Welcome to the final issue of the eMEMO for 2018. Needless to say, doing this eMEMO blog gives me great pleasure. Specifically, it’s most gratifying to see that our teacher interns are approaching the internship with a very positive but realistic attitude, knowing full well that the act and art of teaching is fraught with mega challenges as well as many instances of great satisfaction.
Thank you to those interns who sent in submissions during the semester and a special thank you to those interns who sent in 2 submissions. .
The first issue for Volume 13 (2019) will go out on Monday, January 7.
This year, thanks to Mr. Maurice Barry of our Faculty’s Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC), our Concluding Comments transitioned into a video insert and in spite of some growing pains, it developed into a decent commentary, even if I have to say so myself! This would not have been possible without the wonderful and most enjoyable assistance from Mr. Barry.
And lastly, thank you to those of you who sent in positive comments and suggestions for the eMEMO this year. “See you” in 2019.
Feedback From This Year’s (2018) Interns
I began tutoring an exchange student from Brazil
Throughout the entirety of my internship placement at Exploits Valley High, I have had the opportunity to do some English tutoring both during school hours and afterwards. Having done some tutoring before, I was definitely up for the offer when asked by my co-operating teacher. During the initial three weeks of my placement, I began tutoring an exchange student from Brazil during lunchtime twice a week to help him prepare for his English 2201 midterm.
The student came with a large group of Brazilian Grade 11 students on a temporary exchange program that was to run from September until mid-January, but this particular student had decided to stay in Newfoundland to finish Grades 11 and 12. I thought this a very brave and admirable feat, as he had only been working on learning to speak English for 9 months when I returned for my placement in January. While still becoming accustomed to our language, culture, and school system, he decided that being away from his family and friends for another year and a half in order to receive a more advantageous education was worthwhile.
We continued to meet once a week even following his midterm as the student happily achieved a 73% on his exam, which he was quite enthused about – citing our sessions as a major source of his success. Thus, we continued our tutoring sessions once a week, just to make sure he was fully comprehending everything we were currently covering in class.
As I grew to know the student more and more, I also began to notice his heightened sense of the English language. His biggest issue for the get-go had been linked more so to language comprehension as opposed to understanding or analyzing literature. This week we meet for what looks to be our second last tutoring session, and I am quite proud of the student’s development over the last 12 weeks. He is now well on his way to becoming trilingual while also maintaining an 80% average in English 2201. This has by far been one of the most inspiring parts of my entire internship experience. (Secondary Intern)
Those students sure grow on you
Right from the very beginning, I was cautioned by other teachers that teaching junior high would be absolute madness. They warned me that classroom management would be difficult and it would be challenging to keep the students on task. Well, they were right. It certainly is challenging at times and my students are not always on task but I can say with confidence that my extended internship has been an absolute pleasure. Even though it has proven to be tough at times, I am sad to see it soon coming to an end.
I have honestly surprised myself with how much I have connected with my students in such a short period of time. I love that I’m able to joke with them and have fun while I teach. I have developed a relationship with my students where they can chat with me like a friend but still respect me as their teacher (which I feel is a very important balance to have). I have learned that it is just as important for teachers to get to know their students as it is for them to know the material that they are teaching. I never imagined that I would enjoy teaching junior high as I do. What can I say, those students sure grow on you! (Intermediate Intern)
It has cemented my devotion to working rurally
I have been awarded the special opportunity to be an intern in the same school that I attended during my Primary/Elementary school experience.
Teaching children that are growing up in the same rural area as myself has granted me with an exceptional insight into the future of those growing up in the area. Like many rural communities in the province, population is a particular concern, and moreover, a concern for the school’s status. Having the ability to discuss pride for their home towns and to discuss the future is a task that I feel is crucial and meaningful. I have been enjoying my lovely grade four class of 14, and it has cemented my devotion to working rurally and doing what I can to help make a change to their future. (Elementary Intern)
I can’t imagine NOT doing this for the rest of my life
There’s less than one week left to the Winter Internship. I’ve got a horrible cold, a backpack full of ungraded assignments, and I’ve been living on takeout for three weeks. I feel like crap, to put it lightly. And I’m only teaching 2 courses! This is madness! How will I ever survive a full schedule of courses? Especially if I’m squeezed into a position where I have to teach a class I’m unfamiliar with (there are more that fall into this category than ones that don’t). I can’t imagine doing this for the rest of my life.
