TRB 1 Exemplars
EDUCATORS VALUE AND CARE FOR ALL STUDENTS AND ACT IN THEIR BEST INTERESTS.
Educators are responsible for fostering the emotional, esthetic, intellectual, physical, social and vocational development of students. They are responsible for the emotional and physical safety of students. Educators treat students with respect and dignity. Educators respect the diversity in their classrooms, schools and communities. Educators have a privileged position of power and trust. They respect confidentiality unless disclosure is required by law. Educators do not abuse or exploit students or minors for personal, sexual, ideological, material or other advantage.
Student presentations to Council
By Patrick McDowall
It is interesting that there are only a few occasions during the average school day when students need no cajoling to begin an activity. Lunch is the most obvious. A close second to their relishment of victuals is when recess arrives. An almost animal-like awareness seems to fill the room as the clock creeps towards this sacred hour. The students visibly tense, like stalking jaguars hidden in sub-tropical foliage ready to pounce. And then they are off onto the playground, swinging and running wildly in a most spectacular display of physical and locomotor play. Recess is like a prism, it differentiates how radically different students and educators view education. From one perspective, the educator might sigh and savour their now silent classroom, certain that real learning has stopped and frivolous play has begun which is of no import to them. Outside, however, on the swings and climbing structures the children are now in control, free to direct themselves, and they are incredibly happy. Contrary to the distinction made by those in the staff room, recess is not the death knell of learning.
As the German naturalist Karl Groos pointed out in his book The Play of Man (1901), play is crucial to the survival of the species and is born from natural selection as a means to ensure the practice of the skills needed to survive and reproduce. So while it might seem that the almost hysterical game of grounders being played outside the classroom is the antithesis of learning, the children are in fact experiencing a form of accelerated education. The psychologist Peter Gray believes this type of physical play is necessary for students to “develop fit bodies, learn to move in coordinated and effective ways, and learn to handle themselves, physically and emotionally, in dangerous situations” (p. 218). Additionally, the vitalness of socializing during recess and play is also too often overlooked by educators. In examining children’s social play, Gray explains that human beings only survive by cooperating and sharing and he is adamant that this “cannot be taught; it can only be learned through experience, and for children that experience comes primarily in play” (p. 219). And so it becomes clear that far from being a blighted black-hole of lost learning, the playground might in fact be the nucleus of experiential education that provides the basis for much of the “invisible” development of children.
Throughout my practicum at Departure Bay Elementary School, this juxtaposition between learners’ joyfulness on the playground and their ennui in the classroom was pronounced. It was almost as if the monkey bars and slides were their refuge. With this in mind, I began to explore how I might integrate some of their passion for the playground with curricular content and outcomes. It was fortuitous timing. The Nanaimo municipal council had recently began examining plans for the development of a new waterfront development that would involve the creation of playgrounds. Of course these plans were nebulous and lacked details and so I thought what better than to allow a group of real experts to generate ideas and a plan for this site that might then be shared with the Mayor and Council. And so was born my Grade 4/5 class’s community service learning activity.
I introduced the project to the class as an accompaniment to our focus on democracy and government. A great amount of emphasis was placed on the fact that their work would be grounded in real-world circumstances and that, despite their ages, their voices would be heard by members of the local government. In a sense, the work the learners would be conducting falls under the gamut of so-called “service programs”, where their ideas and research could impact their wider community. In assessing the benefits of this learning format, experiential education researcher Andrew Furco (1994) states that study results show well designed service programs enhance not only students’ academic learning but help improve self-esteem and build citizenship (p. 395). From my own perspective, creating opportunities for learners to engage with their community in meaningful ways is essential, as it allows students to prove to themselves why seemingly amorphous schoolwork can have actual value. Those old rallying cries of “this is stupid” and “what will I ever use this for” might finally be sated. As Furco says, in service programs “the learner is directly in touch with the realities being studied rather than simply reading about, hearing about, or talking about these realities - bringing context to an often fragmented curriculum” (p. 395).
