Good day everyone and welcome to the final issue of the eMEMO for 2016. Amazing how quick the time flies by; one Sunday it’s Issue # 1 and then it’s the last Sunday for publication and it’s Issue # 12! It’s been another most enjoyable volume of eMEMOs; submissions have been of their usual high quality, most insightful, at times cathartic and hopefully worthwhile to our readership especially the student interns. Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive and so complimentary about this publication. That support is indeed motivational and inspirational; we’re already looking forward to year 11 for the eMEMO. “See” you on January 2, 2017!
Feedback From This Year’s Interns
A real eye opening experience
The internship has been a real eye opening experience.
There is honestly no class that can prepare you for what you will face in the classroom. No one can prepare you for the joy you’ll feel when a kid gets something, or the heartbreak you’ll experience when you have to give someone a bad grade, or the fear that will rise in your chest when you have to break up a fight.
I once heard a teacher say ‘these are my kids, I see them and teach them every day, these are my kids’ and I believe I have taken on this mentality as well. I have created indescribable bonds with my students. I feel happy with them during the good times and sad with them during the bad. I have learned that I will never be able to be a teacher who doesn’t care. I was worried I would get into the school system and realize I didn’t want to teach, but the opposite happened: I honestly and truly love it. (Secondary Intern)
I have finally begun to develop my “teaching persona”
In the last couple of weeks I have finally begun to develop my “teaching persona” which I struggled greatly to find. I have become comfortable in front of any class, losing the nervous jitters I use to get at the beginning of every class. I have become that teacher that I never thought I would become and I regularly crack lame puns or jokes in front of the class. One of the challenges I have faced is taking over a class where the students ADORE the teacher and do not like when someone new
(i. e., me) takes over the class, and of course they lose their favorite teacher.
I have big shoes to fill when taking over for my co-operating teacher and our personalities are so different. I learned that I cannot be the same teacher my co-op teacher is and I have to develop my own persona. Another thing I have noticed about my internship is how passionate many teachers are about their job and how frustrating it can be when administration does not support their teachers. Previously I thought that I may pursue an administration role further on in my career but after this internship, seeing how much is actually on the plate of a principal, I have changed my mind.
Overall the internship has been amazing and I can’t wait to begin my career in September. Hope everyone has enjoyed their internship!
I cannot wait to begin my own career
I cannot stress how incredible I feel about the career path that I have chosen. As the end of my internship draws near, I feel sad that I will have to leave my amazing class and school, but I look forward to returning whenever I can.
I cannot wait to begin my own career and have a class of my own, and I hope that whatever school I end up teaching in is as warm and welcoming as the one where am doing my internship. I don’t have a doubt in my mind, now that I have spent some time teaching; I am so sure that this is exactly what I was born to do! (Primary Intern)
Their sense of humor
One of the most impressive aspects I have enjoyed from my students during this internship is their sense of humor. The students in the elementary class are all very witty.
My co-operating teacher has a good sense of humor as well and it is obvious that the students appreciate it. It has certainly helped to build really good relationships with the students as well. Having this sense of humor helps us also experience great lessons throughout my internship because I know that I can make the lessons a little more fun and exciting for the students. I know they will appreciate it and be able to learn a lot from it as well. A class with a great sense of humor is a wonderful asset in the classroom and I look forward to working in even more classes like it in my future as an elementary teacher. (Elementary Intern)
The difference in teaching styles between my co-operating teacher and me
It is nothing major but one of the biggest challenges I have faced is the difference in teaching styles between my co-operating teacher and me. My teacher has practices which I don’t always agree with, and allows some things to slide that I would prefer to deal with; one example being that teacher’s acceptance of cell phone use in the classroom, an issue I would like to try and reduce!
I feel like even though some things troubled me I had to handle them in another person manner. It is the co-operating teacher’s classroom once I leave, and I don’t think it is wise to try and push an idea only to be contradicted or undermined by the policies of the co-operating teacher. This has at times been very frustrating as I have wanted to deal with this issue but obviously I could not.
Additionally, sometimes I find myself “shanghaied” into teaching in the method the co-operating preferred, which isn’t the way I wanted to teach! I’m not criticizing it, but it simply it isn’t me and doesn’t fit my style or personality which causes me to feel as though I’m stumbling through a lesson.
I find the difference in styles interesting and informative at times, but when they clash it can be nerve grating and frustrating.
As we make our way to Tikal for our Holy week vacation
I sit here typing this on my iPod in the back seat of my colleague’s friend’s car as we make our way to Tikal for our Holy Week vacation -the only extended time I have here to travel. Tikal was once known as the heart of the Mayan empire – or at least a very important site. Google maps suggest it will be about a ten-hour drive. But you know, here, you should never trust Google maps. Some ‘roads’ turn out to be narrow, rock covered passages through the hills that an economy car should never go on. We did. Once. The GPS said 1hour to destination…for about an hour! That particular trip reinforced the importance of research, redundancy and having backup plans.
