June 20th, 2024

New teachers network with employers at U of L symposium

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 10, 2022.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Faculty of Education students meet with Alberta School Divisions during the final Teaching Seminar of the semester Friday at the University of Lethbridge

Student teachers finishing up their final semester at the University of Lethbridge came together Friday for the PS III Large-Group Seminar and Symposium.

Wrapping up their Professional Semester III, Education students got the chance to network and prepare as they get ready to graduate and enter into their careers as teachers. The seminar is the last big event for these students, finishing their twelve-week practicums and getting ready to showcase everything they have learned. With representatives from 16 Alberta school divisions on campus Friday, students had the opportunity to test out the hiring pool and hopefully walk away with a prospective job.

“Today we are seeing the final seminar for our group of interns. We call it our Professional Semester III, and they have been out teaching all fall,” said Beth Cormier, curriculum librarian in the Faculty of Education. “One of the things we do is bring in representatives from school divisions, we have 16 different divisions across mostly southern Alberta, they all have booths here today so that our student teachers can meet them as they prepare their transition into the profession.”

Hosting online seminars during the pandemic, along with one in person seminar held previously under restrictions, Friday saw a full complement of educators and students coming out.

“We weren’t able to do this during COVID,” said Cormier. “We tried to do it virtually, where we created web pages for the divisions and we had Zoom rooms. But it didn’t work, you need to circulate, talk and connect with people. And that is what is happening today.”

Representatives from the Alberta Teachers Association were present at the seminar, checking out the new recruits entering the job field.

“We do know that there is a substitute teacher shortage right now, particularly in remote and rural areas. They’re very hard hit by the shortage,” said Mark Swanson, coordinator and professional development with the ATA. “One of the keys to solving that problem, or partially solving that problem, is to prepare more teachers to go into those situations.”

With divisions on site, some lucky students could walk away with the best Christmas gift of all, a job.

“A lot of students get jobs, we looked at the openings that are available right now on some of the HR pages and there is a lot of positions open for January,” said Cormier. “Every year we have students that walk away with contracts. We are so pleased to be able to facilitate that, and to have a partnership with our field partners.”

With a culmination of the end of a learning journey, new teachers will be ready for the classroom come the new year.

“We are really proud of the role that we play in southern Alberta, because we not only have students from across southern Alberta, but we attract students from all over Alberta, and from other provinces,” said Cormier. “So many opportunities for our students to experience what it is like to be in a small rural school. That is one of the advantages. Today is exposing students to the wide variety that is available for them.”

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