Fizza Haider

Fizza Haider
MA in Educational Psychology (Special Education)
Department: Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies
Area of expertise

Teacher self-efficacy; Inclusive education; Teacher education and training

Areas of research/expertise

Teaching and learning; Diversity and inclusion; Leadership; Teacher self-efficacy; Inclusive education; Teacher education and training

What would you like others to know about you?

I am pursuing graduate work in special/inclusive education within Educational Psychology under the supervision of Dr. Donna McGhie-Richmond. My research focuses on exploring factors and experiences that influence the development of beginning teachers’ self-efficacy for teaching in diverse classrooms. I am interested in understanding the quality and nature of such experiences so that they can be promoted at both the pre-service and in-service level for building teachers’ confidence and competence for inclusive instructional practices.

I am a Research Assistant for the Canadian Research Center on Inclusive Education. In the past, I have worked with both children and young adults with varying levels of cognitive, developmental, and physical abilities, evaluating their needs, providing appropriate instruction, and facilitating the provision of academic accommodations. Prior to arriving in Canada, my last professional experience was that of an Assistive Technology and Academic Supports Specialist at Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. In this position, I recommended technology based on comprehensive assessments of students’ strengths and challenges and implemented plans and training techniques which were best suited to their learning and access needs. Before this, I achieved a Bachelor’s in Psychological Sciences from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana where I worked in various student employment and voluntary positions which gave me opportunities to push for greater equity, diversity, and inclusion on campus. I have also taught elementary school children in Pakistan where I was exposed to learner diversity within the classroom firsthand. Due to all these professional experiences combined with my personal identification as an individual who has a vision-based disability, I am a passionate advocate for inclusion in education, and in all aspects of life.

What have you done so far, or what do you hope to accomplish during your graduate degree at UVic?

In my time at UVic, I have been involved in many co-curricular opportunities which have contributed to my personal and professional growth. I have assisted Dr. McGhie-Richmond on several research projects and co-authored an article with her on the collaborative role of teachers, teacher education and school leadership in inclusive education which was published in Educational Exceptionality International in September 2020. Additionally, I have served as a Teaching Assistant in several courses in the online Professional Specialization Certificate and Diploma in Special Education at UVic, all of which are undertaken by practicing teachers in not just Canada, but world-wide. I represent graduate students  through my membership of the department’s Graduate Programs Committee where I ensure that I voice the concerns and opinions of my fellow graduate students and share their feedback on departmental programming and policies. I have also been a graduate student representative on the EPLS Equity Committee which works towards ensuring that the department is inclusive in its approach and mindful of diverse views and perspectives. Some of the conferences that I attended during the last couple of years have given me the opportunity to learn from renowned educators and researchers, such as Shelley Moore, who is a stalwart’ in the field of inclusive education.

Can you share an experience or something you've learned that other students might benefit from knowing more about?

An experience at UVic that I have found to be very useful has been attending the Thesis Boot Camp in December 2020. This camp is organized twice every year by the Faculty of Graduate Studies in collaboration with the Centre for Academic Communication, Learning and Teaching Support and Innovation (LTSI), Counselling, and the UVic Libraries. The camp is designed for graduate students from all disciplines who are actively working on their thesis or dissertation. It includes seminars focused on research, academic writing, plagiarism, citation, time-management, and other areas of scholarly significance. Participants are also able to spend some structured time on writing along with other students and are able to receive feedback on their drafts. The camp that I attended was the first one that was conducted virtually as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions. It was a great learning experience to be writing alongside other graduate students and finding out about their research interests, while also receiving valuable tips about the writing process from faculty members, library staff, and representatives from the Center for Academic Communication.