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Lila Gaertner's Education Portfolio

"Education is a journey, not a race"

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ECS 311

Post Pre-Internship

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1. What are you more convinced about teaching now that you’ve been in the classroom for three weeks?

I am more convinced that there is a lot more to teaching than standing up at the front of the classroom. Ex. Taking attendance, classroom management, supervision, field trips, etc.

2. What happened that confirmed your belief(s)?

Students need a lot of direction/instructions/repetition. Ex. I asked my students to repeat what I just said and they had forgotten already.

3. What happened that challenged your beliefs(s)?

Some students are more stubborn than others and so this challenged me because I did not know how to “discipline” them so that they would do their work. Ex. One student did not work on their artwork during class.

4. What specifically will you do over the summer to prepare for internship?

I will hopefully be gathering resources and even organizing ideas for unit plans that I will teach my students. Ex. If I know that I will be teaching English, I will gather resources and ideas to teach an English lesson or Unit.

5. In the context of our earlier conversation (one-on-one) – how has your understanding of treaty education and/or teaching FNMI content and perspectives grown as a result of your pre-internship?

I sincerely enjoyed teaching about Indigenous art to my students and they seemed to be very respectful while I taught it. Ninety percent of my class was of color or from a different cultural background, so this was a great learning experience for me. This was also a great experience because a lot of my students directly related their work to their culture and ended up creating their own artworks that represented place that also connected to their own personal culture.

We also watched “The 8th Fire” videos that discussed different topics such as residential schools, the Indian Act, the Treaties, and stereotypes of First Nations people. I then discussed how important it was to learn this – it’s a part of Canada’s culture, some of these things have happened to people we know, etc.

We also went to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and went to the new display called “We are all Treaty People”. We also stayed for two lead sessions on First Nations hunting and the tools they used. The students really enjoyed these sessions.

6. What are you most concerned about for the fall? 

I am most concerned that there will be too much expected of me from my co-op. Also, I am more concerned about where I will be placed and who I will be placed with, than the content of what I will be teaching, even though I am concerned about that too. I just really hope that I get along with my co-op. I know what it’s like to walk on eggshells for 8 months of an internship.

After Meeting With Mike

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Instead of a Mid-Term paper, my Professor Mike met individually with each of us for about an hour to talk about some very important questions. Before I went to my meeting with Mike I had heard a little bit about a few of the other meetings, so I kind of knew what to expect and did not feel too intimidated. Once I got there I didn’t feel nervous at all, but I was curious as to what we would be talking about. What I really enjoyed about the meeting with Mike was how relaxed it was. It did have some structure, since I answered the four questions that I had prepared beforehand, but it was also relaxing in a way because we talked about things or issues as they came up.

What really challenged me during this conversation was the fact that we talked about difficult topics that made me feel sad. For example, we watched a video about different girls who were of color and how they have been labelled as people who would hurt you or steal something from you because of their skin color. This video was difficult for me to watch, but I know that these ideas exist in our society and they will most likely show up in my classroom, so I cannot deny that they exist.

To be honest, as I was discussing these topics with Mike, I did not seem to show a lot of emotions while I was in the conversation, but it wasn’t until later that night that what we had discussed in the morning had really hit me. The reason I felt so much sadness was because I felt that I could not get away from my racism. I am such a compassionate, empathetic person and the thought that I could still be racist and have racist thoughts without really realizing it made me even more sad. When Mike called me out and called me racist in the meeting, I knew that I was, but I also knew that I tried my hardest not to be. I shared a story with him that I try to go out of my way by noticing that I should offer people of color the chance to get onto the bus first and not to go ahead of them. By doing this I am acknowledging them and seeing them as important, unlike other white people at the bus stop some days in my experience. I saw this as a small gesture that removed me from being racist, but later that night, I was thinking about how I would get to my boyfriend’s house and I realized that I didn’t want to take the bus because I had a racist thought that I shouldn’t take the bus because there could be some “sketchy” people on the bus that late at night. Then I realized what I had thought about the people who take the bus late at night and felt awful. I cried that I had assumed this and I cried over the fact that it is so unfair for people of color to be labeled and treated differently because of their color. I also cried over the fact that I am still going to fail at trying not to be racist or have racist thoughts.

