Teachers and professionals in related fields who work with young children have a new way to upgrade their early childhood education knowledge and skills—without interrupting their careers—thanks to an online certificate program just launched at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education.
After teaching music in an elementary classroom for 35 years, all it took to reignite the spark of learning for Irena Szmihelsky was an open studies music education course.
“It was an eye-opener,” says Szmihelsky of that first course. “It’s almost shameful for me to say how little I know in music after teaching it for so many years. I thought to myself, ‘I’m doing myself an injustice by ignoring the possibilities before me.’”
Step into Jessica Maloughney’s (BEd’11) Grade 2 classroom at St. Patrick’s Community School in Red Deer, Alta., and you may be reminded of a six-year-old’s bedroom. Minecraft posters decorate the walls, Lego figurines are tucked around the classroom, and collections of Star Wars and Frozen books populate the bookshelf.
The year Lori Friesen (‘12 PhD) began teaching, she adopted a puppy: a Maltese-poodle named Tango. It was the first dog she’d had since the passing of her beloved childhood dog, and she was thrilled. So were her Grade 1 students, who begged to meet the puppy. Seeing the learning opportunities for students, Friesen agreed to bring the dog to class.
Once Tango had been introduced to the children, pairs of students were allowed 10 minutes with the dog in the reading corner. That’s when the canine magic began. “They started bringing books to read to her,” recalls Friesen.