It’s snowing! But I (Gisela) have nothing to complain about! From January 2014 until today I have enjoyed many winter days in Toronto. I’ve been a Visiting Scholar from Brazil sponsored by Clare Kosnik for almost a year at OISE/University of Toronto. It has been an amazing experience! More than the cold weather I’ve discovered a great country: from red maple leaves to squirrels on streets, from Lake Ontario to Lake Louise, from Quebec City to Montreal, from AGO to Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, from rainbow positive to multicultural spaces. The environment and people have touched my heart and brain!
I have interviewed teachers and educators and I have observed many babies and kids at schools and Day Care Centres. I have met many smart people — undergraduate students, faculty, and newcomers to Canada (who have diverse cultures, values and languages).
This sabbatical opportunity contributed to my analysis of teacher education in Brazil. The insights I have gained came about through discussion of my data at Clare’s and Clive’s BTE team meetings and by comparing my findings to some of the points made in lectures that I attended at OISE and at conferences both in Canada and the U.S. One of the exciting developments was that my proposal on my research was accepted by AERA. I will present my work in Chicago next year.
This wealth of experiences and my academic partnership improved my own vision of education. Being a teacher is complicated because of the many dilemmas and issues yet being a teacher should connect to one’s own life. Teaching occurs in a dynamic, diverse, and interactional-based setting!
My experience in Toronto gave me spectacular new knowledge about being a teacher in a democratic and multicultural city! I have learned from OISE and the Toronto District School Board that a good and positive vision of education is supported by research. This vision is “tested” daily by students, parents, and principals. The most important piece of the education puzzle is teachers. I have been impressed with the ways that teachers think critically about education and have developed many good strategies for teaching which in turn supports student learning!
I learned also that accountability counts! More than policy initiatives, accountability should include the community’s attitude towards the kids and youths in schools! Even though Canadians complain about their schools, I have seen some great initiatives: Triangle Program that supports LGBQT high school’s students; a Parkdale school that supports ESL students who often struggle financially and has a number of refugee children from around the world; and schools with an Afrocentric-positive space to support student well- being. I have learned about connecting undergraduates students with teacher education research which will help these future teachers build a whole identity and professional practice.
Thanks everyone who supported me in the time I spent in Canada! I hope that OISE will help my country improve our national system of education. Doors are open between our countries! See you soon!