Greetings everyone and welcome to the 2nd issue of the eMemo. Interns, you’ve completed your first full week of the internship and all indications are that you’re getting off to a great start. In this week we have a “limited” number of submissions, totally understandable; next week we hope to have more. Enjoy!
As per usual, feedback from our readers on any of this issue’s content is always welcomed and indeed encouraged.
Our Condolences to the Hammond Family
On behalf of all of us here in the Faculty of Education and his fellow students, we extend our sincere sympathies and condolences to Aaron Hammond, a student in our Intermediate/Secondary Bachelor of Education program whose father passed away on Friday of this week. Aaron, to you and your family, our thoughts and prayers are with you at this very difficult time.
Feedback From This Year’s Interns (2014-2015)
The students have become the teachers
The break has ended and we have been met with a new challenge: the extended internship. Pardon the cliché, but the students have become the teachers… or we will in the coming week. So far it hasn’t been overly different from the previous shorter internship, beginning with brief observation and getting to know the school, faculty, and staff.
The school has been very welcoming to our group of interns. They specifically addressed the fact that for the next semester, we are not “just interns”, rather we are part of their staff. This was then
followed by news that we couldn’t park on the lot due to a lack of spaces which undercut their original welcome! This is kind of a shame since I was really looking forward to a semester of not scrambling for parking daily, but that is a minor gripe and I digress. My co-operating teacher has been very open and helpful so far, and as I shake off the holiday daze, I know I will feel more and more comfortable in teaching the lessons I am currently preparing to the best of my creative
We’re really in it now, folks. Make the most of this experience and I’ll see you all in the fast-approaching institutes. (Intermediate Intern)
My younger brother and I walked into the school together
On Monday my younger brother and I walked into school together, he as a grade eleven student and I as an intern!
I have dreamed of becoming a teacher my whole life; when we were young I used to play “school” with my brother. It is quite an amazing feeling that this is no longer a game and it is now reality. I have three wonderful co-operating teachers who have had many years of experience and I feel so grateful to have such inspiring, encouraging, positive role models. One teacher in particular knows how to relate to her students and has built a positive relationship with each of them. She recently got her grade elevens up and holding hands to do the “Snow Dance”! She said, “If you really put all of your effort into the dance, a snow day will happen tomorrow.” With a room full of laughter, dancing and singing, everyone tried their best… and it worked!
I am privileged to be able to teach the grade 7s and 11s. It was certainly heart-warming to hear, “Yay! Miss is back!” from both grade levels. I am teaching four different courses (Science 7, Math 7, Math 2201 and Chem 3202) so I am gaining a lot of diverse experience. I teach the grade sevens at a slower pace; I focus on guiding the students through
questions and I am constantly ensuring and checking for understanding. I can teach senior Chemistry at a quicker pace because older students tend to make certain logical connections faster than younger students; these academic teenagers usually do not need as much guidance as the grade sevens.
My first goal was to master each student’s name and I feel pretty confident that I have done so. My next goal is to continue to build positive relationships and ensure that my lessons are engaging and relatable to students. I want to motivate all the learners in each of my classes; when I create lesson plans I incorporate visuals, auditory, videos, objects, notes, a variety of everything I can to ensure the needs of all learners are met.
There is no feeling more rewarding than helping students learn and master a concept that seemed difficult or abstract to them at first. I wake up every day excited to go to school, I am looking forward to teaching and becoming a positive influence in these students’ lives over the next few months. (Intermediate/Secondary Student)
Feelings of both excitement and nervousness
Monday morning I had feelings of both excitement and nervousness. When I arrived at the school I found out that my co-operating teacher is going to be out for some of the term so I was assigned a new teacher for my internship.
I felt very welcomed at the school and my co-operating teacher has been very supportive. This week I’ve been observing, helping out in the class and getting to know the students. I learned all my students’ names this week (trying to keep up with a certain Ed 4005 instructor at MUN!!!!!!). Next week I am beginning to teach Science 7 and Math 7. I’m also starting to get involved with the student council and after school Math help. I’m very excited about the coming weeks! (Intermediate Intern)
I feel that I am at home at my school
I was excited yet anxious the night before my internship began. One mitigating factor was that I had taken the initiative to set up a meeting with my co-operating teacher during the Christmas break. I would suggest this to anyone doing an internship in the future because it lessened my anxiety considerably. This made me realize that in life we are constantly alternating from being the senior individual to the new kid on the block.
