Welcome to issue # 10. Intermediate/secondary interns, you only have 2 weeks left in your internship and primary/elementary interns, you finish up in 3 weeks. As the famous Latin expression goes, “Tempus fujit” – time flies and from all of the interns’ submissions to date, that does seem to be an underpinning commonality of the internships. This week, “Former Students’ Update” profiles Vince Mulrooney, currently the vice-principal of Main River Academy, a K-12 school in Pollard’s Point on the province’s west coast, a one hour drive off the Trans Canada Highway northeast of Deer Lake. Another very interesting “read”. Enjoy!
Feedback From This Year’s Interns (2013-2014)
Feel like I really belong here
I am really enjoying my internship so far. I am in a grade 5 classroom and my students are so sweet. I get along really well with my co-operating teacher and the other teachers and staff at my school are wonderful and welcoming; I really feel like I belong here.
My class has gotten to do some pretty cool things so far this semester including a recent trip to a nearby community to see a dory being built and to go snowshoeing. It was great to help organize a trip like this for students and see how much they appreciated the opportunity.
Not all learning happens in the classroom! (Elementary Intern)
The prep work can become daunting
From the beginning of the internship I have been telling my fellow interns that we are truly the luckiest people because in my opinion, we have the greatest profession. And I really mean that in all aspects.
With that said, my internship has been and continues to be an incredible experience. I will say that the prep work can become daunting but I’ve learned to manage and organize my time in order to get everything completed and most importantly, completed well.
Overall the internship has been absolutely fantastic.
The past few months have been quite the experience to say the least – it’s overwhelming almost. I’ve been constantly learning new techniques and strategies to use in the classroom daily, and have been able to put those at work myself.
Although students bring about their own unique challenges, these past few months have made me sure that I have chosen the correct career path. I absolutely love waking up and coming to work every day. We’ve been told time after time that a strong relationship with the students can be a teacher’s number one tool to success, and I’m seeing the truth of that thus far. (Intermediate-Secondary Intern)
Very good so far
My internship experience has been very good so far. I have learned so many things by taking part in this B. Ed. internship. I have summarized my experiences to date in point form:
- More challenges than I expected.
- Most challenging part is to deal with those students who have different behavioral problems.
- School administration is very supportive.
- Co-operating teachers are very helpful.
- Although I have been getting wonderful support from my co-operating teachers, I do feel that there is a lack of freedom for the interns in their attempts to carry out their own educational plan.
- The high school Mathematics curriculum should be revised, and should be made shorter than the existing one. Otherwise most Math teachers are complaining about the curriculum as more time is needed to cover all the content.
- Parents’ involvement in school activities are always welcomed by the school administration. However, some parents are totally unaware of their kids’ educational matters.
- Most high school Math students appear to be not mentally prepared to take responsibility for learning on their own. They tend to rely on teachers’ lectures and materials, and do not spend the additional time necessary to learn the Math. I’m thinking that this may be one of the major causes of their poor performance in Mathematics.
- School is well equipped with technological tools which are very good.
- And lastly, overall, it has been a very good experience for me to work as an intern. (Secondary Intern)
I can remember how nervous I was
Only 3 more weeks left with my precious Grade 2 class. It actually breaks my heart just thinking about it.
Looking back on my first day of my internship I can remember how nervous I was. Each week I began growing more confident with my teaching and am now almost teaching all the daily classes.
Throughout the weeks I feel as though my control over the class became easier; I knew how to get the students to listen to me and began to know which kinds of things interested the group as a whole.
These students have become such a huge part of my life and you learn each individual student’s personal needs as you get to know them. I have done reading records and also have had the opportunity to do some report cards with my co-operating teacher.
My co-operating teacher is retiring soon and I feel as though I could not have been paired with a better person. I am learning so many valuable things from her that I will take with me throughout my teaching career. I have a binder collected with everything we do so if I ever have the pleasure of teaching grade 2 again, I will have things to refer back to. This internship has reassured me that teaching is the career for me and it has opened my eyes to the life of a teacher, which is a busy and hectic one. However, at the end of the day I always come home with a smile on my face! What better feeling than going home at the end of each day feeling accomplished and rewarded. (Primary Intern)
Everything I expected it to be and so much more
So far, my internship has been everything I expected it to be and so much more. My co-operating teacher is an absolute inspiration and is a leader each and every day.
I am completing my internship in grade two with fourteen amazing students who really have a passion for learning. Every day is a new adventure and I literally can’t wait to learn and grow as an educator and an individual each and every day!
Throughout this entire experience and journey thus far, I have learned that I not only teach the children but I also learn from them every time I’m around them. The learning process within my classroom is a never ending cycle in which the students, my co-operating teacher, and I all learn and grow in some way or another.
Everyone at my school is so welcoming and always manages to compliment me or assist me in any way they can. As more time passes and the end to this internship is ever so near, I cannot help but feel extremely sad knowing that I have to leave such an amazing school, staff members, and most importantly, my students.
