BU student shares mental wellness research at Western Canadian teaching conference

A woman speaks at a podium. Beside her is a projection with the title, "Pandemic: Painting the Picture"
Julia Greer presents at WestCAST in Calgary.

Julia Greer has all kinds of new ideas to spark her teaching career after capping her Brandon University (BU) education with a memorable experience.

Greer, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Education (After Degree) this month, had the opportunity to exchange ideas with other pre-service educators at the Western Canadian Student Teacher Conference (WestCAST) in April at the University of Calgary.

“The best part of this experience was being able to connect with other student teachers around Western Canada,” said Greer, who has accepted a teaching position at Earl Oxford School in Brandon for next year. “I got to hear about everyone’s research, and I’ve come away with new information and practices that I can implement in my own classroom.”

Held annually at a rotation of locales by faculties of education at Western Canadian Universities, WestCAST brings together more than 200 students to discuss teaching and share their research. This year, Greer saw presentations on topics such as culturally responsive teaching, play-based learning and accommodating students with visual impairments.

“I was able to focus on what really matters, which is, of course, how we can make things better for students.”

Julia Greer

After receiving a call for proposals from BU Faculty of Education Field Experience Director Shawna Philpott, Greer worked with Philpott and Michelle Lam of BU CARES to review her pitch for her research on practices to promote mental wellness in students following the COVID-19 pandemic. The research was inspired by Greer’s own experience as a student teacher.

“There’s already been research done to show the negative impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the mental wellbeing of students, and as soon as I began student-teaching, I was able to see the affect that the pandemic had on the behaviours, academics, and social skills of students as well,” Greer said. “In my research, I looked at the COVID-19 pandemic as a global trauma that we all need to recover from. Part of this recovery includes using trauma-informed teaching practices, like preserving routines or promoting peer relationships, in the classroom.”

A large group of people stand in front of a School of Education sign
Brandon University student Julia Greer, third from right, joined with a contingent of students from the University of Winnipeg at WestCAST in Calgary.

Greer’s pitch was successful, and she was able to connect with a group of University of Winnipeg students as she prepared for the challenge of sharing her work in a new environment. It was an experience that she feels will make her a better teacher.

“I’ve worked as a Research Assistant at BU before, mostly with Morganna Malyon in Student Accessibility Services, which means I’m no stranger to reviewing and synthesizing sources. What was new to me this time was actually getting to formally present what I’ve found,” Greer said. “Preparing my research for presentation encouraged me to summarize my findings from an extensive literature review and identify key points for my audience. During this process, I was able to focus on what really matters, which is, of course, how we can make things better for students.”


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