Now that my first week is over I really feel that I am at home at my school; my co-operating teacher is so kind and helpful, she genuinely cares about my successes and I am so thankful for that. I’m proud of myself that I’ve learned all the boys’ and girls’ names in my class, and am getting to know each and every one of them so I can teach them better. All in all, it was a great first week, from show and tell to lunch duty. I am having a blast and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my internship brings! (Primary Intern)
A variety of emotions
My first week as an intern also contained my first snow day, as it did for a few of us, which was awesome. The first week also contained a variety of emotions for me including a panicked moment of “I can’t do this” followed by the reassuring thought of “of course I can do this”.
I think my biggest concern right now is getting to know the students a bit and learning their names. I’ve decided that my fall semester Ed 4005 instructor at MUN has wizard powers that help him learn people’s names so quickly!
My co-operating teachers are great and they are very supportive as they allow me to get involved at my own pace. Right now with mid-terms coming up for the kids there is not a whole lot of new lessons to start so I am preparing some things for afterwards as well as a couple of things to help them review.
I’ll be team teaching a lesson next week, which I’m pretty excited about and the review with the kids will be done using my own version of Jeopardy. I have also had a chance to look in on some of the extra-curricular activities and some of the kids at the school I’m interning at have fantastic leadership and communication skills; they leave me feeling really impressed.
I think that as soon as mid-terms are over I’ll be ready to take on more because there will be more opportunities to do so and I’ll just be generally more comfortable. The first week was interesting and I’m sure as I get more involved I’ll become more confident. (Secondary Intern)
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“Make up your mind – cow milk or red bull?”
Former Students’ Update
Robert Kavanagh (B. Ed., 2014)
I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to write about and discuss the incredible experience that has been and is currently my first year as an active teacher here in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I can’t imagine a better outlet for me to detail this experience, especially since I was so recently in the shoes of many readers of the Monday eMemo who are currently completing their extended internship.
I would like to take this opportunity to at first give you a little background information on myself and to provide some insight into my journey to getting to where I am today. I wouldn’t trade anything for my journey to becoming a teacher and it is a path that I am so proud and so happy to have chosen in my life. The level of satisfaction is beyond what I could’ve ever dreamed possible. In addition to discussing my background, I wish to describe my life as a teacher but not just as a teacher; a teacher in a rural community of Newfoundland. I will give insight into my day-to-day activities as a teacher and my life living in a small community. It’s an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life and it is shaping me personally and professionally. From there, I will part with some advice for both professional training as well as when you are an active teacher.
I would like you all to stop and remember this each and every day – we are the luckiest people in this profession, in my opinion the greatest profession. It is not work or a job to be getting a salary for something that you yourself are so intrinsically motivated to do and so highly engaged in. This is what you should be feeling right now if you are in this wonderful career field. I have been employed since September 2014 and I feel that I haven’t worked a day yet and it is simply because it doesn’t feel like work. I get paid to carry out something that I have a passion for doing. I don’t ever see this feeling like a job either. Now don’t get me wrong, there are hectic days that are beyond busy but there is a feeling of satisfaction that goes along with each day and makes it worth it.
With the above said, on to my own personal background. I grew up in the Bay Roberts’ area of Newfoundland and all through my own school career I had a love for learning. From this grew a passion for education and it’s even a fascination really, and that has led me to a philosophy of education which I carry with me every day. You see, I believe that when any person wishes to better themselves or their situation, regardless of age, they can do so through education and make the life with the satisfaction that they want. They can define their own success. I also believe that a strong character with a strong work ethic is far more important than intelligence in terms of academics. If one has a drive to succeed, that will take them further than intelligence alone and if someone can succeed in an area that doesn’t meet his/her interests, just imagine when one finds an area that does. So a love for learning and the fascination with how people go about learning new skills heavily influences me in this field.
