Laun Shoemaker: Teaching Beyond the Curriculum

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Transcription – Laun Shoemaker- 2021 Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence

[Close up of a man in an interview setting. Music playing.]

"I believe that relationships are a pretty critical part of things. So it's about getting to know the kids".

[Fade to white with a medium shot of man, smiling, on the right side of the screen, with the following words appearing, line by line, on the left: Laun Shoemaker, Beachy Cove Elementary School, Portugal Cove – St. Philip's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Cut to close-up of Laun in the interview setting. Music playing.]

"Teaching is at its base relational. You know children can't learn in an environment where they're uncomfortable. Where they're anxious, where they're fearful."

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: two students sitting on the floor of a classroom building a model.]

"They respond and they bond with somebody that they know cares about them, that wants to see them succeed."

[Cut to Laun in the interview setting.]

"Knowing that they're cared about is very important, and after that I think it's engaging them in projects that they get excited about."

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: two people using a stencil to paint a bullseye on the tarmac of the playground.]

"We all sell product of one kind of another and my product is learning. Having a hook. Having them engaged. Having them excited about what they're doing, that goes a long way."

[Cut to Laun in the interview setting.]

"One of the big aspects for me as well is really giving the kids a voice."

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: A child standing in front of a screen with a whale on it holding a sign that says "On a besoin de votre aide". Translation: He needs your help.]

We solicited funds from the Community Healthy Living Fund and the children wrote persuasive letters in order to install a rock near our school."

[Cut to Laun in the interview setting.]

"When we put the proposal in the student letters all went with it, and they had great arguments for why we needed this wall. It was going to teach them a lot of different things. But ultimately you know, when we got the funding, and when we got the wall in I feel like it left a message with those students that they've done something, that they've accomplished something. That they've used their voice to create a better space for our school. And I think that's a lasting message."

[Fade to black and then up to Laun in the interview setting.]

"If I had advice for an aspiring teacher it would probably be, be prepared and be planned. But be prepared to take a side-trip if it wants to go that way.

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: Three girls holding a diorama of a Christmas scene.]

"Smile lots and build those relationships with students. Because they're just so important."

[Cut to Laun in the interview setting.]

"If someone was thinking of nominating a person for the Prime Minister's Award I would be so encouraging about that."

[Cut to photo, with voice over. Photo: A student casting a ballot into a provincial Newfoundland and Labrador ballot box.]

"Just having the nomination you know, getting a chance to read through all the documents that have been assembled. And the people that are watching your career, what they notice.

[Cut to Laun in the interview setting.]

"It's telling that person how much you value and how much you've seen of their effort."

[Music ends. Fade to black, with the Government of Canada FIP and then the Canada Wordmark appearing in white.]

Year: 2021 — Province: Newfoundland
Certificate of Excellence Recipient

Beachy Cove Elementary School
Grade 4 - all subjects
Portugal Cove - St. Philip’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

Quote

“More than a teacher to just his own grade four French Immersion class, Mr. Shoemaker is a teacher to all. He reaches outside the walls of his classroom to solidify the teaching that occurs within. He uses culture, literacy, fine and performing arts, and technology to immerse students in learning language, technology, leadership and citizenship.”

Colleague

Teaching Approach

Laun has a unique approach to learning. His teaching practice successfully incorporates the “6Cs” - creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, citizenship, and character. He shows students other ways to do things, extending themselves beyond what they thought they could do. He solidifies learning with authentic learning experiences.

For Laun, education is not a cookie-cutter formula. He allows opportunity for children to choose how they represent their learning, giving them the freedom to showcase their own talents. He is never one to say no to an idea or a suggestion from his learners. He works to ensure that student leadership is always promoted. Project based learning, cross curricular teaching and student led skills demonstration take the place of whole class instruction, resulting in student ownership of their academic achievement and skills development.

In the Classroom

Laun understands the necessity of acquiring technological skills. He uses innovative and exemplary teaching practices within his classroom to enhance learning. To ensure inclusion within the school and to promote science, math, and engineering, Laun developed a program entitled GRIT (Girls Revelling in Technology), to mirror the BURP program (Boys Undercover Reading Program) previously established. This program is designed to encourage girls to explore STEM related subjects. They explore robotics, architectural design, circuits, coding, and science experiments in an environment that encourages risk taking.

One of Laun’s great abilities is to engage his students. He understands that engaged students means fewer behavioural issues, and students who are more focussed on their academics. Teachers who supervise in Laun’s classroom during recess and lunch often remark that his students continue their school work throughout their breaks. This speaks to the level of motivation that Laun instills in his students.

Outstanding achievements

As a classroom teacher for the past 14 years, Laun has connected more than 300 of his own learners with community artists and artisans in a wide spectrum of disciplines. He has enlisted singers, dancers, chefs, authors and actors to be part of learning activities. Bringing the wider world into his students’ lives has built community, inspired innovation, developed cultural awareness and understanding, instilled empathy, and increased awareness for physical, as well as mental health.

Securing this broad collaboration from cultural sector was made possible because Laun successfully procured 37 grants, totaling more than $180,000, over his teaching career. Through these funds, Laun has provided more than 6,000 students and 420 teachers with access to amazing resources. The outcome is exceptional. His work has exponential impact not only in the school, but in the entire community.

Get in touch!

Beachy Cove Elementary School
412 Beachy Cove Rd.
Portugal Cove - St. Philips, NL  A1M 3R6
709-895-2241
Email: principal@beachycove.ca
Twitter: @beachycoveelem