Becoming M. Hodson

There are so many aspects of our lives that make up who we are. Past mistakes, current events, and future aspirations all contribute to who we are. What exactly lies within those ambiguous statements? Everything from your race, religion, and even occupation. As a pre-service teacher I have thought long and hard about my identity as a teacher, but never did I consider it to be so multi-dimensional before.

I learned that the act of transitioning from student to teacher does not look the same for everyone. The feelings that are often brought up by teachers are anxiety, ambiguity, and even control issues. These feelings are not pretty and by no means encompass the entire pre-service experience, but the feelings are similar in many drastic life transitions.

I also learned that within the teaching community comes a discourse. This is a type of work culture that pre-service teachers must learn to navigate. This is everything from the language used in the staff room to the silent expectations of student behaviour. Discourse is in every work place, but in teaching the cost of such culture sometimes ignores student and teacher needs.

Discourse describes a normal. These expectation encourages teachers not to stray from the norm.

This discussion held student teachers at the heart of it all, and as a pre-service teacher myself I found that I was already asking myself these important questions. I was able to connect easily to the fear and uncertainty because I face those challenges myself.

I also connected to the idea of discourse. Fortunately, I attend a university that puts student teachers in the classroom in the very first year. It is in the staffroom that I encounter an entirely different ecosystem that feels like I’m on another planet.

I fear that in my practice I may stray from the norm, and so I often wonder how far I can stray from the teacher ideals?


Punishing the Bullied

Ask anyone and I’m sure they’ll have a story about how bullying has affected them. Whether they were the victim, bystander, or the bully themselves, bullying is part of school culture that teachers can’t seem to eradicate. Bullying is harmful no matter what form it comes in – e.i. physical, verbal, sexual, or cyber. There is one group of students who suffer the outcasting and life threatening bullying that seems to escape the radars of adults and authority, LGBTQ+ youth.

Many times, homophobia and transphobia come hand in hand with bullying against sexual minority groups. It is this phobic and less than tolerant behaviour that is hard to speak about when the topic of LGBTQ+ youth is rarely recognized in society. In the reading “Deepening the Discussion About Sexual Diversity in Saskatchewan” it states that, “anywhere between 5-11 percent of people are non-heterosexual or questioning their sexual orientation (PHAC, 2011; EGALE Canada, 2011).” I learned that this sexual minority group is often categorized as too small to address.

After doing some research I came across an article about GSAs (Gay Straight Alliance) in relation to the government. In April of 2015 a bill was proposed that aimed at anti-bullying for LGBTQ+ youth. I learned that currently in Saskatchewan schools, if a school is to create a GSA, a student who desires one must step forward and create the group. Putting the onus on kids and teens, who already feel singled out, ostracized, and bullied, to face the barriers of creating a club that features the hottest issues of diversity is just plain wrong. This bill would mandate that schools provide students with a GSA. This attempt to address bullying of LGBTQ+ youth was garnered as unnecessary.

This reactive way of thinking that the Saskatchewan Government holds onto is similarly displayed in pop-culture. In the article “TV Bullies: How Glee and Anti-Bullying Campaigns Miss the Mark” I learned that often times, “homophobia is regarded as a personal problem rather than an institutional one that poisons school environments and leaves children emotionally and physically unsafe.” Although I love the show Glee, which was the example used in this amazing article, it is very true that the battles against homophobic bullying were minimized to appear as if it is a problem on a person to person basis rather than addressing the issues of the entire system.

Glee sheds light on the bullying that happens to the everyday high schoolers. Despite it’s cliche premise and stereotypical cliques the audience is able to look past this and see bullying as a real issue in schools. That’s it. A school issue that can be left in the past after graduation. In the article “TV Bullies: How Glee and Anti-Bullying Campaigns Miss the Mark” the issues of this thinking are addressed. If you picture the typical acts of bullying, you often think of students being shoved in lockers, fights after school with a circle of onlookers, and name calling that aims to break down the integrity of the victim. This is more than just bullying, it is a violation of human rights and is indeed considered physical or sexual harassment. Downplaying this harmful behaviour as high school bullying results in nothing good for the rest of society.

If this kind of behaviour is appropriate in school then what is stopping people from interacting this way outside of school and after graduation?

Why does this sexually minoritized group of students continue to be ignored despite the recognition of a problem?

The Difference Between You and Me

Diversity lies in all aspects of life and recognizing differences among peers is a great place for a school to start. Celebrating diversity is the next step. At Albert Community School the celebration of diversity is everywhere. A large population of students at the school belong to  ethnic minority groups, including Aboriginal people. Albert School works hard to equally represent and respect all students that go to school.

It is no secret that Canadian society is riddled with racism. Ignoring this problem is not something that Albert School is participating in. In order to promote diversity and equity among ethnicities the school focuses on reconciliation. They have community movie nights that recognize the traumatic effects of colonization. The school also promotes the restoration of Aboriginal culture by offering Cree language classes and having people from the Aboriginal Community come in to engage students in traditional Aboriginal storytelling and traditions.

