Category Archives: Shadowing Someone
My Final Week at Vanier is to look back and reflect in this journey of interning. What really stood out? What experience was really memorable? I was also instructed to focus on the power of influence in the school. In this journey, there are two most powerful influences on Jean Vanier: Faith & Caring. Although most students lack the understanding, Vanier integrates Faith in the curriculum. Mandatory or not, Christian or not, Vanier integrates faith in everyday activities in cooking, arts and crafts, singing, storytelling. I know that its mandatory but, how Vanier does it; Integrates faith with TLC or Tender loving care makes it something very unique. I’m a Christian and being in Vanier, I see Altruistic actions and professionalism found on Biblical allegories, parables, and chapters. I was stunned that such a magnificent edifice is here on the city of the queen (Regina). Throughout my life I was searching for a place to belong. A cartoon character named Jiraiya once said; “They say wherever someone is still thinking of you, that place is your home”. Why did I mention this statement? I mentioned it because this is what Vanier is it’s not just an institution to teach disabled, it is a home open for everyone who seeks one. There were a lot of memorable events such as screaming and feeding a disabled kid and see’s her happy with her every bite ‘because she can’t hold it on her own is something that really touched my heart. I want to help them and if possible, cure of them of their abnormality that’s plaguing the world as we know it. If only there was a cure……. Seeing these students in Vanier made me realize that I need to be more aware of my surroundings and the people around me. There are a lot of disabilities that hinders our current society from evolving to the next stage of improvement. Some of the disabilities are present in the students of Vanier such as down syndrome, muteness, autism, mental diseases, and retardation. But what does Vanier do that has an impact with these students? CARING. I was surprise to see people actually concern about their students. Quite frankly, a lot of teachers don’t even care if their students pass or fail. Some of them wanted a quick escape from hard labour and went to education and pretentiously teach. It makes my bile go inside-out when I see such people who choose the “easy way” and not fulfill their duties and responsibilities. Being in Vanier was a complete breath of fresh air. I am truly devastated on how society treats people with disabilities, and how there is such a huge inequality in this planet. I only live once. With all the knowledge that I have so far and having 20 years worth of experience as a human being, I will do my best to end at least one world problem whether its global illiteracy, hunger, poverty, or even “the ignorance of people” that’s preventing us to be unified. If these are even possible of achieving, I will do my best to achieve them.
My Sixth week on Vanier is to focus on the school’s curriculum. What do they teach? How they teach it? Hidden curriculum anyone? As far as I know, Vanier does not follow regular school curriculums where you learn math on period one, science period and so on. Instead, Vanier aims to teach disabled students how to “fend for themselves”. Vanier also serves as a “nursing home for disabled children” and uses kindergarten materials. The school’s curriculum offers an alternate route. Students who undergo the program are admitted until their 22 years old. Upon graduation a student is presented with a degree of alternate education. Throughout the years of going to Vanier, students will experience the same daily routines with the exceptions of “swim days” where they get to swim with other schools within the school division. In the morning, they interchange the scheduled between these four classes, Circle time, Liturgy, Feeding, and Cook. I apologize for not having knowledge at the afternoon session because I’m done by noon at Vanier. Vanier curriculum focuses on Faith-based learning and basic communication. As a Catholic school, Vanier is required to integrate Catholicism to the curriculum to ensure its students that faith is not absent in classrooms. Vanier also incorporates basic communication to its curriculum. Why? Most of Vanier’s students are unable to talk. Vanier uses computers, stickers, and cards, and indicators to help the children communicate better. I’ve seen some students frustrated due to their impatience of using the materials necessary of communicating. Also, some students tend to scream out loud every once in a while when what they don’t want. Whenever these students screams and shouts, Vanier implements the same disciplinary action like regular schools. Punishments such as “Time out”, “face the wall” and “In or out” are all implemented at Vanier. I was surprise that disabled kids face the same consequences as regular students. Vanier’s curriculum is not as “strong” compared to regular school divisions but, I personally think that it’s effective and working. I hope that Jean Vanier would continue to operate for a long time.
