After nearly three decades spent teaching French immersion kindergarten, I found myself in a personal and professional life crisis during the school year of 2009-2010. I suddenly did not know anymore what good teaching was and was even left wondering whether I had been teaching the right way all along. How does one interpret a teaching mandate? I thus wondered what happened to me during those three decades. What was my initial understanding of teaching, and how did this understanding evolve? My dissertation is a narrative inquiry into my long experience of teaching French immersion kindergarten. It takes the form of a series of retrospective reflections – through writing and art making – and stories/anecdotes from my three-decade long teaching experience – as a kindergarten teacher and, later, as a Faculty Associate in the Teacher Education Program (Professional Development Program) at Simon Fraser University – and from my personal life. The learnings and understanding that have emerged in my writing – around teaching and learning - are examined and discussed from different points in my teaching career/life. I explore how I went from a focus on my teaching, in my early years, towards a focus on how children learn in later years. I discuss how children learn with their whole being and, importantly, through playing. I address the vulnerability and the creativity of children – states of being I came to understand through years of being with children - and the role we teachers play in empowering children. I discuss how, by giving an increasingly important place to arts and creative exploration in my pedagogy – and by understanding teaching as Art experience and creative process - I moved towards children. I arrived at a place of love and respect for the ways children live and learn, and where I learned from and with children. I finally explore how my five-year experience as a Faculty Associate in the Professional Development Program at Simon Fraser University, and the need to guide student teachers at the start of their teaching journey, has strengthened my understanding of teaching and learning, and shaped the writing of this dissertation.
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Thesis advisor: Kelly, Vicki
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