Greetings to all and welcome to issue # 6 of The Monday eMemo. Well, ever since Christmas it sure has been an interesting winter weather-wise thus far. First, we had lots of “turbulence” in the political arena. That has now calmed down to some extent but the weather continues to be a headline story on all news channels. Thank heavens we have the Sochi Olympics to take our minds off the wind, snow and freezing rain – more about the Olympics in our concluding comments. Thank you to all those who sent in submissions for this issue – they are most appreciated and most interesting. Enjoy!
Feedback From This Year’s Interns (2013-2014)
Becoming more and more comfortable each day
Well the time is certainly flying by. . . . seems like not very long ago at all I was stepping into a school for the first time preparing to meet my cooperating teachers. Now I am over a month into my internship and am becoming more and more comfortable each day. I am working with two great co-operating teachers who are open to sharing their opinions with me and also not afraid to give me feedback regarding my teaching.
The students I am teaching are great and I am really getting to know them individually. I surprised myself by how well I could remember students’ names because it is always something that I have been terrible with when introduced to someone. I am teaching two 3100 Physical Education courses, Healthy Living, grade 9 Phys. Ed as well as two Math courses, grades 9 and 10.
Today was my first class with a new bunch of grade 9 Physical Education students. I did an instant activity with them that I developed; I gave them all a sheet of paper with 20 “tasks” on it, many of which were a bit foolish. It really amazed me how into the whole activity they got, as I told them it would be a race.
As I looked around the gym seeing the students laugh and carry on with their classmates while they participated in the activity that I had created, I stopped for a moment and thought to myself, this is definitely something I can see myself doing for living. The little amount of work I put into preparing the activity was definitely worthwhile seeing them enjoy themselves and have a good time. (Intermediate/Secondary Intern)
Excellent experience thus far
My internship has been an excellent experience thus far. My nervous energy over the Christmas break was quickly replaced with a sense of comfort as I have been placed with a great leader as my co-operating teacher.
Due to the midterms at the end of January it was a slow start for me – but last week I started teaching full lessons. I am taking over two classes for now – I have been busy planning the units. I didn’t realize how much time it takes to prepare and I also under estimated the importance of being organized!
I have also started tutoring, which has taken up a fair bit of my free time. Loving the experience and looking forward to teaching the unit that I have planned. Hope everyone is having a fantastic internship! (Secondary Intern)
An incredible learning experience for me
These past few weeks have been an incredible learning experience for me. The staff members at my school have been very supportive and I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn from their experiences. I have learned that it is very beneficial to communicate with everyone – other interns and other teachers. Even if they don’t share the same teachable areas, there is still a lot to learn from them.
At my school, I am currently teaching Writing 2203 and two classes of English 3201. I am almost finished teaching the Writing 2203 class how to write a formal research paper and will begin grading them on
Tuesday. After that, we will move on to a full Unit on writing Poetry! In English 3201, we have started The Catcher and the Rye.
I am often a nervous public speaker so initially the thought of teaching five classes a day was a source of some anxiety for me. I still get nervous before beginning every class. However, I have found that this internship has been incredibly beneficial for me in that regard. It gets easier every day as I become more and more comfortable with teaching a classroom full of high school students!
In fact, I find that interacting with the students is the best part of the job. My favorite lessons are the ones that are the most interactive. I encourage my students to participate, share ideas, and ask questions as often as possible. My favorite part of teaching so far has definitely been the class discussions that I have conducted in the classroom. It is so interesting to hear the perspectives of my students on key issues and the chance to share their opinion often gets them much more enthusiastic about the topic.
The best one so far has been a discussion on “Censorship and The Catcher and the Rye”. I have found out that high school students have some wild ideas about what should and should not be censored!
In conclusion, I am really enjoying my internship so far and I am excited about what the following weeks will bring! (Secondary Intern)
So eye opening
The first few weeks at my school have been so eye opening! It was really different to experience exam period and exam correcting from a teacher perspective.
It was also interesting to get to help with the special services unit by administering exams for students with learning disabilities. I’ve taken over two of my teachers six classes since I’ve arrived and I’m really happy about how comfortable I am teaching.
