Students for Change (S4C)
Students 4 Change
Since 2015, teacher candidates in the Urban Communities Cohort (UCC) have been participating in social action research projects entitled ‘Students for Change.’ This work seeks to support anti-discriminatory pedagogies and student agency, voice, and community building. UCC teacher candidates take on this advocacy work as their capstone project and are supported by our associate teachers and administrators in the field.
Both the idea and name of this project “Students for Change” grew out of an initiative at Ridgemont High School, one of the first schools the UCC partnered with, and it has now been shared across our other school communities.
Examples of past S4C efforts include:
participating in awareness and fundraising campaigns,
supporting sister schools in Lesotho,
collecting tabs for wheelchairs,
hosting a Hunger Banquet,
participating in Ryan’s Well,
organizing food and clothing drives for Syrian refugees,
volunteering with unhoused Ottawans,
serving at soup kitchens, and
rallying numbers of students to participate in a blood drive.
Despite the challenges of the last school year, teacher candidates continued with this important work. With the leadership of Dr. Leila Angod, the UCC team adapted the project so it could be feasible despite Covid related restrictions put on extracurricular activities and teacher candidates’ physical presence in schools. . As many of the shared examples of this project demonstrate, teacher candidates mapped out issues using problem trees and then turned to photovoice to represent their thinking and what they heard from students on the topic. Like the face-to-face projects carried out in schools, these projects are a starting point for students’ concerns, questions, and/or the creative strategies that they use to make sense of, address, and/or transform their classroom/schooling experiences and challenges.
Some examples of previous work follow below.
Shonnie Steven's S4C Project
Problem Tree, Research Questions & Rationale
"My ambition with my research is to explore how to ensure meaningful learning for students with special needs and how schools prepare them to transition from school to the community. I have noticed how much emphasis schools put on mainstream students’ post secondary careers, yet in the GLP program, many students leave the program once they age out. These students leave school with no direction and I think that it demonstrates an area of need in the GLP program and also demonstrates an inequality within the school system. I think students in the GLP program deserve to live meaningful lives outside of school and I think it is the responsibility of the schools to help students find their place in their communities."
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Corey Gargano's S4C Project
'People of Colour are Underrepresented in the Online Fitness Community'
The process of coming up with my problem tree and research question was helpful in that it enabled me to take a
deeper, specific, and more critical dive into the issue of underrepresentation of people of colour in online fitness
content. I realized through this process that I was most curious about the human and non-human influences that
determine who, when, and where content by fitness creators is seen on the Internet. Non-human systems play a
big role in this but are constructed by humans and thus, I was intrigued by what conscious and unconscious biases
might be at play.
Rachel Jerome's S4C Project
There is a Lack of Diverse Voices in Texts Used in English Classrooms
The schools are only given certain texts, or a certain budget for new texts.
Teachers must work with what they are given, These are usually texts
considered "canon". The materials that are readily available in schools are the
classic texts that have always been used. (Shakespeare, Lord of the Flies, Death
of a Salesman, The Great Gatsby etc.)
These texts also have the most accompanying resources and lesson plans
Jordan Grave's S4C Project
Online Learning is Inequitable to Adults in ELD Program
Possible Research Questions
1. What policies could our government adopt to ensure that Adult ELD learners have the
extra resources they often need to succeed in their program?
2. Why do we limit students to have to complete the ELD program before they turn 22,
regardless of the age they immigrated at?
3. How can administrators work closer with social workers to ensure that students starting
on the online platform have a clearer understanding of what they’re doing?
4. How can provincial government ensure that students who need assistance with child-care
have access to such, even during a pandemic?
5. How can teachers and administrators work with school boards to ensure that there is more
leniency for students taking this program?