I believe school is a vehicle for students to advance their intellect. School provides an environment for students as they participate in their burgeoning psychological and sociological development. In tandem with curricular goals, an education should help individuals garner the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they will carry through their home, communities, and societies. An education should ignite an ability to self-educate, seek the discoverable truth, and foster drive to further improve oneself. I also believe, however, that an education should encourage the development of a multitude of skills. Education should provide individuals with the opportunity to develop analytical and methodical thinking, as well as creative and artistic abilities. Students should be able to access learning regardless of their habits, style, or predetermined disposition. Through this, students will be well-rounded in their knowledge and recognize equal appreciation for both the humanities and sciences.
Curriculum functions to provide a foundation to prepare students for being productive members of society. Yet, many educators I work with teaching curriculum verbatim, appear, to me, too restrictive and inflexible. Education, in my humble opinion, boils down to student-centered approaches, flexibility, and democratic classrooms. From my own personal experience, I inherently believe education is about the development of the whole child. Through doing and exploring (not through sitting at a desk for eight hours), and interdisciplinary methods students can apply to real-world experience.
I believe that as an educator, it is my job to facilitate inquiry and self-discovery. A teacher’s role should not be imposing ideas or habits on a student, but to assist students in interpreting, and responding to, the knowledge that will contribute to their individual development. A teacher should ensure the classroom provides an environment that allows every student to achieve their fullest potential.
I believe that assessment needs to be approached holistically. If education is geared towards developing an individual intellectually, psychologically, and socially, assessment should thus reveal how a student is evolving in all areas. Assessment can reveal areas where a student can use assistance, and where they may use their skills to be of service to others. Assessment should be based upon the strengths and interests of a student, differentiated for all learners, and accessible to all. The option of not failing allows students a safe space to try and make mistakes. Assessment should be used to highlight an individual's ability to understand and apply knowledge, rather than how one individual responds comparatively to a larger whole.
I believe students should be given the tools of time and energy to better understand their own perspectives and tendencies. Students should be able to develop communication skills which encourage introspection. Students should be encouraged to “fail”, because failure is the best teacher of all. Success cannot be achieved without recognizing areas of development. Students should have a classroom which allows them to challenge each other, and a teacher who welcomes their challenging opinions. A teacher should be an example of how mistakes are beautiful, teachable moments. Students should face failure and mistakes with each other and not be afraid to make mistakes.
As an educator, it is my responsibility to nurture skills in my students so that they may be successful in all avenues of their life. My goal as a teacher is to connect people to their minds, bodies, and spirits. Students should be able to reach their highest potential. I aim to be of service to my students by demonstrating belief in individual abilities and providing support necessary to meet academic demands. My classroom is a space for students to study the many aspects of life - both the fundamentals of a subject and the way my students understand the world. It is important to me as an educator that I assist my students in developing intellectual and social skills that will prepare them to be lifelong learners. For me, success as a teacher is seeing my students understand the academic, individual, and social responsibilities of their studies, as well as the impact of their choices.
If I am unable to think critically or appear uncomfortable with challenging the social structures in place, then my students cannot learn how to do that for themselves. I want my students to challenge the dominant narrative that is fed to them, especially in a time where the world is confronted with news sources, bias, and incorrect information. If I seat myself at ‘the head’ of a classroom, I am creating an unfair power dynamic. I sit with my students, I do not have a desk, and I want to level you a power imbalance; my students are worth as much as me, and their knowledge is just as valuable. They need to graduate knowing their worth. I do not agree with traditional assessment: essays and tests are confining. My assessment strategy is not about what the right answer is, but what their critical thinking skills can show and teach me.The more I educate myself, the more I can educate my students. The more I educate my students, the more they educate their community. Together we work to find a voice for the marginalized. Decolonizing the educational systems in which I play, I am continuously working to confront the cultural dominance permeating our schools, and center Indigenous ways of knowing. Utilizing critical theory and Indigenous educational theories, I am actively seeking tools to engage my Indigenous learners in a decolonization process that critically examines injustices and inequitable relationships while valuing and promoting Indigenous knowledge systems and sovereignty.
I believe that students in the North should explore their learning through FNMI ways of knowing, being, and doing. I focused my education on FNMI histories, cultures, and the relationship between Indigenous communities, Southern communities, and the government. I am fortunate enough to teach in the communities I study and co-research with, and I believe my students should be able to learn a curriculum which privileges, enhances and utilizes their world-views. Students should be able to relate to the material which is preparing them for their future and by way of learning through lived experiences and schema. Students should learn a curriculum that advances their needs through traditional ways of education. Community and Elders need to be involved in the classroom, teachers need to practice oral transmission and storytelling to engage students, and Indigenous examples need to be at the forefront of every lesson.
It would be remiss not to remark that my development as an educator has largely been thanks to my students. No matter the community or territory I traverse, and in spite of remarkably high teacher turnover and a general mistrust of the education system, my students have been patient and forgiving. I have made errors, unappealing lesson plans, gotten frustrated, but also experienced pure joy, love, and the feeling when a student's progress surpasses expectations. They have brought me bannock and greeted me off the plane, shown me how to use an ulu and process caribou. They have been my teacher, as much I have theirs.