And yet, I can’t imagine NOT doing this for the rest of my life. Things may be rough, but spending every day with these amazing students makes it so much better. Their enthusiasm makes me forget about the crap, the stress, the physical woes and mental exhaustion. Besides, sleep is for the weak. If they can do it, with all the drama that comes with teenage life, so can I. I need to – to make school a place worth going, to make these 3 years a little more enjoyable for them. And even, dare I say it, attempt to make it a little fun. I had my students fill out a “performance report” about me yesterday, and I’m happy to say: so far, so good. I guess I can handle takeout for a few more days! (Secondary Intern)
I am sad to see it come to an end
This internship has been so much more than what I expected it to be. When I first started my internship I had many mixed emotions about how it would go or if I would enjoy teaching high school students, but here I am at the end and I cannot imagine myself doing anything else.
I love being able to interact with my students and hopefully create a positive impact on their lives. You never know what they are going through so being able to be there for them during the day is the least I can do.
I am sad to see it come to an end but I have learned so many things from my co-operating teachers and am grateful for everything they have taught me. (Secondary Intern)
The empathy that these precious five-year olds showed me is incredibly sweet
What an amazing time I have been having during the internship thus far. Everyday my students teach me something new. I am in a Kindergarten class with twenty unique children, no two are the same, not even the two sets of identical twins in my class. The staff at the school has been fabulous, so welcoming and ready to answer any questions I may have.
I recently missed some time because of sickness; the empathy that these precious five-year olds showed me is incredibly sweet. They would ask everyday where I was or if I would be fine. Just because they are five does not mean that they do not understand. The fact that they missed me means I must be doing something right.
Sometimes you wonder if you are doing everything that you can do, do they notice what they are doing for you, or do they even care. Chances are the smallest thing that you do they appreciate. I always think of how you have such a short time to impact their life. (Primary Intern)
I will certainly miss each of my students
I cannot believe that the internship is about to come to an end. Looking back, it is hard to believe how much I have learned in such a short period of time. I was unsure of how I would feel returning to the same school I attended as a student; however, I knew instantly that I had made the right decision. The teachers there took me under their wing and did whatever they could to help me learn and become a better teacher. Having 4 co-operating teachers, I was able to see a variety of teaching styles which helped me develop my own style. It seems as if my style is a combination of all 4, I hope this means I have taken the best from each of them.
With just one short week left, I am eager to have a little break from the hectic lifestyle of a teacher. However, I’m sure it won’t take long for the reality to kick in that I will not be returning after Easter break. I will certainly miss each of my students and will look forward to being back in a classroom very soon. (Intermediate-Secondary Intern)
Both caring too little and caring too much can be problematic
My school just finished parent teacher interviews, and I made two troubling observations: 1) We didn’t see any of the parents that we needed to see (the parents of children who were failing, for example) and 2) The parents of children who would actually meltdown if they got less than a 90% on a test or assignment were really intense.
In one case, a mother asked us what she could do to make her child perform better, and when we looked, the child had a 96% average. I told her that her child was already performing amazingly, a comment that the mother did not appreciate. It was very strange. Like everything else, I guess, there are problems with extremes – both caring too little and caring too much can be problematic. (Secondary Intern)
The approach didn’t feel organic
I, like many of the other interns, was apprehensive about what to expect coming into this winter internship. The school I was placed at was one I’d never been in so everyone and everything was a brand new experience to me. The lack of familiarity was somewhat intimidating, but also exciting. Even though I didn’t know anyone, that also meant they didn’t know me and so expectations for both sides were relatively murky. This fresh start meant I could try new things that I hadn’t tried before since nobody knew my style or my personality.
At the beginning, I opted for the more straightforward and more assertive approach. The first several classes I had butterflies and I didn’t feel entirely comfortable standing in front of a full class and speaking. I experimented with different speaking strategies, teaching strategies and interaction methods. It took me about 2 months, but now I finally feel comfortable with where I’m at. In the beginning I felt like I was forcing certain things and the approach didn’t feel organic. However as the weeks passed, the students became more comfortable with my approach. The last few weeks have been especially great because now it feels natural to step into a classroom and begin to teach. I was so focused on finishing and completing my lesson plans in a particular way that I wasn’t allowing the lesson to grow organically, and that means allowing students to talk, ask questions, provide suggestions and discuss a variety of matters.
This is now the last week of the internship and I have mixed feelings on it. On one hand I’m looking forward to finishing it up and being one step closer to becoming a full-time teacher. On the other, it feels like just as I’m hitting my groove and becoming comfortable in my own skin, I’m suddenly removed from the environment I was developing in for the last 3 months. I’m excited for some more free time and seeing some of the interns on a regular basis, but I also like being occupied. I’ll certainly miss seeing a lot of the students around on a regular basis as well. (Intermediate/Secondary Intern)
Failure needs to stop being a bad word
I am teaching Intermediate English Language Arts and Drama. One of the common things that I have experienced among many of my students is the pressure and stress that come with having to deliver work and receive a mark for it. For them, the idea of getting a less than desirable mark is the be all and the end all of their experience at school.
