Late in the spring of 2013, UBC’s Faculty of Education approached School District No. 27 about the possibility of being involved in a program that would send future teachers to our district to participate in a new kind of practicum experience.
Following the successful completion of their qualifying (traditional) 10-week practicum in the classroom, UBC students from the Faculty of Education are required to also complete a Community Field Experience (CFE) course. The Community Field Experience is a 3-week placement that takes place in various settings such as alternative youth programs, museums, youth correctional facilities, summer camps and school-based programs. It is rooted in a belief that this type of experience broadens teachers’ conception of education and gives the teacher candidates an opportunity to see how their B. Ed might be utilized in environments outside of the typical urban classroom.
The CFE is different from the formal practicum in that there is no formal evaluation – students are encouraged to experience programs and approaches that will enhance their formal teaching experience. It is between the community/school partner and the teacher candidate to decide on the goals of the field experience. So while UBC hopes – and expects – that their teacher candidates will be able to teach some lessons while they are with us, these placements do not require the host teachers/sponsors to provide any type of formal evaluation.
While the program had existed in and around Vancouver for the past couple of years, UBC was interested in partnering with a few rural districts to allow their students the option of experiencing other school districts and other parts of our beautiful province. Within a few months, I was standing at the front of a UBC lecture hall with hundreds of UBC students listening to my short presentation about why a three-week experience in our district would be an adventure they could not pass up.
Fast forward to April 2014 and for the past three weeks, School District No. 27 has just had the pleasure of hosting our first group of eleven Teacher Candidates from UBC in and around our district in three-week community placements. These eleven university students were secondary-trained future teachers who were given opportunities to ply their trade in different types of opportunities than what we would consider traditional classrooms.
By the end of June, UBC teacher candidates will have been involved in the following district programs: Graduation Transitions interviews, Heavy Metal Rocks, Skyline Alternate School, Anahim Lake School, Tatla Lake School, Naghtaneqed School, Peter Skene Ogden Secondary, the Making Connections/Transitions program, and Explore More Discovery Camp.
Other community placements in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House have included and will include the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre, the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin, Educo Adventure School, Scout Island Nature Centre, the Child Development Centre, and the Gavin Lake Forest Education Centre.
We are so grateful to all of our school district and community partner hosts as we could not be involved in this program without them. An unexpected bonus has been how people in our community have stepped up to offer other types of adventures outside of working hours. UBC students rode GT snow racers on the Sacred Heart hill (making lemonade out of lemons on an unseasonably snowy May Saturday), rode horses at the 108 Hills, cruised on mountain bikes down South Lakeside, boated on beautiful Horsefly Lake, and dined at a wonderful BBQ at the home of our Director of Instruction in Human Resources.
Teacher candidates placed in Williams Lake stayed in the slightly spruced up former student dormitory at the Columneetza Campus of Lake City Secondary, while those placed in 100 Mile stayed in motels or room-and-board situations. One teacher candidate who spent three weeks in the Chilcotin stayed in different teacherages in Tatla, Anahim Lake, and the Nemiah Valley.
We are hopeful that some of these teacher candidates may choose to begin their careers in our districts. We are also grateful to the UBC Faculty of Education to be involved in this program for the next few years.
Special thanks go to my Executive Assistant, Shannon Augustine, for being the Project Coordinator for the Community Field Experience program.
At the beginning of June, fourteen elementary-trained teacher candidates will make their way up to the Cariboo-Chilcotin to start their three-week practicums, and new adventures will begin again!