Students, faculty and even the dean of the Faculty of Education are getting involved with Teach for Canada to help provide quality education for every child in our country, regardless of which community they call home.
Teach for Canada is a charitable organization that has the goals to recruit, prepare and retain teachers to work with schools in rural and remote Canadian communities. The co-founders of Teach for Canada, Kyle Hill and Adam Goldenberg, are alumni of a national leadership, development and policy fellowship program called Action Canada. Action Canada’s mandate is to “build leadership for Canada’s future” and from this experience, came the desire to develop a project that would serve to enrich the education of youth in small, rural and mostly aboriginal northern communities in Canada.
Andrea Rose, a professor with the Faculty of Education, met the leaders of Teach for Canada when she was an advisor with Action Canada. When Teach for Canada was being created, the co-founders reached out to Dr. Rose from their previous connections and she immediately supported the idea.
“This is a non-profit organization,” said Dr. Rose. “It is all volunteer work, so everyone must be on board with the idea. I am a true believer in this concept and feel that this organization is going to make a difference in our country, to make education better and more accessible for all.”
Dr. Rose is part of the Teach for Canada circle of advisors. These advisors are spread out across the country and are from diverse backgrounds including government representatives, school district officials and leaders of aboriginal communities. The term “circle of advisors” stems from the aboriginal term of an inner circle, meaning it is not a hierarchy. The circle has had two workshops with the full group in the past year to discuss recruitment, teaching and curriculum.
Kirk Anderson, dean of the Faculty of Education has also joined the circle of advisors. Aside from his personal interest in the organization, he is also involved as a representative for the Association of Canadian Deans of Education.
Heather Carroll is a student with the Faculty of Education and she joined the Teach for Canada team as a student ambassador in summer 2014.
“As soon as I heard about the organization, I was immediately drawn to it,” said Ms. Carroll. “The more I learned about educational inequities in Canada, the more I wanted to play a part in making impactful change.”
As a student ambassador, Ms. Carroll’s role with Teach for Canada is to be the face of the organization at Memorial. She leads awareness campaigns, hosted the director of teacher recruitment for an information session, does general promotion and curates the Teach for Canada - Memorial University Facebook page.
The experience has been very rewarding so far. “The team across Canada has been so insightful and active,” said Ms. Carroll. “I'm honoured to be part of the building process with this organization and to help it grow.”
When asked if she would recommend this experience to other Faculty of Education students, Ms. Carroll said, “If you're a passionate education student, whether you're graduating and want to be a TFC teacher, or an undergrad wanting to be an ambassador, and want to be a part of social change, then this is the place for you.”
Teach for Canada has often been compared to the organization Teach for America, but the two groups are not related and operate in several different ways. The main difference is that all teachers who are recruited by Teach for Canada will already have an education degree. This is not the case with Teach for America. This summer, between 40 and 50 teachers will begin a six-week training program in a remote community. Teach for Canada has a partnership with the school districts and the Ontario provincial government, so once training is complete, the teachers will be placed in schools in northern Ontario for the pilot year of the program.
“Teach for Canada is bridging the gap between an education degree and the cultural and social needs in remote communities and schools,” said Dr. Rose. “Teacher turnover is an issue in these communities. By developing mentorship programs, each new teacher will have a mentor with experience, support from the organization, continued professional development throughout the year and a cohort of teachers that can work together to share and compare experiences.”
The goal is to create a support system for the new teachers so that they will not only want to work in these communities, but also want to stay there and enjoy it. With close to 300 applicants for 40 to 50 teaching positions, in a time when northern districts are having trouble recruiting teachers, their strategy seems to be working.
For more information on Teach for Canada, please visit www.teachforcanada.ca.