Educators value and care for all students and act in their best interests. Educators are responsible for fostering the emotional, esthetic, intellectual, physical, social and vocational development of students. They are responsible for the emotional and physical safety of students. Educators treat students with respect and dignity. Educators respect the diversity in their classrooms, schools and communities. Educators have a privileged position of power and trust. They respect confidentiality unless disclosure is required by law. Educators do not abuse or exploit students or minors for personal, sexual, ideological, material or other advantage.
Evidence #1: Practicum Safety and Student Success Report
In preparation for my spring practicum at Ladysmith Secondary School, I created a robust and detailed practicum report. This report overviewed safety protocols which would ensure I would be able to be responsible for the emotional and physical safety of my students. During the creation of this report, I learned what the fire, earthquake, and lockdown procedures were for my school. I learned where the emergency first aid kits were, the location of emergency exits and fire extinguishers, and procedures regarding high incidence or dangerous behaviours in the classroom. In this report, I also reviewed classroom management practices with each of my sponsor teachers, and carefully examined the IEPs, behavioural concerns, and significant medical issues of students in my care. I was also made privy to some deeply private and personal challenges in the lives of several of my students; in each of these cases, I have created a trustworthy relationship with the student and have held these stories in complete confidence.
Creating this report – and subsequently preparing for my practicum – has helped me learn how important it is to uphold TRB standard 1. I have learned how important it is to keep my students safe, to respect the diversity of my individual students, create trustworthy relationships, and to prepare my practice and pedagogy in a way that will help my diverse learners to thrive. Through this highly confidential process, I have learned how important it is to treat my students with the utmost of respect and dignity, and to prepare my classroom to be a place that is safe, inclusive, and deeply intentional. Being cognizant and actively planning for the individual needs of my students will help me foster the emotional, esthetic, intellectual, physical, social, and vocational development of my students.
Keeping my students physically, emotionally, socially, and intellectually safe and thriving outweighs any teaching strategy and is an underpinning of good practice. This is why my safety and classroom management plan is an ideal example of upholding TRB standard 1. Relationships with students that are based on a reciprocal respect, establish appropriate boundaries, and are propelled by authenticity lead to students who “feel more comfortable in their learning environments, interested in the material, and motivated to perform well” (Bernstein-Yamashiro & Noam, 2013).
As I continue to grow as an educator, I know that upholding TRB standard 1 will be important for my practice. As I reflect on the person and educator I want to be, I see classroom as a safe, trustworthy, and confidential space where students are free from any form of harm, and feel comfortable being the truest form of themselves. As I continue to grow as a teacher, I know I will take professional development courses that will help me make my practice safer, more inclusive, and more celebratory of diversity. This could include taking an advanced first aid course, becoming more aware of the experience of Indigenous students in my class and community, or simply making sure my students’ personal information is password protected and secure. I am confident that upholding TRB standard 1 will help ensure the safety, inclusion, and best possible learning experience for each of my unique and complex students.
Bernstein-Yamashiro, B., & Noam, G. G. (2013). Teacher-student relationships toward personalized education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Evidence #2: Full-Scale Lockdown Drill (Evidence at Bottom of Reflection)
During my spring practicum at Ladysmith Secondary School, our entire school practiced a full-scale lockdown with a significant RCMP presence on site. During this lockdown, I was tasked with practicing this drill with my Social Studies 10 class – an extremely large, rambunctious group of students. Many did not grasp the serious nature of the lockdown drill, and engaged in a number of highly inappropriate jokes and behaviours to quell their discomfort. Other students appeared triggered and anxious by the serious nature of the drill. During these proceedings, I executed the full lockdown drill in the classroom, including turning off phones, duck and cover, silence, taking attendance, covering all windows and doors, and turning off lights. I took time to assure students that this was simply a drill and they should not be alarmed. I discussed the seriousness of the situation, and reviewed all proceedings before the drill began. After the drill, I thanked all of my students for the time and energy they had put in to reviewing the lockdown procedures. During this time, I executed the drill in the interest of student safety, but also cared for the emotional well-being of my anxious, triggered, or uncomfortable students.
My experience with this lockdown drill has taught me how to treat each of my students with respect and dignity. The nature of the drill meant that I was locked in close proximity to my students for a significant period of time. During this drill, many of my students were visibly upset, and I was given the opportunity to respect the validity of those emotions in my students. In this way, I was able to be responsible for the physical and emotional safety of my students, and was able to hold a privileged position of trust. Through this experience, I was able to truly understand what it means to value and care for students and their best interests – physically in terms of the actual lockdown procedures, and emotionally as we made space for the plethora of reactions that inevitably accompanied the drill.
This lockdown drill has impacted my knowledge and insights around teaching and learning relative to TRB Standard 1 because it has taught me how important it is to be in a position of power and trust in the lives of my students. In a lockdown, their lives would depend on my ability to unselfishly place their physical and emotional needs as my top priority. This drill is an excellent piece of evidence for TRB Standard 1 as it has taught me that this position of trust is not relegated to the extreme of a lockdown situation: as a teacher, I will be entrusted with the emotional, esthetic, intellectual, physical, social, and vocational development of my students in every aspect of our day-to-day classroom. This is an honour and privilege that I do not take lightly, and daily consider the depth of responsibility that this profession entails.
As I consider the aspects of TRB Standard 1, I know that valuing and caring for students will always remain my top priority. When I read my students’ deeply personal essays, speak with them after class, or am made privilege to some of the struggles they face, I am reminded of my commitment to their confidentiality, the awesome honour of earning their trust, and the value I place on each of their complex and unique lives. These values are important to my practice because it is students themselves – not curriculum, planning, or reporting – that are the entire reason I am entering this incredible profession. My value that I place on my students and their unique generation are the cornerstone of all the other choices I will make in the profession. As I continue to grow as a teacher, I know I will endeavor to hold TRB Standard 1 true by always asking students for consent in sharing their work, respecting the privacy of my students, and valuing their unique contributions to the classroom. I will also regularly review drills and protocols that are designed for the whole-person safety of each of my students. My review of TRB Standard 1 has taught me that teaching is all about putting the whole-person needs of my students above every other priority in the profession. As I continue to grow as a teacher, I know that this is valuing of my students’ wellbeing will be something that I am continually reflecting on and making plans for. In time, I believe I will also see the inevitable results of prioritizing my students’ well-being, safety, and emotional development.