Greetings to all – welcome to issue # 6. A beautiful day in St. John’s and a limited amount of snow as a result of all the rain we’ve had this past week. I’m “voting for” this kind of weather again next year! Hope I don’t jinx all of this with my comments. I have a sister living in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and a sister-in-law in Stephenville; both are retired teachers. Needless to say, they’re dealing with significant amounts of snow and that’s a bit of an understatement. The sister-in-law in Stephenville is a huge Toronto Maple Leafs’ fan – winter and this hockey season have not been kind to her!!!!!!
Obviously my sister “was reared proper” – she’s a Habs fan! I digress! Hope you enjoy this issue.
Feedback From This Year’s Interns
The energy that these students exude
When I tell my friends that I choose to do my internship at a junior high school, they cringe and look at me as if I’m a lunatic. “Don’t you remember how awful we were in junior high?” they ask incredulously. There is no doubt that students in junior high have a bad rep. Yes, they have attitude, they tend to goof off, and they have trouble paying attention.
But, what most people never talk about is the energy that these students exude. How they question everything they hear and challenge things they disagree with. How they are able to create and think in ways that I fear most adults cannot. There is never a dull moment.
When I look at my classes, I see potential. These students are figuring out who and what they want to be and I find that very exciting to witness. I love this age group; the perils of junior high are exaggerated. I have only had positive experiences with my students so far. (Intermediate Intern)
One of the hardest things is disciplining students
The first month of the internship has been quite rewarding as well as challenging. Building relationships with the students so that they come to me with questions, concerns, and excitement as well as to just tell me about their day make this internship worthwhile.
When I see the look on students’ faces after I clarified something that they were confused on just brightens my whole day. I am very passionate about Biology and there is no greater joy as to pass on my beloved knowledge to my students.
One of the hardest things about my internship is disciplining students. I know that they need to know right from wrong but when it comes to following through on what I want to do, I sometimes feel guilty. I know that will pass with time and experience and I hope that at the end of my internship, I will be as comfortable with discipline as I am with praise. I am interning at a K-12 school but spend my time in the 7-12 grades. (Intermediate-Secondary Intern)
Exhilarating, exhausting, strange, and wonderful experience so far
I am in Northern Alberta teaching grade eleven Language Arts, grade seven, eight, and nine Archery, and Woods Fabrication to grade seven and nine students. I have supportive co-operating teachers and staff members.
My experience has been both extremely rewarding and trying. On my third day of teaching, a group of parents protested a short story being covered in my class (the community I am in is predominantly Mennonite). Most students in the class appreciated the story while some of the more conservative students refused to come back to class. I wondered at what point do I sacrifice my own beliefs to please people. The incident resulted in a meeting with administration, parents, and teachers. The parents came around after a detailed defense of the story was presented to them.
I am thankful to have all of this added support in dealing with these situations. I’ve given referrals, developed positive relationships, given tests and been ‘tested’.
I am inspired each and every day by what I accomplish and the accomplishments I witness, big or small, by others. It’s been an exhilarating, exhausting, strange, and wonderful experience so far.
It’s a strange and wonderful feeling
Going into the fifth week of my internship, I’m feeling more and more at home in the classroom. I have been teaching quite a bit and the students are just as likely to come to me with a question as they are to my co-operating teacher!
It’s a strange and wonderful feeling to be so at ease with getting in front of the class and teaching lessons without having butterflies in my stomach. I have so much fun with the students and humor has proved to be the best way to keep them focused and paying attention in class.
One thing in particular that I want to work on is classroom management. The students are almost always well-behaved for me and often times they will quiet themselves down but one student commented this past week that “Mlle. can’t be mad, she is too nice”. This isn’t new to me, as I’m often referred to as being “too nice” in my personal life. However I’m not sure this is a good thing going into the teaching profession. I don’t want to be known as a stickler but in the same breath, I definitely do not what to be considered as a push over. Hopefully this was meant in a positive way and not that the students think that they can do as they please without any repercussions. So far it has proved to be the former since I have rarely had any behavior to deal with. My only worry is that when the times comes where I do have to deal with a behavior issue, I hope I will be able to communicate what needs to be said and that they will take me seriously.
Overall, I am loving my internship. It is a lot of work and preparation and I am always kept on my toes but it is so rewarding. I cannot wait to see what is to come and what I will learn next from both my co-operating teacher and the students. (Intermediate Intern)
Absolutely elated with teaching
After five weeks of interning in Kindergarten and Language and Numeracy support, I am absolutely elated with teaching! To be honest, a placement in Kindergarten was outside of my comfort zone, as I’ve always pictured myself as an elementary teacher. However, teaching students who are so open and welcoming has been a reward in itself. Kindergarten is definitely a place where I could see myself teaching, and after making the adjustment, I feel extremely comfortable there. My co-operating teacher has also been extremely supportive, and open to any and all questions. We work very well together in a co-teaching environment.
