Jan. 3, 2022Print | PDF
Laurier’s Master of Education program, offered part-time in Waterloo and Milton, attracts working education professionals in a wide range of fields looking to take their careers to the next level, as well as new graduates from a diverse range of undergraduate programs.
Students can choose either the interdisciplinary stream, which teaches about collaborative, high-impact learning and instruction practices and innovative education through emerging technologies, or the student affairs stream, which gives students the skills and knowledge to assume leadership positions within student affairs and services at postsecondary educational institutions.
Both streams allow students to customize their studies by selecting from a variety of electives on topics relevant to educators of any nature. Courses are offered both in-person and online to give flexibility for professionals or those living further away. The interdisciplinary program is also being offered full-time to a limited number of students.
“This is truly an exemplary program taught by gifted and passionate faculty,” says Carolyn FitzGerald, an assistant professor and graduate coordinator for the MEd program. “There are numerous opportunities within the program for students to learn, unlearn and take their understanding of education to an entirely new level, whether they are at the beginning, middle or end of their career.”
Amanda Williams-Yeagers, a second-year MEd student, chose to return to university to take her career as an educator to the next level. As a teacher-librarian with the Halton District School Board, Williams-Yeagers prioritizes innovative learning and teaching methods, as well as principles of equity and inclusion, in the arts and technology programs she creates and runs.
Williams-Yeagers was drawn to Laurier’s Master of Education program because she wanted to deepen her understanding of educational theory and practice, especially best practices for engaging and motivating learners. Laurier’s MEd program is also customizable, which allowed Williams-Yeagers to take courses in other departments and faculties, and is offered in both Waterloo and Milton.
Early in her degree, Williams-Yeagers learned about culturally responsive pedagogy, which helped her reconsider the books and resources she was supplying to the diverse group of students at her elementary school. She also learned about alternative ways to engage children in learning and to demonstrate their understanding. Because not all cultures prioritize writing as the primary way to communicate, some students learn and communicate better through dance, poetry, visual art, drama, or other mediums.
Williams-Yeagers and other MEd candidates were encouraged to try non-traditional ways of learning themselves. As part of a course run by Cathy Miyata, an assistant professor in Education, students were challenged to express educational theory using art and metaphors. Williams-Yeagers created an art piece and short film, while others wrote songs or made sculptures.
“Even though we had so much freedom, all the fundamental learning components were still there. We learned about ethics, research and putting theory into practice,” Williams-Yeagers says. “We got to access as adults what we know is best practice for students and I don’t think that happens very often in adult learning. That was something I was really grateful for and it felt really authentic.”
Though she’s only just completed her degree, Williams-Yeagers is already putting her newly developed knowledge and skills to use. On top of her position with the Halton District School Board, she was recently hired to work part-time for the Vancouver Poetry House, helping coordinate workshops and poetry performances in B.C. schools and community organizations.
For the past several years, she has taught a course to Bachelor of Education students about arts integration in education, including through drama and dance, at Brock University’s Faculty of Education. During the coming winter term, she’ll be teaching a course in Laurier’s Faculty of Education about virtual learning, including ways to keep students engaged online and address barriers to learning, such as unreliable internet.
Through her degree studies, Williams-Yeagers expanded her understanding of innovative theory and learned how to put it into practice, but she was also given invaluable guidance about her career through connections she made with faculty members, including Miyata, Professor Steve Sider and FitzGerald.
“Laurier’s program is exceptionally advanced when it comes to current practice and pedagogy. I feel that Laurier is a leader when it comes to training educators,” Williams-Yeagers says. “The professional learning was great, but there was also an element of mentorship that was really important for me. I felt supported in my aspirations and our instructors and leaders were willing to give their time to talk to us, reflect with us and offer advice.”
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