To begin the project, the class itself was divided into three groups. One group began researching online for visual ideas of the modern playground while a second group read several scholarly articles relating to the social and physical benefits of playgrounds. The last group created a questionnaire that was then shared with every classroom at Departure Bay Elementary School in the hope that we might gain insight into how students use and view playgrounds. Learners were given four weeks to work on the group presentation, though in reality the majority of the project was completed in the last few hours of the final week where pie charts were hastily coloured, scripts perfected, and roles assigned. Despite a general sense of commitment from the students, my own impetus towards the project slightly cooled when I received less than ten permission slips from guardians allowing learners to attend the council meeting. As the meeting was to be held at 7pm in the evening, parents would be required to drive their children and so this created an apparent hurdle for the majority of families. Nonetheless, our project was done and our speakers were ready.
On entering the council chambers for the first time, the learners eyes grew a little wider and their glances a little more furtive. Clearly they were now nervous and unsure how they might be received by these rather stern and formal adults seated in large swivel chairs. Gathering into a small huddle, we had a calming talk and I assured them that despite the rather judicial esthetic of the room, everyone here was excited at not only their research but their novelty. Interestingly, as I sat waiting for the commencement of the council session, I ruminated on what place if any stress and nervousness has in the educational system. As classrooms migrate away from those large, all encompassing summative assessments and educators carefully season their lessons so as to guarantee the material does not illicit distress, are students being overly protected? In addressing this point and perhaps in easing my own contrition on witnessing the white knuckles of the learners, let me turn to the work of educationist Eric Sheffield (2015) who has explored more radicalised forms of service learning. Referencing the work of John Dewey, Sheffield paraphrases the educational reformist in stating that for learning to be genuine it must be sourced in emotional discomfort (p. 48). Sheffield calls this “emotional disequilibrium” and it is found in the lived experiences of service learning. He goes on to explain that the subsequent response from the learners creates an “educational potential for psychic transformation ... in the come back to the communal transformative potential found in acting to recover that equilibrium later in the discussion” (p. 48). There is no doubt in my mind that those eight learners who presented to council will remember their experience and the slight uneasiness they felt will forever cement their conception of democracy and their place within it.
The students’ presentation itself went excessively well and was received with acclamation from the mayor and council, who lended merit to the learners’ research by asking them in-depth questions. We did not stay for the ensuing politics of Nanaimo’s legendary civic dramas but instead retreated to the foyer for photos and a chance for the learners to shake out their nerves.
In assessing how this exercise pertains to Standard 1 of the Teacher Registration Branch (TRB), I would not hesitate in attesting that the footwork required in facilitating this project is indicative of “fostering the emotional, esthetic, intellectual, physical, social and vocational development of students”. The skills and learning required by the students to develop the presentation fit comfortably into the realm of intellectual development, while their ability to prevail over their nervousness and succeed in speaking before council corroborates development in their emotional and social skills. Lastly, this opportunity for the learners to experience and even enter within local civic politics will hopefully engender a long-term interest in their democracy and potentially direct a few towards the vocational potential of politics. There is also an overarching ethos in the development of this project that articulates another aspect of Standard 1. In presenting the learners with this opportunity, a level of conviction in their abilities was on my part required. I had to have an element of faith that they would produce research of value and then present it successfully on a date scheduled weeks in advance; if we had pulled out or delayed, we would have irreparably affected the chances of other student groups presenting in the future. My certitude in their abilities fits well with the standard’s call for “educators [to] treat students with respect and dignity”.
Standard 1 of the TRB contains some of the most vital codes needed by a successful teacher. Importantly, it is focused not merely on the intellectual development of the child (the educator’s old refrain) but extends its spotlight out to those other characteristics that for too long have been ignored. If educators strive to honor this screed, then room will be finally made for the emotional, esthetic, physical, social, and vocational development of their students. I believe that through a more radicalised approach to learning, one that occurs both in and outside of the classroom where learners are afforded trust in their abilities, the results of Standard 1 might just be achieved.