The Language and Numeracy Support aspect of my internship has been extremely eye-opening as well. Focusing on particular students who struggle with different aspects of learning, and developing a one-on-one bond with them has been highly gratifying and I feel like I’ve connected with these students on a different level, one which I will always remember.
I have also made an effort to get involved in extra-curricular activities. Participating and helping with these events have allowed me to get to know more students outside of my own classes. Supporting students at basketball games, or helping with the after-school cross-country skiing program has allowed me to see students outside of their “classroom environment”.
While the first five weeks in the classroom have been extremely rewarding, aspects of school life outside the classroom have been equally satisfying. I’m really looking forward to the remainder of my internship. (Primary Intern)
Wow! What an article from Jillian Foley in the eMEMO a few issues ago!
I know Igloolik, Nunavut very well. I was general manager of the Co-op Store and Hotel in Hall Beach, Nunavut over 20 years ago. Hall Beach is about 15 minutes by air from Igloolik. I so identified with her experiences. It was refreshing to read that she has stayed for 4 years; this consistency is so vital to the community.
When I was in Hall Beach, the first thing I noticed was that during the morning recess at school, all the students were in my tuk shop at the store for chips, bars, and pop. I investigated with the teachers at the school and I was told me the students would come to school, leaving their home with their parents still in bed. So they never had breakfast. I asked the teachers if they would put breakfast time in their daily routine if I provided bowls, cutlery, cereals, milk and juice. You can imagine how excited the teachers were and it was such a hit with the students. My sales at the tuk shop in the morning were next to nil which proved to me that a healthy breakfast at school showed all the signs of success.
I tried without success to have the school hours changed from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm Monday to Friday to 1:00 pm to 6:30 pm or even later in the afternoon into the evening. The small communities in the far north don’t wake up till noon or later; they are real night owls. During the summer they play all night; I would go to work at the store at 5:00 am and the streets were occupied with students playing games.
It was great to hear Jillian enjoying the adjustments of the culture of the Inuit people. When the teachers arrived before school opened, I would do a ‘tea’ in the store for the Elders and the community to come and meet the new teachers and returning teachers before school started. It was very well received and gave the teachers an opportunity to meet everyone in the community. In the small communities, when you hold a tea or any function, everyone attends; it’s part of the socializing for them.
Another vital link in the north are the adult educators in these small communities. They upgrade adults to a high school completion level. The adult educator that was in Hall Beach during my duration of time was from Manitoba. We placed some of her students in a position part time in the Co-op store so they would get work experience as well as their education. The adult educator then trained an Inuit lady who had taken the ‘teacher training course’ in Iqaluit. To see these young adults get purpose through education and work experience was so rewarding.
Thanks again for sending me the eMEMO, I sure appreciate each issue – Vivian Squires.
(Editor’s Note: Vivian Squires is retired from working in northern Canada and now resides in St. John’s. Yours truly met Vivian “walking on the track” at Field House.)
If We’ve Missed Your Submission
Interns, as was mentioned here last week, if you have sent in a submission and for some reason it hasn’t appeared in the eMEMO to date, please bring it to the attention of the editor at email@example.com. We receive a significant number of emails during the week, not all related to the eMEMO and sometimes they can get overlooked or buried in the “pile”. Our apologies if this has happened to you.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“I know what kind of government we’re gonna learn about today!”
Recommended Book Resource for Primary and Elementary Interns
Written by: Yukio Tsuchiya (1988; originally written 1951)
Illustrated by: Ted Lewin
Faithful Elephants is a true story of animals, people, and war. It was written in 1951 to “let children know about the grief, fear, and sadness war produces. And that war affects not only human beings, but also innocent and lovely animals that don’t know, understand, or even care about the war.” Even though I have read this story many times over the past 25 years, it does not get any less emotional or easier to read with time. I review it this week out of respect for the three elephants that died in this tale, and the many other animals that have sacrificed their lives out of duty and love—or in this case, have been sacrificed.
During World War II, when Japan was being attacked, an order was given to kill all of the animals in Ueno Zoo, Tokyo. It was feared that if bombs hit the zoo, the animals, some of whom would be dangerous, might become loose and run wild throughout the city. “Therefore, by command of the Army, all of the lions, tigers, leopards, bears, and big snakes were poisoned to death”. There were also three elephants living in the zoo—John, Tonky, and Wanly—who had to die. The workers at the zoo started with John, who loved potatoes. They tried mixing poisoned potatoes with his regular ones, but he was too smart. Whenever he picked up a poisoned potato he would throw it away. They tried to poison him more directly with a giant syringe. But, it would not penetrate his tough skin. So, they starved him to death. It took seventeen days.
