Below is the written script for my video with the borrowed photos linked in,
Hope you enjoy,
Welcome to my learning journey! My name is Kendall Schneider and I had the honour of volunteering at the Regina Open Door Society (RODS) for the community-based Service learning portion of the ECS 200 course. Regina Open Door Society is a non-profit Organization that has been providing settlement and integration services to government-assisted refugees and immigrants in Regina since 1976. The organization is committed to meeting the needs of newcomers by offering programs and services that enable them to achieve their goals and participate fully in the larger community. RODS aims to build a welcoming community enriched by the diversity and strength of newcomers to Canada and values diversity, Respect and Dignity, Service excellence, and Partnership and collaboration.
Specifically, I was given the role of an English as a second language (EAL) support group facilitator which provided me with the opportunity to help newcomer youth improve their academic performance, enhance their English language skills, build social networks, learn about life in Canada, become involved in the community, and pursue educational opportunities by assisting them with their homework and providing friendly mentorship.
My learning timeline began on October 2nd when I attended my first homework session and it proved to be a gratifying opportunity and educational experience for my future. One particular young girl gave me a big hug after working on math problems together and at that moment, I was reminded of why I chose to pursue teaching; through my choice in profession, I have the means to make positive differences in the lives of society’s youth.
Over the course of my next few visits, I was consistently impressed by the resilience, grit, and passion that the students demonstrated. The minority youth showed their ability and ambition to be successful despite difficult circumstances and threats to their cognitive development due to their varying cultural experiences and their deficient English language skills. The students do their part by seeking out extra guidance and it is crucial that in turn, I played the role of a caring and supportive adult to guarantee that they were provided with a positive environment for cognitive development.
On October 30th, a boy who I had bonded with over my past few visits was consistently yawning. Jokingly I commented that his yawns were contagious and asked him why he was so tired expecting a stereotypical teenager response such as “I stayed up late last night” or “I don’t know, I’m always tired” but instead he expressed to me how he works a night shift at Superstore to help provide for his family and only got home at six in the morning. This was also the reason that his math notes were incomplete because he frequently skips the first period in order to get some extra sleep. The conversation illuminated that many students live vastly different lives than I did throughout my high school years and reminded me to acknowledge my personal lens so that rather than judging students for skipping class and not completing their notes I will figure out why such events are occurring and attempt to make suitable adaptations that can help them to be academically successful.
November 1st was an inspiring visit as one of the students taught me lots about his native language. He shared how in Arabic one reads right to left in comparison to English where one reads left to right which was one of the most challenging aspects of learning English for him. He also wrote out the digits from one to ten in Arabic showing me that an Arabic six looks identical to an English seven which always causes him confusion when performing math problems. He then expressed that sometimes he thinks in a combination of the two languages but how most of his thoughts are still strictly in Arabic. Thus, even having a basic conversation with me insists that he translates my words, think of his reply and then translates his thoughts back to English before responding. This illuminated that educators must be extra patient when working with students who have varying native languages as it takes them longer to process questions and replies. It also made me realize how daunting tasks for all students such as performing stoichiometry calculations or factoring polynomials have added levels of difficulties for those who are not proficient in English.
November 15th was another session that drastically opened my eyes and provoked many thoughts in my brain. I was helping a small group of students with a chemistry assignment which tasked them with balancing equations. After going over a few examples I noticed that several of the students still appeared puzzled and it dawned on me that it was because they didn’t know how to multiply and were confused when I used the words “times” in place of multiplication. Not only was the language barrier evident, causing problems in communication, the students also had not been taught the basic skills required to complete their assigned task. This demonstrated the importance of the skills taught in elementary school and how it is vital that teachers are aware of their students’ prior knowledge and are accommodating of students at various stages in their classrooms. It also made me think about inclusive classrooms and how I am very supportive of diversity within classrooms, however, I believe that students who are not at the appropriate grade level inhibit teachers to meet their required curriculum goals and hinder the learning of other students in the classrooms because they require extra support with review topics.
My time spent at RODS was inspiring and challenged my educational perspectives as I was exposed to diversity among education and students. Initially, I was hesitant about the practical component of this course not occurring in a classroom setting and how volunteering with a community organization would provide me with valuable experience for my future in teaching. Fortunately, the advantages became clear almost instantly.
Whenever meeting new students, I was curious to know how many years they had been in Canada and was always thoroughly impressed to find out that this averaged between 2 and 4 years because many of them had fluent spoken English skills. Their stories regarding how they learned English varied but it remained constant that they were able to learn brand new concepts with the guidance of educators. This demonstrated to me the importance of education because it allows teachers to influence who their students become as members of our community.
The homework help sessions confirmed the social construction of schools and how schools continue to reflect the dominant cultures in society. Many of the students expressed to me how they were looking forward to a break from school over the Christmas holidays but that their families do not celebrate Christmas and they did not have any plans for their break. This demonstrated to me the importance of acknowledging different cultures within my classroom to ensure that the beliefs of all my students are recognized and appreciated.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs was demonstrated at the homework help sessions as I saw the importance of meeting the fundamental needs of students prior to expecting them to achieve their fullest potentials. The program ensures psychological needs are being met, and that students feel a sense of security and belonging to help boost their self-esteem. Volunteering with the organization illuminated the importance of building secure attachments with students to provide them with undeniable support and ease so that they can focus on learning while having the confirmation that they are cared for.
As described in Bronfenbrenner’s model, there are many aspects beyond school that directly influence individuals. The homework help program provided the students with the opportunity to interact with peers, community volunteers, and professional staff from various cultures creating a diverse and social environment. It also encouraged learning beyond school subject material. I loved engaging the students with foreign concepts to them regarding Canada such as my farming experiences and watching their faces beam. This illuminated that as an educator, it is crucial that I am a mentor for my students and involve them in learning outside the course content.
The opportunity to provide homework help in small group settings permitted me to physically see the various ways individuals learn. Fortunately, I was able to help students in subject areas including Math, Biology, and Chemistry which are the areas I have chosen to major and minor in. It was reassuring to know that I am able to adapt what I have learned about the topics to various learning styles in order to share my knowledge and benefit others. I worked alongside some students who preferred to visually watch me solve a problem before attempting similar ones on their own and other students who first wanted to try by themselves and then go over their work together. Every student is unique due to their past experiences and their personal beliefs and it is crucial that educators recognize the variations among their students.
Volunteering with Regina’s Open-Door Society provided me with a glimpse into the teaching profession and made me excited about my future as an educator. The students consistently voiced their gratitude for the help they received from me over the course of my visits and many of them expressed that they would miss me if I didn’t continue to volunteer with the program. As an educator, I hope to make a positive difference in the lives of my students and through the homework help program, I learned, that by simply showing I care and applying myself to helping each individual, I can be an inspiring mentor in the lives of my students.
Thank you Regina Open Door Society for the opportunity to gain valuable experience as a pre-service educator.