Sheffield, E. (2015). Toward Radicalizing Community Service Learning. Educational Studies, 51(1), 45-56. 10.1080/00131946.2014.983637
Furco, A. (1994). A Conceptual Framework for the Institutionalization of Youth Service Programs in Primary and Secondary Education. Journal of Adolescence,17(4), 395-409.
Gray, P. (2017). What exactly is play, and why is it such a powerful vehicle for learning? Topics in Language Disorders, 37(3), 217-228.
Groos, K. (1901). The Play of Man. New York, NY: Appleton.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP & REFLECTION
By Danica Fontaine
My notes from the workshop
For this evidence piece, I attended a school based professional development day for all of the French immersion schools in Nanaimo, including my practicum school Pauline Haarer. One of the workshops we participated in was on the topic of integrating Curricular Competencies, Intercultural Competencies, and First Nations Principles of Learning into our planning and instruction. In this workshop, I learned what incorporating the above competencies looks like and how we can more effectively incorporate them into our classrooms.
When learning about intercultural competencies, something very present in French immersion classrooms, the facilitator stressed the importance of explicitly teaching the students about cultural lenses. In order to explore and better understand the realities of one’s own culture as well as those of the francophone culture(s), we need to cultivate critical thinking, awareness of cultural lenses, and go beyond the “postcard” approach of teaching culture. It is important when building intercultural competencies to steer away from the gift shop trinket artifacts we so often tend to use to represent cultures and move more towards the everyday lives and realities of the cultures we wish to present. By working with authentic francophone materials in the class, reflecting on similarities and differences between cultures, and talking explicitly about cultural lenses and how to identify our own biases, we can foster and build intercultural competencies in our students.
I also learned about the importance of incorporating First Nations Principles of Learning into our planning and instruction. I learned about the importance of not learning about First Nations peoples and their perspectives, but about learning from them. It is important that we teach these perspectives and principles in conjunction with our own in order to recognize that the values and perspectives of each are valuable and elevate each other. With these competencies being intentionally instructed and incorporated throughout our lessons and routines, we foster the ability in our students to see things through a multicultural perspective rather than a eurocentric one.
The content of this workshop is valuable and relates to caring for students and acting in their best interests because by modeling and promoting these competencies in our classrooms, we show that we value and respect all backgrounds our students bring into our class. Knowing that we live in a multi-cultural society on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded land of Indigenous peoples, we are respecting the diversity in our classroom, schools, and communities when we explicitly teach cultural competencies and when we value First Nations Principles as equals to our own. I believe this evidence piece also relates to the standard when it comes to the Indigenous students in our classrooms. When we recognize that other cultures’ values and perspectives are just as valid and valued as our own, we are showing our students that we care about, value, and celebrate all cultures and perspectives. I think it is especially important in the midst of reconciliation to consider the history surrounding First Nations children and education, with respect to the history of erasure and devaluation of First Nations culture that happened as a result of the residential school system. Therefore, it is important to recognize and promote the equal value of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives and to teach them in our classrooms authentically and respectfully.
This evidence has impacted my knowledge and insights about my own teaching and learning by showing me the importance of incorporating all of these competencies into my planning and instruction. Shifting my thinking from learning about First Nations perspectives to learning from First Nations perspectives is a shift I believe is needed in order to authentically and respectfully incorporate First Nations knowledge and content into our classrooms. “With the increased inclusion of First Peoples’ content in the changing BC curriculum, there is a need to incorporate unappropriated First Peoples’ perspectives across the curriculum” (FNESC, 2018) and understanding how to effectively and authentically incorporate these principles and perspectives is important. I believe that incorporating and teaching these competencies benefits all learning styles and can and should be incorporated into all teaching and learning approaches.
This is a strong evidence piece because I believe that in order to value and care for all students, we need to show that we value and care about their cultures and beliefs. One way to treat students with respect and dignity is to show through your actions and your teaching practices that you value their cultures’ ways of learning as equal to your own perspectives and that you respect the diversity in the classroom, which I believe are strengths of this evidence piece.
