieldtrip- one being a walking tour and workshop, the other a conference-based style comprised of guest speakers. My teaching practice is deeply hinged in complementing the textbook content by giving students opportunities to make relevant meaningful connections with their learning beyond the classroom. So, in thinking about future ways of how to encourage students to engage in different modes of learning via fieldtrip, for example, comparing these two experiences allowed me to consider how to go about better organizing one in the future. Debriefing with the students’ about their symposium impressions only more deeply affirmed that I am proponent of experiential learning outside of the classroom.
I’ve spent time this week in classrooms guest teaching a few classes. Sarah Matossian offered an opportunity to speak to her two Planning 10 class about life after LFA, my experiences at UBC, and my current work as a UBC researcher. It was incredibly meaningful to put into words the skills and memories I took from high school, how they impacted my university undergrad to lead me where I am now. It definitely helped that as an LFA alum, I had a context to work with when preparing for the presentation and considering my audience.
My sponsor teacher, Erika Ullrich, also provided an opportunity for me to teach a grammar lesson on active and passive writing in her two English 11 classes. I had mentioned to her that I didn’t get a lot of experience teaching grammar during my practicum, and she encouraged me to give it a try at LFA. I found resources online and made the appropriate tweaks so that they were appropriate for the students. This particular lesson was a follow up on the students’ concerns that they weren’t too comfortable with rewriting sentences in the active voice, so scaffolding on this subject had already been done, it was just a matter of thorough review. Throughout the last two weeks, I’ve also been assisting Erika with her marking, photocopying, record keeping and preparations for LFA’s graduation.
I’ve also been working extensively with the Debate and Public Speaking Team, and the school librarian, Mary Duffy. She and I have been organizing a speech arts night for next Thursday evening. I’m super excited to help put this event together. As an LFA grad, I recall how my experiences at the school were positively impacted by the humanities programming, but would have wished that there were more opportunities offered to engage in this realm. I helped create a proposal to send to Admin for approval including the logistics of the event and programming. Collaborating with various teachers (English, Social Studies, Art), the evening will showcase very talented students who have competed and won nationally or provincially in slam poetry, debate, public speaking. This evening is an invitation to the community to celebrate the students’ work and support the arts with a public open mic, impromptu speech games, etc. I’m looking forward to seeing the event come together. It’s a busy time as the school year is wrapping up, so this event also functions as a celebratory end and acknowledgement to the girls’ commitment to the speech arts.
Because my CFE is hosted at a school, informal education takes form in extracurricular activities and in the conversations you have with students. It’s hard not to compare my practicum and CFE schools and it’s interesting to see the varying emphasis on the types of values and extra curriculars each school supports. Just working in the Counselling Centre this past week has been enlightening. This space didn’t exist when I went to LFA, and it’s clearly a well-used and highly valued space in the school. The school’s therapy dog, Gloria, who comes in a few times a week is definitely a highlight! Just being in the space available to chat or interact with students opens up conversations that you’d wouldn’t anticipate within the space of a classroom.
Three weeks definitely flies by! Looking forward to teaching a few classes and the speech arts night next week!