Hi everyone! My name is Raylin Janzen. I am currently working towards getting my degree in Elementary Education through the University of Regina. I grew up in Treaty 4 territory, specifically in Regina area, though I now live on an acreage about half-an-hour north of Regina.
I have also had the opportunity to work on Treaty 6 land, at Ancient Echoes Interpretive Centre in Herschel, Saskatchewan, where Indigenous history and Treaty Education really came alive for me. I was able to share the rich history of the area with people of all different ages and backgrounds, and practice teaching this history in fun, interactive ways during our “kid’s days.” Seeing the “ah-ha” moments, when that little spark of understanding suddenly ignites in their eyes, reignited my passion for teaching and reminded me why I wanted to become a teacher. I gained a lot of skills from this experience, and even some ideas for how to incorporate Treaty Education into my classroom in hands-on learning experiences – something I feel is vitally important if we want students to truly connect with what they are learning.
I don’t have the same story as most teachers, who knew from a young age what they wanted to be. I swung from wanting to be an actress (quickly extinguished when I discovered my stage-fright) to an optometrist to an author (something I still aspire to be), but never even considered being a teacher. Afterall, who would want to spend the rest of their life in school?? My family, however, always told me I would be a teacher, “just wait and see.” I would refute that with my disgust for being in school for the rest of my life. It wasn’t until my grade 12 year that I realized I wanted to be a teacher. I was sitting in Mr. Peters’ Biology 30, listening to him answering questions. He was getting really excited about Mitosis or something like that, drawing diagrams and gesturing excitedly with his hands. Even the most disengaged, uncaring students were avidly listening, taking notes, and asking more questions. A light in my head suddenly turned on. I wanted to inspire people to love learning as much as he did. I wanted to change classes so that they were all as engaging as this one, so that they would all reach as many students as Mr. Peters’.
Now don’t get me wrong, I loved teaching even before this. I would help my friends with their homework. I started teaching piano lessons once I had finished my own. I would tutor my little brother. I just never thought I would want to be in school forever, as not all my experiences were great ones. However, I now realize that I can use those experiences both as examples of what not to do and as reminders that there may be more going on in students’ lives than they let on. Being aware of this will help me create a more inclusive learning environment where everyone feels safe and respected.