This standard is important to me as a new teacher because it is important to build positive relationships with your students. As teachers, we spend so much time with our students and it is important for their emotional and intellectual development that we value and care for them. School is about more than just learning content, fostering the development of the student is a critical part of our role that is accomplished directly and indirectly through our relationships with them. If students do not feel safe, they won’t learn. All aspects of this standard are essential for student growth and learning, which is why I believe it to be important to my practice. As I grow as a teacher, I plan to hold this standard true by cultivating positive relationships with my students as a priority and continuing to implement practices into my teaching that respect the diversity of my students’, the school, and the community.
I think that the aspect of the standard that talks about respecting the diversity in the classroom, schools, and communities relates to improving my attitudes about teaching and learning by promoting the value in different teaching and learning values and practices across other cultures. I think it also improves my view on positive relationships with students and how important they are when it comes to the development and learning taking place in the classroom.
First Nations Education Steering Committee. Learning First Peoples Classroom Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved March 08, 2018, from http://www.fnesc.ca/learningfirstpeoples/
EDUCATION EXPO & REFLECTION
By Danica Fontaine
For this piece of evidence, I have chosen my EdExpo Station on fostering an introvert friendly classroom. The EdExpo is an event put on within the Education Faculty of VIU consisting of pre-service teachers giving presentations and running stations that present their learning on a particular topic in education. For our station, we created a model “classroom” featuring various things one could incorporate into their real class to make the space more introvert friendly. In addition to our station, we also created a website that shared our learning and recommendations on the topic as a digital takeaway (link above).
During this experience, I learned more about the differences in introverts and extroverts and how we can create a classroom that equally caters to the strengths and needs of each group. The main difference between introverts and extroverts is their sensitivity to stimuli, particularly social stimuli. Extroverts have an amygdala that is less sensitive to stimuli, allowing them to enjoy more social and discussion based activities. Introverts, however, have more sensitive amygdalas that are more easily and quickly stimulated; this steers them towards enjoying more focused, individual or small group settings. (Cain, 2012) All individuals have optimal levels of stimulation where they can work and focus best (Cain, 2012) and through my research for this project I learned about ways in which we can foster and promote these optimal stimulation zones for all of our students, introverted and extroverted. In order to act in the best interests of all students, I believe we need to purposefully create spaces and plan activities that allow for our students to be successful. This evidence piece also respects the diversity in the classroom by acknowledging and planning for both the extroverted and introverted students in our classes, understanding and catering to the diverse needs of each.
Prior to this evidence piece, I believed strongly that collaboration and group work in the classroom were one of the most important things to have. I still believe that collaboration and groupwork are important, however, I now believe that carving out time and space for students to work individually is equally as important. It’s true that learning the skills necessary to effectively work in a group are essential to teach our students; however, it is also true that we need to be teaching students the skills to think, work, and produce independently as well. In order to effectively foster the emotional, esthetic, intellectual, physical, social and vocational development of students, we need to focus on both skill areas equally. It is just as important for us to teach our introverted students to collaborate and work with others as it is for us to teach our extroverted students how to work alone. I now believe that an ideal classroom that values and cares for all students finds the balance between collaborative, high-stimulation activities and independent, low-stimulation activities in order to equally and fairly challenge each of our students.
I believe this evidence piece touches on Mihaly Csikszentmihayli’s concept of flow. Flow is a “temporary inactivation of the prefrontal area [that] may trigger the feeling of distortion of time, loss of self-consciousness, and loss of inner-critic [where] the prefrontal lobe may enable the implicit mind to take over, resulting in more brain areas to communicate freely and engage in a creative process.” (Oppland, 2017) The state of flow is a state in which one is completely immersed in the task they are doing where they are focused, fully involved and finding enjoyment in the activity. Susan Cain’s optimal levels of stimulation, I believe, are the stimulation levels needed for an individual to reach the state of flow. In order for someone to be in a zone of complete engagement, focus, and enjoyment, they cannot be distracted by excessive or lack of stimuli. In order to create an environment where our students are able to enter the state of flow, we need to cater to their optimal levels of stimulation. Respecting the diversity in our classrooms includes respecting the optimal levels of stimulation that students work best in. To act in the best interests of all students, we need to provide the spaces and activities needed for each individual to reach that optimal zone.
