‘Be the teacher I wish I had’: These aspiring Ontario teachers hope to diversify the field


Atiyeh Ahmed has at all times been keen to pursue educating as a profession, however did not assume she may do it. 

It wasn’t as a result of she doubted her mental means, it was as a result of the brown, visibly-Muslim teen had by no means met a teacher who appeared like her. So, it was laborious to think about herself in these footwear.

But that modified this week for the Grade 12 Waterloo, Ont., pupil.

On Tuesday, she lastly noticed the illustration she was eager for at a Wilfrid Laurier University “Teacher Diversity” occasion, and that was her remaining push to pursue her dream.

“I need to be there for college kids the means I wish my teachers had been there for me and I need to have the opportunity to perceive their totally different backgrounds and be the teacher I wish I had,” Ahmed informed CBC News. 

“I actually need to change into a teacher as a result of I actually need to see myself represented in the faculty system and I assume it modifications all the pieces as a result of  … if a pupil sees a teacher that appears like them, then they will assume it is a risk for them,” she added.

Lack of variety 

Ahmed is contemplating English, French and Business as teachable topics. 

She was amongst 50 equity-deserving college students from throughout excessive faculties in Waterloo area who had been invited to the faculty’s campus for an occasion hosted by the college’s Equity, Diversity and Indigenization Coalition.

Gabe Frias, Jadon Cottei-Leo, centre, Joey Lacuesta, proper, are amongst 50 college students that attended Tuesday’s occasion. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

It related college students interested in educating to present educators and teacher candidates from various and intersectional backgrounds.

Ardavan Eizadirad, co-lead of the coalition and an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education, stated the occasion additionally aimed to carry consciousness to the want for extra various teachers on a neighborhood, provincial and nationwide stage.

“We felt this was one thing that was recognized as a spot and we wished to take motion,” he stated. 

Currently in Waterloo area, the majority of elementary and highschool teachers do not replicate the wealthy variety of the communities they serve, in accordance to workforce surveys by the public and Catholic faculty boards.

According to a 2019 report from the Waterloo Region District School Board, 92 per cent of workers are white, whereas census information exhibits that quantity to be 80 per cent for the common inhabitants. 

About 5 per cent of college workers recognized as members of the LGBTQ2S+ group, and about seven per cent stated they lived with a psychological well being incapacity or situation. 

For the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, a 2021 report urged 89 per cent of workers are white and 7 per cent of workers reside with a incapacity. 

Why illustration is vital 

Grade 11 pupil Jadon Cottei-Leo informed CBC he desires to be a teacher as a result of he desires younger folks to see profitable folks of color and know they will obtain that too.

“I need them to really feel that, as an individual of color, they are often profitable. There’s not too many individuals of color who’re profitable. Some of them get torn down from systemic racism. I need them to really feel they are often nice,” he stated. “I need to be part of what the world may change into in the future and have an impact,” he added.

Johanna Chort, left and Charis Campbell, proper, each agree that there’s a want to diversify instructional workers. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Charis Campbell has additionally by no means had a teacher of color like herself.

“I assume it is a disparity that is actually unhappy for lots of scholars of color,” she stated.

“There’s a lot labour going into explaining your experiences and explaining why you are feeling the means you are feeling and what’s occurring in opposition to you. And it is simply a lot of a aid when an individual simply will get it instantly, when someone simply understands as a result of they have been by it,” she added.

She worries that systemic limitations discourage various folks from contemplating the career.

“Those alternatives will not be introduced to folks of color,” she stated. She hopes that’ll change by occasions akin to the one at the college this week.

Grade 12 pupil Johanna Chort, who not too long ago realized she was dwelling with autism, additionally hopes to see change. 

“I’m fascinated about educating as a result of truthfully, I’m fascinated about making a distinction for folks. I need folks to not undergo the similar issues I did in class. I need to be a constructive mild for college kids,” she stated.

A step nearer to fairness for all

Kaitlyn Chorowiec is of their remaining yr of the training program at Laurier. Soon, they’re going to graduate with a hope to change into an elementary or highschool teacher.

“I selected to change into a teacher as a result of I’m very indignant. I’m very indignant at the system and really indignant at the means that it is handled racialized college students specifically and fairness deserving teams specifically,” stated Chorowiec, who can also be a member of the coalition.

Ardavan Eizadirad, left, is co-lead of the Equity, Diversity and Indigenization Coalition and an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education. Kaitlyn Chorowiec, proper, is of their remaining yr of the training program at Laurier. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Chorowiec famous they really feel eager for a greater future, particularly following the occasion, the place many younger college students gathered, united over their curiosity in educating.

“After searching and seeing so many smiling faces and seeing so many individuals from fairness deserving teams. I really feel like my coronary heart’s full. I have by no means been round so many individuals of color in all my time in Waterloo,” they stated. “I actually really feel like that is making a distinction and that I really feel seen, heard and valued.”

Eizadirad desires younger aspiring teachers to know that they don’t seem to be alone in what they’re experiencing and that help is there to assist information them by the field. 

“I hope college students stroll away feeling extra assured in who they’re and who they want to change into, whether or not that is a teacher or every other profession or even when it isn’t pursuing post-secondary, simply sort of mapping out the place do they need to go and the way will they get there,” he stated. 

“Most importantly, how will they problem and address these limitations that come their means, significantly being from a fairness deserving group and dealing with extra systemic limitations,” he added.

Eizadirad stated he hopes the occasion will return on an annual foundation.


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