Barb’s recent nomination
Posted on 07 April 2011
Province recognizes local teachers with nominations
Posted 9 hours ago
Two Cochrane-area teachers are up for provincial awards consideration.
Barbara Gerst, a kindergarten teacher at Ecole Elbow Valley Elementary School, has been named as a semi-finalist for the 2011 Provincial Excellence in Teaching Awards, while Andrew Sibley, a Grade 5/6 teacher at Bearspaw School, has been named as a semi-finalist for the SMART Technologies Innovative Use of Technology Award.
Gerst is one of seven teachers in Rocky View Schools to be nominated in her category.
“It’s an honour and privilege to be selected as a nominee. I’m blessed to be supported by such a wonderful parent group, community and colleagues,” she said.
Gerst believes that one of the reasons she might have been nominated could be because she’s a believer in going beneath the surface.
“I would suspect it’s because in my lengthy 33-year career I’ve centred upon more than just teaching the basics to children. My philosophy centers upon lengthy, nature-based inquiry work,” she said.
Celia Barrington, principal of Ecole Elbow Valley, said one of Gerst’s strengths is in relating to children at their level.
“I think the biggest thing that I’ve noticed is that she’s got a tremendous respect for the intellect of these very, very young children. As a result, she doesn’t talk down to them, she doesn’t placate them — she finds out what they want to know, need to know,” said Barrington.
Gerst’s work involves a great deal of emphasis on nature, as well as involving children with the community, by bringing in speakers, and teleconferencing with outside agencies, like an elephant sanctuary in Kentucky. Setting these things in motion at such a young age can make a big impact down the road in a child’s education, Gerst said.
This is Gerst’s last year with Rocky View Schools, as next year she will move into a role in post-secondary education.
Sibley’s nomination comes out of his effective use of technology in the classroom, including the use of SMART boards, and through adapting to the way students now use technology to acquire information.
Sibey said distinctions have to be drawn between what are known as digital natives, and digital immigrants.
“We didn’t grow up with all this access to Internet and technology, but we immigrated into that as our society changed. The kids that we teach nowadays for the most part . . . were born into the technology age and the Internet was always there,” he said.
This availability of technology has changed the way children learn today, compared to past generations, and teachers must evolve to that, Sibley said.
“If that’s what helps them to learn, if that what engages them, then you try and meet the curriculum outcomes at a level that they’re more accustomed to,” he said.
One way to do that is to utilize the technology they’re already using and put it to work. One of his initiatives is to turn iPod Touches or similar devices into classroom tools.
“For the most part, a lot of kids have them, but they use them for games … but seeing that they have a lot of potential as a learning tool as well and trying to integrate that into the classroom,” said Sibley.
“You can’t take the technology and think that’s all they need, but as a tool, as a way to support what they’re learning, I think it can be quite powerful.”