The Second Annual Increasing Teacher Diversity Event Held On The Waterloo Campus 

Photo by Sadiya Teeple

On Nov. 8, the second annual Increasing Teacher Diversity event was held on the Waterloo campus.  

The event hosts high school students around Waterloo and aims to inspire future students from diverse backgrounds to pursue a career in teaching.  

“Diverse representation in teaching matters because we want the institution to reflect the people and the communities it serves.”

Ardavan Eizadirad, assistant professor in the faculty of education and event co-founder.  

“That means we want teachers who look like, act like, dress like the broader community where those schools are situated.”  

Last year, The Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Indigenization, EDI&I, Coalition at Laurier established the event. The EDI&I itself was formed in 2020 with the goal of making the faculty of education more diverse along with the rest of the Laurier community.  

“The coalition is relatively new having started out in 2020 as a small group being predominantly student-led with teacher candidates in the Faculty of Education,” said Eizadirad.  

The Increasing Teacher Diversity event evolved from the previous year it was held.  

The event saw 90 to 100 students this year compared to the 45 in attendance in 2022. New programming was also offered this year.  

“We’ve definitely built into the robotics and the FSL challenge, so we’ve tried to make it more holistic in terms of a lot of equity initiatives and how they intersect, as we have exposed them to the students and our school partners, the Waterloo Catholic and the Waterloo Public School Board who are bringing students,” said Eizadirad. 

“We’ve tried to be more collaborative. I think as we go into next year, we want to be even more involved with some of the student associations that are university-wide.” 

The high school students arrived around 9:00 a.m., and followed a schedule of events ranging from information sessions to campus tours.  

“This year we [tried] to do an opening event by indigenous staff who are going to do a smudging to open us up as a community for the day,” said Eizardirad.  

“We [provided] an overview of [the coalition], why we have it, and how we try to support students in the Faculty of Ed, particularly those experiencing more systemic barriers from equity-deserving groups.” 

An overview of equity initiatives happening within the faculty of education was also outlined to the visiting students. Eizadirad mentioned STEM motivation, which aims to increase the number of students from STEM backgrounds in teaching, and the FSL challenge, with the objective to have more French speaking members in school boards.  

During the Increasing Teacher Diversity event, high school students were able to participate in a Q&A with current Teacher candidates from undergrad and teacher education programs at Laurier. 

“[The panel members will] be closer in age with the students, so we hope throughout those conversations and their Q&A that they can get a better feel for the program and their own future pathway – and what their aspirations and passions might be,” said Eizadirad.  

“We have a partnership with the Sun Life Center for Healthy Communities, where we’re going to take them to the athletic complex. They get to do a couple of different stations – cardio, kickboxing, yoga and a station where they learn about student life. What does it mean to be living on campus, housing on campus and commuting to campus.”  

The event wrapped up with a human library, where students went to different stations, listening to the experiences of racialized teaching candidates, Indigenous faculty and French teacher candidates. In addition, vice-principals and principals spoke.  

“We know an event itself is not a destination, but it’s one thing we’re trying to do as part of building relationships with schools to reach out to students from equity deserving groups, as well as others to inspire them to become teachers.”

Ardavan Eizadirad, assistant professor in the faculty of education and event co-founder.

More information about the Increasing Teacher Diversity event, the EDI&I as well as an outline of the event schedule, visit the university’s website. 

“When we look at the teacher demographics across Canada, statistically we see there’s a lack of diversity from racialized and minoritized groups, and we hope with this event we plant some seeds for future high school and secondary students to consider teaching and also connect them with folks who are in the sector to learn about how the trajectory can look like, where are the barriers and how can we mitigate it.” 

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