Welcome to the 2nd issue of this year’s eMEMO. Quite pleased with the feedback received this week from our teacher interns and from a former student who is now into his 8th year of teaching. Enjoy the issue and of course, feedback is always welcomed.
Feedback From This Year’s Interns (2013-2014)
Impressed at how respectful the students are
As my placement is in Halifax, I’ve been lucky enough to have already completed two full weeks of my internship and so far I’m LOVING it! I can’t believe how quickly I became involved in the school, and I’m really starting to feel like a part of the school community.
I have been teaching all the Physical Education classes in the school since Monday, and I’m impressed at how respectful the students are towards me and how engaged they are. As I’m teaching in a junior high school that is very diverse in terms of socioeconomic status, I was extremely worried about classroom management when I started but so far so good ( I’ll make sure to keep my fingers crossed on this, as it’s still early and I’m sure it will change).
So far the most important skill I have used is knowing and using students’ names in the classroom. I find that knowing students’ names helps them realize that you care about them, and also makes it much easier to manage your classroom when you are able to address students by their names. It’s hard to believe how fast the first two weeks have flown by, but I’m really enjoying my time here and I’m excited for what the next ten weeks have to bring.
PS: I’m coaching the boys’ basketball team here and so far we’ve won all our games! I’m hoping to win the championship banner this year! Go Gators Go! (Intermediate Intern)
Anticipation at an all-time high
With the days leading up to our internship anticipation was certainly at an all time high; having to wait an extra 3 days due to the power outages did not help with that.
Although we certainly had a tough time getting started, the semester is already starting to fly by. This first week has been full of introductions, learning protocols and procedures in a new school and starting to work with some pretty incredible teachers. So far I have been mainly observing and helping students with seat work.
With the upcoming mid-terms teachers have been frantically trying to finish up topics and begin reviews. It is easy to tell that this time of year requires a lot of prep and organization and lots of time photocopying!
I am now looking forward to the mid-term rush finishing up so that I can get a shot at teaching. Hope you all had a great first week!
Learned a lot in the first full week
My first week out on the winter internship has been very interesting. I have had a substitute teacher since my co-operating teacher has been out of the classroom the past two weeks and is not expected to return until late next week.
Since I am with the same co-operating teacher that I was assigned to on the two-week internship, it is interesting to see the differences in student behavior with a substitute, and the different teaching and classroom management styles. I’m happy that I have had the opportunity to discuss the ins and outs of being a substitute teacher with someone who has had lots of experience substituting at different schools, since this is the position I hope to be in next fall.
I’m both excited and nervous to begin teaching when the students return to classes after their mid-term exams; however all the teachers that I have met have been extremely helpful and generous in giving me ideas and materials to use in planning my lessons. I’ve already learned a lot in the first week of my internship, and I’m really looking forward to the next couple of months! (Secondary Intern)
The excitement is great to be a part of
I’m thoroughly enjoying my internship thus far. I applied to a rural high school, and I’m very glad that I did. We’re only a week in and I’m already starting to get to know many of the students.
The entire staff is very helpful and each individual has taken significant time to offer me some advice. I look forward to learning much from all of them. I’ve already had a couple of opportunities to teach, including about 10 minutes in a class of 35 students (Yikes!), and I really look forward to teaching more.
Practices for table tennis are starting next week, and our school won the Provincials last year, so the excitement is great to be a part of. (Intermediate/Secondary Intern)
A little drained the first week
First full complete week and what a full week it was! Having two of my co-operating teachers both in Physical Education, I was full time in the gymnasium 5 periods a day.
The great thing about being placed into my old junior high school is that there are many familiar faces around when it comes to the teachers and students; however, a lot to remember. Having mandatory PE means every class comes through the gymnasium. . . . so let’s do some math. 3 grades + 6 classes each grade = 400+ students’ names to remember – wow! It can be a bit overwhelming especially when we have a double period but the names are slowly coming along and I am surprised with how quickly I am remembering all of them.
Between the long days of teaching and coaching, I feel a little drained the first week but cannot wait to get back at it on Monday. Definitely made the right choice when it came to teaching. . . . I am totally in love with it.
All the best for the next week of our adventure! (Intermediate Intern)
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“I’ll never understand teachers. They tell you to come up with creative solutions to problems and then they mark them all wrong!””
Recommended Book Resource for Primary and Elementary Interns
Written by: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrated by: Hudson Talbott
New York: G. P. Putnam (2005)
Beautifully illustrated in chalk, watercolors, and muslin, this poignant story tells the tale of eight generations of women in the author’s family, ending with the author and her daughter. Big Mama was sold when she was seven, taking a piece of muslin, red thread, and two needles. She told secret stories of freedom and began the tradition of the Show Way quilt that showed the road to freedom. The slaves could not read words, but they could read pictures. And, when Big Mama “moved on to the next world”, her daughter continued the tradition. When Mathis May, granddaughter of Big Mama was seven she got sold, but she took a
little piece of her mama’s quilt and a little bit of the road to freedom with her.
The author takes the reader through the generations, sometimes telling us the names of the women, and occasionally letting us know that “history went and lost her name”. And with the birth of each baby, a brilliant picture is shown of each mama holding up her child to the stars, with the words, “…loved that baby up so. Yes, she loved that baby up.” Eventually, slavery ended and each hard working generation began to have a little land which they could call Home. Each generation of women continued to sew the Show Way quilts, and some started to live well from the money these Trail to the North quilts brought in.
