At the beginning of the tour, we were asked to consider what effective professional development is, and compare it to the previous professional development opportunities we have had. The professional development I have participated in prior to the tour was often broad and not directed toward my actual teaching in the classroom. With this type of PD, I found myself wondering how I will actually implement my learning within my teaching practice.
In comparison, the information that we have been learning on the France and Flanders tour is in direct relation to the information that I teach in the classroom. We have challenged dominant narratives that we often expect students to memorize and regurgitate. However, rather than replacing these with a new narrative, we have learned how to inspire inquiry in our students so that they may seek out and challenge the many narratives surrounding these conflicts. We have viewed a multitude of perspectives that are often forgotten, including the civilian aspect and the German perspective. We have had the opportunity to hear the personal experiences of many soldiers who fought and died, which we can use to better understand the evidence surrounding various battles and conflicts. Most importantly, we have discussed and sought out the impact that this style of teaching and learning impacts our students in the classroom. As a result, I have built a new repertoire of strategies and resources that I intend to implement in my future classroom.
Furthermore, I have benefitted greatly from having the opportunity to meet the various tour participants who became like a family to me. As a newly graduated teacher, I still have much to learn about leading an effective classroom and teaching in general. However, having the support of the many passionate teachers on this trip has made me feel empowered in what I already know, and what I can seek out to better meet the needs of my students. Each teacher, and student, on the trip provided a perspective and an opinion that allowed for meaningful discussion. I am thankful for the experiences I have had with each and every person on the trip.
- Submitted by Abbi
This day of the tour began with Juno Beach and discussing June 6, 1944. As we were standing on the beach, I was thinking about the soldier I researched for this tour as well as one I had looked at in grade 10. Both died on June 6, 1944. We got into groups and looked at things like what the land was like. We also considered the questions we would have to answer if we were the people in charge of Operation Overlord. From there we went to the Juno Beach Centre. The footage at the opening of the museum put things into perspective on what soldiers would have been thinking about before they left the landing craft. The overall message that the museum seemed to give was that there were really not winners in the war. Later on in the day we went to the area of Pegasus Bridge and saw places like the first house to be liberated by the British in that area. This is an area where the locals try to bring in tourists by advertising things like the first house liberated and souvenir shops. The last part of the day was spent at the Ranville War Cemetery, which was a a cemetery for a large number of paratroopers who died during the Normandy Campaign. Overall this day showed how different locations have chosen how they want to have the early days of the Normandy Campaign remembered.
- Submitted by Janelle
Learning is so important to me as a person, not even in the classroom, but anywhere I can gain knowledge on things that I can apply to real life situations or even just interesting facts. I love it all. Everything you do is a learning experience. These PD tours are a chance for teachers to kind of take the back seat and let the students be the drivers. We had 6 very talented students on this tour who each had a lot to teach in terms of how we want to be taught and the best ways we take in history.
This was my second tour and for me personally, they have been the greatest learning opportunities in my life. Not only do I get to meet some of the most kind, brilliant, great people from all over the country, but I get to explore another part of the world that I have never seen before.
I think that students really benefit from hands-on learning experiences where they can not only learn about their subject but also learn life skills. So much of what we learn is all made for us to memorize and then answer in a multiple choice test never to be thought of again. The teachers on this tour are so eager to get students engaged in history and for them to actually take concepts and ideas away from what they are being taught. On both tours I saw teachers who cared so much and really wanted to know what students thought and how we wanted to learn and it gave me so much confidence and understanding on how I wanted to learn. I really applied that knew knowledge when I got back to school after my first tour. Whether or not my teachers cared about how I wanted to be taught, I told them. And I was able to take my new abilities and use them when I didn’t understand something in class and do it my own way so I could get more out of it.
I am about to attend university in the fall and while I’m nervous for such a big step in my life, I feel ready to take on this new way of learning and I hope that I can apply everything I’ve learned in these past two tours and really excel at university. A trip like this can really benefit student’s confidence level, their interest in learning history, and the way they view the world and make connections. I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity and how far it’s taken me in my education. We cannot grow without learning and I can’t wait to learn and grow more in my education and career. Without these PD tours I wouldn’t have been able to come this far and excel the way that I have in school and in life.
- Submitted by Emily