Reflecting on the Images of Teaching
Image of the Child
Education should be personalized to meet the unique learning needs of each child. In order to explain my interpretation of the image of a child, I need to return to my roots. I am a first generation Calgary born and raised child. I was educated through the Calgary Board of Education. Although I was not an English Language Learner, I often heard my family members speak of their experiences learning English. These experiences collectively indicated to me the significance of personalizing the learning of a child. It is also the reason why I became a teacher to begin with.
A Child comes into a classroom with many experiences. Some children come from broken families, others come from war torn countries. On the other end of the spectrum you have children who come equipped with the appropriate literacy readiness skills (i.e. math, reading and writing, digital literacy etc.) . Although a teacher may not be able to comprehend all of these experiences that form the identity of a child, it is essential that these teachers create environments that foster multiple entry points and enable accessible learning for all.
Image of Curriculum
As a teacher it is my professional obligation to teach the curriculum and consult it when doing my planning. However, as I have learned from experience it is not about covering the curriculum but about uncovering the curriculum.
How we uncover curriculum is different depending on the individual. As an English as a Second Language teacher I would have found it impossible to teach my diverse learners by doing a one size fits all method. It was early in my teaching experience that I discovered Universal Design for Learning (Rose & Meyer, 2002). This theoretical framework has followed me from my graduate studies to my work as an Learning Leader. Like many other teachers I found my classes were filled with students with vast learning needs. Creating accessible learning for all my students made sense to me. It also was exciting to hear about providing students with multiple entry points. As I quickly learned one way to provide multiple entry points was to use technology. As Warschcauer (2002) discusses how “…information technology [is a tool-to allow] individuals to participate fully in society (p. 456).” Cummins (2002) also argues that “our [tasks] as educators in general…should be to access the potential of IT to improve the human condition. As educators we are committed to drawing out the potential of the students we teach…we strive to increase students’ capacity …to fulfill their personal goals and contribute to their societies” (p. 539). It is crucial that we as educators are preparing our students for their futures. In order to do this, we need to be fostering environments that allow for critical thinking and diverse learning needs. Teachers need to be providing students with an option of a variety of tools (digital or not) to aid them in the learning process.
Image of Teaming
My image of teaming is one that incorporates the entire Calgary Board of Education (CBE) community. As an employee of the CBE I am fortunate enough to be working with a variety of skilled individuals (Principals, Specialists, AISI Learning Leaders etc.). At a school level, Learning Leaders need to work together to move teacher practice. As I have learned from my past teaming experiences, we all have unique skills. When we are working in teams, our skills can be best utilized as we have more skills available. We can also capitalize on the strengths of others.
Teaming also occurs with principals. Principals have a vision for their schools. As an AISI Learning Leader, it is my job to support this vision and work along side the principals to do this.
From past experiences (planning professional development days etc.), I have found that teaming also occurs with Specialists in the system. These teaming experiences provide teachers with richer professional development. In particular I reflect on the last years May 21st system Professional development day when my fellow Learning Leaders and I teamed with several specialists to plan a one day mini Universal Design for Learning conference. The many leaders involved (principals, specialist, AISI Learning Leaders) collaborated to personalize professional development for the staffs of four schools. Without the efforts of all members involved, professional development may have been limited to a typical stand and deliver experience.
Teaming is not just limited to your Learning Leader partners. I believe that we should meet with our fellow Learning Leaders at other schools and team with them as well. There is a wealth of knowledge within our board and it is when we team that we are able to truly utilize this knowledge.
Cummins, J. (2000). Language learning, transformative pedagogy, and information technology towards a critical balance. TESOL Quarterly, 34 (3), 537-548.
Rose, D. H., & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Warschauer, M. (2002). A developmental perspective on technology in language education. TESOL Quarterly. 36 (3), 453-475