Community practicum partners provide invaluable learning opportunities for teacher candidates

On Friday May 8th, the Faculty of Education’s Practicum Office hosted its 10th annual Thank-you Luncheon for community organizations to thank them for their ongoing support of the Faculty’s unique community practicum. Representatives from a number of organizations attended the event, which was held at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Community partners thank-you luncheon“We wanted to take this opportunity to thank our many community partners for their ongoing support of our teacher candidates,” said Marcela Duran, Community Practicum Coordinator in the Faculty of Education. “We hope that the learning opportunities that these organizations provide for our B.Ed. students will have an impact on the way they develop their future teaching practices.”

Now in its tenth year, the Faculty’s unique community practicum provides a 50-hour field experience placement with a community organization or education related NGO for teacher candidates in the concurrent B.Ed. program. By participating in appropriate activities designed by the organizations, students support the organizations and are provided with opportunities to gain insight into the kinds of learning and advocacy that contribute to the well being of society.

group of diverse elementary students“The changing reality of Canadian society and its large urban communities told us of the need to give our teacher candidates a better understanding of the complexities of the communities that students come from,” said Duran. “Through the community practicum we envision teacher candidates developing an understanding of the range of cultures within a school and its geographical areas; an understanding of a child, adolescent, and adult’s everyday life in a community; and, a sensitivity to cultural and community perspectives.”

Since its inception in 2004, approximately 120 organizations have worked in partnership with the Faculty. This past year alone, over 45 different organizations participated, providing teacher candidates with a diverse range of locations and opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. One such organization is the Upfront Theatre Foundation, a service learning non-profit organization serving children, students, youth and women in the Jane and Finch community and surrounding areas. The mandate of Upfront Theatre Foundation is to organize and produce cultural, educational and social programs using the arts and multi-media to sensitize society to the serious social problems afflicting children and youth in the community.

“We offer a number of programs such as our Gender Violence program, Homework Club, and After School program, all that expose York teacher candidates to the realities of the community,” said Masani Montague, Executive Director at Upfront Theatre Foundation. “Our focus on the arts provides teacher candidates with the opportunity to work with local high school students to produce theatrical productions, plan festivals, and organize programs and activities that will contribute to the development of the cultural mosaic of Canada and the global culture.”

Many teacher candidates have considered the community practicum to be an effective way of understanding the complexity of the world and society in addition to their classroom-based academic knowledge. Below are a few quotes from teacher candidates talking about how this unique aspect of the B.Ed. program has had an impact on their learning.

"I learned that social advocacy means one does not only talk about social justice, but one carries out the actions necessary to reach the goal of social equity."

"The Massey Centre for Women is a space of empowerment. I love that they offer a second chance for the girls and that the place is flexible enough to provide all that the girls need to be a mother and a student. Coming in as a TC I loved it. I got to help teach the girls one-on-one, help build a space of empowerment, and listen to the girls' stories."

"I was very thankful to have learned from two amazing program facilitators about queer identity, and LGBTQQ awareness and support. It has made me more aware of the individuality of every human, and has made me more cautious to not assume gender. It was a challenge to change my vocabulary from he and she to them and they."

"I came to understand that every student has a story that we as educators may not necessarily know. We cannot be quick to judge the children that come into our classrooms because we do not understand the circumstances they are struggling with.”