It was my high school Physics class that really got me started along the journey to becoming a teacher though. I’ve had great teachers throughout my time in school (and some not-so-great teachers too) but it was my high school Physics teacher who really sparked my interest and got me thinking that this was a career that I could follow. I used to think to myself, “Man, I’d love to do what he does!” I had an immense interest in Physics and there was nothing like the feeling of helping someone to understand something new. So from there, I pursued my Bachelor of Science with a major in Physics and a minor in Mathematics and finally applied for admission into the Bachelor of Education (Intermediate/Secondary) program. Acceptance into the program was a phenomenal feeling because it was solidification that I was on track to becoming a certified teacher.
Now, I’d tutored one-on-one, with groups, and worked with summer school students as a tutor for years, but this was finally it and it’s a whole new level of responsibility. And it is phenomenal. My experience in the Faculty of Education is still very fresh in my mind as it was only this time last year that I was embarking on my own extended internship. I was lucky to have an incredible co-operating teacher and amazing students and staff to work with. I also met some great people throughout my time in the program who are still very close friends of mine. Enjoy your time in the program and go out and do things with your classmates. Be involved.
Move forward to the spring semester. Positions were being posted on a weekly basis all throughout the summer. Here’s my advice: if you want a job, apply to everything and be willing to take any position offered to you! One thing that I want to stress to new teachers is that you are not a “Science” teacher or an “English” teacher, you are a teacher and with your degree you are qualified to teach anything and everything, so be open to do so. To jump back for a second into my beliefs in education, a teacher is more than someone who delivers their subject area. More important than the material that you teach in your classes, it is the skill of thinking for oneself and working hard that is important; this comes from being a role model to your students and making these values a priority. It doesn’t matter what subject you’re teaching to instill these skills.
I knew that it was going to be late in the summer before I heard back on anything. You have to realize that positions are filled primarily on experience, and I had none. Not so much as a sub day to my name. But I wasn’t overly concerned, I was willing to wait it out, until to the last day before school. Sure enough, the very week before school started for the 2014-2015 school year I was called for an interview and with exactly three days before the first day back for teachers I was hired! Still so very proud and happy.
Needless to say, I had to move quickly to get myself here. The school where I am teaching is Cottrell’s Cove Academy in Cottrell’s Cove, a place that I had no idea existed. It’s close to a five hour drive from my hometown of Clarke’s Beach so I had to bid my farewells to my friends and family and go. Here’s the thing, if you want experience, you will more than likely have to go rural. Consider it a tour of duty. Not too many people are willing to leave the cushy life that they have and go somewhere completely different. It’s a stepping stone though, and in time you will be able to move where you want. I also want to say that when people tell you there are no jobs for teachers, it simply isn’t true. There are lots of positions but you have to be willing to go to them at first. It’s the people who go get the experience that are the ones to get jobs in a larger area. Large schools will not hire you without experience, they can’t justify it. Also, there are endless opportunities for teachers if you wish to go outside of Canada (the UK especially) or to northern Canada.
After a series of phone calls I had a placed lined up to rent. It is an honest minute drive away from the school. The place that I’m renting was originally for sale and from what I’m told it has been for years; not a lot of houses sell here. In chatting with the owner we came to a rental agreement. I was quoted that there is a population of about 75 in the community; it is a tiny community. The enrolment at our school is 27 and it’s a K-12 school. But a great place to get started. I love it here.
Being that the community is about an hour drive off the Trans-Canada Highway, there is absolutely no cell service here, something that I had to get used to within the first week. The people here are so friendly though! It’s a very close community. They’re also very respectful of teachers here. There is but one small convenience store here and any time I frequent it I’m greeted with a “Hello, Mr. Kavanagh!” I’ve also made good friends in some of the local people here (despite being two and three times my age!) and have eaten more codfish, moose, turrs, and rabbit now than I have in my whole life. That isn’t a complaint either! Outside of school I’m heavily involved in the community functions. One of my best experiences here was taking part as a performer in the local Christmas concert. That’s another thing; if you play music in a rural community, you are instantly loved and requested everywhere to play. They really make me feel welcome here and want to involve me in all activities.