Apart from racial diversity, Albert School also recognizes diversity in gender. In classes students are taught about the differences between females and males, and also the similarities. Respectful and inclusive practices in regard to gender are carried throughout the school. From school rules about personal space to respect for gender differences.

One part where the school falls short is support for the LGBTQ+ community. There is no GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) nor any type of support group for those that do not fit within the gender binary. Though I was assured posters that stated that this school is a safe place were enough in regards to sexual and gender diversity, I feel as if I’d like to hear from those who identify with non-binary labels.

Albert Community School works very hard to ensure students are treated with equity and feel included. I commend all staff and students for taking the time to participate in reconciliation, learn about diversity, and recognize the issues at hand in Canadian Society. Continue to work hard and never stop the progress that this school works hard to push forward.

The Sign Family

No, this isn’t some mediocre sit-com about a middle class family called the Signs. This is week four of my learning project. This week I learned how to communicate family and directions using ASL.

This week I was able to get my younger brother in on the action. He was very curious as to what each member of the family was in sign language and incorporated it into conversation. Although his enthusiasm only lasted half a day before he had better things – a.k.a video games, it was encouraging none-the-less.


In order to learn this week’s task I turned once again to good ol’ YouTube. I used a mix of two channels this week to learn how to sign different family members. First I used ASL That and the video was called “Family Signs in ASL – American Sign Language”. This taught me basic family terms that were used for the majority of the my video below.

After learning the signs from that video I felt like there should be more. Modern families are filled with more than just two parents and distanced relatives. I wanted to see how to sign step-siblings and parents, half-siblings, foster children/parents… I think you get my point.


That is when I discovered the YouTube channel AASD Accessable Materials Project with a simple video titled “ASL: Family Signs”. The signs were done at a slow pace and incorporated a variety of family members that I had been searching for.

Now that I had deemed my hands practiced enough to sign family members, I moved on to directions. After searching on YouTube and nothing coming up I turned to Pinterest. Although I could find some individual signs on Pinterest which I’ve collected into one board for ideas and reference, I couldn’t find a complete list of words that didn’t require an obscene amount of money to access.

Out of sheer desperation I searched google translate for ASL. To my surprise I discovered an amazing website that was quickly added to my toolbar called Spread The Sign. This life changing tool allows me to search any word in any language and be shown a video demonstration on how to properly sign it. I highly recommend this tool and I will continue to use it in my future.

Another source I used to inspire myself was a TED Talk that popped up in my Facebook feed. I was pleasantly surprised to find it. Watching Christine Sun Kim sign about the beauty of music was what truly inspired me to practice my sign this week. Go check out her TED called “The Enchanting Music of Sign”.

Take a look at my ASL video for this week below.


Leave a comment if you have ideas for other categories of words I should learn to sign.

Professional Ethics

Whoever said teaching is not political clearly has never heard of the STF or looked at the history of teacher professional development. The STF stands for the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, it is an organization made up of teachers to represent teachers. They bargain with the government with teachers’ best interest in mind. Who would have thought – the people representing the people?

Even though I am only a first year student I think it is important for all education students to be knowledgeable about the salary and benefits that are provided to current teachers. An easy place to find this information is on the STF website. On this website I learned that teachers get the following benefits: health plan, dental plan, disability plan, life insurance, teacher well-being, and pension plan. This is definitely something to look forward to.

Lastly I learned of the Stewart Resources Centre. This online library houses a collection of books, audio-visual resources, print and e-journals and newspapers, and prepared units all for Saskatchewan teachers. I will definitely be spending my time during pre-internship browsing the many resources provided through this amazing resource centre.

When I was looking around the website I came across the salary grid for the past few years, including the most recent one that expired on August 30, 2017. If I were to be a first year teacher with only a BEd I would be making a salary of $55,474. This amount increases every year for the next eleven years, and varies depending on your level of education. Although new contracts will be signed and the salary will hopefully keep rising, this number gives me a good idea about what to expect in my future.

I was able to really feel part of the website when I came across a section for new teachers. This section of the website specifically addresses the questions and concerns that new teachers may have. I clicked on many links and feel fully informed on the basis of the teaching profession and on the part that the STF plays in my career.

The only topic that this website didn’t cover was the mention of substitute teachers. What is their pay rate? Do they get the same benefits? Does the STF vouch for substitute as well? The lack of mention to substitute teachers is the only cause for concern, and I’m sure that many of you out there have answers to my questions so leave them in the comments below.

What Inclusion Really Looks Like in Canada

Canada. A place of inclusion and diversity. Equality and compassion. Just look at Canada’s history as a country at the forefront of inclusion in the document “Oh, Canada: bridges and barriers to inclusion”. I learned that in 1985 Canada became the first country in the world to include the rights of people with mental and physical disabilities in its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Despite this claim to inclusion written in an honourable legal document, thirty-three years later and Canada has yet to take the necessary actions required to live up to this legislation. From this, it can easily be drawn that Canada is not the great place of inclusion that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms claims us to be.

