CTR Home Internal  Relations and Communications Home About CTR Publication Schedule CTR Archives

October 26, 2000 Teachers of children get their start here



Photo of Sara Weinberg

Sara Weinberg, ECEE director, in the Department of Education

Photo of graduate teaching at Dorset School

Recent ECEE graduate Geoffrey Hipps teaching a class at Dorset School in Baie D'Urfé.

by Alyson Grant

A 600-page government publication called The Quebec Education Program landed on the desk of Concordia’s Early Childhood and Elementary Education program (ECEE) this year.

The document outlines the mandate for child-based teaching in elementary schools, but there was no need for ECEE to toss out its current curriculum for preparing future teachers. Their philosophy and methods have always been focussed on child-centred learning.

“The government is now saying that we have to make schools more responsive to the needs of young people, but the active learning shift to, or the shift away from teacher-directed learning, happened a long time ago,” said Sara Weinberg, Director of Student Training for ECEE in the Department of Education. “We’ve always taught our students to get involved and plan activities with the children in mind.”

What that comes down to for the 50 to 55 students out of the approximately 400 yearly applicants to the program is a rigorous four years of teacher training that balance theory with practice. At the end of the program, graduates are accredited to teach kindergarten through grade six.

ECEE students begin with core courses in sociology, philosophy and psychology, all developmentally oriented, and have intensive placements at kindergartens and elementary schools in each year of the program.

“We have an excellent reputation in schools,” Weinberg said. “Many teachers and principals tell us how well prepared our students are, and we have lots of phone calls asking for them.”

Leah Taylor, in her fourth year of ECEE, is an example of one of those students. She was a bit intimidated the first time she went to an elementary school because she hadn’t been in one since she was an elementary student herself. “But the program prepared me well,” she said. “The teachers taught me a lot, and the supervisor is always there to help.”

That supervisor is Weinberg. In addition to the administrative side of finding placements for students’ final internships, she closely oversees their progress and teaches seminars related to the internships. “They get a very intense experience,” Weinberg said.

Brian Seltmann, an ECEE graduate now in his second year of an Educational Technology Master’s degree at Concordia, agreed. “It’s a lot of hard work, but when we come out of ECEE we have a very good grasp of children’s needs, in terms of writing lesson plans and teaching,” he said.

ECEE’s teachers deserve much of the credit for their students’ success and readiness for the field, Seltmann said. “The core teachers are great. They are always doing new research and there’s always a breadth of new knowledge.”

Part of that new knowledge is how to incorporate technology into the classroom, something The Quebec Education Program is also mandating. ECEE has a required course on technology in the classroom, which both Taylor and Seltmann praised.

Teachers already in the system may not have the technology skills younger teachers do, however. After teaching for a year, Seltmann realized there was a need for help in schools to make the transition to more technology-based teaching, and he now has his own business which tries to address that need. “Computers are thrown into the class with idea that if you put it in there, you will learn,” he said. “It’s not that easy, so we’re there to help.”

Seltmann seems representative of the quality and energy of the people ECEE produces. “We really work hard and are a small but very effective program,” Weinberg said. “We graduate teachers who are competent, creative and caring.”