Kristen Tjostheim, Grad 2013
MP: How does the remote location impact your teaching?
KT: Since many schools in the area are small, we deliver the senior high curriculum via blended learning. For example, I teach Math 10-12 to the students in my class and students in up to four neighbouring schools join in through Google Meet. On a weekly basis I travel approximately 70 kms to one of the other schools to meet with those students and teach them directly. On such occasions, it is my students’ turn to access the class remotely via the two giant TV screens in our room. I do this for math; a teacher at another school does the same for social studies, and a teacher at yet another school does the same for ELA.
MP: So how does marking work?
KT: When students write tests, an EA at each of the other locations scans the tests and sends them to me to mark. If a student at another school has a question about their work, they take a picture of the problem they are working on and send it to me, perhaps during the common study block across all four schools.
MP. Does the technology change your pedagogy?
KT: I encounter some students who are uncomfortable or shy on camera, and thus need to encourage them to participate. To facilitate students from different communities talking with each other online, I have a wheel with everyone’s name on it that I spin when choosing a student to respond to a question. To assess whether students understand the concepts I am teaching, I use Jam Board, which allows me to see what students write on their individual tablets. Google Classroom is another helpful tool.
MP: Are students using technology all day long?
KT: There are only two locations in the school where there is cell phone reception, and many homes do not have the internet. While some might consider this a hardship, I see it as an opportunity. Instead of spending time on devices, students go outside and play.
MP: Did you plan on teaching in such a remote location?
KT: Yes, I did! I applied for and received a Northern Teaching Bursary during my B.Ed., and did my second practicum in Grande Cache. I am not phased by the fact that the nearest dentist is 2 hours away, the nearest hospital is in another province, and the nearest medical provider is a nurse practitioner in the next town. I am now the third longest serving staff member at my school, and students no longer ask me at the end of every year whether I am staying.
MP: Have there been any other highlights of your time at Menno Simons Community School?
KT: At the end of my first year of teaching, I was the Peace River School Division’s nominee for the Edwin Parr Teacher Award*.
*This award recognizes first year teachers who demonstrate exemplary dedication and commitment in education.
Stories from the Field...
About four times a year we plan to highlight a King’s education graduate. Since our grads work in diverse contexts, over the course of a year we hope to introduce you to alumni who are working throughout the province, the country, or even the world (and in all types of schools).