One of the key aspects of any teacher education program are the opportunities to gain hands-on experience through placements in schools. Teacher candidates in the Bachelor of Education program at Trent, take place four separate times throughout the two-year program. These placements are critical in the development and understanding of teaching pedagogy and practice, as well as collaborating with school staff, teachers and other community partners.
Creating new opportunities
The School of Education at Trent provides opportunities for teacher candidates to learn through Indigenous ways of knowing, in different ways including Trent’s Indigenous Bachelor of Education and a number of initiatives that integrate Indigenous knowledge.
In continuing this growth, the School of Education has partnered with Teach For Canada, a non-profit organization that recruits, prepares, and supports educators to fill much-needed teaching roles in remote First Nations. For their fourth and final placement of the program, teacher candidates can apply to work with Teach For Canada, with the goal of applying their knowledge gained throughout the program.
Speaking of this partnership, senior Indigenous advisor and associate professor in Trent’s Indigenous Bachelor of Education program, Dr. Nicole Bell says, “This is a valuable opportunity for our teacher candidates to experience what teaching in the North is like, to help them solidify their desire to teach in a northern First Nation. The communities are also able to experience our teacher candidates as 'teachers' for hiring decisions, to assist with teacher retention challenges in the North.”
Challenges and personal growth
Teacher candidates are doing more than just gaining an understanding of the challenges of teaching in the North. By choosing to complete their placement in a northern First Nation, they are helping to close the education gap by filling teaching roles that may be otherwise remain vacant. “In First Nations, teacher supply and turnover issues have had a significant effect on student achievement. Three in five students do not complete high school,” says Ken Sanderson, executive director of Teach For Canada. “By working in the North, educators can help prevent the “revolving door” of teachers and give students the support and consistency they need to excel. Dedicated teachers are not only needed in First Nations—they are instrumental to generations of students, and the long-term success of their communities.”
There are many reasons why placements in the North can be beneficial to teachers. The opportunity allows educators to grow their understanding of traditional knowledge, experience in land-based learning, and adapting curriculums to be relevant for students in remote and Indigenous communities. In the end, teacher candidates will have gained a holistic understanding of teaching and learning that is equally beneficial for all students.