My Fifth Week in Jean Vanier was to focus on Inclusion. What is inclusion? Inclusion is a term used by people with disabilities and other disability rights advocates for the idea that all people should freely, openly and without pity accommodate any person with a disability without restrictions or limitations of any kind. Although disability rights have historically existed as a relatively cohesive movement, the movement centered on inclusion has only recently begun to take shape and to position itself in the eye of the general public. This is one of the strengths of Vanier. Technically, Vanier shares a building with another school named St. Augustine. In addition, at least once a week students in St. Augustine go to Jean Vanier to read books to children and tell them what they learned. I think Vanier believes Inclusion their top priority. Vanier is an alternative school for children with disabilities. Although they don’t admit students with no disabilities, Vanier serves to “protect” students from people who lack proper understanding of their current conditions. They believe that everyone has the right to be educated and be accepted in society. This is why schools like Vanier are established to “protect” the disabled from exclusions of today’s modern society. Based on my observations, Vanier teaches students differently compared to regular high school. Why? It is because most of Vanier’s students are not cognitively able to do so. Is it a problem? It is but, why put students in a situation they could not possibly handle? What Vanier really aims is to give the students the hope of surviving. I was sad to hear that people with disabilities do not live very long, and a day before I came to Vanier for internship, someone actually passed away. Vanier installs that sensibility of hope to its students as early as possible to ensure that stay in “mental” shape despite their disabilities. A few weeks ago in ECS 100, we were talking about eugenics or the “pseudo-science” as my Dr. Douad told us. It’s about gene selection and splicing DNA. It sounds like a good idea but, what about the people with disabilities? Do we alter theirs so that we won’t see people running around and parading while they’re wearing AFO’s or in wheel-chairs. I think it’s unfair. Now that I have seen this perspective, I think inclusion should be implanted at all times because who are we to exclude people of the right to live and co-exist?
My Fourth week in Vanier is about observing diversity. Here’s one branch of diversity called Workplace Diversity; refers to the differences that people bring to their jobs on the basis of gender, age, race, ethnicity or professional background. There is not a lot of diversity on Jean Vanier. Almost 100% of Vanier’s teachers are Canadian while out of Vanier’s 17 students, only 11% or two students are non-Canadian. Teachers in Vanier respect one another and disregard one’s gender, race, or sexual orientation. I think when I was doing my internship in Vanier; I was respected and was treated fairly. Why? Because I’m an Immigrant myself. I came from a country called the Philippines. I know some people would raise concerns about special treatment, and frankly, I personally don’t need it. I know my abilities and limitations. Furthermore, being not adept to a lesson, routine, or even a norm only means that there is a lot of room for improvement and learning. If you’re an immigrant like me, ignore the people whose cynical attempts are pathetically pulling you down. The only downside of not having a diverse roster in the teachers of Vanier is the lack of new perspectives. People coming from different parts of the world have different life condition, life styles, and standards of living. Furthermore, they have different standards of education that has a substantial impact on what knowledge they have acquired on their respective country. Schools that focus on special education like Vanier, Diversity is not much of a problem. When handling the students, it’s the same because some of them have the same seizures, and disabilities. If communicating diversely is problem, in Vanier it’s not. 10% of Vanier’s students are the only ones who can communicate by means of speech and most of their students use special communicative devices such as buzzers, stickers, and computers. The two students or the 11% are unable to speak if one would to ask. I personally think that when I was interning at Vanier and experiencing the teacher’s lives added a little diversity in the roster due to my immigrant status. I was exchanging perspectives one time with the principal and found out that we had a huge difference when it comes to disciplinary action and implementation. I was shocked how our perspectives differ from one another and I think with that difference adds variety to the working environment that could bring a substantial change to student-teacher development. As for students diverse, I think it creates a competitive atmosphere that gives opportunity for everyone to improve and to reassess their skills as students.
My third week in Jean Vanier is to focus on reflecting on the students of school. The student’s ages ranges from 4-20. They are divided in via age groups and difficulty of care. I.E. 4-6 years old would be classified as the youngest. Like I said in the previous logs, the students in Jean Vanier are not considered “normal” by our society. These students have learning disabilities, deformities, mental diseases, and autism which make them unable to meet regular school division expectations. Instead, despite their learning disabilities, they are still taught with lessons with minimal difficulty as much as possible such as simple storytelling, arts and crafts, and simple cooking. The student interact with the use of pictures depicting what they need like food, toothpaste, and drinks. Most of the students lack the ability to speak and utter words. Some of the students lack patience when trying to communicate like one student that was assigned to me name “Caitlyn”. She can’t walk properly, doesn’t speak, and screams when her patience runs out. I had to act accordingly based on what I have been debrief by the supervisor; to handle everything with care, and to adjust to every situation given. Students in Vanier are given tasks and assigned to one teacher. Their main task is to behave and take consideration of their other classmates because some of them lack the skills to communicate properly and they all end up shouting and sometimes fighting in class. For me, the learners in Jean Vanier as the teachers themselves. Every day, they learn to adjust to their student’s behaviour due to the unstable minds that they have regarding their respective conditions. Also, it is also to take note that the teachers rotate their assigned students and learn to handle their situations. Students of Vanier play an essential part of the school. Why? They are sent to school by their parents to actually “teach” the teachers of their condition and give them a different perspective of life that can use to improve themselves as educators.