However, I know that this is just the beginning of an amazing lifelong journey as a teacher and I am extremely excited to see what my future has to hold. I absolutely love the school that I have been placed at and can only wish that someday I will receive a teaching position back here where this lifelong journey began! (Primary Intern)
I am really enjoying myself
Overall my internship is going well and I am really enjoying myself and looking forward to getting out into the work force. I have enjoyed getting to test strategies and methods I have learned during my Physical Education and Education degrees and to work with issues such as student behaviour and lesson planning.
One of the major highlights of my internship experience so far has been
being able to be active in extra-curricular activities. This is a major reason I wanted to be a teacher and upon the start of the term I was given the boys’ basketball team as my own.
As someone who was very active in school, it was fun and most interesting to be on the other side of these activities and to organize the
behind the scenes stuff that students knew happened but were unaware of the real work that takes place in making all of this happen.
On the other hand however, there have been down sides to the
Experience. One in particular has been the realization of how flawed the
education system is in today’s school system. I feel that certain policies,
while written with the right intentions in mind, have corrected minor problems that existed during my time as a student but have replaced them with bigger problems. It seems at least on the staff I am on, that everyone sees these flaws and wishes they would change.
Other than that, it has been a very rewarding experience and I’m
glad I have had the chance to gain this hands on opportunity. (Intermediate-Secondary Intern)
Teachers can shape the future
Teaching high school is a job that will weigh on you much more than I have ever imagined. As a high school teacher, you become somewhat of a therapist. Kids tell you things you never want to hear. Whether it be dealing with “boy problems,” friend drama, crying, to even “my friend is suicidal – help me”.
I have both been told and have over heard many things that have shocked and saddened me. Being an out-of-province internship student, I have noticed many similarities and differences being in a different area. I am at a school where students are generally from lower-income homes – many pay rent (to their landlord or even to their own parents), some do not have a home or live on their own, many have been beaten and abused, many have addictions, and the worst of all, they have parents who do not care – about their child or their education.
As overwhelming as this was to me at first, I have learned that I am the one who can help these people. When students come to me and tell me their hardships, I know that they trust me and that makes me strive to make things better for them. For some of my students, the love that I show them is the only love they are going to feel that day, and sometimes the students who are hard to love are the ones who need love the most. This is definitely how I realized that teachers can shape the future and that this was the passion fueling my future.
All I have expected and more
My internship is all I have expected and more. In the beginning of my internship I was nervous about what my co-operating teacher was going to expect from me, but right from the first day I felt welcomed in the classroom by both the students and my co-operating teacher.
My class of 13 students is a wonderful bunch of kids to work with and they have taught me so much about being a teacher. Knowing that there is less than a month left to my internship makes me realize how much I have accomplished from the very beginning. My co-operating teacher told me that seeing how I handle and discipline her class, she has no doubt that I will be able to teach any class I may be put into.
Recommended Book Resource For Primary-Elementary Interns
The Bird’s Gift: A Ukranian Easter Story
Retold by: Eric Kimmel
Illustrated by: Katya Krenina
New York: Holiday House (1999)
Winter came early to the Ukraine one year, and when Katrusya and her grandfather went for a walk in the snow, they saw flecks of gold wherever they looked. There were dozens of small golden birds buried in the snow. Grandfather knew they would all die because they could not fly away when they were half frozen. Katrusya filled her pockets, her mittens, and her scarf, and so did her grandfather with as many of the little birds as they could. When they got home all of the neighbors came back with them to rescue the golden creatures. Everyone took birds until their homes and barns were full. “And still there were more!”
Father Roman, the village priest solved the problem—“What better shelter for God’s creatures than God’s own house?” They filled the church with the rest of the birds. It stayed cold for weeks, but the winter did not seem so long with the beautiful golden birds. Father Roman told the congregation, “Listen to the birds. They worship God with every chirp, with every flutter of their wings. Would that human beings had such beautiful and perfect faith.”
Then one morning the birds were noisy and it was time to let them go. Every house in the village opened their windows at the same time and a “golden flock of yellow birds filled the sky”, and then they were gone. The rest of the winter seemed to go slowly, and then it was Easter. When the villagers stepped out of their houses on Easter Sunday, they saw the most beautifully decorated eggs in the grass wherever they looked. And, when they looked upward, everywhere they looked there were their golden birds. “The birds gave us an Easter gift”, Father Roman explained.
And since that day, in memory of the birds, the Ukranian people have made pysanky, beautifully decorated eggs of melted beeswax and colorful dyes. They are a “symbol of hope and life, of spring’s triumph over winter, and of God’s endless love for all creatures great and small”.
This retelling of an old folktale is strikingly illustrated. It tells of the art of decorating eggs—pysanky, one of the oldest Ukranian traditions, and one still carried on today.
Bachelor of Education Registration For Spring Semester Courses
A reminder to all B. Ed. students that registration for the spring semester begins next Monday, March 24.
Another Excellent Article From the Virginia Journal of Education
For an excellent article titled “High Anxiety: How teachers can help ease their students’ fears when taking tests”, go to the December 2013 issue of the Virginia Journal of Education available online at:
Free Subscription to The Monday eMemo
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On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“I tell my dad our report cards are now being issued
online, and he won’t admit he can’t access them!”
