For the purposes of this research project, I have put together some conclusions based on the research I have conducted so far. I look forward to adding to these findings as I continue to look into this inquiry project.
The first main conclusion is based on what the individual teacher can do in their practice to invoke a culture of respect. Multiple research findings have referenced the need for educators to consider their identity as individuals, and how who they see themselves to be, and how students see the teacher impacts the classroom environment. I appreciate this suggestion greatly, and I recognize that this process is a quite complex one and takes time. In fact, I’ve been grappling with this question of teacher identity for awhile! It’s still quite useful that the UBC program has given plenty of opportunities for its teacher candidates to begin thinking about these issues going forward.
As teachers, how we conduct ourselves in the classroom sets the tone for how the students will interact too. We model the behaviour that we want our students to engage with. My ideal classroom is heavily discussion based and will require students to hear and respond to ideas that they might not necessarily agree with. I firmly believe that disagreement can be seen as a positive mechanism of learning, but requires a degree of maturity amongst peers to hear a varying point of view and allow the speaker to explain their thinking. Individuals encounter dissonance beyond the classroom, and we how respond to it is based in respect.
The second big finding was based on how teacher training programs can support its candidates by providing opportunities for them to engage with diverse situations. This suggestion is useful as it allows teacher candidates the exposure they need to become more holistically engaged with different communities that they might not otherwise engage with. While engaging in theoretical content is useful as background knowledge, getting as much practice dealing with unfamiliar situations helps build a repertoire of experience that can be relied upon when needed.
Going forward in my own practice, I look forward to pushing myself beyond the program in exploring my own boundaries to help develop my worldview. The more conversations I have with those from different walks of life, the more my perspective will expand, giving me time to reformulate my own perception of ‘respect’. And I couldn’t be more welcoming of that opportunity!