Late in January, I was reminded in one of my classes of an unsettled educator in the Prairie South School Division, who has developed a working and authentic integration process of Treaty Education into her modern 21st century grade 3 classroom. Her name is Claire Kreuger and I had the opportunity to go and observe an afternoon in her classroom in the first few days of February 2017.
But how did I get there? Let’s talk. After being reminded of Claire’s presence as a educator, I thought back to when I had first heard of this remarkable teacher. See, back in my 2nd year of my degree, I was fortunate enough to have Claire come and speak to myself and 150 other elementary education pre-service teachers during one of our lecture classes. I remember she spoke about the garden of hearts as well as some of her challenges that she is faced with as an educator. Later on in that same year, in another class, Claire’s classroom was brought up once again, this time in the light of environmental education. So, fast forward two years, when Claire’s name was brought up again, I knew I had to meet her. The remarkable thing about social media and the age of technology is that I used a simple 140 character tweet to ask for an opportunity that forever changed the way that I look at a 21st century classroom.
Within 3 hours of sending out a tweet to Claire, I received a response that she would love to open her classroom up and have me come observe. I was very excited and withing a few days, I was on my way to take hold of this new opportunity. This is where the knowledge that I have developed in my treaty walk so far kicked in. I realized that I was on my way to a school I had never been to before as well as I had never met Claire face to face. I decided that if she was going to open her classroom and her wealth of education wisdom to me, then I needed to arrive with something to thank her with. I headed to a local floral show as I thought that a few flowers would be a great thank you. Being the thoughtful person that I think I am, I decided to get carnations as they do not have a strong scent, in case her or any of her students has allergies. A thank you goes out to my mother for this knowledge, as she is allergic to almost every scent excluding the subtle smells of carnations.
Fast forward again, I have arrived at the school, wrapped flowers in hand along with my handy notebook and a pen. I enter the school, ask for Madame Kreuger. Upon arriving in her classroom, I was delighted to see 30+ students huddles on the floor in a semi circle around Claire. This was the beginnings of a drumming group that Claire was working to develop in their school. One of the strongest recollections from those first few moments in that classroom was the gentle, natural and abundant conversation about Indigenous ceremonies, history and content. These students were discussing the purpose of a round dance, sometime, that I still require to research further. After the transition from lunch to class time again, I was blown away at the wealth of knowledge that Claire’s grade 3 students had about treaty four and the peoples who live within in. The seamless integration of a round dance unit and quiz into English language period was remarkable and I felt that Claire has put in tons of effort to make treaty education a natural part of her classroom.
Needless today, the afternoon flew by and I felt that at the end I could now speak to a small portion of why Claire has the remarkable reputation that she has in the southern part of Saskatchewan. I could go on all day about the endless ways that Claire’s classroom challenged my settler mindset; however, I want to narrow in on how this connects to my treaty walk. For me, I will take this experience forward with me as it has helped me realize that I have a responsibility as an educator to make treaty education not only known, but a staple in my educational philosophy and daily practices in the classroom.
Once again I thank Claire for this experience and I hope that my classmates and other pre-service teachers or current teachers get an opportunity to observe and learn from Claire and the way she approaches Treaty Education in the classroom.
Until next time,