Brad Aldridge (BSc '18, BEd  '21), buoyed by his experience working with youth as a rugby coach, looks forward to continuing to influence young people in a positive way as he graduates from the Faculty of Education and embarks on a teaching career. He hopes to teach science as well as coach sports wherever he winds up after he leaves the University of Lethbridge and moves on to working with the next generation of young students.

Why did you choose to become a teacher?
I wanted to become a teacher because I want to be a positive role model. Growing up, male role models were few and far between for me— as a result, I want to be one for the next generation. Additionally, I spend a ton of time coaching youth rugby. I learned really early on that a bad day of coaching is still a pretty good day. This helped me to realize that I love working with youth and that teaching is something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life.

What were some of your most memorable experiences while at the University of Lethbridge?
One memorable moment was during an Education Psychology lecture presented by instructor Riley Kostek in Professional Semester I (PSI) and seeing him stand there laughing at his own memes that he made especially for his lessons. I don’t know what was funnier, his memes or watching Riley laugh at them. Either way there were a few days I laughed until it hurt. Another great memory was having a full breakfast buffet set up for our PSI wrap-up. We had waffles and the works. What a way to wrap up my PSI experience!

Some of the best memories I had came from my practicum experiences. Nothing warms my heart more on a bad day than when I get to look back at the messages I’ve received from students that put into perspective my impact on their schooling. It’s messages like that that carry me through a bad day.

Probably my defining moment in education came from PSI, when we did the workshop, Teacher as a Performer. The instructor asked me to be a chatty kid in a demonstration on how to talk to students who won't stop talking. I spent the entire demonstration talking about food—specifically curry and cheesecake. It set the tone for me being an absolute goof who isn’t worried about embarrassing himself in front of others. The instructor would hit me with a few lines here and there. I just played along as a talkative student, which was absolutely brilliant and had the rest of the class in stitches.

What are some of the most important lessons you learned during your time in the Faculty of Education?
I was always concerned about making a mistake, but ultimately what helped me connect with students was making mistakes and owning them.

We all make mistakes but they aren’t the end of the world. They are just stepping stones in the learning process. Embrace them and use them to grow.

Another lesson is the willingness to be embarrassed. Embrace the embarrassment and use it to your advantage. It really helps to build relationships with students when you aren’t worried about looking silly.

It's also important to look for help early on. There isn’t a ton of time out on practicum and the longer you wait to get help, the harder it can be to fix the issue. In my Professional Semester III course, I ran into some troubles with planning. I took on too much early on and instead of asking for help. I tried to power through it – big mistake. It took me longer than I care to admit to fix my planning and it could have all been solved by identifying the issue early on and getting help right away. Use those support networks you build with your classmates, university consultants, professors, teacher mentors, and others because there are tons of others out there willing to help you when you're struggling, you just have to ask.

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your education experience?
This is a tough one! Honestly, I still think back to most of the professors I had, chatting with Beth Cormier in the Curriculum Lab, university consultants, and the friends I made. There are many individuals who I could list here and I think I could spend half a day listing people.

One person who stood out was my professor from the Professional Semester II Curriculum and Instruction course, Doug Checkley. He and I both graduated from the same high school, and played rugby for the same club team in Calgary. We still occasionally have coffee and chat about life, rugby, and science. He is a top-notch instructor, and I learned a lot from him about teaching science.

L to R: Marjo Asselbergs, Brad Aldridge, Keith McLeod, Katrina Kubian, Jane Nowicki, and in front, Natalie Siler. Missing from photo is Kirsten Reber.

Another was Keith McLeod. I first met Keith coaching rugby at Lord Beaverbrook High School. He got my contact information and asked me to come out. I was thrilled and he and I have been in contact ever since. We coached together for about five or six years and we even took the Girls' Division 3 title with a brilliant group of coaches and girls. He really helped me develop my coaching technique which ultimately led to me becoming more interested in teaching. By chance he was one of my teacher mentors in my PSIII (along with Becky Kramer). I’ve learned a lot from him about teaching and I would consider him an important influence on my education experience.

What advice would you give to those who are about to begin their journey in the Faculty of Education?
Honestly, it sounds cheesy but enjoy the experience while it lasts. When you get to the end of your degree, the friends you make are going to be the ones you go to for help, advice, and lesson plans when you get a job. I made some really close friends while in Education, including one named Dan Nwaerondu. He and I were inseparable while in Lethbridge and he is still my first go-to when I need advice on something. Or Ben Weistra, another rugby guy in Education who I immediately got along with. Ben and I still see each other on the pitch and always meet up after to reminisce about Education and our time together with the Trolls Rugby Club.

There are some truly amazing individuals in Education and it is incredibly rewarding to get to know them. Soak it up, live in the moment, because when you finish your degree, you’ll look back like I’m doing and smile at all the great people you met, all the fun assignments, and everything you’ve learned.

The last bit of advice I would offer anyone starting out in Education is to avoid becoming preoccupied with lessons or student interactions that don’t go well. I know I struggled with it, until I took a piece of advice from the brilliant, inspiring singer Taylor Swift. You “just gotta shake, shake, shake it off,” because ultimately you are hurting yourself and the students if you don't focus on growing your teaching practice.

Writer: Brad Aldridge and Dave Sulz
Photo/Video: Brad Aldridge

Why become a teacher? Who inspired? What lessons learned? Here are some voices from the Class of 2021 as well as a message from Dr. Robin Bright, Interim Dean Faculty of Education:
Congratulations to the Class of 2021 from the Faculty of Education
Shlomo Swan-Azmon (BSc '17, BEd '21)
Brad Aldridge (BSc '18, BEd '21)
Lisa Patten (BSc/BEd ’04, MEd ’21)
Sara Bieniada (BMgt/BEd ‘21)
Ashley Hoisington (BA/BEd ‘21)
Dominique Point du Jour (BEd '21)

We'd also like to take this time to congratulate our annual award recipients. You may find their stories here:
• Faculty of Education Gold Medal: Lacey Rose (BEd ‘21)
• Alberta Teachers' Association William Aberhart Award: Sophia Larney (BEd ‘21)
• Faculty of Education Grad Studies Medal of Merit: Kathryn Desrochers (BSc/BEd ’13, MEd ’21)

Convocation 2021 Celebration Centre

Stay in Touch

We invite you to join our Twitter account which is more than a social media platform, it is a professional development resource. It is comprised of an active community of 11,000+ educators from around the world, our alumni, current students, and Faculty of Education professors. As you continue your teacher journey you can use this active account to share, connect and reconnect with other educators, and to contact us directly Twitter: @ULethbridgeEdu and our Graduate Studies and Research account: @ULethEduGrad

In the future, we hope to see you as teacher mentors to our students!
We would be honoured if you would consider having one our student teachers learn in your classroom. More info about becoming a teacher associate here.

Can alumni borrow Curriculum Laboratory materials? Yes, and more here.
Faculty of Education website here.
A collection of stories about the Faculty of Education here.

Keep your contact information up to date with Alumni Relations. The folks in Alumni Relations have all sorts of benefits and events to keep you involved in the uLethbridge family and it helps us all stay connected.

For more information please contact:
Darcy Tamayose
Communications, Dean's Office
Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
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