Janice started teaching Occupational English when she was a university student in Regina in 1979. She was then able to work in different places in Canada and abroad. She settled in Winnipeg 10 years ago and now works at Red River Colleges Language Training Centre, teaching CLB 3/4.
What is important to you as a teacher?
“As well as developing communication skills, an important pat of our job is helping the students acculturate and become successful in Canada. Also, creating a classroom community and learning about each other can play such an important part in our students’ early experience of Canada. A relaxed, friendly jovial atmosphere facilitates language learning and builds the trust that encourages risk taking.”
What is a moment you had with a class that inspired you?
“So many! Working with literacy students is inspiring. I had a literacy class in Calgary and taught them keyboarding skills. Start up was hard as fine motor skills were not always developed. With lots of encouragement they stuck with it and gradually learned to use 10 fingers. They worked so hard and celebrated every success. I could see them steam rising from their brains as they concentrated, I wanted to go out in the hall and call other teachers to come and see how well they were doing. They learned well when they had appropriate supports. I was inspired to try harder as a teacher too, and to advocate for more literacy programming.”
Who has been a mentor for you as a teacher and why?
“Other teachers have been my greatest source of learning and support. Experienced staff members have shared with me, advised me on dealing with classroom issues, and listened to me as I figured out how to meet my students’ needs. A small example of something important I learned while observing another teacher is to acknowledge and praise every response, correct or incorrect. ‘Good try!’ goes a long way.”
What’s your favourite skill area to teach?
“All are great, but I really love working on listening. I was a French student, and I remember which activities helped me begin to understand and use my second language. It’s really wonderful when a student cracks the code and starts to get the right listening frequency.”