When we think about educators, most people automatically think about teachers or professors.  People who do formal classroom teaching; they impart academic knowledge onto our students and help them achieve their career aspirations.  That being said, we often forget about other educators, those people who teach our students life skills, interpersonal and social skills, and teach them how to function in society.  Anyone has the ability to be an educator, but sometimes it can be hard to view educators outside of the classroom as legitimate.

In Carleton’s residence buildings we have many educators.  The student staff who live in our buildings and on the floors with our students are educators.  They help our students learn, grow, and excel; teaching them the necessary skills to be a successful student.  This then translates to our professional staff who teach our student staff how to be peer educators.  The professional staff in Carleton’s Housing department all view themselves as educators outside of the classroom.  As one of those professional staff, I view myself as an educator who teaches the skills that students don’t learn in a classroom setting.  We often help students how to learn basic life skills, such as how to do laundry, budgeting, coping strategies, dealing with interpersonal conflict, behavior management, etc.  There are many opportunities where students are learning in non-classroom settings and being taught by their peers and building managers or non-traditional educators.

As one of many examples of non-traditional education, Residence Managers at Carleton work with students who have engaged in misconduct behaviours.  In these conduct meetings students are asked how their behaviours impacted their community, the impact on their neighbours, what they learned from this experience and what they will do differently in the future.  We help the students understand how to learn from their mistakes and make positive change.  We are educating our students outside of the classroom helping them to learn and grow as people.

Recently, the Department of Housing and Residence Life Services, implemented a Residential Curriculum into our practices.  This curriculum is designed by the professional staff to ensure that our students and student staff alike are learning the essential skills they need to be successful in the real world.  Our student staff follow a curriculum and implement lesson plans in a natural way with the students in their communities, ranging from community meetings, and intentional conversations to student led initiatives and community service learning.  All of these lessons provide opportunities for the students in our communities to do some critical self-reflection, as well as, learn about themselves, their neighbours, and their communities.

I am incredibly proud to say I am a member of the Carleton community and an educator outside of the classroom.  I pride myself on how our Department has developed a curriculum and a culture that allows for learning to take place in every aspect of students’ lives, whether they realize it or not.  I have made the intentional choice to be an educator outside of the classroom and I am proud to call myself an educator.  Will you join me in becoming an educator outside of the classroom?

Stephanie Vennard

Residence Manager – Russell, Grenville, and Prescott Houses

Carleton University