This story was originally published in The Crown, Redeemer’s student newspaper, and has been republished with permission.
Redeemer University’s Education program is the place in which the student slowly becomes the teacher. It is where students learn about what it takes to teach in elementary and high schools.
Many students go from finishing their undergrad at Redeemer to continuing their schooling in the Education program; while others come in from other universities to start in the program.
According to Redeemer’s website, the Education program “grows out of a Christian perspective and provides significant opportunities for learning and practicing classroom skills.”
Redeemer’s teaching program differs from other universities because, like the rest of the programs, it is taught from a Reformed perspective that is incorporated into all aspects of learning. However, the Education program prepares students to teach in public schools as well as Christian schools.
Redeemer’s website also outlines several experiential learning opportunities, including “110 days of practice experience in a classroom” and “opportunities to teach homeschool groups, help children who are struggling with reading, [and] tutoring placements.”
This experience is actually a bit different from other colleges. Professor Terry Loerts, one of the teacher-educators in the program, explains that “students must complete eighty practicum days in a publicly funded school in order to receive their OCT teaching certification.”
She goes on to say that Redeemer students are required to do thirty additional days of teaching to meet Redeemer’s requirements. She states that, “the fact that we require an extra thirty days of practicum experience is an advantage for our students who have more than the required OCT certification.”
Loerts also describes how much she has enjoyed teaching in the Ed program due of the students in the program. She states that “they are invested in their learning as they have a passion for becoming an educator. It is an absolute joy to teach and I pour my heart and soul into what I do—I try to think of it as an investment into our teaching candidates to help them along their journey to becoming a teacher-educator.”
Taylor De Schiffert, a fifth year student who is in his first year of the Education program here at Redeemer, wanted to join the Ed program because he loves kids and wants to be a positive role model in their lives. He states that “the Ed program has been a big change from my undergrad here. It was a bit of a challenging transition at first as most people from my undergrad class graduated. After a month, however, the community Redeemer is so famous for really started showing within the Ed program.”
De Schiffert mentioned that while the Ed program’s class sizes and students create a “completely different environment” than the rest of the programs at Redeemer, it is still a close-knit community. De Schiffert encourages people who are interested in the Ed program to continue to look into it.
Elliana De Boer is another Education student who is in her last semester here at Redeemer. She describes her experience as one with “many late nights, presentations, and lesson programs.” De Boer goes on to say that “In the Ed program, you spend a lot of time working in groups and discussing others’ thoughts and opinions. All of this prepares me for my future career.”
While the Ed program is very in depth and hands-on, it cannot teach the students everything there is to know about what it takes to be a teacher. De Boer discusses this idea through saying “I still feel unprepared to face everything teaching in a classroom may throw at me, but there is only so much I can learn in Redeemer’s world.” She goes on to say, however, that she feels “equipped enough to enter the workplaces as the rest will come with time and experience.”
De Boer also discusses Redeemer’s community within the Ed program. She states that she has grown close with the other Ed program students and the various professors who have taught her over the past two years. She says, “I know I have a community I can reach out to for encouragement, advice, and wisdom.”
Both De Boer and De Schiffert attended Redeemer for their undergrad. Julia Pavlik is an Ed program student who completed her undergrad at Waterloo University. She discusses how the smallest class at Waterloo was 100 students, so a school with a smaller, close-knit community appealed to her.
Pavlik also states that “I had always gone to public schools growing up, so I loved that Redeemer gave me the opportunity to really connect spiritually with my learning.” Pavlik was attracted to the connection that students and teachers have at Redeemer. “I loved the idea of a closely-knit community where the professors really care about the individual learning of each student.”
Dr. Phil Teeuwsen has been a teacher-educator at Redeemer for seven years, but had been teaching elsewhere for fifteen years before coming to Redeemer. As a teacher, Dr. Teeuwsen hosted many Redeemer Ed program students as student-teachers. Teeuwsen states that “this role enabled me to support beginning teachers as they learned how to apply what they were learning in their classes to the learning of children in my class. I enjoyed this work.”
Teeuwsen teaches a variety of courses in the Ed program, but particularly enjoys teaching Indigenous Education. Teeuwsen says that “it is a class where we face the terrible history and consequences of residential schools in Canada, and where we explore what reconciliation can mean in and through education.”Students can apply for the Ed program throughout their undergrad, usually around the end of third year and the beginning of fourth. When asked about what advice he would give to students considering applying for the Ed program, Teeuwsen states, “I would suggest they become active in some educational contexts with children of school age. Volunteer as a tutor or coach; you really want to know if you like working with children.”
Along with volunteering and being involved with children of school age, leadership positions also help you gain valuable skills that can be used in a teaching position. Redeemer offers many ways in which a student who is interested in being a teacher can take on a leadership position, be it as an RA, Launch leader, or Student Senate representative.
Teeuwen also reminds students that the professors are always willing to answer questions they have. He comments, “I would encourage anyone who is thinking about applying to stop by the education office; we would love to chat with you.”