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Teacher candidates prepare to 'connect kids to their dreams'

Describing the Faculty of Education’s incoming class is not a simple task. There are 278 students who have already completed an undergraduate degree either at Queen’s or another university and are entering the new consecutive bachelor of education program. There are also 248 students who have reached the fifth year of their concurrent education program and joined their consecutive education classmates at Duncan McArthur Hall for their final year. And there are 241 others who are just starting out in the concurrent education program at Queen’s.

[Teacher candidates in Faculty of Education]
Teacher candidates pose for a photo during orientation week activities at Duncan McArthur Hall.

“The atmosphere here is really dynamic. The combination of students entering the final stages of becoming a teacher and others who are just starting out creates a real excitement at Duncan McArthur Hall,” says Rebecca Luce-Kapler, the new Dean of the Faculty of Education. “They bring wide-ranging skills and experiences, but they are united by their dedication to the profession.”

Queen’s has a new consecutive bachelor of education program for 2015-16 following the Ontario government’s decision to extend teacher education programs in the province to four terms and reduce admission by 50 per cent starting this year. The 278 students in the program began the first of four successive terms in May 2015, and will complete their degrees at the end of August 2016.

“We exceeded our enrolment targets, which we hoped would happen,” Dr. Luce-Kapler says. “Even with the extended program, we did better than many universities in Ontario. That says something about Queen’s and our program design.”

One of the unique aspects of the new bachelor of education program design is that every teacher candidate will graduate with a concentration by combining coursework with an alternative practicum, which they can do anywhere in the world. The faculty is now offering a wide variety of concentrations, such as working with Aboriginal education, at-risk youth, environmental education, educational technology, arts education, teaching English as a second language, and teaching and learning outside of schools.

The atmosphere here is really dynamic. The combination of students entering the final stages of becoming a teacher and others who are just starting out creates a real excitement at Duncan McArthur Hall.
– Rebecca Luce-Kapler, Dean, Faculty of Education

At the other end of the academic spectrum, the new concurrent education students will spend four years completing education courses and in-school placements concurrently with courses in their four-year undergraduate degree. During the fifth year of study, students will complete their bachelor of education degree in three successive terms, from September to August.

Queen’s continues to attract a large number of highly qualified applicants for a limited number of positions in the concurrent education program, making it the second most difficult undergraduate program to get into at Queen’s behind commerce. 

“These students have accomplished amazing things. They can choose from many careers, and so the fact they have chosen to be teachers at such a challenging time is exciting and really feeds into the energy here in the faculty,” Dr. Luce-Kapler says.

The students’ enthusiasm has been tempered slightly in recent years as they face a tough job market after they graduate. Dr. Luce-Kapler says it’s a reality faculty and staff members don’t shy away from in their discussions with students. The Education Career Services staff members also assist students as they prepare for the job search after graduation including one-on-one meetings where they can work on their resumés and hone other job-search skills.

The Faculty of Education, for nearly 30 years, has connected students with international schools through the Teachers’ Overseas Recruiting Fair (TORF) held in January. Due to the popularity of teaching overseas, the faculty is offering an online version of TORF throughout the year. The faculty will facilitate job-search workshops and work to place students at internationally accredited schools all year round.

While many graduates will enter the K-12 education system, others will seek opportunities to apply what they have learned in the program in other areas. Inside or outside of a classroom, students in the Faculty of Education are undertaking a noble pursuit, according to Dr. Luce-Kapler.

“Peter Chin, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, always tells students when they start at Queen’s: ‘Your job is to connect kids to their dreams.’ I think that’s a really powerful vision for our students to have during their time here at Queen’s and beyond.”

Visit the Faculty of Education for more information.