Here at the school, it seems there’s a culture of, in essence, being scared of the students’ parents. “What will the parents say? How are you going to explain this to their parents? Such and such will cause problems with the parents,” and so on. Usually it’s in relation to a student’s less-than-stellar grades or performance on a certain activity, or handing in something well past its due date…or not handing it in at all. It’s been observed by other teachers that the students seem to put much less effort into their English Language classes compared to the ones taught in Spanish. Their grades show it, and apparently parents complain.
There’s also a culture of students begging for extra work/an extra credit assignment to help their grades. (I just got an email from a student this weekend begging for just that..after their first term just finished — why do they all of a sudden care now, but show much less apparent care during the term?) Thus, it seems that’s it’s necessary to have a bullet-proof paper/digital trail of giving information, assigning homework, making sure it’s in the portal, and/or checking their agendas to make sure it’s written there too. One has to be extra vigilant of being able to recall exactly when, where, and how information was given, assigned, collected, graded, and returned.
I feel a bit like the responsibility, I expect from, and that we should be trying to foster in the students is being pushed on the teachers by the presumed pressure and aggression of parents. (I’m ‘mostly’ with middle school, grades 5-8 sciences where I’ve worked up to fully handling grades 7, 8A and 8B and partially 5 and 6).
I am also a little jealous of most students whose internships are ending shortly. I still have three teaching weeks left and I am a little concerned with the overlap of online intercession courses with my internship end date and my return travel days. Things feel crunche but it’s vacation time now, so onwards and northwards to Tikal!
Quote of the Week
“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” – Carl Jung
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“My sock puppet ate my poem!”
Recommended Book Resource for Primary & Elementary Interns
The Conference of the Birds
Retold by Alexis York Lumbard (2012)
Illustrated by Demi
Written by Farid al-Din Attar, a 12th century Persian poet, the original poem of over 4000 rhyming couplets is considered to be a supreme masterpiece of Sufi poetry and mystical literature. It has inspired numerous paintings, sculptures, and books. This version, written for
young readers, will delight the developmental and moral needs of the young. Demi’s illustrations draw from the celestial world, and her signature gold paintings will fascinate readers, both young and old.
In the far corner of the world a large flock of birds gathered in sorrow—“No king to uphold the law. No king to keep the peace. No king to share the wisdom.” Then a bird no one knew, a hoopoe, stepped forward and said he could take them to their King. So, all the birds set off upon their journey. But the parrot, weighed down with heavy jewelry, soon grew tired and wanted to give up. The hoopoe gave advice, part of which was:
So do not let rich attachments destroy this golden chance
Release their hold upon you now, and to your King advance.
The parrot threw her jewels away and fluttered off on the journey. Several instances happened along the way with birds who wanted to give up, the tiny finch which was frightened by thunder, the owl which made fun of the finch, the partridge who complained of hardship, and many more. The birds kept travelling, getting closer to the holy island of the King. “Some thought they could see it. Some thought they could feel it. Others just waited.”
Then, in the far horizon, they caught their first glimpse. The hawk shot ahead, wanting to be the first to arrive. But the mist grew heavier and he grew lost. He started to panic and became desperate. He turned to the heavens and wept, “Forgive me. I have made a terrible mistake. Without you, I am lost.” As he said these words, the hoopoe appeared out of the mist:
We all must learn to lose ourselves to be what we must be
You’ve passed the great and final test and learned humility.
The mist parted and the birds completed their journey.
They landed by a lake surrounded by eternal snow, but no throne and no King. The hoopoe began her speech, part of which included:
I know that you came here thinking you’d meet a birdlike King
But the King I have brought you to is not an earthly thing…
But none of us could ever see His light of truth within
Unless the mirror of the heart is free of dust and sin.
And, when the page is turned in the book, readers and listeners will behold a dark gold background with Demi’s signature golden rays emanating from a white circle in the middle of the two pages. The last sentence of this lavish tale reads, “In this moment of silence when no thoughts of ‘you’ or ‘me’ or ‘this’ or ‘that’ passed before their minds, the birds found themselves in the loving embrace of God, their true King.”
Former Student Update
I am currently writing to you from Happy Valley-Goose Bay where
I am in the fifth week of my first replacement gig.
I’ve been reading the weekly e-MEMOs and enjoying the feedback from this year’s interns, and thought I would drop you a line.
I am currently teaching mainly Grade Ten and Eleven Math at Mealy Mountain Collegiate alongside a couple of my classmates from last year:
Erin O’Leary, Ashley Giles, and Heidi Kavanaugh. (Erin, Ashley and I also completed our internships together last year at MacDonald Dr. Junior High).
Coming in in the middle of the year and in the middle of the month, the first couple of weeks were chaos trying to get my bearings, but now I feel like I’ve really settled in to the position, and I’ve really come to love my students and what I’m doing.
Yes some days are indeed challenging but I’m sure that’s the same whether you’re on the job 5 weeks or 20 years.
For every bad moment, there is always a good moment; whether it is experiencing a student having the “a-ha moment” when s/he finally masters a concept, or just having a good conversation, that always outweighs the bad.
Hope all is well in the Education Building.
Charmaine White (B.Ed. Graduate 2015)
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“I wish you were more of a bookworm than a gym rat!”