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“If I go to the library and do my homework, then it
won’t really be homework, will it?”
Former Students’ Update
Vince Mulrooney (B. Ed., 2005)
After graduating from MUN’s Education program in 2005 (many moons ago!), my job hunt wasn’t exactly going as planned. I applied everywhere in the province but never managed to get a position. Then in the middle of August, I got a call from a principal I had worked with a few months earlier, during my time in the rural internship program.
This was a great program where Bachelor of Education (I/S) students were shipped out to rural schools to help students prepare for public exams. This internship was a paid one, expenses and a bursary and counted as 3 of the 6 courses that were required for completion of the program. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me. Anyway, this principal called me and asked if I had found a job yet, to which I excitedly replied no. My excitement soon changed into trepidation as she mentioned she was looking for a new VP.
So my choices were at worst: unemployment with a student loan payment looking me in the face, subbing in St. John’s or a move across the island, far from my east coast friends, family and then girlfriend (now wife) for employment in a job that was going to be very challenging and quite possibly too much for me to handle. So I packed up and drove the 6 or 7 hours to the northern peninsula to a small town called Pollard’s Point and have been here ever since. . . as VP. Just to give you an idea about Pollard’s Point, it is about 50 km off the TCH, an hour from Deer Lake, no cell service, no town water nor sewer and we only received high speed internet in about 2009 (I use the term high speed loosely).
I won’t get into the first few years except to say the learning curve was asymptotic. The administration did a whole lot more than I had ever considered, and that workload has increased since I began my career. However, I found that I really enjoyed it. I made a few mistakes but, as with most mistakes, I learned from them. I think that my biggest piece of advice for new teachers/administrators is do not be afraid to make a mistake because you are going to. No one is perfect, but if you have the students’ best interest in mind, then most of your decisions will be fine. I try to treat the students like people, not assembly parts at a factory. They are going to have bad days and other things going on in their lives that will affect them. Educators need to be cognizant of that, and realize when a student needs to be pushed and when not. I’m not saying we need to be privy to everything that goes on in a student’s life, but you can read most students pretty quick and have a sense of what they are going through. For anyone reading this who plans on entering administration, this goes for teachers too. You have to know your staff and their abilities, and try to place them in a position where they will have the most success. Sometimes they agree with you, sometimes not, but as long as you show them professional respect and trust, most will return the favor.
I’m in my 9th year as VP now, and I am still learning. That’s my final piece of advice, never stop learning; don’t become stagnant in your approach or your methods. The explosion of technology that has occurred since I began teaching is remarkable and can allow teachers to vary their instruction so much more easily. Again, don’t be afraid to make mistakes with the technology. Take on the challenge of varying your instruction. Your students will benefit most from this and isn’t that why we are all doing this.
Before I go, just two more quick points. One, do your Master’s degree. Not only will it increase your pay, but it will provide you with new ideas and new resources that will improve you as a teacher. Two, consider becoming an administrator. It’s definitely not for everyone, but at least give the idea some thought. I know a few teachers who told me they would never enter administration and are now excelling in those roles. Just don’t dismiss it and think we must have rocks in our heads!
I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am today. Ultimately, I plan to move back east closer to family and friends, but for now I am happy being where I am. Teaching is a career that can drive you out of your head one day and have you on cloud nine the next. Enjoy the ride. The bad days make the good ones just that much better.
Vince Mulrooney hails from Southern Harbour, NL and convocated with a B. Sc. in 2003 from MUN and a B. Ed. (I/S) in Math and Science in 2005. Since then he has completed an M. Ed. (Curriculum Studies) in 2010. His first year of teaching saw him become a vice-principal of Main River Academy in Pollard’s Point. He is married to Melanie Young of Upper Island Cove, NL and they have 2 children, Trudy age 6 years and Ryan age 4 years. Needless to say, Vince is a busy young man!
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“They’re words, Eddie. Assembly required!”
Concluding Comment From The Editor
That’s it for issue # 10. Our thanks again to those interns who sent in contributions this week – your submissions are most appreciated and without them, this eMEMO couldn’t happen!
And, a special thank you to Vince Mulrooney for his most interesting and amusing “Update”. Vince, your words of advice re new teachers eventually getting into school administration were very insightful.
This was another wonderful “hockey weekend” for yours truly. Friday night we had our usual game at St. Bon’s. Pardon my humility once again – 2 point night – 1 goal, 1 assist!!!!!!
Last night I was at Mile One – the IceCaps defeated the Portland Pirates by a score of 3-2, their 10th win in their last 11 games!
When I arrived home from that game, the Habs were down by a score of 4-1 to the Ottawa Senators. Not overly impressed with that showing, I almost went to bed but I lingered around and all of a sudden, the Habs had tied the game and went on to win it in OT! C’est tres bon!!!!!!!!
Later this afternoon the Leafs play Ovie and the Capitals and tonight the Habs play Buffalo. I won’t comment on my “hopes” for the outcome of those 2 games!
And lastly, hope you’re all enjoying the long St. Paddy’s Day weekend – that’s if you’re in NL. Have a wonderful week everyone.