Eight students present at Western Canada teaching conference this week

Students attending WestCAST 2019
(l-r: Charlene Baker, Brian Lewthwaite, Johanna McClements, David Skelton, Bryan Laloge, Judy Leamon, Susu Robin, Carrie-Lyn Robinson, Meg Henderson and Colleen Latham)

WHITEHORSE—Eight Bachelor of Education students in the Yukon Native Teacher Education Program (YNTEP) and After-Degree program at Yukon College are sharing practical skills and knowledge for teaching in Calgary, Alberta this week.  

With funding support from the Yukon College Research Fund, Charlene Baker, Meg Henderson, David Skelton, Susu Robin, Bryan Laloge, Colleen Latham, Judy Leamon and Johanna McClements will present three sessions to the annual Western Canadian Association for Student Teaching (WestCAST) conference. The sessions focus on how science learning can connect students to traditional culture and knowledge, how experiential arts learning can help students explore challenging topics like residential school history, and how building community and connection in the classroom supports students in their learning. 

WestCAST 2019 will bring together over 600 educators and pre-service teachers from 18 universities and six teacher associations at the University of Calgary. This is just the second time Yukon College students have presented at WestCAST. They will be the only students providing perspectives from North of 60. 

McClements will reflect on her final teaching practicum and the self-assessment tool for teaching First Nations students she used to dig deeper and find stories and create experiences students could connect to. 

“In teaching literacy skills, the self-assessment helped me identify that I needed to break the teaching down into smaller chunks, anchor it to stories and books the students can relate to. With writing, I had greater success when I got the students moving with dance parties, gym time and nature hikes, which addressed their restlessness and gave them new experiences to write about,” said McClements. 

Baker will illustrate the impacts of residential school and Indian Act policies on her family by sharing her story and how she incorporates this history and the reclaiming of culture and traditions in her teaching. Accompanying Baker are Henderson, Skelton and Robin who will showcase embroidery, soundscapes and visual art projects that can help students explore challenging topics, such as those Baker will speak of, and express the range of emotions that arise from them. 

“These are sensitive subjects which people have a hard time talking about. Finding imaginative, expressive and experiential ways for students to address them can help make challenging topics more accessible,” said Henderson.  

Laloge, Latham and Leamon will explore ways they ground the science curriculum to the local environment by incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing and doing.  

“Connecting students to traditional uses of moss, to rabbit snaring and arrowheads—the practical ways First Nations people interact with the environment—we can both deepen their understanding of earth sciences and repair the damage of residential school in a positive way,” said Leamon. 

The students will be accompanied by instructor Carrie-Lyn Robinson. 

“Presenting at WestCAST helps YNTEP and After Degree students realize the huge capacity they possess for contributing and leading the ways education can respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and build a curriculum that is responsive to and inclusive of First Nations students,” said Dr. Brian Lewthwaite, YNTEP Program Coordinator 

There are currently 47 students registered in the four-year YNTEP and two-year After-Degree programs at Yukon College. The two Bachelor of Education degree programs at Yukon College are offered in partnership with the University of Regina and focus on preparing graduates for the unique demands of Yukon schools. 

Prospective students can learn more at an upcoming YNTEP and After Degree information session on March 12, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., in room A2103 at Ayamdigut Campus. People in rural communities can access the session remotely by contacting hehs@yukoncollege.yk.ca before 4:00 p.m. on March 12. 

The application deadline for the 2019/2020 academic year is March 31. 

For more information, please contact:

Catherine Bradbury

Chair, School of Health, Education and Human Services

School of Health, Education and Human Services
Applied Arts

Michael Vernon

Communications Coordinator

Governance and External