Teaching the teachers
by Jodi Nickel
It has been a long time coming, but students can finally complete a bachelor of education at Mount Royal University.
For the last 20 years, students could begin a B.Ed. at MRU then transfer to other universities to complete their degrees.
For the 75 students who have been admitted to the B.Ed. Elementary this fall, they don’t have to leave to complete their education.
Mount Royal has the only program in the province where students can enter directly from high school without any prior university education.
Having spent 13 years on the receiving end as students in the K-12 system, education students may initially assume they know what is involved in being a teacher. They soon learn that effective teaching is more than planning lessons according to the provincial curriculum.
They must develop approaches that will engage and educate a diverse classroom of students who have different personalities and interests and, in some cases, complex needs.
Collaboration with other teachers, parents and community members is also part of a teacher’s job. Add to that the broader purposes of schooling such as fostering curiosity, character and citizenship, and teaching becomes a very complex profession indeed.
Throughout the bachelor of education program, students develop the knowledge, skills and attributes that will equip them to tackle this challenging and meaningful profession.
One of the exciting features of MRU’s bachelor of education is the unique approach to field experience in schools. In their very first semester and in six of the eight semesters during the degree, students are placed in schools several hours each week to see first-hand what is involved in the life of a teacher.
It makes the theory come alive when they can see it unfolding in the classroom.
Because elementary teachers usually teach all subject areas, B.Ed. students will take methods courses in all core subjects including Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, Drama and Physical Education.
They will benefit from small class sizes and professors who visit them regularly in their practicum placements to help them apply the knowledge from their courses to classrooms settings.
MRU is responding to the needs of our local community by providing the option for a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language.
English is not the first language of approximately 25 per cent of students in Calgary schools. B.Ed. students with this minor will be especially well equipped to serve this population of students.
Although the Calgary Board of Education had to lay off nearly 200 teachers this year due to budget cutbacks, projections suggest there will be a demand for Calgary teachers in the future due to teacher retirement and Calgary’s baby boom.
MRU’s first graduating class of teachers in 2015 will be ready to fill the gap.
Jodi Nickel is an associate professor in the department of education and schooling at MRU.