For Ashley Hoisington, the decision to become a teacher was an easy one. Growing up, her mother ran a daycare in their home in Airdrie, and along with the guidance of elementary school teacher, Ms. Davidson, Ashley credits this as a major influence in her decision to become a teacher. “She ran her daycare almost like a preschool program, and did some really incredible things with those kids. That was a solid push to want to do that sort of early childhood learning.”
After completing her Professional Semester (PS) III teaching kindergarten at Herons Crossing School in Airdrie, recent Faculty of Education graduate Ashley is preparing to move forward in her career after accepting a position on the Rocky View Schools substitute teacher list.
Q. Why did you choose to become a teacher?
I always knew I wanted to teach. My mom has pictures of me with my little brother when he was an infant, putting a marker in his hand making him write his name and teaching my teddy bears at an easel.
I’ve always had that desire to have kids love learning and to be a caring person for them, especially in their first years in school. That makes all the difference to me. If you have a great teacher in grade one and grade two that makes you love learning, then you are probably going to love learning for a long time. I want to make them love school, and set them on the path of success for life long learning.
In high school, my original thought was to go to Alberta University of the Arts and I was going to be an art teacher. And then we had the most incredible student teacher in my grade 10 art class. She was amazing. But seeing her struggle with finding an art teaching position after she graduated, made me consider a slightly different route. As soon as I heard about the U of L Education program, I knew that was exactly where I was meant to be.
Q. What were some of your most memorable experiences while at the University of Lethbridge?
My very first year of university, the faculty put on a carousel in the Curriculum Lab with some information about the Education program. And it was seriously amazing, everyone there from the instructors to the other Education students made me feel at home, even though I wasn’t even part of it yet! That opening, welcoming, and caring environment never went away through my entire time at the U of L.
Recently, I also got to present at the Professional Inquiry Project Symposium, which was an amazing experience. I’m fine in front of the kids, but I’ve never been a fan of public speaking and presenting my own work. But I did it, and I couldn’t have done it without the support and the warm, caring environment of the faculty. I felt confident because I was in front of people who supported me no matter what.
Q. What are some of the most important lessons you learned during your time in the Faculty of Education?
It’s something that I’ve always known in my heart, but care and connection is always number one. That’s been the biggest lesson I’ve learned. It doesn’t matter what else is happening in the classroom if you can’t create a caring and safe classroom space built on connections between not only the learning materials, but also between yourself and your students. If you don’t have that strong relationship with your students then they are not going to respond, so being able to take that time at the forefront to build those connections and get to know them for more than just learners, but also as people. I think that makes a huge difference.
It’s also so important to critically reflect on your teaching practice. Not only in the classroom, but also what happens outside of class. Having that foundation built and being able to bring it into the classroom and beyond, having that is super important. We are always learning, there is always something new, and it's necessary to keep that mindset in order to best support all of the students.
Q. Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your education experience?
Honestly, I could probably sit here and talk your ear off about all of the amazing instructors who made a difference. I think in general the University of Lethbridge is a very welcoming community, and all of the professors and instructors in the Faculty of Education are wonderful, it's like nowhere else.
I think if I had to narrow it down to one instructor, I would say Doug Checkley, he was my seminar and evaluation instructor in PSI, and he set the whole tone that “care is number one”. All of his lessons focused on that, and basically doing for your students what he did for me, taking the time to support and be there to open up space for them to just talk or come to you with anything. That’s definitely something I’ll take forward with me. He always reassured me that I was exactly where I needed to be, and was always there in my corner cheering me on.
Q. What advice would you give to those who are about to begin their journey in the Faculty of Education?
First, to believe in yourself and take risks. It's really easy to hear about other people's successes and celebrate them, and when you are in PSI you are looking at all these people who just finished PSIII and are doing all these amazing things, but it's really important to also take your time and celebrate your own successes and see the value in your own work. That was something I really struggled with and didn’t see for a long time. Don’t be afraid to take risks in your own learning because that's how you grow.
Secondly, to put yourself out there and make as many connections as you can. Both with your peers and also with instructors in the faculty. It’s such a unique faculty, they are such a tight knit group and you really get to know the instructors and everyone in the Ed office. I’ve made friends from my first year that I still talk to on a daily basis and keep in touch, and those are connections that are going to last a long time.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being a teacher is super hard work. Being in the Faculty of Education is hard work. It’s not easy, but it’s amazing if it's something that you love doing. I think it's important to remain humble to lean on the people around you if you need it. To ask for help if you aren’t sure how to support a student, or if you aren’t sure what kind of lesson to do. Nobody is going to look down on you. And then also helping others when they need it as well, embracing the community.
Link to Ashley's Professional Inquiry Project "Mindfulness, Social-Emotional Learning & Self-Regulation" here.
Writer: CJ Tuff
Photo/video: Ashley Hoisington
Please see selected Faculty of Education links below:
Congratulations to the Class of 2021 from the Faculty of Education
On Becoming a Teacher: Five Questions with Sara Bieniada (BMgt/BEd ‘21)
On Becoming a Teacher: Five Questions with Dominique Point du Jour (BEd '21)
A collection of stories about the Faculty of Education
Education Undergraduate Society (EUS) website here
Education Undergraduate Society Twitter: @uleth_eus
Faculty of Education Twitter: @ULethbridgeEdu
For more information please contact:
Communications, Dean's Office
Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
Twitter: @ULethbridgeEdu Website: uleth.ca/education
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