Well, it appears we have come to the end! What a semester! A lot has happened in the four months we have been together, and something that has changed significantly, for me, is my own personal pedagogy. This semester, I was taking ECS 210 and ECS 300 at the same time. These are two very different classes. In my experience, at least, in ECS 300 you are thrown into the field without much of an explanation on how to handle and manage a classroom, or deal with students who come from culturally diverse classrooms. I am glad I was also taking ECS 210 simultaneously or else I would not have been equipped to manage that. Now, obviously, one would usually take ECS 210 first, then 300 the following year, and ECS 210 should have helped assist for what I just mentioned. But if you have to wait an entire summer between the two classes, that may not be beneficial for some students.
I learned more about my teaching pedagogy in this class than any other ECS class. I believe that every student is deserving of the same opportunities. What this means, to me, is that students should be seen through the same lens, not “this student is poor” and “this student has money”… etc., because when students are looked at through the same unitary lens, as “students”, there is less room for favourites and being one sided. Furthermore, every student should then be on the same “level” to be offered things instead of “Elissa is a high math student. I’ll pick her to help set up the gym” as opposed to “Jimmy never comes to school. I’m not going let him help set up the gym”. If we want students to believe that they matter, we have to treat them like they matter, and if that means praising Jimmy for showing up to school only twice in one week, then that is what we have to do. Because every learner in that school holds the exact same status- a student. I am not saying there should not be consequences for bad behaviour, but it is about finding that middle where you believe in your learners and letting them discover that you believe in them.
Growing up, for me, was a little different. I have got to experience both sides of privilege. What do I mean by this? My mom’s side of the family is fully Cree, while my dad’s side of the family is fully German. See my problem? I have had the experience of white privilege, but I have also felt and continue to feel the complete opposite of that. Sometimes, when I tell people that I am Cree, they become very shocked because my skin is white (thanks dad). Its like despite everything that person knew about me before hand no longer it matters. Usually, their tone of voice changes, and they ask if I am paying for my own school, which is them referring to the fact that Indigenous people get “free school”. People also tell me “Oh, well at least you aren’t like the rest of them. At least you’re going to school and doing something”… and that is putting it the nice way as opposed to what someone actually once told me. What is that supposed to mean? Why are you talking about my people like that straight to my face? Am I supposed to feel complimented because you told me I’m doing “better than the others”? Give me a break.
I have a passion to teach Indigenous content and teach for truth and reconciliation. I was actually going to minor in Indigenous Studies, but that is not an Education minor at the U of R. However, because my skin is white, I fear that my students are going to ridicule me. I went a high school in Saskatoon where the student population was mainly Indigenous. As I was self-declared with the school, I was always invited to the “extra” Indigenous events with a few other Indigenous students, like Indigenous leadership conferences and powwows, and a special tour of the U of S, just to name a few, and every single time I showed up, my fellow peers would always say “why are you here?”, and when I told them I was Cree on my mom’s side, they would just laugh and say “okay”. Where am I supposed to fit in if I am not accepted on either side? At the Aboriginal Graduation held for all Indigenous students in Saskatoon, I wore beautiful purple beaded earrings to match my dress, and brought my mom and kokum. To put it very rashly, when my “friends” who never believed me saw how brown my mom and kokum were, I saw on their face that they were shocked.
Because my skin is white, I am afraid to teach my passion. I am afraid to teach my passion because of my previously described experiences in high school, and also because of what I saw in high school. As the student body was mostly Indigenous, and very few staff in the school were Indigenous, whenever a teacher was trying (trying their hardest I will add) to teach treaty ed or Indigenous content the students in the room would laugh and tell the teacher they don’t know anything. I am afraid this will happen to me. Even though I am not fully white, I look like I am, and that is all it is going to take for students to label me as such. I fear that even if I do tell my students that they will have the same reactions as my peers did in high school. I am not sure if I have figured out how to deal with that yet. However, what I do know, is that I am going to use my teaching philosophy and pedagogy that I discovered in ECS 210 to help me be the best teacher I can be. Every student is deserving of the same opportunities. I cannot let what my students could possibly be thinking get in the way of that. Through the confidence that ECS 210 helped me find, I will be able to get into a classroom and be a little more confident in myself and what I’m teaching, and even though I have fears, to not let them define me so I can educate my students and provide them all with those equal opportunities. And hopefully, through that, my students will see what kind of teacher I am and will start to accept me as well.