Back to the teaching side of things, being that it is such a small school, I’m teaching 15 courses. That’s right, 15. I’m also responsible for all of the CDLI (distance) courses that are offered here, in terms of administering exams and submissions. I’m mainly a contact for those courses here at the school. It isn’t as bad as it seems though. I beyond love what I’m doing and feel at home in this profession and it’s very comfortable here. The students and staff are absolutely phenomenal. Though trained for intermediate and secondary, I teach elementary Science and Math as well. It’s a lot of fun because they have so much energy and are amazed by what seems trivial to older students. Secondary is my preference of course as there is a greater maturity level there but it is great to work with the younger ones as well. There isn’t much in terms of behavioral issues here; of course issues arise but mutual respect and compassion are best for diffusing situations I find. Being easy to get along with works wonders. The key though is to keep the teacher-student relationship everywhere you go; the teacher hat never comes off. You need to keep that designation and authority, but keep yourself at their level in terms of equal respect. There are also only six of us on staff which makes for a very close staff, which is excellent. We’re like a family and the days fly by. There are honestly days when the last bell will ring and it feels as if it should be recess.
I really could go on and on about teaching here at the school and life in a rural community but I wish to reiterate some advice that I’ve stated above. As I said, I was actually doing my Bachelor of Education degree last year. Work hard and participate in any events that are going on with your class, the program will be over before you know it. I also will say this: you will meet negative people who you probably think should never set foot into a classroom. Don’t let their attitude affect your attitude. Talk to your professors. More than anything they want to see you succeed and have more knowledge and experience than you can imagine.
When it comes to getting a position, be willing to accept anything and go anywhere. It’ll be one of the greatest experiences of your life. Always demonstrate a professional attitude and make as many contacts as you can. Give respect and you get respect. In terms of when you’re actually teaching, be organized. If you’re organized, any volume of work is easily manageable. You will have a lot to do; not only are there courses to develop material for but there are also meetings and conferences that will require your time and effort as well. Always be positive, don’t let things get you down. Keep in regular contact with your principal; they’re there if you need them for anything and don’t be afraid to ask for advice. In terms of classroom management and teaching, be willing to experiment and try a variety of instructional techniques without fear of failing and never be too proud to change it up. With managing a classroom, a good sense of humor, flexibility, and treating the students with equal respect that you expect will work wonders. Be involved in anything going on in school. Seeing you in a different light will give you incredible mileage with your students. And never stop wanting to learn and better yourself in this profession; keep climbing and growing.
That’s really only the tip of the iceberg as to what I could say, there is just so much. That is a brief update on myself in particular and where I am now. Just remember that we as teachers are the luckiest people to be involved in helping to shape and influence the lives of young people and to carry out our passion for teaching and learning on a daily basis. Keep a positive attitude and reach for opportunities. It’ll be worth it.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“He had an adverse reaction. He was stung by a spelling bee!”
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“Can I go to the fountain near the bulletin board?
I have a thirst for knowledge!”
Concluding Comment From the Editor
That concludes issue # 2. Thank you to those interns who sent in submissions for this issue; without these intern submissions, this eMEMO would not be possible. Have a great second week.
And a very special thank you to Robert Kavanagh for his very passionate and most interesting and insightful account of his teaching experiences to date. Robert, your taking the time to do this for the eMEMO is very much appreciated; continued success with your teaching at Cottrell’s Cove Academy.
On a personal note, we had our first scrimmage game at St. Bon’s on Friday night past. 23 players and 2 goalies suited up for a most entertaining game # 1. In addition to our regular “returnees” we welcomed 3 new players to our roster this year: Roger Flood, Dave Saunders and Alun Young. We look forward to all 3 players having a great year with us. I’m sure there were a few “creaky” joints Saturday morning but Ibuprofen Extra Strength works wonders!
Unfortunately, my beloved Habs lost 2-1 last night to Sid the Kid et al. and I guess I have to acknowledge (albeit, most reluctantly) the Leafs 5-2 win Thursday night over the Blue Jackets! C’est la vie!
Hope you enjoy this issue and we’ll be back again next week.