Each year, Canadian Parents for French – Saskatchewan (CPF-SK) encourages teachers from across the province to nominate an outstanding colleague for the Inspiring Teacher Award. The honour is given to a French-Second-Language educator who consistently strives to promote the use of the language both at their school and in the community, and who approaches their job with enthusiasm and innovation.
For the 2014-2015 year, numerous nominations were sent to the CPF-SK Board of Directors for consideration. Due to the high number of nominations this year, the board decided to give out multiple awards.
Anne Blais from Debden School was the rural winner, and you can read a lovely piece from her colleague Diana Couture here. A dynamic teaching team from Lloydminster – Tina Anderson and Dana Sanders – were given the prize for a small urban community, while Serge Dubé from Regina won the prize for a large urban centre.
Sanders said she felt humbled to win this prize alongside her colleague and teaching partner, and is grateful to work at École St. Thomas School. The pair has collaborated for over five and a half years, and has led the creation and implementation of many impactful teaching practices in their school, division and beyond.
“Our school and staff is a very special place to work and any of our teachers could have been chosen,” she noted. I am so happy to share this award with Tina, as she has been a mentor and friend for a number of years now. Her experience and expertise have helped make the teacher I am today and so to be considered for this award with her is amazing.”
“To be honoured with my colleague Dana Sanders makes the award even more special,” said Anderson. When Dana and I work on anything together it is like magic happens…we really complement each other and have a lot of fun at the same time. We have the same passion for teaching in French Immersion. I had 19 years of experience before meeting Dana and I feel like I have learned and grown the most in the last 5 years. Working as a team is so powerful!
Both women have their own unique story that led them to teaching FSL. As a graduate of Early French immersion, Sanders chose to pursue a degree at the Baccalaureat en education (le Bac) program at the University of Regina.
Anderson, who has been teaching for over two decades, had early interest in languages when she moved to Debden as a grade 9 student. She went on an exchange program to Holland where she learned Dutch, then also chose to follow her postsecondary studies with le Bac. I feel that I may have a unique perspective as I immersed myself in 2 second languages beginning at the age of 18.”
Sanders noted that she and Anderson received a research grant from the McDowell Foundation and have been investigating how to better improve the spoken French of Immersion students. Our project has added a spoken component to the Daily 5 framework, now called “Les 6 essentiels”. The pair has offered professional development, and is always willing to share new ideas with others.
“Encouraging students to take risks and make mistakes is also integral to creating an atmosphere conducive to a positive environment for learning a second language,” she noted. “I believe that being a model for my students and telling them my French Immersion story also helps encourage them to continue their second language learning.”
Anderson noted that at their school, the pair has been told that they have true passion in teaching literacy in French Immersion. “We regularly share what we learn by offering in services after school and/ or mentoring,” she said. “We also participated on the Grade 2 Curriculum development team for the new Interdisciplinary Curriculum which has recently been implemented. We were so fortunate to work with some wonderful teachers across the province.
Most of all, the pair encourages their students to have fun learning the language. “Some are happy to speak, and some reluctant or hard to motivate,” Anderson noted. I believe it is my responsibility to show them what they are capable of. It doesn’t take too long and speaking French becomes automatic for them. We try to have fun with the language as we learn. I train my students to coach each other in speaking only in French and in correcting targeted errors. Peer feedback seems to be more effective.”
Félicitations to these two amazing teachers!