In this installment of TeachOntario Talks, we are profiling and celebrating the work of Colleen Shaw, OTIP Teaching Award recipient in the Beginning Teacher Category, at North Bendale Junior Public School in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).
Although Colleen Shaw is at the start of her career in teaching, she stands out as an exceptional educator. She has developed an understanding of purpose and approaches education with a very clear goal: to improve student learning. She is passionate about education and positions herself as a lifelong learner who asks thought-provoking questions about teaching and learning.
At North Bendale, Colleen was responsible for a specialized program for students with identified behavioural and cognitive needs. She welcomed the Grade 4, 5 and 6 students and created a program that would allow them to achieve success. By knowing the students and identifying their needs, Colleen was able to create a learning environment that supports student achievement. The classroom that she co-constructed with her students prioritized student voice and agency. The result was that they felt engaged and empowered about their learning.
Knowing that children who feel safe, calm, and alert are ready to learn, Colleen fostered emotional health and well-being in the classroom. She incorporated progressive practices such as mindfulness, daily meditation and other strategies to develop students’ self-regulation skills into her program. By incorporating technology into the program, Colleen capitalized on her students’ skills and interests and prepared them for the challenges and realities of modern life. Global Competencies were foundational to the program as her students experienced culturally relevant learning in an environment that supported high expectations and invited them to think critically about their learning.
Colleen valued engagement with parents/guardians and invited their participation in their child’s educational experience. As well, she co-planned professional development for the other special education and division colleagues. She collaborated with the Learning Coach to incorporate Big Ideas from the curriculum to reach all students.
When asked to describe her classroom Colleen replied, “We make sure that student voice is celebrated in the room, that their work, their models, their thinking is evident.” The students are excited about learning and they feel valued and cared for. She develops caring relationships with her students and the mutual respect is clear to all.
Colleen will play a great role in building strong thinkers who are able to make choices, pursue new learning and explain their thinking. She is an excellent example of the new, engaged and reflective teachers in Ontario’s classrooms. Congratulations to Colleen Shaw, OTIP Teaching Award recipient in the Beginning Teacher Category.