One of the greatest things a Concurrent Education student will say about their program is the excitement of receiving their practicum placements and beginning their training in the real teaching world. However, some students at Laurier Brantford are without their practicum placements due to the strike mandate in London, Ontario.
Back in September of this year, Bill 115, “Putting Students First Act”, was passed. Bill 115 is an act to implement restraint measures in the education sector. McGuinty Mondays, and now Tuesdays, started to take place in the ETFO’s (Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario) response to the passing of the bill. This means that they will arrive no longer than 30 minutes before their teaching begins, and leave no later than 30 minutes after. This is a way for the teachers to strike back against the government’s terms.
Although they may not think it will affect their students, it certainly has affected Laurier Brantford’s Con Ed. students. Third-year Con Ed. Primary/Junior student, Jessica Nunns, is awaiting her placement at University Heights in London, which teaches from kindergarten up to grade six.
“I might end up in Brantford if I can’t get a placement there soon,” says Nunns.
London was ideal for her because that is where she is from, so she would be able to see her family on the weekends. So far, Nunns has missed two days of classes, and needs a total of twenty hours to be completed.
“That’s kind of got me in a rut, I’m thinking of getting them over the December break,” says Nunns.
Although the situation is frustrating, Nunns does not have any anger towards what the teachers are doing. Instead, she feels bad about not getting to develop relationships sooner with the students, and feels stressed about having to make up those missed hours. Nunns also wants to be there just to be able to help out, especially with low-income schools.
“I think it’s the older generation being like ‘we don’t want them here’ which I don’t understand because we’re going to be replacing them some day, and they can teach us things,” says Nunns.
The same goes for third-year Con Ed. student Emily Dwyer, who also has not received her placement.
“It’s added some extra stress because once I do get placed I will have to find the time in my schedule to add in extra practicum days plus the work I already have. Along with this, I will be behind when it comes to when I’ll be teaching versus observing in the classroom compared to my classmates,” explains Dwyer.
For now, unless they find an alternative placement, it is a waiting game between Nipissing University and the Thames Valley District School Board. For Nunns and Dwyer, it is a matter of finding a teacher that is available and open for them to be in their classrooms.