The author’s grandmother, Georgiana learned to read and grew up to be a teacher, and when her twin daughters turned seven they were “walking in a line to change the laws that kept black people and white people living separate”. Now the quilts included words with the pictures, to tell the stories of the past and the way forward. When the author was seven she did not have to work in a field or walk a freedom line, but she learned to sew because her Mama said, “All the stuff that happened before you were born is your own kind of Show Way. There’s a road, girl, there’s a road”.
Jacqueline Woodson has written several books that have become her kind of Show Way, each one evocative, both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. She tells these stories to her daughter Toshi and she loves that Toshi up so, yes, she loves that Toshi up.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“My teacher tells me if I don’t straighten up, I’ll
end up as a cartoon character!”
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“To make multiple-choice tests more lifelike, I don’t
include any correct answers!”
Former Students’ Update
Scott Oosterom (B. Ed., 2005)
I did my internship in St. John’s in 2005 and have been teaching ever since September of that year. I have been a regular reader of the eMemo and I always look forward to getting it each week during the winter semester, because it gives me an opportunity to reflect on my own personal growth as I think back to my own internship days.
I remember when managing a class of 15 to 30 students seemed like it was going to be a real challenge, and all of the aspects of being a “real” teacher seemed to be but a glimpse into the future. I went from teaching classes in St. John’s to rural Newfoundland for 7 years where I taught senior high science and math. It was an exciting challenge to be a new teacher and have my own classroom, but it was not without its difficulty and its learning curves, especially with respect to classroom management of a group of teenagers and learning the entire curriculum.
Just as I had my entire curriculum memorized, I had an opportunity to leave Newfoundland, and I moved to rural Saskatchewan. A very different school system and science courses that do not sync up with what I have taught in the past. It is almost like being a new teacher all over again; getting to know new students, new teachers, new education system, and the new curriculum.
One piece of advice I can give to all the interns – there will be days when you just want to pack it all up and walk away (because kids are kids, and sometimes they will press your buttons), but it is important to keep your focus on what is important in your classroom – the students. Don’t let the challenging days get you down, there will be plenty of great “teacher moments” when you realize exactly why you have chosen this career path. When you get those moments, those are what keep you doing this.
I am now into my 8th year since I left MUN, and while my location has changed, my love for teaching has not. Make things interesting and hands on for the students as much as possible, introduce inquiry into your classes so they can discover on their own, and have your “teacher moments”. Good luck to all the interns this semester. I look forward to reading about your experiences.
Scott Oosterom hails from Antigonish, NS and holds a BSc in Biology / Computer Science from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish. He taught Science 1206, Biology 2201/3201, Chemistry 2202 and Physics 2204, as well as senior high tech and junior high math for 7 and a half great years at St. Anne’s School in Conne River, Bay d’Espoir. He now teaches grade 7-9 Science, grade 10 Psychology and grade 11/ 12 Biology, Chemistry and Physics at Neilburg Composite School in Neilburg, Saskatchewan. Neilburg is located 3 hours west of Saskatoon.
Asking Questions in Class
The most basic principle of wait time is that a question is followed by a minimum of 3 seconds of silence so that every student has the time to collect his/her thoughts and devise an answer. Then a student is selected and that student is given as long a time as it takes to collect his/her thoughts prior to answering.
By waiting for as long as it takes the student to answer, the teacher conveys the unequivocal message that s/he cares about the individual and that the student must take responsibility for learning.
After only a week of consistent use, you should see a change in your students’ approach to questions and their preparation for class. (Source: MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL TEACHING: Methods, Standards, and Best Practices by J. A. Duplass, 2006)
Quote of the Week
On getting his first full time teaching job: “It was the best day of my life. It really was. It was like I’d gotten called up to play in the NHL – that’s how excited I was!”
Source: Teaching: It’s Harder Than It Looks (2012) by Gerry Dee.
Concluding Comment From the Editor
That’s it for issue # 2. Thank you to those teacher interns for their submissions and special words of thanks and appreciation to Scott Oosterom for his “Update”. We wish Scott well in his new position in Saskatchewan.
On a personal note, eating some “turkey” today and perhaps more during the week as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated my beloved Montreal Canadiens last night in Toronto by a score of 5-3! Last night wasn’t a great night hockey-wise for me – attended the St. John’s IceCaps-Manchester Monarchs game at Mile One and the IceCaps lost 6-0. They beat the Monarchs Friday night 4-1. After the Habs-Leafs game, I received telephone calls from 4 close friends “gently rubbing in” that Habs’ defeat!!!!!!!! Oh well, I guess if you dish it out, you need to be able to take it as well!!!!!!! Woe is me!
On a more positive note this is our 8th year of scrimmage hockey at St. Bon’s on Friday night. Currently experiencing a “goal scoring slump” (only have 4 points in 12 games – 2 goals & 2 assists; one of those “helpers” came Friday night on my pass to player Bill Ezekiel – a beautiful goal to say the least! Oh well, Sid the Kid need not worry about his scoring records!!!!!!!!
And lastly, best wishes, interns, on your 2nd full week of teaching.