Another thing that I was challenged with in this meeting, was my answer as to why Treaty Education is important. I have been learning how important it is and I know that it is important, but I need to be able to put my thoughts into words and make sure that my students and their parents know why Treaty Education is important to all of us. So far, my answer would be that Treaty Education is important because it is a part of Canada’s history, and we are all Treaty People who are in relationship with each other on this land that we call Canada. I think that after this meeting I have realized that white people need to reconcile with the First Nations people because of how we have poorly treated them, and we as white people need to pick up our end of the deal, stop being blind or ignorant to the truth about residential schools and educate ourselves or seek education from others, so that we can come back together again and uphold our end of the Treaties. I believe that to reconcile with the First Nations people, we need to stop being inactive and start being active when it comes to reconciliation. We need to pick up the slack and read the TRC.

Thoughts On Treaty Education…

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1. What will it take for you to feel confident in meeting the treaty education mandate?

I know that I do not know everything there is to know about any one topic, but I know that there is a lot of room to grow and learn when it comes to feeling confident in meeting the Treaty Education requirements. Therefore, I think that it will take a lot of practice and inquiry for me to feel confident. I will have to make time to learn more about Treaty Ed. and continue to be open to learning more about the Indigenous ways of knowing.

2. What barriers to teaching First Nations, Métis and Inuit content and perspectives do you identify as being significant?

I believe that there will be some barriers when it comes down to teaching First Nations, Métis and Inuit content and perspectives and they would probably be:

  • I am not as confident as I want to be to be able to teach this content
  • I think I still have lots to learn and will make mistakes along the way
  • I will get some things wrong and will feel like I have failed
  • I have a fear of accidentally being racist in front of my class
  • I have a fear of being called racist

3. In what ways are you a barrier to this work and incorporating this content?

I am a white Christian who may show bias on the content. I have the capability to be racist and judgemental, but I hope that I am able to present the truth without showing my bias.

4. Given the challenges that we have discussed in class, what will you do to prepare yourself to do this work?

I will try my best to teach myself more about Treaty Education and I will do my best to continue to attend Professional Development events that revolve around Treaty Education and reconciliation. I will also try my best to help others on their own journey’s when it comes to reconciliation. I want to be a support to others, so that they can unpack the truth and come to know how to rebuild positive relationships with the First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada.

The Importance of the TRC (Truth & Reconciliation)

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Why should you read the TRC?

I believe that everyone in Canada should read the TRC because it is an important component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Its mandate is to inform all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools (IRS). The Commission has documented the truth of survivors, families, communities and anyone personally affected by the IRS experience, which includes First Nations, Inuit and Métis former Indian Residential School students, their families, communities, the Churches, former school employees, Government and other Canadians.

How will you read the TRC so that you can be changed by what you hear?

I have actually listened to part of the TRC already and I can say that it has challenged me to listen/read more of it. I know that the TRC is an important document and that listening to the emotion of others from Canada read its content has truly been an eye opening experience. I have already been changed by what I have listened to/read so far in the TRC and I can say that i have felt anger, sadness, and disappointment. I have felt these emotions because I truly believe that what happened in Residential Schools was utterly wrong. The TRC also gives me hope though – it gives me hope that the more Canadians who know the truth about Residential Schools will become more compassionate and do their best to work towards reconciliation and renew relationships that are based on mutual understanding and respect.

How will your reading of the TRC have an effect on your preparation and planning as a teacher?

After reading the TRC, I will have a better grasp on the true history of Residential Schools and I will have more ideas on how to help others come to know the truth as well. I also hope to help others on their own journey’s when it comes to reconciliation. I want to be a support to others, so that they can unpack the truth and come to know how to rebuild positive relationships with the First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada.

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