6. Educators have a broad knowledge base and understand the subject areas they teach.
Educators understand the curricular, conceptual and methodological foundations of education and of the subject areas they teach. Educators must be able to communicate effectively in English or French. Educators teach students to understand relevant curricula in a Canadian, Aboriginal, and global context. Educators convey the values, beliefs and knowledge of our democratic society.
The specific evidence piece for TRB 6 is a course in Canadian History that I had to complete as a pre-requisite.
Origins: Canadian History to Confederation by R. Douglas Francis, Richard Jones, Donald B. Smith, Dr. Robert A. Wardhaugh
Readings In Canadian History: Pre-Confederation Paperback by R. Francis, Donald Smith
These are the two books used during the course.
In order to be accepted to the Post-Baccalaureate in Education program I was required to complete a Canadian History course. As an immigrant who had not attended school in Canada, I was very interested in learning about the history of the country prior to Confederation. I had already learned a little bit through newspaper articles, TV and radio shows, but I wanted to understand Canadian history from a more inclusive perspective. I found the content and the format of the course to be very interesting. Students were required to do a lot of reading and debating about different topics. The instructor encouraged the class to think critically and not simply read and memorize facts. We had to form our own opinions and provide supporting arguments for our stance. We had to get personally involved with the past and analyze the historical context from many perspectives, including that of Aboriginal peoples.
For my second practicum, I had to prepare a lesson on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. While gathering information, doing research and organizing ideas I suddenly remembered that during the Pre-Confederation History course I had learned about the impact this event had had on Indigenous peoples and the role played by the Chinese community. Taking this History course helped me understand the Canadian and Aboriginal contexts in which the CPR was built. Now it was my turn to do the same with my grade 4 students. Had I not taken this course it is very unlikely that I had known to teach my students about the role played by Chinese immigrants in the construction of the CPR and how this historical event impacted Indigenous peoples in the region. In fact, I went back to the book I used for the course looking for specific information I remembered reading about, so I could included it in my unit. I adapted the content to a grade 4 level, supplementing it with more child-friendly material. I knew what to look for and what to include, however, because of the knowledge I had acquired during the Pre-Confederation History course.
In relation to TRB 6, this experience has shown me the importance of understanding the subject areas we teach. In an era when we are being constantly bombarded with information, it can be difficult to discern what, how and how much to teach. Therefore, educators must strive to acquire a broad knowledge base and ensure they understand the curriculum, so that they can communicate the content of their subject areas within the Canadian, Aboriginal and global contexts.
This evidence is a solid example to support TRB 6, because as a future educator I was able to teach my grade 4 students the relevant curriculum within the Canadian and Aboriginal contexts. Historical events were not taught as a list of facts to be memorized by students. Instead, students learned about the construction of the CPR from a democratic perspective that included different views on the same historical event.
This experience has had a deep impact in my teaching approach in relation to TRB 6, because it has shown me that as educators we play a crucial role in teaching students the relevant content from a democratic perspective. For many years, History has been a particularly controversial subject in Canada and in the world, as for a long time historical events were taught from the perspective of only one group: the ruling class. So it is important that teachers have a broad knowledge and understand the context in which events took place, especially in relation to Aboriginal peoples and other minorities.
As a future educator, it is my responsibility to ensure content in my classroom is taught in a way that conveys the values of our democratic society. In my practice, I will strive to learn the different perspectives in relation to the relevant curricula by researching and planning thoroughly before teaching the content to my students. Such an approach will help me understand the context of the subject areas I teach, so that my practice includes more than one perspective and conveys the values that as a democratic society we want to foster in our students.
This standard contributes to the improvement of my practice by requiring me to consider the “big picture” rather than teaching from the point of view of the dominant group of the day. In addition, upholding TRB 6 translates in to my practice embracing and fostering democratic values. Given that we live in a democratic country, it is important that educators strive to promote such values in their classrooms.
The second evidence piece for TRB 6 is a chemistry lesson and lab taught to a grade 8.
After completing my second practicum in a grade 4 class, the grade 8 science teacher at the school offered me an opportunity to volunteer in his class. After going over the content that had been covered, I decided to conduct an experiment to identify the presence of vitamin C.
While preparing the lab, I realized that unless students had the necessary prior chemistry knowledge they would not be able to fully understand what was happening during the vitamin C test. In the lesson planning process, it also became clear that as the teacher I had to be well-prepared to explain the concepts clearly and in a number of ways to include the different learning styles. As a result, I had to review many chemistry concepts and solidify them so I could teach them confidently and effectively.
In preparation for the lesson, I also conducted the experiment at home several times as another way of acquiring the necessary knowledge. In fact, the test did not work at all with the first attempt so I had to repeat it a few more times. If I was going to successfully complete this lab with the students, I had to figure out what had gone wrong and why. This better prepared me to teach the lesson and have discussions with the students, because some of them had similar experiences during the lab completed in the classroom.
The first lesson prior to the actual lab consisted of a review of some relevant chemistry concepts as well as the scientific method. Having ensured I had acquired the necessary knowledge base, I was able to better prepare the grade 8 students for the lab that was conducted the following day. In addition, the content was communicated more effectively and confidently and as a result, the students’ learning experience was more meaningful and successful.
In relation to TRB 6, this experience has shown me the importance of understanding the subject areas we teach and ensuring we have the necessary knowledge. Educators must strive to acquire a broad knowledge base and ensure they understand the curriculum, so that they can communicate the content of their subject areas clearly and in different ways so they can reach a variety of learning styles.
This evidence is a solid example to support TRB 6, because as a future educator I made sure I fully understood the concepts I was teaching so I could provide the best possible learning experience to my students. This experience has had a deep impact in my teaching approach in relation to TRB 6, because it has shown me that as educators we must ensure we have the necessary knowledge base to contribute to student success.
In my practice, I will strive to understand the subject areas I teach so I can communicate the content effectively and clearly, researching and planning thoroughly before teaching a lesson to my students. Such an approach will help me provide a more successful and meaningful learning experience.
This standard contributes to the improvement of my practice by requiring me to acquire the necessary knowledge base. When teachers are well-prepared and have a solid understanding of the concepts they teach, they can better explain and communicate the curriculum content to their students, which in turn leads to a more successful learning experience.