I really enjoy taking the time to speak with the students and establishing relationships with them. Since I’ve been here, I’ve learned all of the students’ names which I have found to make a big difference in the level of respect I get. I can’t wait to see what’s to come! (Secondary Intern)
Far different than when I was in school
Since I have started the internship in January, I have noticed many things about students that are far different than when I was in school. I have only been out of the K-12 school system for 10 years but there have been considerable changes to the classroom in this amount of time, especially technology-wise.
Every day I have noticed that my co-operating teacher is constantly checking her e-mails, be they from parents or other teachers, and that it is important that she answer them promptly.
As an emerging teacher I am now starting to see the many things that we will have to juggle as classroom teachers. There are extra-curricular activities, field trip money and permission slips, fundraisers, and school events just to name a few. It seems overwhelming to do all of these things and also prepare lessons, have parent meetings, correct papers, and be a great teacher when actually delivering the lesson. I have also found that while I could have the perfect lesson planned, it will never go according to plan.
My teacher has given me some great advice about being a teacher, and that is to go with the flow, have a plan but do not be afraid to veer off of it. It is important to do what is right for the students to increase their understanding, and help them express themselves. Also, there may be a dozen things that need to be done in a prep period but just do what is most important at the time, the other things will still be there later.
Overall, I am having a wonderful experience in my internship, and though teaching my encompass many different aspects, I can’t wait to enter the teaching profession next September. I look forward to the rest of my internship; I have learned so much thus far and look forward to the next 2 months. (Secondary Intern)
Slowly becoming part of the fabric of the school
I’m back at my old high school for the internship, something for which I am very thankful. I am amazed at how the same school spirit that was present when I was there a decade ago is still there. It is both strange and awesome to now be on the “other side” of things in the classroom; yet I feel very much at home. I feel as if I am slowly becoming part of the fabric of the school.
There is still so much to learn, but the amount I am learning has been increasing exponentially. There are still some nerves just before I have to teach, but as soon as I’m up there, that goes away.
The best part is seeing the kids reflect back to you the things that you taught them. It is amazing when you manage to make something ‘click’ within their minds. The workload is high, but the payoff is even higher.
Having a great time and learning a lot
Being out on my internship has been an eye opening experience. I am having a great time and learning a lot.
Junior high students are definitely a rare breed and each day brings something completely different. I have begun teaching a number of classes and I now know how much planning goes into getting ready for every class. I believe I have become more comfortable with each class I teach and I am loving every minute of the experience.
My co-operating teacher has been a great sounding board for my ideas and has given me great advice. I am looking forward to the coming weeks and will hopefully continue to learn and get better with each day.
No regrets on my career choice thus far
So far my internship as been going great! It’s been a very interesting and enjoyable experience to say the least. I am learning a lot about the teaching profession and have no regrets on my career choice thus far.
I enjoy the school environment and day to day atmosphere in the school. I am learning a lot about teaching and I think my class management skills are improving.
Some notable things I have noticed so far would be that I initially excepted the skill level of students to be higher, and trying to relate to them is definitely a challenge sometimes. I am learning lots about assessment and I enjoy the grading part of teaching. I love exit cards and I think they are a great form of assessment. I am getting good feedback from my co-operating teacher and he says I am doing a good job.
I know almost all students’ names now and I am building a good relationship with students. I am also getting to know more about the teaching profession outside the classroom, and I have sat in on a staff and divisional meeting, and I also met with people from the board about improving our Math program in our school.
I have a good relationship with my staff, and I have been at events outside of school with them, ball hockey every Sunday to name one. It’s nice to see that I am in school where the staff gets along so well. I am also involved in all the sports teams in the school, and I volunteered to chaperone the Valentine’s dance last week. I try to get involved in as many extra-curricular events as possible.
