Place-Conscious Teaching and Learning in Rural Teacher Education

Teacher candidates on a snowshoe trip with Wildsight Coordinator, Monica Nissen. Understanding how to use the natural environment to support deep learning experiences is a major focus at WKTEP.

UBC’s West Kootenay Teacher Education Program (WKTEP) is a cohort-based BEd program located in Nelson, BC. It provides elementary and secondary teacher candidates with the opportunity to develop the professional qualities and practices for teaching in today’s complex learning environments with a strong focus on rural and small school settings, recognizing that they offer exciting and unique educational opportunities for teachers.

WKTEP emphasizes place-conscious learning with strong ties to local communities and school districts (Kootenay Lake, Boundary, Kootenay-Columbia, Arrow Lakes). This theme is woven throughout the program as teacher candidates connect with their local surroundings and explore/create opportunities for their students to do the same. Whether it is a winter recreation and safety workshop high in the Monashee Mountains, an overnight camping trip at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park to explore wildlife habitat, or a visit to a traditional pit house to better understand Aboriginal ways of knowing with a local elder, WKTEP’s teacher candidates have many opportunities to connect with and experience the communities and cultures that surround them.

Teacher candidates undertake courses in both on-campus and in-school settings exploring leading edge theory-practice connections. The instructional team supports teacher candidates to develop capacity as leaders in addition to competencies such as critical and creative thinking, communication, and personal and social awareness and responsibility. They spend two days per week in their practicum schools throughout the year, in addition to an extended practicum. School placements are personalized for each teacher candidate, and courses are taught in an integrated manner to facilitate a cohesive and supportive learning experience.

A recent WKTEP graduate, Brendan Bogle, now working in the BC interior, writes, “I was well-prepared: multi-grade classrooms, Aboriginal content, place-based learning, rural education—the whole WKTEP experience is very much the reality here. It didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable in this environment because the program is well-suited to this approach to teaching.”

More information: teach.educ.ubc.ca/wktep

 

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