Welcome to issue # 5 of The Monday eMemo. Interns, you’re fast approaching the halfway mark in your internships – time does fly! This week we had several more submissions from the interns than we have space for so those not included in this week’s issue, will definitely be in next week’s issue. Sorry all of them could not be printed here as we are trying to keep each issue to a maximum of 3 pages!
The submissions for the section, “Former Students’ Update” continue to be very very impressive with respect to what they have learned in their short teaching careers to date and the professional advice they offer is indeed most wise. Enjoy!
Feedback From This Year’s Interns (2013-2014)
Great way for them to get their wiggles out
Now that we are into our second month of the internship, I am finally getting settled into things. I am now teaching the Math and Science lessons with my Grade 2 class, as well as some of the Art and Health lessons.
Next week the Physical Education teacher has offered to let me teach a class, since this was my focus area. I am really excited about this, as he admits that dance is not one of his areas of strength. I am a Zumba Kids instructor, so I plan to incorporate some dancing into our Physical Education classes. There are a lot of boys, so it will be a challenge to find some music that they will enjoy dancing to.
To get an idea of how this will go, I used the SMARTBoard today for a little exercise break in our classroom. I found that YouTube has lots of “Just Dance” videos that the children can follow along to. We tried it with Taio Cruz’s song “Dynamite” this morning, and they LOVED it!!! There are 8 boys in our class, so I wasn’t sure if it would be a hit, but was pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed it. I made a deal with them that we can do that once a day, as long as they will refocus on our classwork once we finish. It was a great way for them to get their wiggles out and really help them settle down; I hope that this will be a good motivation tool for me to use as I am teaching.
Perhaps some of you can try out these activity breaks too, and let us know what kind of response you get from your classes. One caution about using YouTube. . . .CAREFULLY screen any videos that you plan to show in class for appropriateness, and have it set up on full screen so that you don’t have any offensive advertising pop up on the big screen in front of your students! Make it fun for them, and feel free to dance along yourself – they will LOVE seeing you participate, even if you have no idea what you are doing!!!!! (Primary Intern)
Poetic thoughts on exam marking
You feed leopard-like paper into its maw. It whizzes, it whirrs! How it shuffles and shuttles! Then stutters. A glitch, a hurdle, a technical issue! Again into the breech, and that battle is won. Fifty friends follow. A class-set emerges, red marks fresh and gleaming. You sit back and smile, relax for a while. “Alas!” cries the English teacher. “Your marking is done? But lo, these hundreds of essays; I’ve barely begun!” Such is the wonder of the Scantron machines. Bow down to these New Gods! They’re quick and they’re clean. (Secondary Intern)
A great group of students
I’m not going to lie; going into the start of this internship I was extremely nervous that I’d find out this profession was not for me. It turns out I had nothing to be afraid of at all. I absolutely love being in the classroom!
I am honored to be in a class with such a great group of students; they have welcomed me into their class with nothing but kindness. One of my fears going into this internship was that I wouldn’t be able to remember the names of all the students in my class. After talking with another teacher at the school, she told me to each day take 3-4 students and just focus on memorizing their names. I did this and after a few days I had all the students’ names down pat.
I recently had the opportunity to sit and participate in a professional development day. I had a blast! I learned so much at these sessions that I will take with me into my career. Needless to say, I am very excited to see what’s in store for the remainder of my internship. (Elementary Intern)
The hardest thing is trying to multitask
So far my internship has been good. My teacher instructor is quite knowledgeable in regards to his discipline and classroom management skills. This week I have started teaching a lot more classes so the amount of work required is getting more and more difficult to keep up with. I also have to balance this internship with family life and a part-time job (I’m married and we have a couple of children as well).
The teaching is going well for the most part. The hardest thing is trying to multitask. While delivering the lesson I’m slowly trying to gauge things such as class pacing and classroom management. Obviously this will improve as the internship goes on.
Most of the kids are good and it was interesting to help out some of the students with their exams (accommodations for reading, test length, etc.). I also enjoyed getting a chance to mark some exams.
The staff and school seem great and they have a good sense of school spirit too. So far, so good. (Secondary Intern)
This time felt a little different
I started my internship at the same school where I completed my observations days. Fortunately for me I already felt very comfortable in my surroundings with many familiar faces. However, this time felt a little different as I knew I was preparing to eventually take over the classroom.
For the first couple of weeks, my co-operating teacher decided that we would “team teach”. This way, I was being slowly introduced to teaching a little more each class. He would have me explain a few topics, do review and correct questions with the students.
Remembering the names of students was challenging at first but after the first two weeks I started to catch on and realized calling a student by name is very important for relationship building and discipline inside the classroom.
Teaching in a junior high setting can sometimes be difficult because you need to focus more on discipline versus curriculum. The most important thing is to make sure your students are listening because if they aren’t listening, they aren’t learning no matter how much time you spend making that flashy PowerPoint. (Intermediate Intern)
Didn’t know what to expect
Originally I had requested to do my internship at a high school, since that is where I saw myself teaching in the future. So when I got placed at a junior high I was very nervous and I didn’t know what to expect.
