The Vancouver School District works closely with post-secondary institutions, particularly supporting teacher candidates in training to become teachers. Working both with the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU), over 250 trainee teachers walk through District schools every year.
As a key component of their studies, they experience real-life school settings, known as practicums, which gives them opportunity to put theory into practice. Working alongside experienced District teachers, the candidates are also supported in learning more of the responsibilities and challenges of the teaching field.
Julia Clark, a teacher at Selkirk Elementary who mentors SFU student teachers, says "This valuable experience provides a foundation for student teachers to learn alongside other educators in reaching the emotional, social and intellectual needs of children."
"I am so proud of the ongoing support the Vancouver School District offers to student teachers and look forward to mentoring more student teachers in the future," she adds.
Sam Milner, a permanent teacher on call at the District, was a UBC teacher candidate last year. His practicum took place at Lord Byng Secondary. "Practicum was an invaluable part of my year studying education at UBC. I experienced the daily realities of organizing, photocopying, and emailing as well as taking on the daily responsibilities of making decisions, navigating schedules and having sometimes difficult yet always worthwhile conversations.
"I couldn't have done it without the support of my mentor teachers who shared with me their classrooms, experience, and wisdom. Nor could I had done it without my students, who with their enthusiasm, patience, and understanding — but also, just as importantly, with their occasional lack thereof — taught me just as much as I taught them. Whether in math class, orchestra rehearsal, or at ultimate frisbee practice, I felt very lucky to experience such a safe learning environment as I prepared to enter the teaching profession," he adds.
Holli Lang started her SFU practicum at the District last year. She was itching for some real world hands-on learning. "Through my practicum at David Thompson Secondary, I was able to learn the realities of teaching life, and how to support students holistically, not simply academically.
I was struck by the collaborative, caring nature of VSB employees. All members of staff were eager to share their skills with me, and made themselves available for mentorship in their various capacities. The skills I learned during my practicum enabled me to land my first role as a qualified teacher. Now I am a confident, caring educator, happy to be able to give back to those who guided me along my journey."
To set up these placements and mentoring for their students, university staff work closely with District staff. "SFU Faculty of Education is deeply appreciative of the time and dedication of the Vancouver teachers and administrators who volunteer to support our student teachers and our programs. Generous classroom teachers and school-based administrators open their doors to our student teachers and provide them with hands-on, individual, and supportive mentorship so they are prepared to face the complexities and reap the rewards of teaching in their own classrooms," says Janet McCarron, placement coordinator at SFU's Faculty of Education.
Rod Brown, program coordinator at UBC's Faculty of Education, also adds "Robust school district partnerships are fundamental to the success of UBC's Teacher Education Program. VSB teachers provide an essential context for real-world learning while enacting current principles, teaching methods and practices. We sincerely appreciate and value the expertise, mentorship, and innovation offered by VSB teachers."
Our schools are therefore not only places of learning for our students, but play an important role for those in post-secondary education studying to be teachers too.
Read about how the District also partner with UBC and SFU on sustainability initiatives.
Learn more about job opportunities at the Vancouver School District.