Education Law Corner
In last week’s eMEMO teacher misconduct of a sexual nature was discussed. Although this type of misconduct may not be of epidemic proportions, one could say that any student subjected to teacher misconduct of a sexual nature is one too many. That’s not why we become teachers and when parents send their children to school, they expect them to be safe and secure from any type of harm.
As teachers we have to conduct ourselves as professionals at all times. The following advice may be of some guidance to teachers not only starting out on their teaching careers but also to teachers who have been teaching for a number of years:
- Realize that at all times you are a teacher and that there has to be what might be referred to as “professional distance” between you and your students. Young teachers, but not only young teachers, think they have to be their students’ buddies! Nothing is further from the truth. You can be friendly with your students and the term “friendly strict” perhaps best describes as to how teachers should behave towards their students.
- Teachers should never put themselves in compromising situations with their students. Specifically by this is meant, try not to be left alone in a room with a student; if at all possible, ensure there are other students or another teacher present.
- Don’t engage in flattering students about their physical appearance or their dress; such teacher commentary may be misinterpreted by students. We all love a bit of flattery but should students engage in flattery, be respectful and say thank you but do not encourage a continuation of such conversation.
- Think about the psychology of your students. Physically, they may present themselves as young men and young women but remember, mentally, psychologically, emotionally etc., they are boys and girls on their way to maturity but not there yet. Obviously, we hope that senior high students are well on their way to this maturity but you are still the teacher and according to our teacher codes of conduct/ethics, professional is how you are expected to relate to your students, no matter what their age or maturity level is.
Mentioned in an earlier eMEMO was a magazine published 4 times a year by the Ontario College of Teachers (www.oct.ca) titled Professionally Speaking.
Current and past issues are available online in the section titled “Governing Ourselves”. This section is an excellent source of information detailing how teachers get themselves into very serious difficulties not only in the area of sexual abuse but in the other areas of teacher misconduct as well.
A similar online publication, Learn is available from the Teacher Regulation Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Education (https://www.bcteacherregulation.ca/). Check out the “Professional Conduct” section. These 2 sources are highly recommended.
The author is continuing his study titled “Educators’ Perceptions of the Characteristics of Effective Principals”. If you are currently a teacher in the Newfoundland and Labrador school system (private or public) and are interested in participating, please go to the following website:
The survey should take approximately 20 minutes to complete. This study is also open to all retired teachers in this province.
If you participate and would like to be entered into a draw for an Apple iPad Mini 2 WiFi 32GB (valued at $359.00), please follow the instructions in that section of the website.
International Teaching Positions
Maple Leaf Educational Systems, a Canadian company, operates a number of schools in China. If you are interested in the possibility of teaching in China, please go to their website:
Further information can be obtained by contacting Mr. Archie MacEachern (Teacher Recruitment Representative for Atlantic Canada)
Another company, Randstad Education, is currently recruiting teachers for jobs in the United Kingdom. For further information, please contact Ms. Emily Brady (email@example.com).
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“I’ve been pounding these every day for weeks. I thought it said
‘brain flakes.’ Excuse me, I really gotta go!”
Missing Issues of the eMEMO
Anyone having e-copies or hard copies of the following issues is asked to contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org: Volume 7 – issues 2, 4, 6 and 11; and Volume 8 – issue 10.
Concluding Comment From The Editor
That concludes another volume of the eMEMO. It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to bring you this publication every Sunday during our winter semester. A special thank you to all those who contributed to this Volume 10 and to the readership who provided feedback – very very much appreciated.
And now, a few last words on (you guessed it) my favorite sport – hockey!
Well, got the call from the sister-in-law in Stephenville right on cue as the final buzzer went to end the Habs-Sens game last night. The Habs lost their game and the Leafs won their game!!!!!!!! It’s not easy being a Habs’ fan and a Leafs’ detractor these days but we can always hope for better days ahead – definitely next year the way things are going for mes Habs!
At St. Bon’s on Friday night, another great game – only 5 per team so there was a lot of “sucking air” going on when we took our brief rest on the bench as we play 4 on 4! Got another goal – wasn’t pretty – thru the 5 hole – just kept banging at it till it went in! Also got 1 assist which I’m not very proud off – took a bit of abuse on this one: I was behind the opposing net – got the puck – passed it out front – intended for 1 of my team-mates but got intercepted by Dave on the other team who streaked down center ice on a breakaway and scored against us!!!!!!! So much for my assist!!!!! It’ll take a while to live that one down.
And finally, as most of the readership knows, my wife Philomena and I were delighted to welcome our first grand-child, Olivia Angela on November 20 – she’s 4 months old today. I call her Olivia Angel-a and she continues to melt my heart! This is a new experience for us and it is indeed true that grand-children are different, a good different! Today I’m
delighted to have Olivia’s picture here in the eMEMO – all decked out in her St. Patrick’s Day dress – what a great way to conclude Volume 10. Thank you to mommy Stacey and daddy Richard for their permission to publish this picture. Enjoy!
Until January 2, 2017, best wishes, everyone – Jerome