Though this evidence directly addresses introverted learners, extroverted learners can also benefit from the strategies and tools proposed. As mentioned above, it is important that we are teaching our students- especially extroverted students where it doesn’t come as naturally- the skills necessary to work effectively independently. One of the strengths of this evidence piece is that it provided multiple strategies for teachers to create a more introvert friendly classroom environment. In order to act in the best interests of all students, we need to be creating environments that suit each of their needs. Another strength of this evidence piece is that it benefits all learners, giving tangible examples and strategies to show that we value and care for all students. It enables us to draw from the strengths of both introverted and extroverted students, respecting the diversity in the classroom. Thirdly, this is a strong evidence piece because it was presented at the Education Expo as a way to support other educators and those preparing to enter the profession (TRB 8) by allowing us to contribute our learning on a subject we are passionate about.
This standard is important to me as a new teacher because it is important to build positive relationships with your students as well as to create a positive environment for them. School is about more than just learning content, fostering the development of the student is a critical part of our role that is accomplished directly and indirectly through our relationships with them and the environment we create. If students do not feel safe, they won’t learn. All aspects of this standard are essential for student growth and learning, which is why I believe it to be important to my practice. As I grow as a teacher, I plan to hold this standard true by cultivating positive relationships with my students and creating a positive learning environment as a priority. I plan to continue to implement practices into my teaching that respect the diversity of my students’, the school, and the community and to get to know my students and their families so I know how to best do this.
I think that the aspect of the standard that talks about respecting the diversity in the classroom, schools, and communities relates to improving my attitudes about teaching and learning by promoting the importance of different teaching and learning values and practices across other cultures. I think it also improves my view on positive relationships with students and how important they are when it comes to the development and learning taking place in the classroom.
Cain, S. (2012). Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking (1st ed.). New York: Crown Publishers.
Oppland, M. (2017, March 13). Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: All About Flow & Positive Psychology ( PDF). Retrieved March 23, 2018, from https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mihaly-csikszentmihalyi-father-of-flow/
Gamified Learning Environment
By Patrick McDowall
Imagine a classroom, if you would, where every assignment found its way back to the teacher’s desk, meeting both deadline and content standards. No matter whether the assignment was a dry mathematics worksheet or learner directed art project, students all returned their work with pride, gratified in the knowledge they had met or exceeded the rubric’s requirements. If such a classroom existed, the air would no doubt ring with the scurrying footsteps of child development psychologists, all desperate to find out one thing: what motivated these children?
The pedagogical debate over learner motivation has raged for decades. Perhaps by borrowing some of Shakespeare’s (2008) words we might best explain the conundrum: “To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to [do the homework for extrinsic reasons and] suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles [and do the homework for intrinsic reasons], And by opposing end them” (p. 117). This great argument stems from questions about what procedures or methodologies teachers should enlist to inspire their learners to participate in activities and complete assignments. The usual suspects on this educational police line up would be reward and punishment. Since physical punishment has been long banished and its verbal variant is equally ostracised (hopefully), we must focus on reward.
It is here, amidst the pedagogical flotsam and jetsam of reward badges, gamified leader boards, and even financial incentives that academics have stepped in. Hoffman et al. (2009) discuss how an extrinsic reward system “discourages rather than encourages a student’s academic risk taking and causes students to behave in certain ways solely for the purpose of obtaining whatever reward is offered” (p. 843). Meanwhile, Eisenberger et al. (1999) state that, without a doubt, “reward procedures conveying a task's personal or social significance increase intrinsic motivation” (p. 677). So, what then is preferable? Do we want intrinsically driven learners whose motivation, according to Hoffman, is driven by “feelings of competence and self-determination” or rather extrinsically inspired students whose “motivated behaviour occurs when reinforcement results from stimuli external to the behaviour” (p. 844)? A canonical question to say the least but one which garnered my attention during my practicum experience in a Grade 5 classroom where learners were struggling to return assignments despite extrinsic rewards and weekly castigation by their teacher.
