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TRB STANDARD #1: 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.

My Evidence: Practicum Unit Plan/Lesson Plan: Who Are You and Where Do You Belong?

For my first piece of evidence of learning and understanding TRB Standard #1: Educators value and
care for all students and act in their best interests I have chosen to submit the unit plan and one of the
lesson plans that Darcy Brennan, Kate Rycroft and myself created and used for our two-week practicum
at Dover Bay. I am very passionate about the lessons I created for this unit because they use short
stories to focus on the development of identity in relation to the student’s own experience in
correlation with the Indigenous experience of the Snuneymuxw First People on Vancouver Island. I really
wanted to include this unit plan and lesson plan in my TRB Standards submissions somewhere, but
wasn’t sure where until I looked at our class brainstorm page and saw the post relating to this standard
about teaching place-based Indigenous content as a means to demonstrate a respect for the diversity in
a teacher’s classroom. The post also highlights the standard as a representation of the need to build
positive personal and cultural identities, as outlined in the New BC Curriculum, which is exactly what our
unit and lessons were aimed at doing. We really tried to place value within our lesson on the social and
vocational development of our students and their understanding of their own identity as well as the
identity of the local indigenous bands around them. I think these lesson plans work perfectly as evidence
for this standard, and I am excited to share them.

Through creating these lesson plans and overall unit plan with my colleagues I learned so much
about Indigenous culture on Vancouver Island. This knowledge is so valuable to me, as I am not from the
Island and do not have an in-depth knowledge of the local bands. I think it is so important to teach
indigenous content as organically as possible to bring validity to indigenous culture and experience in
our world, and I think teaching about local bands is a way to make this content relative and engaging to
our students. This is why our practicum pod decided to take this short story unit and try to focus it on
themes of identity and indigenous identity in our classroom community, and the community around the
students. We took a risk for sure, in that we had to acknowledge our own position of privilege (as the
TRB Standard states that we must) in the teaching of indigenous content and admit that we were still
growing and learning about the subject alongside our students. I do however think that this risk paid off,
and that we all gained valuable experience in what it means to attempt to teach indigenous content in
an ethical and respectful way.

I have always believed that it is important, as the standard states, to as a teacher be “ responsible
for fostering the emotional, esthetic, intellectual, physical, social and vocational development of
students” but I am not sure that I had really considered the implication of teaching indigenous content
as being apart of this. I think it is really important to educate our students on indigenous histories, but
was never really sure how to do this in an organic and effective way until we started to try to integrate
these themes into our unit. It wasn’t easy to grapple with the sensitivity of incorporating indigenous
history and culture in a sensitive and respectful way, but I think it was necessary seeing as we had
students in our class with indigenous backgrounds, as well as students living in a diverse community
filled with indigenous influence from local bands. We decided that in order to understand their identity
in relation to the place they live, it was also essential for our students to consider bands like the
Snuneymuxw first people who inherited this land before, and how they identify themselves.

This evidence directly addresses the New BC Curriculum’s focus on interweaving indigenous content
into our classroom teaching. The goal of my colleagues and I was to take this unit on short stories and
use it as a vehicle to teach about local indigenous history and ways of knowing. Many teachers find the
idea of incorporating indigenous content into their lessons to be an incredibly daunting task, largely due
to a fear of not being respectful or true to the indigenous people they are talking about. Although the
three of us did struggle with these questions at times, we were assured by elders on campus that what
we were doing with our attempt at teaching indigenous content was for the right reasons, at the right
time and was therefor ethically sound in their minds. Creating these lessons using local indigenous
stories was actually a really fun experience, and not that much more challenging than creating a short
story unit using traditional short stories. Student seemed to really enjoy that we used texts that they
hadn’t seen before to study short stories, and also seemed to really enjoy learning through the lens of
the Snuneymuxw first people in this area. I would definitely say that using local stories had students
more engaged in the content and themes we were exploring.

If I look at TRB Standard #1 through the lens of teaching local indigenous culture and content in a
respectful and responsible manner as a means to foster the social and cultural development of my
students, then I think this standard is incredibly important to my practice. It is often easy to have
students think of themselves within such a small bubble that often excludes outside influences. I think it
is important as educators to make it our mission to widen that bubble and help students see that their
identities are made up of more than just what they see in their every day; that the history of those who
inhabited the land they live on before them are an important piece of the puzzle that builds who they
are. I want to make sure that I as an educator am constantly making effort to teach students indigenous
content, especially content that is within their immediate realm of knowing (local bands), as a means to
broaden their understanding of the world around them. I also want to make it apart of my practice to
constantly acknowledge my own privilege, bias, and need to constantly learn alongside my students as a
means to respect and not exploit the experiences and history of the indigenous culture I choose to
grapple with.

I hope that I will be able to continue to explore local indigenous culture with my students in future
classrooms, and that my breath of understanding will only continue to grow and flourish as I continue to
educate myself. If I continue to live and work in the Nanaimo area, I would like to form closer personal
relations with the Snuneymuxw community in the area. I hope to have a chance to visit the local band
office and speak with some of the elders there about the need to educate students on the local
indigenous culture, and how to do that in an authentic way. I think this will be invaluable in my ability to
teach this content, although I know I will never truly be finished learning and growing in this area.