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Education academics and students connect with colleagues

Werklund School representatives share learning with international counterparts at recent conferences

March 20,2017

Werklund School academics and students travelled to Nanaimo, British Columbia to share their research at WestCAST 2017.

David Swick, Natalie Kuca and Lucas Ker shared their research on biomimicry at this year’s Palliser Teachers’ Convention.

Werklund School of Education academics and students connected with education counterparts from as far away as Australia when they shared their research at the Western Canadian Association for Student Teaching (WestCAST) conference and the Palliser Teachers’ Convention.

WestCAST, which was hosted by the Vancouver Island University in February, saw 15 Werklund School participants present on topics such as the colonization of Mars, comics as educational tools and service-learning within teacher education.

The following week, a short train ride was all that was required for 90 WSE students to present 26 poster sessions at the Palliser convention in downtown Calgary on issues including STEM robotics, safe water in a changing climate and mathematics assessment.

Cynthia Prasow, the Werklund School’s director of student experience, believes participation in events such as these will benefit the students in their future teaching careers. “Professional development, researching and presenting at conferences demonstrates an aspect of our students both academically and professionally that will lay the foundation for exemplary teaching qualities.”

Bachelor of Education student Natalie Kuca, who co-presented research on biomimicry for use with Grade 8 classes, found her experience at the Palliser Teachers’ Convention invaluable.

“In the Werklund School of Education, we have learned the importance of authentic learning tasks. Participating in events like these enable us to experience real-world, professional exchange of ideas among educators,” says Kuca.

Kuca and her fellow students benefitted from interaction with conference delegates who came to discuss their posters and the curriculum content.

“The warm welcome from the convention staff and encouragement from professors attending the convention were amazing, and served to solidify my sensation of belonging in the field of education,” she says.

Prasow adds that the WestCAST conference, in particular, fosters opportunities for Werklund School students to meet students from other provinces and discuss common issues they may face upon entering the classroom.

“Working with students with diverse needs, differentiating learning, and issues of accommodation are just some of the challenges shared by teachers across the country.  Our students were also very interested in the idea of mentorship and how they could connect with a ‘master teacher’ to support them as a beginning teacher,” says Prasow.

Prasow points out that, while these conferences offer students many benefits, they are not required as part of their studies.

“Our students continue to seize these opportunities over and above their school commitments and demonstrate professionalism and collegiality. They are shining examples of who we would want in our teaching profession!”