Paving a Future Teacher's Path to Success

In her role as advisor, Brenda Bell provides required details and broader vision to Faculty of Education students

Within the Faculty of Education, the goal is to graduate “fine teachers,” says Dr. John Poulsen, Assistant Dean. “We have the luxury of having a program that is desired, a good product.” Obviously, recruitment is never an issue, but neither is retention. “Our Student Program Services office is proud of our part in student success.”

Take a moment to consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, as a framework for graduating excellent teachers. Brenda Bell, Academic Advisor, works with students through each phase of development, wherever she is needed.

At the base of the pyramid is the recruitment component, where prospective students learn about eligibility. “This can be very different for each student, depending on what they are bringing into the program and what they hope to get out of it,” she says.

Next, it’s admissions. It may be helpful to think of the next few steps as a bit of a race: Students move into a starting line-up and Brenda starts to prep them, providing them with information about requirements, options and timeframes. “We need to ensure that students can graduate at the time they want to graduate,” John explains.

During each part of the relay, Brenda continues to help them to tailor their program. “We are always operating between providing the required details and keeping in mind the broader picture.” It’s about ensuring every student has the best run possible. Unfortunately, delays and disqualifications do occur. After all, Student Program Services is also the “keeper of the rigour.”

“Teaching is a profession where you have to be fully committed; it has to take over your life, otherwise your success is not assured,” John explains. “But if a student is floundering, we are there to offer guidance and provide support.” We have a 98% retention rate and of those who leave, it’s generally because they decide that “teaching is not for them or teaching is not for them right now.”

From a financial perspective, critics argue that students need to be made accountable at all junctures, including course selection; that student advisors are expensive and that schools need to migrate towards self-serve technologies.

Costs aside, student advisors of Brenda’s calibre clearly support the objective of personal accountability. “It’s not just about providing information, it’s about making connections,” she emphasizes. In conversing with her, Brenda’s passion for her work is permeable; her greatest desire is to help students make informed decisions so they can become the project managers of their entire careers. Now that’s self actualization, all around!