My Path

Dear Team,

Today was the first time I have felt this undervalued as a teacher.

And the truth, that’s not the case.

It is just the case today.

I was trained in the middle years program. This is a program with a focus on kids and curricula grades 6 to 9.

Though the province lumps us in with the elementary bunch, we’re a different breed. And I don’t necessarily mean the educators, I mean the learners.

There’s a different set of needs here, a different set of behaviours. Okay, now maybe I am talking about M.Y. teachers.

So here’s where I am now:

I went through the M.Y. program. However, I knew I fit grades 9 to 10. I just knew this. I still feel this way. I love being in the midst of all things grades 9 to 10! I obtained a teaching contract immediately upon graduation. I taught senior ELA, grades 9 to 12. And though I’ve changed schools and I’ve taught other grades and other subjects, I have been hired mainly to teach senior ELA.

Fast forward to today.

I am in the middle of my master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, focus on stories-to-live-by, thesis route. That’s a mouthful, I know.

My classrooms have always been inquiry based learning spaces.

Last week I completed the ELA accreditation seminar. At the end of the week I realized a few things: first, that of 22 ELA teachers, only two of us use inquiry in our classrooms and second, few of us use quarterly student led conferences (conversations) as part of our assessment.

At the end of the week I also realized that I will likely not qualify to become an accredited teacher in the Province of Saskatchewan, not today.

I need more classes specific to the subject.

I have called the Ministry and the Associate Dean at my university is looking into it.

Today, for a long time, I stared at my transcripts. It really doesn’t matter how high these mark are.

What do those marks mean?

What do the past years mean?

What does all of it mean?

Ironically, I was originally registered for the secondary program but decided I’d go the M.Y. route because there were more methodology classes; I wanted to learn how to teach.

I won’t list awards and accolades. I won’t list notes from kids, parents or administrators. I suppose it doesn’t matter what I learn on my own time in order to grow as a Language Learning educator and student.

However, I’d sure like to know – take me out of the equation, what do you think?

Is good teaching enough to become accredited? Is teaching more about process or more about content? When do we value one over the other? Should we? Doesn’t this situation resemble the assessment debates we have among educators, around our accreditation tables? When do we honour a person’s lived story? How do we assess a person’s narrative? This is, of course, our lived curriculum. I know my worth. How or when can someone claim to know mine?What privilege grants this lens?

I value your thoughts…

Sincerely,

Cori

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1 Comment

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One response to “My Path

  1. Gosh, I left the high school classroom in 2007. Between 1983 and 1999 I taught 30 level Social Studies/History and ELA continuously. I returned to History 30 for four years later. I have a major in social sciences and minor in English. My undergraduate experience with instruction was outstanding. I returned to the University of Regina in the mid 1990s to work on a Masters in curriculum and instruction. Any classes I took in Educational Administration seemed passionless. I certainly should have taken that as a warning.

    My experience with Saskatchewan accreditation is positively historic. I can only pray that it has evolved in subsequent decades. The accreditation seminars were four days, I think. One afternoon we listened to a woman reminisce on her roll as an inspiration for a Leonard Cohen song. My only other recollection is a strong sense of cynicism after they explained how departmental grades were not registered in the system until they had been adjusted upwards along a bell curve. This was particularly important for science and Mathematics.

    My father was part of the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Regina. It was a new program in the 1970s brought in to offer professional development to social workers active in the field as much as it was intended to train new people. These social workers frequently lacked necessary academic credentials. Not a problem, the faculty reviewed their life and work experience and gave them credit. My father and his colleagues did not suffer illusions that formal education constituted the only path to learning. I have deep respect for that approach. I suppose that is why, as a school-based administrator, I advocated work experience and the special credit projects.

    You should not be made to feel deskilled as a high school teacher. You had your own path for learning and your reflections and shared projects articulate the results very well. Your digital portfolio and administrators should be validation enough for the Ministry of Education.

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