My First AQ/ABQ Experience: Summer 2016

Happy New Year! I know that I have definitely not been writing on this blog as I should be lately, but that is all going to change in 2017. I’ll be back to making regular posts, and today, I wanted to take some time to discuss my post-graduation experiences. I became an Ontario Certified Teacher, received my Education degree from Queen’s, and decided to embark on not only my first try taking courses over the summer, but completing my first Additional Qualifications (AQ) and Additional Basic Qualifications (ABQ) courses as well.

The first course I selected this past summer was Special Education, Part 1. As a whole, my favourite part of this class was having the opportunity to explore a range of educational topics that I am truly passionate about. As I have discussed in previous posts, one of my main goals as an educator is to improve the social and academic lives of students with special education needs, and to make going to school a positive experience for them; one that they look forward to each day, rather than dread. In one discussion-related task, I also had a chance to apply Dr. Richard Lavoie’s theories of equity (i.e., giving each child what he or she needs in order to succeed at school)  versus equality (i.e., treating every student in exactly the same manner, regardless of their academic strengths and needs) to my writing, and this was incredibly fulfilling. Special Education, Part 1 was also my first experience with the phenomenon of online group assignments, and we were able to cover a very wide array of exceptionalities in a more in-depth way, making the course both informative and very eye-opening. Finally, one of my most important take-aways from the course was the in-depth knowledge and practice I received working with student IEPs, a skill that will be crucial as I prepare to enter my own classroom someday.

Next, inspired by my former placement students in Grades 6 and 7, I decided to complete an ABQ in Intermediate English. This course was exciting for me, as it allowed me to boost my confidence in my own ability to teach Intermediate learners, gain a great deal of new teaching strategies and ideas, and receive insight and advice from fellow teachers who are far more experienced in the classroom than myself. In addition, I learned how to create an implement a writing program in an Intermediate English class, and as a final assignment, I created my first detailed unit plan from start to finish, using Poetry as my topic (no surprise there!). I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in this course, and I am excited to be able to frame my English lessons in a way that sparks a sense of joy and curiosity in my own students. Overall, I would say with confidence that my first experiences taking AQ and ABQ courses with Queen’s University were very positive. The course content was engaging and interactive, and I was fortunate to have incredibly supportive and knowledgable instructors who were truly passionate about the subject matter. I also enjoyed the freedom to work at my own pace, and gained a very valuable professional development opportunity as a new teacher. I would without a doubt recommend these types of courses to my colleagues, and hope to take further AQ classes later on in my career.

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