In building a new reward system for the class, I began by trying to envision a scheme that would not only motivate learners but contemporaneously provide development of curricular content and competencies. And so Classcoin was born (see www.classcoin.weebly.com). While its name is a tongue-in-cheek allusion to new digital currencies, the system itself is based on three physical denominations that are handed out to students according to a fluid criteria of academic, social, physical, and societal achievements. The largest Classcoin denomination is 1, followed by 0.5, and then 0.1. These were purposely chosen as they fit well with my secondary objective: mathematics and financial literacy. Following on Brown and Ferguson’s (2017) recommendations that “early financial education will support cumulative learning about personal finance as children advance through school,” I imagined Classcoin becoming such a facilitating platform (p. 59). The possibilities of Classcoin are limitless. Already students have access to an anonymous online system where they may check their deposits, examine potential business opportunities, and in the not too distant future invest in the Classcoin stock market.
I imagine you may now be wondering what a Classcoin actually provides to students in regards to tangible rewards. Do they receive special classroom privileges? Will the student with the highest amount of Classcoins receive a prize? All good questions to which I have no answer. During their introduction to the scheme, a few students did ask whether they might be able to buy things with the coins. However, since then they have become more interested in the possibility of creating business empires and increasing their perceived wealth. It is rather fascinating to consider that many students are now handing in assignments and designing business plans, all constructed on a fabricated currency that provides them with little more than a number on an online digital bank account! So, it might seem that while Classcoin began as an extrinsic reward system it has apparently transformed into something Hoffman might describe as “an activity strictly for the enjoyment of the activity itself” (p. 844); in other words an intrinsic motivation.
Classcoin is meant to inspire learners to not only participate and complete assignments but also help foment a classroom where empathetic behavior and communal responsibility are lauded. These goals cohere well with Standard 1 of British Columbia’s Teacher Registration Board (TRB) that calls for educators to “value and care for all students and act in their best interests”. There is potential for Classcoin to help develop many of the traits highlighted in Standard 1, such as student emotional, intellectual, social, and vocational abilities. It is a reward system that extends to manifold learner outcomes that share a commonality of desiring only the best for students; in other words, it is indicative of an classroom where learners are prioritized and their progress is facilitated. The potential complexity of Classcoin is labyrinthine and indicative of a presumption of competence, in that I believe ten-year-olds are more than capable of comprehending concepts such as interest rates, tax rates, and even stock market investing. In my mind this attitude underscores Standard 1’s call for “educators [to] treat students with respect and dignity”. Furthermore, while Classcoin is only a game, it should act to eventually facilitate financial literacy amongst students. And in gaining this knowledge and understanding, it is hoped that these learners will arrive at adulthood outfitted with skills that will empower their interactions with both the banking world and the machinations of North American Capitalism.
Of all the TRB Standards, I consider Standard 1 seminal in that it highlights what I consider to be the most important element of the pedagogical paradigm. Hidden amongst its lines lies the statement, “educators have a privileged position of power and trust”. This is the foundation of the classroom, the very fountainhead from which springs all subsequent relationships between the learners and the teacher. This power and trust is submitted to the teacher only so that they might act in the learner’s best interests. And so, in my future practise, I see this trust as a key to authentic learning and the creation of a collaborative and respectful environment.
Brown, N., & Ferguson, K. (2017). Teaching financial literacy with max and ruby. Childhood Education, 93(1), 58-65. 10.1080/00094056.2017.1275239
Eisenberger, R., Pierce, W. D., & Cameron, J. (1999). Effects of reward on intrinsic motivation -n negative, neutral, and positive: Comment on Deci, Koestner, and Ryan (1999). Psychological Bulletin, 125(6), 677-691.
Hoffmann, K. F., Huff, J. D., Patterson, A. S., & Nietfeld, J. L. (2009). Elementary teachers' use and perception of rewards in the classroom. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(6), 843-849. 10.1016/j.tate.2008.12.004
Shakespeare, W. (2008). Hamlet. Auckland, New Zealand: Floating Press.