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41 June 2018 | Professionally Speaking What's the most rewarding aspect or educational advantage of teaching in far-off places? Four more teachers weigh in. Getting closer "You teach differently due to the class size. Most have fewer than 10 students. Lecturing doesn't feel right. You know every student and what they need. We're better teachers for it, far more empathetic and driven to have real conversations about learning." — Joseph Whelan, OCT, principal at Jimmy Sandy Memorial School, Kawawachikamach, Qué., 15 kilometres northeast of Schefferville. Shaking things up "One reason I went on the exchange was to shake myself out of career complacency. I was put into courses I had no experience in, which caused stress for me as a teacher. [However,] it reinforced my sense of resiliency and my convictions regarding the purpose of education." — Brent Rouleau, OCT, teaches at Glebe Collegiate Institute in Ottawa, did a one-year teaching exchange in Australia. Embracing the locale "Connecting student learning to the environment is one of the most important lessons. Students make sense of their world through these activities. Anything can be taught outside. From fractions to grammar to social skills — it can all be learned on the land where you live." — Alisha Hill, OCT, principal at Waninitawingaang Memorial School in Kejick Bay, Ont., 60 kilometres northwest of Sioux Lookout; and has also taught in Japan. Building trust "Most remote locations are small communities. I quickly learned a lot about my students and their families. Being able to support students by helping to cook or showing up at a funeral carried over to increased trust and co-operation in the classroom." — Melissa Black, OCT, Special Education resource lead for Keewaytinook Internet High School, based in Balmertown, Ont., 550 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay. After teaching in his native Philippines for 12 years, Richard Llanera, OCT, moved to Toronto in 2015 to start a new life. His wife preceded him to the city, and he was eager to get his Ontario teaching credentials. Until then, he landed a job as a clerk in a bank mailroom. When he was certified in 2017 he applied for teaching positions without success. So Llanera kept expanding his search — including (much) farther north. He ended up with a one-year contract later that year teaching Grades 7 and 8 at Native Sena School in North Caribou Lake, Ont., 320 kilometres north of Sioux Lookout. Llanera realized that he needed to expand his own horizons. Besides teaching general studies, he had to help with Special Education, where he had no training. His first week, Llanera signed up for online courses to get ideas on how to deal with diverse learning needs. As a new local, Llanera was open to all sorts of experiences, from moose meat to ice fishing. He felt it was important to not just learn about the culture but to integrate it into his teaching. For instance, the pro- cess of using a mechanical drill and making a hole in ice can be a valuable science lesson. "You need to be creative," he says. Teaching in a remote community means becoming comfortable with change, says Llanera. He had to get used to performing double duties, teaching a split class, being away from his family (his wife, child and another on the way) and fitting into a very different community from Toronto or Manila. Llanera feels that he has honed his professional skills in Canada, and his ability to respond to new situations. "In any classroom, you face different kinds of students. You need to under- stand and adjust with them." PS REMOTE ACCESS EMBRACING CHANGE Richard llanera, northern ont.

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