Recipient of the 2014 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence
Challenge Teacher (Gifted Education) in the Surrey School District
Elementary 12-month Option (Early Literacy, 2006)
“This job is a dream come true! Working with students is fun, creative, and challenging—and every day I feel I’ve found my purpose!” That’s the perspective of Tiffany Poirier who graduated from UBC’s BEd in Elementary Education program in 2006. She is now a children’s author, speaker, Challenge Teacher in Gifted Education with the Surrey School District, and recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence.
Of her days at UBC, Tiffany is quick to praise the supportive faculty and experience of collaborating with cohort colleagues. “I especially remember the deep discussions in our ‘Teaching for Social Justice’ class, the late nights writing lesson plans, and great group projects.”
Tiffany earned UBC’s Hazel and Jack Grimmitt Scholarship and Outstanding Practicum Award for excellence in teaching.
She was hired immediately by the Vancouver School District as a District Resource Teacher in Gifted Education, (K-7). “It was like diving into the deep end of the pool right away!”
In her first year as a teacher, Tiffany was already designing new curriculum guides to meet the needs of diverse learners and presenting professional development workshops for her colleagues.
From Big Questions to Big Stages
Tiffany’s passion for philosophy, inquiry, and dialogue-based learning inspired her to write and illustrate her children’s book, Q is for Question: An ABC of Philosophy (O Books, 2009). “I noticed that my students loved asking big questions about life, meaning and the universe,” she explains, “and so I created this book first for them.”
Now recognized nationally as a leader in the “philosophy for children” movement, Tiffany has been interviewed by Michael Enright for CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition, had her class the subject of a radio documentary, and published education articles.
She now has a story in a forthcoming anthology, Teaching from the Heart (Jossey-Bass) and is currently writing a textbook on Personal Interest Projects with an accompanying online video course.
Also a seasoned speaker, Tiffany has presented at the World Gifted Conference, the Greater Edmonton Teachers Conference, and enjoyed meeting and speaking at events with her education heroes, such as Parker Palmer, Taylor Mali and Bob McDonald. In November, Tiffany gave a talk titled “The Power to Question” at TEDxVictoria.
Giving BackThis grad enjoys and believes in the value of keeping connected with the UBC Education community. Tiffany has been a guest speaker in undergraduate classes and Alumni events, presented at the Investigating Our Practices (IOP) conference, and offered workshops for student teachers in her classroom. She has also been active with the UBC-hosted series of Engaged Philosophical Inquiry Symposiums.
When asked why she keeps coming back, Tiffany reflects, “I love being in places where people hold on to that ‘learner mindset.’”
A Learner for Life
In 2010, Tiffany returned to UBC for the MEd in Educational Leadership program and describes that as a “life changing” time—due especially to the birth of her son in 2011.
“I remember typing essays with one hand and feeding my baby with the other. I talked to him a lot about what I was learning—he was my little study buddy!”
By the following year, her Capstone project, The Teaching Coats Project, was a successful professional development workshop and retreat for teachers, and she also earned the MindShare Learning Spirit Award for innovative 21st century teaching practices.
Advice for New Teachers
When asked where she finds her energy, Tiffany gets philosophical, “I think teaching is really joyful work and everything flows when you’ve really found your passion! And students really keep you on your toes!”
To those thinking of joining the teaching profession she says, “Don’t let anyone scare you by saying there are no teaching jobs—this world needs you! And remember, there are always opportunities for people who create them!”
Learn more about Tiffany at tiffanypoirier.com.