My first day was the most overwhelming experience of my life. One of the teachers saw me in the hallway and must have seen how nervous I looked and told me “if you can survive junior high, you can survive anything”.
The first week was exhausting, and adapting to the students’ energy level took a while, but after a month I can say I have learned so much more than I thought I would. I have learned not only useful strategies for the classroom, but also how to be more patient, how to adapt and be flexible, and most importantly how to relate to my students.
I’ve been volunteering with some programs at the school and I’ve formed out-of-class relationships with the students that have changed how they see me in the classroom. Junior high was definitely not where I saw myself initially, but now that I’m a part of the school, I couldn’t see myself doing my internship anywhere else! (Intermediate Intern)
Teaching is much more important than the lesson
During my internship so far I have sorted out many different situations, some of which include: getting up in front of a class to teach my first lesson, having to learn little classroom management tricks to capture students’ attention, giving out quizzes, correcting, learning the curriculum, using different strategies to teach, a parent meeting, and having to cope with the unexpected.
I have done all this while at the same time working on my online course. I can say that I never truly knew what busy meant until I started my internship. Even now after five weeks into my internship, I still cannot get over the amount of work that teachers do. All the time put into preparing for a lesson, when in the end it may not go exactly as planned.
However, I have learned quickly that teaching is much more important than the lesson itself; it is the heart that teachers give that makes teaching that much more special. It is how teachers genuinely care for the wellbeing of their students, and how they strive to cater to the needs of each student, be it academically or socially. Every bit of caring that a teacher gives makes a difference, especially if the student notices this and feels a connection with her teacher. The student will then want to make the teacher proud of him or her.
I am blessed to have a great co-operating teacher; she is understanding, helpful, caring and funny. I have learned a lot from her already and I am excited to learn more as our time together continues. I already feel like I have a great connection with the students; I feel like they respect me, and it makes me so happy to go into the school everyday and teach them. This has been an amazing experience so far. I am excited to finish my program now and get out into the job world and start teaching!
What an impact teachers have
I have been lucky enough to be placed into a classroom full of students who will be able to look back and think about what an impact my incredible co-operating teacher has had on them.
However, it is not just the students who will look back and feel this way – I can already tell I will be doing the same. It strikes me about just how much of an impact a teacher can have when I realize that this teacher is teaching, and doing so much for me without her even knowing it. This is her own work space, yet not only has she welcomed me into it, but she has allowed for me to learn things on my own, but within the safety of her teaching and her classroom. A lot of these things she has probably tried and done before, but she encourages me to try them myself, to learn from it myself. She gives me the confidence a teacher needs.
This experience has reminded me of what an impact teachers have – thank you to past teachers, current teachers, and future teachers. To my co-operating teacher – thank you for your wisdom, respect, kindness, and laughter. It will never be forgotten! (Primary Intern)
Recommended Book Resource for Primary and Elementary Interns
Written and illustrated by: Patricia Polacco
New York: Philomel Books (2001)
Patricia Polacco has once again written a poignant story based on her family. A year after her mother (Mary Ellen) died from cancer, Patricia Polacco opened a box and came across a doll Mary Ellen had made when her mother was only six years old, with a letter written to Patricia to be read after Mary Ellen’s death. This event formed the basis for this week’s story. . .
When Mary Ellen was six, her family’s house burned down and they went to live with relatives. Mary Ellen lost all of her dolls in the fire and she and her mother sewed a new doll from scraps – Betty Doll. Mary Ellen carried Betty Doll with her everywhere she went; she even took her in her book bag to school. One stormy winter day, Mary Ellen and her brothers got caught in a blizzard on the way home from school and they huddled under the bridge. When Mary Ellen went to take out Betty Doll for comfort she wasn’t there. She had fallen out of the book bag. George, one of her brothers, went to find their father for help, but they got lost in the blizzard on the way back. It was Betty Doll sticking up out of the snow who led them to Mary Ellen and Richard, her younger brother. Betty Doll had saved their lives.
Mary Ellen continued to carry Betty Doll with her, to college, and even when she got her first teaching job. Mary Ellen got married, had children (Patricia Polacco was the second child), got divorced and moved back with her Gramma, who was sick. That was when “Betty Doll took her place once again on my dresser in my old room”. They spent months nursing Gramma, and telling old stories, while Patricia Polacco held Betty Doll in her lap and listened to all of the old stories.
Mary Ellen and her children moved after Gramma’s death, and Betty Doll was kept on a shelf in Mary Ellen’s room, except for when Patricia needed her for comfort. And, as Mary Ellen wrote in her letter, “Such a parade she watched from that shelf. You and your brother growing up. Your graduations, your engagements, your marriages. The arrival of all ten of my grandchildren.” All of the grandchildren played with Betty Doll and when they were all too old to play, “Betty went back in a place of honor on that shelf”.