“Then it was Tonky’s and Wanly’s turns to die. These two had always gazed at people with loving eyes. They were sweet and gentle-hearted”. The zookeepers wanted so much to keep them alive, but they knew they had to stop feeding them. Their trainer loved them as if they were his own children, but he could not help them. The elephants tried to do tricks to get rewarded with food, but they kept getting thinner and frailer. One day, their trainer could take it no longer and fed them. Everyone else pretended not to see. But, at last, the elephants could no longer move. “Seeing his beloved elephants dying this way, the elephant trainer felt as if his heart would break. He had no more courage to see them. All of the other keepers felt the same way, and they too stayed away from the elephant’s cage.” Tonky and Wanly finally died, with their trunks over the bars of their cage like when they used to do tricks.
Today there is a monument over their tombstone in Ueno Zoo, and the story of these faithful elephants is still told to visitors. I cannot give an age for this book; it is ageless and timeless. But every time we share this book with someone, we honor John, Tonky, and Wanly.
This web-site has links to many educational resources and articles that may help teachers with classroom-management challenges and other classroom issues.
Reference: Principles of classroom management (4th Canadian edition., 2016) by J. Levin, J. F. Nolan, J. W. Kerr, A. E. Elliott & M. Bajovic. Toronto: Pearson.
Former Students’ Update
Kayla Bailey (B. Ed., 2009)
I graduated from the Bachelor of Education (I/S) program with the conjoint technology diploma at Memorial in August 2009 and with my BPE from MUN’s HKR faculty in May, 2008. I am currently working on my Master’s degree in Physical Education.
After graduating, I worked for two years on the Northern Peninsula. My first year I taught in St. Lunaire-Griquet. I taught junior high Tech, Science, Religion, Health, PE 7-12, and Biology 2201. My second year I taught in Mainbrook (approximately 70 km. down the coast). There I taught junior high Tech, Science, Social Studies, Health, and Religion. In senior high I taught Computer Technology, NL Studies, Environmental Science and PE K-12. During my second year I taught multi-grade and multi-course classes. For example all PE K-6 was taught at one time and I also taught grade 7-9 Science, all in the same class. The first two years were challenging but it helped me build and strengthen my time management and class management skills. Currently I am teaching at Burgeo Academy. I have been teaching here since 2011. I teach in my specialty areas, which are K-12 Physical Education, junior high Health and Religion.
Things I have learned – specialist or generalist?
For those entering their first job in the future, be prepared to teach anything. I am trained to teach Physical Education, Social Studies and Skilled Trades/ Technology. But in my first two years I taught everything. You have to be willing to change on the fly and adapt to new situations when they arise. One thing I have certainly learned is if you are passionate about your job and you have the characteristics of a great teacher you will be able to learn new curriculum easy. A great teacher is not just one who can teach in the areas they are trained but one who can teach anything s/he puts their mind to.
Reflective practice is a great way to see what worked and what needs improvement. Not every lesson is going to go as you want it. You may teach the same lesson twice and the first one may not go as well as you had intended. As you reflect on what worked and what didn’t, you can make the next one better and so much smoother. Lessons don’t always go as well as planned for a number of reasons: could be the students, the teacher, fire alarm goes off, etc., etc.…
As a new teacher I did not do reflective practice much but as my career went I on, I realized it is a great habit to get into. I have seen much improvement in my own teaching just from this one simple little tool. Reflective practice is a characteristic of all great teachers and this is one thing that helps us grow and improve throughout our career.
(Editor’s Note: Kayla Bailey hails from Stephenville and is a graduate of Stephenville High School.)
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“I answered ‘false’ on all my Physics questions today.
I thought it was science fiction!”
Concluding Comments From the Editor
That’s it for another issue of the eMEMO.
A special thank you to those interns who sent in submissions for this issue. We encourage more submissions of course. And to Kayla Bailey for her Update article, special thanks for taking the time out of her hectic schedule to offer some sage advice to our interns and newly-minted teachers – most appreciated.
Obviously obsessed with hockey, yours truly can’t resist saying a few words, as per usual, on that wonderful topic again this week! My beloved Habs took it to the Devils last night with a 6-2 routing, well done indeed. And, the Maple Leafs broke their latest losing streak by defeating the Edmonton Oilers, of all teams!!!!!!!! Les Habs play the Bruins tonight; should be an interesting game. Have I told you how much I can’t stand Boston; definitely a part of your DNA if you’re a Habs fan!
St. Bon’s hockey Friday night: another “great” game – I think our team won by a goal; not really sure of the score, 10-9 perhaps! Held pointless 2 weeks in a row, yours truly had several shots on net but to no avail! On one occasion I attempted a “wrap-around” goal but no success! It looks so easy on television. Did however end up on my derriere again, 2 weeks straight! No damage done, just another big hit to my pride! Maybe next week!
Till next week, best wishes.