Message from the Dean - Fall 2021

Twenty months into the coronavirus pandemic, the Education community—indeed, the entire province—is not as far along as we might have hoped in returning to a sense of normalcy, but there are compensations.

Once again, the Faculty of Education has maintained its standing in the Top Three Faculties of Education in Canada, according to Maclean’s 2022 Canadian University Rankings. Here on Treaty 6 territory, we enjoyed an extended autumn, and if the U of A’s North Campus hasn’t returned to full swing, there are encouraging signs of life as students, faculty and staff gradually return to classrooms and labs, offices and common areas where university life takes place.

And while we look forward to being back at full capacity, the Faculty of Education continues apace with its mission of transformative teaching, research and service.

As the Dean of a Faculty committed to renewing and establishing relations between Indigenous peoples, settlers and newcomers, I’m so grateful to the professors, students and staff who responded to the occasion of the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30 with a series of short videos reflecting on the meaning of reconciliation in an educational context. These videos are available for you to view, and stand as a reminder of the importance of this work every day, and not just as a once-a-year observance.

Transforming Indigenous education, meaningful phys ed and more

This issue of illuminate is devoted to teaching, research and learning opportunities that enable educators to create inclusive, enriching spaces for all learners who, in turn, will carry those values forward as future citizens and, potentially, transformative educators themselves.

The Aboriginal Teacher Education Program (ATEP) welcomed two new direct-entry cohorts this year which will enable more students to pursue all four years of their bachelor of education degree in a culturally supportive cohort setting. We’ll meet some of these preservice teachers who, though from diverse backgrounds, share a passion for shaping the future of Indigenous education, both in classrooms and at a systemic level.

Recent doctoral graduate Jodi Harding-Kuriger (‘04 BEd, ‘21 PhD) has stated her research goal is service. Her work on creating meaningful physical education experiences for students to instill a joy of movement and participation they can carry with them throughout their lives was hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, but her approach that centres relationships and kindness in lesson planning is a model of compassionate, collaborative inquiry.

Our Research News and Honour Roll sections contain ample evidence of the innovative, award-worthy scholarship taking place in the Faculty, while Class Notes offers some insights on supporting learners from diverse backgrounds, as well as introducing some newly minted alumni embarking on their transformative teaching journeys.

There’s also news from our Professional Learning team about new Graduate Certificates in Educational Studies and a new MES program for ATEP graduates launching in 2022 for working professionals who wish to stay current in the field and address emerging challenges as 21st-century educators.

Looking ahead

When we meet again in the spring of 2022, I look forward to sharing news about the organizational changes we are undertaking as a Faculty to preserve and enhance our record of world-class research, teaching and student experience as we seek to ‘uplift the whole people.’

Until then, I wish everyone in our community good health as we continue taking the time and precautions necessary to keep one another safe. As always, I’m grateful to faculty members, staff and students, and their integrity and resourcefulness in supporting the Faculty of Education’s commitment to transformative teaching, learning and service.