I have spoken with my students a number of times not only about marks, but also about their response to the marks that they get. Our culture and our academic system has nurtured a very uncomfortable relationship with failure among people both young and old. I tell my students that failure is the only time when humans get to improve, learn, and grow, and that their marks are not a reflection of their intelligence or quality as people. When marks do not turn out the way that a student wants, then is the time for them to ask: “Do I have a strong enough work and study ethic?” “Am I going to let one bad mark break my self-confidence?” “What exactly did I not get?” “Do I need to campaign for myself to receive additional help?”.
Failure needs to stop being a bad word; let’s help our students to embrace failure as another opportunity for learning and growth. (Intermediate Intern)
I realized how important it is to ignite a love for learning in children
During my internship, I observed my co-operating teacher take time out of one class to ask different students what they wanted to become in the future. Each reply was unique to the student and some responses included “doctors”, “nurses”, “astrologists”, “teachers”, “dentists”, etc.
As I thought about this question and answer session, I realized that education is all about helping people discover and develop their gifts, talents, and abilities for the betterment of society. I realized that aspects of education have a huge impact on the lives of individuals, their families, their communities, their place of work, and the entire world around them. I realized how important it is to devote time and attention to learning new things to ultimately acquire skills, values, beliefs, and habits. I realized how important it is to ignite a love for learning in children at a very young age, so that it will follow them throughout the rest of their lives. After all, children have so much energy and excitement! I realized how important it is to instill wisdom in our children so that they can be prepared for adulthood. (Intermediate-Secondary Intern)
I’m not sure if I plan to spend the next 30 years of my career in teaching
The internship is almost over, but there is still much to be done. As I write, I am sitting next to a stack of assignments and tests that must all be corrected and returned before I finish up my last week at school. Over the last couple of months, my bags of books, binders, and lessons plans have become permanent fixtures that follow me everywhere I go. I don’t remember ever being this tired as a student myself; it’s a big adjustment knowing that now, everything I do has a direct impact on other people’s lives instead of just my own.
This was something I was very nervous about when I started the internship. There are many days where I need lots of guidance from my co-operating teachers and I didn’t always know the best way to do things, but I do feel that I’ve learned a lot and become a little more confident in my own abilities since the internship began. As of right now, I have taken over teaching full-time in all six of my courses; a couple of months ago, I had no idea how I would manage it all, but somehow, I have. Above all, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well students seem to respond to my teaching. My school has a great group of students who are always keeping me on my toes.
At the moment, I’m not sure if I plan to spend the next 30 years of my career in teaching. I’ve loved getting the opportunity to work with so many great students, but found that teaching in my particular subject area to be a less enjoyable experience. In the future, I would love to continue working with students like the ones I have now, but a different job outside of teaching languages might be a better fit for me. Nonetheless, I’m glad to have had this opportunity; of all my six years at MUN, this semester has challenged me the most, but it’s also been the biggest learning experience I’ve had so far. (Secondary Intern)
Quote of the Week
Sometimes the most brilliant and talented students do not shine in standardized tests because they do not have standardized minds.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“We used to be BFFs but after the worm-in-the-planner
incident, I’d say at best we’re frenemies!”
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“Sorry I can’t remember your name but hey, I never forget a face!”
Education Law Corner
This week we have another example of a teacher being reprimanded for his inappropriate conduct towards students in his classes.
Member: Louis Gilles Parent, OCT
Registration No: 283438
Decision: Reprimand, conditions
A Discipline Committee panel reprimanded Louis Gilles Parent, a teacher employed by the Algoma District School Board, for inappropriate conduct. Parent, who was certified to teach in February 1998, attended the hearing on August 2, 2017, with his legal counsel.
Parent grabbed a disruptive student’s binder and dropped it onto the student’s desk from a height in order to get his attention. It landed on the student’s fingers.
The Discipline Committee panel found him guilty of professional misconduct. The panel ordered that he appear before it to receive a reprimand. In addition, he was directed to complete, at his own expense, a course on classroom management. In its written decision, the panel stated, “The Member ought to have communicated his displeasure with the student’s behaviour using his words rather than resorting to the type of conduct in which he engaged.”
Source: Ontario College of Teachers Professionally Speaking magazine (March, 2018).
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
For follow-up, please contact:
Jerome G. Delaney, Editor
Associate Professor – Educational Administration
Faculty of Education
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s, NL Canada A1B 3X8
Facsimile: 709-864-2345 Email: email@example.com