TEACHING QUALITY STANDARD (TQS)
Working as a swim instructor for so many years gave me the opportunity to work with and teach so many amazing children. Once I entered my B. Ed. degree and learned about the Teaching Quality Standard, I realized that I had implicitly been abiding by all of the standards that are expected of teachers in the province of Alberta. Now, having plenty of experience in the classroom via my practica, I have hands-on, tangible, and explicit experience working in accordance with the TQS.
TQS 1: Fostering Effective Relationships
As a reflective practitioner, I often think back to my days in school and draw inspiration from the teachers I had growing up. My favourite teachers, and the ones that I felt shaped me into the person I am today, were those who took the time to develop a meaningful relationship with me. As such, whenever I step into a new classroom, my first priority is getting to know my students on a personal level: what are their hobbies? Favourite books? Favourite songs? What are they passionate about? What makes them angry? This strategy has allowed me to connect with students of every ability, gift, and challenge.
TQS 2: Engaging in Career-Long Learning
It is essential for our students to see us as learners, just like them. No student thrives in an environment where a teacher reigns as a monarch in the classroom and looks down on his/her subjects. Therefore, as a teacher, I encourage mistakes in the classroom because mistakes foster a platform for learning. But a teacher's learning does not stop in the classroom. Since beginning my journey as a teacher, I have invested my time, money, and thoughts into sources of professional development that made me a more competent, confident, and progressive teacher. This educational journey extends far beyond my first years as a new teacher, rather, it will extend so long as I am in this profession in an effort to provide the best and most meaningful education to my students.
TQS 3: Demonstrating a Professional Body of Knowledge
Professionalism is vital in the teaching profession and spans beyond writing comprehensive and effective plans or assessments. Professionalism is what conjures our ability to be taken seriously as we take on the duty of care for our students. As a professional, I am responsible for my actions and reactions in and out of the classroom. Therefore, not only is it my duty to remain professional in the school community, but I am also responsible for maintaining my professionalism online and in public via my dress, communication, and demeanour.
TQS 4: Establishing Inclusive Learning Environments
Inclusivity allows all students to feel welcomed, supported, and loved in the school community regardless of their needs, struggles, or strengths in the classroom. I have studied a lot about differentiation and inclusive education and was given the opportunity to work hands-on with Learning Support Teams during my practica experience to develop strategies and plans for all types of learners. I want to highlight that, to me, inclusive education is not only about accommodating the learners that need extra support. Instead, the goal of inclusive education is that all students feel equally supported and have equitable access to the resources needed to be successful.
TQS 5: Applying Foundational Knowledge about First Nation, Metis, and Inuit
In my undergraduate studies, my thesis for my English Literature degree studied a play by an Indigenous author, Tomson Highway, titled The Rez Sisters. In my thesis, I analyzed the significance of trauma disguised as humour in FNMI contexts. I learned so much about FNMI histories, cultures, and traditions in my studies and working so closely with this kind of material provided me with a newfound sense of respect, sympathy, and education of FNMI peoples that is not limited to the horrible history of Residential Schools, stolen land, and so forth. In the classroom, I want to provide my students with the same inspiration I discovered upon studying FNMI peoples and histories. From building Totem Poles to having Symbolic Sharing Circles in my practicum classrooms, I have begun to learn and implement new ways to target this Teaching Quality Standard with the goal of compassion, reconciliation, education, and, most importantly, respect.
TQS 6: Adhering to Legal Frameworks & Policies
Something a lot of pre-service teachers do not consider upon entering the education profession is the legal responsibilities that we must adhere to at all times. From the Teaching Quality Standard to the ATA Code of Conduct, to the Education Act, and even to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we have an obligation to our school community and to the teaching profession to comply with all frameworks necessary to ensure we are providing an education to students that is ethically and morally correct as well as professionally secured in our policies and practices in and out of the classroom.
"I greatly appreciate Alexandra's patience and effort in helping our son. [Our son] was very lucky to be Alexandra’s student. She is incredible in connecting with kids and inspiring them to learn and try new things without fear. [Our son] was lucky to have Alexandra as a swim instructor, but he would be even more to have her as a school teacher. Alexandra will make an exceptional teacher and will be the teacher that her students remember forever because I know that Adam will remember her forever."
-Shakhnoza Toshmatova & Wael Mabrouk
Parents of a former participant in my swim lessons at Sir Winston Churchill Pool and Shouldice Pool with The City of Calgary Aquatics and Recreation.
"Throughout her time at Nose Creek Elementary School, Alexandra demonstrated a proactive, professional and caring demeanour, building relationships within and beyond her grade team, as well as with the school administration and learning support teams, eager to learn about all facets of a busy, inclusive learning environment. Between her formal practicum windows, Alexandra maintained contact with our team, offering to assist in any capacity possible, generously offering her time and expertise in service of our students and their learning -- a rare but very much appreciated gesture that speaks volumes about her sense of care and commitment."
Principal at Nose Creek Elementary School, Airdrie, AB
"Ms. Kunz displayed an excellent understanding of the Teaching Quality Standards and showed a true appreciation for the role of the teacher. As a young teacher in training, I was very impressed with her professionalism and her commitment to be the best teacher possible."
Retired Deputy Superintendant at Christ The Redeemer Catholic Schools & Practicum Advisor at St. Mary's University
"Alexandra quickly established a positive rapport with both the students and staff. She came to school punctually each day and presented herself in a very professional manner. Alexandra demonstrated general warmth, caring and respect towards the students through verbal and nonverbal communication and promoted a positive learning environment. She fostered respect for individual differences, established and maintained clear consistent standards of classroom behaviour and recognized and assisted students in need of remediation/help."
Cooperating Teacher at Nose Creek Elementary School, Airdrie, AB
"Over the course of Alexandra’s field experience, it was apparent to me that she already possessed qualities of a good teacher who will have a major impact in the lives of many children. Alexandra made a point to learn each student’s name prior to the first day she joined the class. This act of respect made each child feel important. During her first days in the well-established learning community, Alexandra strengthened her connection with the students through informal one-on-one conversations. Each student enjoyed responding to Alexandra’s queries about their talents, interests, and hobbies. This spoke volumes to the genuine interest that this student-teacher had for the little persons she would be teaching. Seeking to understand a six-year-old in distress requires attentive listening, empathy, and the ability to resolve the issue without disruption to the rest of the class’s learning. [...] Alexandra applied a high degree of initiative and drive to learn as much as possible about what it takes to be an effective teacher. Alexandra consistently challenged herself to try new strategies, plan and teach lessons with increased frequency. It is my professional opinion that Alexandra consistently demonstrated an advanced level of understanding and application of teaching pedagogy."
-Rosanna Laratta MA, B.Ed.
Former principal with Calgary Catholic School Division & St. Mary's University Practicum Advisor