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Inclusive Education Symposium supports lifelong learning

Bachelor of Education students join forces with experienced educators


Photo of Heather Brown, PhD, an assistant professor with the University of Alberta.

The opening address came from Heather Brown, PhD, an assistant professor with the University of Alberta.


Mount Royal University’s Inclusive Education Symposium symposium is designed to provide beginning and experienced educators with important research resources and practical teaching strategies to address the learning needs of children who have experienced trauma.

The theme of the second-annual event was Teaching to Thrive: Building Effective Inclusive Learning Experiences for Children and Youth with Autism. All fourth-year Mount Royal Bachelor of Education teacher candidates were in attendance.

Katie Douglas, who was involved in the creation of the Symposium, is in her final practicum, teaching in a Grade 3 classroom.

For Douglas, this type of reflection and professional development helps ensure educators are constantly bettering themselves to be the best possible teacher for their students.

"My key takeaway from this event is the importance of believing in lifelong learning. Although I already have extensive experience working with children on the autism spectrum, attending this event was an important way to refresh my knowledge and reflect on my current practice," Douglas said. The day brought together MRU teacher candidates, valued partner mentor teachers, school administrators and MRU faculty and staff to discuss the field of inclusive education, learn from each other, unpack the complexities of the classroom and talk about how to best address all students’ needs.

Before the event officially began, Stephen Price, dean of the Faculty of Health, Community and Education provided opening remarks.

"Today will be an excellent opportunity for us all to learn from each other," Price said. "We have an opportunity to learn about the latest trends in education around inclusivity."


Photo of Stephen Price, PhD.

Before the event officially began, Stephen Price, dean of the Faculty of Health, Community and Education provided opening remarks.


The opening address came from Heather Brown, PhD, an assistant professor with the University of Alberta. Brown discussed what it was like to be diagnosed with autism as an adult and her autism-related research. Two break-out sessions and a panel discussion framed around digital resources followed Brown’s presentation. Those participating on the panel included Amy Donovan, supervisor of jurisdictional programs at Rocky View Schools; Lanna Myers, mental health and autism specialist with the Calgary Board of Education; and Trisa Soroski, diverse learning supervisor with the Calgary Catholic School District. The panel was moderated by Lori Barrett, field experience and practicum coordinator with MRU’s Department of Education.

"Symposiums like this are important because they offer our students and faculty an opportunity to learn in a shared setting with each other and our partner mentor teachers and specialists who have a wealth of experience working in the field," said Kevin O’Connor, chair of the Department of Education. "This symposium highlights the need to work in partnership with K-12 colleagues as we try to better understand K-12 students’ needs and provide more responsive and innovative pedagogies."

MRU’s education program is committed to continuing to break down the walls of the education process, O'Connor said, and their collaborative model is being copied around the world. "Our school-university partnerships are foundational as we continue to develop our Partnerships Learning School model.

"Within our B.Ed. program, we believe in the importance of having our teacher candidates knowledgeable and informed in the field of inclusive education. We need educators who have knowledge about different ways of teaching so that students with various abilities and strengths can learn together," O’Connor said.

Discover why Mount Royal’s Bachelor of Education program is becoming a model for other universities.

Feb. 26, 2020 — Jonathan Anderson

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