With the recognition of inadequate accommodations being considered a human rights issue, as pointed out in the document “A brief introduction to inclusion, inclusive schools and barriers to inclusion”, school boards are now scrambling to provide appropriate, budget friendly accomodations. This leads teachers to wonder what inclusive education looks like. In my experience as a student I’ve witnessed teachers adapt lessons to provide adequate accommodations for a range of students. When my teacher is expected to tailor a curriculum to a multitude of students simultaneously without compromising any student’s quality of education I challenge the current system to come up with a better solution than cancelling special education tracks in favour of piling more work on the teacher.

I learned that in order for a student to acquire an educational assistant the child must be put through the least inclusive process that could possibly be created. Parents, doctors, and a multitude of other people in the student’s life must evaluate, file paperwork, and draw a negative light on the student’s learning ability. This process would offput any chance of a student feeling successful in the classroom, and goes to stigmatize the student as different from his or her peers. This in turn prevents an inclusive environment.

I struggle to understand how teachers and school boards can value the right to education when an entire population of students isn’t given the opportunity to learn effectively. How can we call ourselves educators when we alienate those who require non-traditional forms of education?

I also do not understand how this population of people has been excluded for so long without mass repercussions. If this is truly a human rights issue, then Canada cannot hold such a prestigious title in inclusive practices.

I often wonder what other countries are doing to promote inclusion. How are their philosophies different from ours, and how do we adopt them into western society. Would looking at alternative worldviews lead to positive change?

thirty-three years is an entire generation of students who were promised inclusive education but only received outdated education practices. Let’s change the story and include all students in the classroom.

YouTube in the Classroom

This week Regan and I were tasked with creating a conversation on the positives of technology in the classroom. We took it in the direction of a parent voicing their concerns about the use of YouTube in the classroom. Take a look at our conversation below.

Teacher: You must be Regan’s Mom. I heard you have some concerns about the class?

Parent: Yes, I have some concerns about the use of Youtube and the lack of security that it offers, what if my child is exposed to inappropriate topics?

Teacher: Well, let me start out by saying that digital citizenship is a new component of the curriculum that all students must take part in. As for the use of Youtube I feel that the benefits in the classroom outweigh the risks. Just take a look at the article “Technology in the Classroom: 5 Undeniable Reasons to Embrace it”.

Parent: What benefits could possibly be more important than the safety of my child’s personal identity?

Teacher: First, personal identity in real life is not separate from online identity. Giving students early exposure to YouTube in a classroom setting allows them to learn how to use the resource safely and responsibly. Teaching my students how to be responsible digital citizens is my aim with using YouTube. Creating a positive digital footprint is more important than ever, and using a resource like Youtube makes for lasting memories and a great learning opportunity.

Parent: There are people are there that could watch my child’s video and it will make it easier for them to kidnap, blackmail, and the video will be online for the rest of their life! Also, how can you ensure that your students are on task when using a “resource” that has millions of videos that don’t relate to what they are learning.  

Teacher: Yes the internet is not forgiving in that what happens on the internet can not be reversed, but teaching your daughter that crucial lesson in the classroom and not from unfortunate experience is the reason why digital citizenship is so important. As far as kidnapping and blackmail goes, I’m teaching your daughter that if she wouldn’t feel comfortable having an image or text on a billboard, then it certainly doesn’t belong on the internet. YouTube is a resource full of distractions I’ll give you that, but with my close monitoring I hope to instill positive behaviours that prevent wandering cursors.

Parent: Well, Regan is also telling me that you are expecting her to research and teach herself about planes, isn’t it YOUR job to teach her about these topics or definitely not the internet, how reliable can the videos on youtube really be?

Teacher: Yes, this project is true. I’ve found that when students are given a choice about their education, such as Regan’s choice to research planes, they become much more enthusiastic and excited to learn about the assigned topic. The students can tailor their learning themselves and the individualized topics mean more to them. If I was the only source of information I would not have the time or resources to peak each of their interests. One of the components of digital citizenship is to teach students which sources are reliable and which are not. The internet may seem like it’s only filled with fake news, but in reality there are some amazing sources and great information if you know your way around. Check out this website that convinced me to use YouTube in the classroom.

Parent: Wow, I didn’t know that.  This is all really good information.  But don’t you think this also limits relationship building between classmates?

Teacher: Actually, I believe it expands the potential for relationships to be made. Your daughter has the potential to become friends with someone halfway around the world, or just connect with classmates on a deeper level via the internet. She can create relationships that never would have been possible if it weren’t for YouTube, the students can work together to share videos and to teach each other their research projects via their YouTube videos.  It is time for YouTube to be utilized in the classroom.

Parent: Thank you Miss Hodson for taking the time to meet with me, I really appreciate the information that you provided to myself.  

Teacher: Your welcome. If you’re still not convinced may I suggest checking out this video on the positive effects of YouTube in the classroom. 


If we missed anything or you see some holes in our argument let us know in the comments!

How do you use technology in the classroom?