For me my second week at Vanier was more interesting than my first week. This week, I got to work with teachers on room AE-8. Room AE-8 is a room for students ranging from 5-10 years old. The teacher ages where ranging from 23-50(assuming), and all of them are well-trained and well organized in what they do. As a school for special needs, Vanier functions more like a nursing home for students so some of them have medical experience and not considered teachers. However, ¾ of the staff at Vanier have education degrees and also have medical experience ranging from basic to advance semi-nursing aide experience. The teachers functions as “guide by the side” due to most students’ disabilities that prevents them from learning and functioning as “students”. Vanier’s teacher’s adjust and re-evaluates the situation to cope up with the challenges that their students have to improve their service to the students. The Life of a teacher in Vanier is more like a nurse or a caring mother. The hidden curriculum in the Vanier is Altruism. The hidden curriculum of the school was something that I notice when I started getting my hands on the field of their work as teacher/nursing-aides. I personally think that they were not directly instructed to care, and what I sensed in those teachers were warmth, love, and care. It completely threw me out of balance because this was a very life-changing perspective where my “philosophy of education” falls pale in comparison to the resolve that these teachers have. I don’t even see the difference between the teachers and the nursing-aides anymore due to the hidden curriculum. “What are my teachers like in my school?” The role, responsibilities, function, and behaviour of the teacher are completely different because Vanier is not your typical school. Teaching is less implicated in this school because their students’ learning disabilities instead, Teachers focus more on the well being of the students where they are taken care of properly. Furthermore, the teachers use basic teaching such as communication, arts and crafts, cooking, and storytelling which I would say to be very effective due to disabilities of the children.
My First week of field experience in Jean Vanier was something that I was not expecting. Jean Vanier is a school for students with special needs-meaning these having serious disabilities such as Down syndrome, inability to walk, psychotic abilities and autism. The school does not follow a regular high school, pre-school, elementary, and middle years. Instead, they accept students from ages 3 to 21, where a student is assigned in a specific room corresponding to their age and difficulty of care. Furthermore, the teacher lounge has pictures of every student with a list of possible seizures and protocols in case of seizures. I came in to Vanier (on time of course) and looked for the Arkin Kauf, my supervisor. He debrief me about Vanier and I found that he didn’t wanted a job like this in Vanier but, aspires to be a elementary school teacher. I guess we really have no control of our lives. Then, I was introduced on the rest of the staff and the principal as well. They told me that this endeavour would be different compared to interning to other school divisions. Vanier is a Catholic school with a strong roster of Catholic teachers, and incorporates with faith based activities like praying, singing, and more. The then introduced me to the students. I have never seen something like it before. Most them can’t speak and walk. Furthermore there level of cognitively is very low which limiting their functions to just showing up in class. I started to think and I was like – seeing these kids “make all your worries seem pathetic”. because these kids will roam this planet for the rest of their lives as unable and illiterate. I think this was strong sign for me to broaden my horizon and explore the “other side of the coin” or special education. The first week was purely introduction to everything so there was not a lot activity to do because the supervisor is doing preparation that day for his classes, and I was limited to basic helping such as feeding the kids who are unable to use their hands and cleaning the children’s messes. The physical and human context in which the school operates is Faith. Vanier is a Catholic and draws most of its sources from faith-based materials like the Bible, liturgies’ of the church, and the sacraments of the Catholic Church.
To whom it may concern,
Hi, My name is Edgar Allan Dela Cruz, a student of the University of regina. Today marks the pilot episode of my “Shadowing Someone” series. I will be documenting my pre-intership which will be 7 episodes long, and will be updated every week. Also, they will be documented via journal form so, It’s not going to be very formal. More like casual I guess. I actually started my pre-intership late due to some technical difficulties and misunderstandings, However everything has been rectified and I am good to go.
Edgar Allan Dela Cruz