When Mary Ellen found out she had cancer, she held Betty Doll and they cried together. The letter from Mary Ellen ends with, “And now, my darlin’, I know you need Betty Doll. I had put her away because she had become as fragile as I am now. Hold her close to your heart. . . When you look into her face, I want you to remember how much I love you”.
Patricia Polacco has once again been able to write and illustrate a story that we can keep in our hearts. Each of us has some kind of Betty Doll in our lives, and perhaps this story will make you think of the Betty Doll in your life and the memories your Betty Doll holds for you.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“I know why the Pilgrims came to the New World.
Because the New World didn’t have history!”
The Blueberry Story: The Teacher Gives the Businessman a Lesson
This is a great “read”; first came across it in the June 1993 issue of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association (NLTA) Bulletin. It definitely speaks to the myriad of challenges that teachers face in the classroom on a daily basis. It is perhaps even more relevant today than it was back 22 years ago!
Jamie Vollmer is a former business executive and attorney who now works to increase public support for America’s public schools. Information on his new book, Schools Cannot Do It Alone is available at http://www.jamievollmer.com
Quote of the Week
“There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.” ― Robert Frost
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“Let’s just say we take full responsibility for our
actions and we’re checking into rehab.”
Former Students’ Update
Debbie Costigan (B. Ed., 2008)
I am very lucky to be in a permanent contract since I began teaching in September, 2008. My first job was as the French teacher at Southwest Arm Academy, a K-12 school, in Little Heart’s Ease (located approximately 15 minutes east of Clarenville off the TCH). Though my training was Intermediate/Secondary, I was responsible for teaching French from Kindergarten – Level 3. That first year was exhausting and quite the learning experience, but I quickly became very fond of the little school with the little population of 100.
When we think permanent contract, we think secure (or at least I did). Even as a permanent teacher, I was very junior and at the bottom of the totem pole. To my dismay, at the end of April my first year, I received a redundancy/reassignment letter stating that there was no longer a job for me at my school and I would be re-assigned to Clarenville Middle School, 40 minutes away. Because I was in a permanent contract, the school district was obligated to offer me the closest open position for which I was qualified. It turns out that Clarenville Middle was a highly desired school for teachers, and had I applied and competed for a job there with my meagre one year experience, it likely would not have happened.
I am in my fifth year at Clarenville Middle School and I have realized that this school is a better fit for me. As challenging as they are, I really enjoy working with junior high students! Over my almost five years here, I have taught Late French Immersion, English Language Arts and Core French. I have taught things that I did not have a clue about, was totally uninterested in and even possibly unqualified to teach. This is my first year where I did not have any new courses to teach.
I am learning every day and I am still trying to figure out “how to teach”. There is not a secret to successful teaching. Sometimes what works beautifully one day, is a total flop the next. Often what works with one group, is a complete miss with the other. If I were to give a piece of advice, it would be to be adaptable. Wrenches are thrown into our plans every day. Last week I let an entire day of instruction slide because one of my students lost her mother. There was just a vibe in the school that reminds you that some things are more important than economic empowerment or reading strategies. Students need compassion: they need someone to talk with them, someone to listen and someone to show understanding of how they feel.
In order to be adaptable, organization is important. This is something I continue to struggle with. Being honest with yourself about your weaknesses and admitting that you are not perfect is significant in teacher wellbeing. Our field brings a lot of stressful situations, but learning to embrace your strengths and weaknesses and not take things personally, helps make the job more enjoyable and rewarding.
Securing a job can also be very stressful for teachers. Every year I still hold my breath until May 7 (the date by which the school district must inform teachers of redundancy/reassignment), but there are so many of us out there who summer after summer are scrambling to find work. If any of you are French teachers, my job will be available next year for a maternity replacement!
Debbie Costigan is from Hr. Main and received a B.A. in French from MUN in 2007. She graduated in 2008 with a B. Ed. (Intermediate/Secondary); her teachable areas are French and English. Debbie has completed all the requirements for a Master of Education (M. Ed.) degree in Curriculum Studies and will be awarded that degree at MUN’s upcoming spring convocation in May. Debbie and husband Mark are expecting their first child in July.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“Hmm, let’s see. I’ll have the book report for an appetizer. . . ”
Concluding Comment From the Editor
That concludes issue # 5. Thank you to all those interns who sent in submissions for this issue and if yours wasn’t included in this issue, it will be next week. A special thank you to Debbie Costigan for her “update” and her wonderful advice to the interns.
Delighted to get more submissions from the primary and elementary interns this week.
I’m off to see the IceCaps v. Worchester Sharks game at Mile One later this afternoon. The IceCaps won 5-2 last night and are doing quite well in their conference. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring a Calder Cup to St. John’s this year!!!!!!!
And lastly, word just came in on vocm.com that Marystown’s Kaetlyn Osmond is assured a silver medal in figure skating at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Wow! What a terrific achievement for this young 18 year old figure skater. All NL and indeed Canada are extremely proud of how she’s done thus far.
Have a great week everyone – I’m sure we’re all enjoying the Winter Olympics’ coverage – great “stuff” indeed.