Finally, I always wanted to be a Physical Education teacher, and I love the physical education portion, but on my internship I am now realizing how much I love in the classroom teaching Math. Oh, bus duty, corridor duty and lunch duty aren’t so much fun! (Intermediate Intern)
How really busy every day is
My first few weeks have been a truly amazing experience! Every day is a learning experience in which I have been learning a great deal. It is very eye opening to see how really busy every day is as a teacher. There is always something that has to be done. Duty, planning, correcting – all have to be completed and on times can all seem to occur at once. However, it is most defiantly worth it. I have had the opportunity to observe and teach both in the gymnasium and classroom and this has been a great experience. I have learned a great deal so far and am very lucky to have a staff full of teachers with an abundance of experience who are willing to share their knowledge with me. It has been a very valuable experience so far and I am looking forward to the remaining weeks. (Intermediate Intern)
Had a ton of fun doing this
Over the past month I have been prepping to take over half of my co-operating teacher’s courses. He is a strong believer in using as many visuals as possible to get students engaged. Today alone, I used a two minute video of Alexandre Bilodeau win gold (GO CANADA GO!) in men’s moguls in Sochi to explain Impulse and Momentum. I also jumped off the desk and broke a board (karate style) to reiterate the topic. I’ve noticed the more you can entertain the students while they learn the more you can cover in class. I found students can answer my questions about Physics much easier if they have something to relate it to.
All of these real life examples really seem to make the topics hit home. I thank my co-operating teacher for this because since day one he has told me that you need to take risks to become better. I also have had a ton of fun doing this. Between iPads, SMART Boards, lab equipment, and so on, technology in the classroom makes life much easier as a teacher. I’ve noticed over my short period of time here that making students think about science through activities not only interests them but saves time since they get the topic much faster. The next 30 years is going to go by quick! (Secondary Intern)
Can be tiring and a little stressful
So far the internship has been everything I thought it would be and more. I feel as though I have learned so much already and we’ve only scratched the surface. Since I was in elementary school I’ve never for a minute doubted that I wanted to be a teacher and this internship has really solidified my decision and I know I’ve made the right career choice.
I realize that I have probably been blessed in the sense that I’ve been placed in an amazing school with very respectful students but I quickly realized the importance of being consistent in the classroom especially when it comes to solving discipline problems. At the beginning of the internship, my grade 9 class pushed to see what I would let them away with. Being consistent with the rules lets them know what is and is not acceptable and for the most part they are respectful of the rules.
While the long hours planning can be tiring and a little stressful, I know the time is worth it when I am in front of the class and the students are engaged in the lesson. So far the internship has been great, and I have to admit I will be sad when it is time to leave in April.
Now that we are in the middle of February, and we are about halfway through our internship, I am finding myself more comfortable teaching, even compared to a couple of weeks ago. I found that when I first started teaching I was beyond nervous.
All these questions started popping up in my head; “What if they don’t like me?”; “What if I can’t explain something properly?”; “What if I can’t get them to be quiet and settle down?”; “What if they start doing poorly?; Is that because I’m not doing a good enough job?”. Then, when I actually started teaching my first class, the students were just staring at me; there wasn’t a sound in the room (which made it more nerve-wreaking), and none of them looked like they had any idea what was happening.
However, now that time has passed, I am much more comfortable standing in front of them, telling them to settle down if they are being loud or disruptive, and I know now that they are actually learning from me. I realized that I didn’t need to be as nervous as I first thought.
All the students are really respectful and know that this is my first time teaching; they realize that it may take me a couple of times to find a way to explain a concept that everyone understands. I find that with the help of the staff and my co-operating teacher (who have all been incredibly supportive), I am able to find ways to reach different types of students and make the learning environment a good one for everyone. (Intermediate Intern)
Couldn’t have hoped for a better experience
As a physical education major, my ultimate goal was to get some time teaching my passion. I spent the first two weeks feeling out the classroom and getting to know my students. After that, I was invited to partake in a few Physical Education classes. I feel like this internship is providing me with the best of two worlds.
As I expected, I love seeing the students get active and letting themselves relax and enjoy their time in the gymnasium.
However, I also found that I enjoy teaching in the classroom and building relationships with the students more than I thought I would. Overall, I am looking forward to being given more responsibilities as I get more comfortable in my teaching roles. I couldn’t have hoped for a better experience. (Primary Intern)
Eye-opening and profoundly rewarding
My internship experience has thus far been both eye-opening and profoundly rewarding. The majority of my grade 5 students receive some form of additional support for their educational needs and are from backgrounds of low socioeconomic development; as a group, their behavior is far from exemplary. I have grown to really admire these students and what they are able to achieve despite their personal situations and have learned a great deal about behavior management, differentiated instruction and patience, in its truest sense, from my co-operating teacher.
The types of situations which have arisen in the classroom are often starkly different from those discussed or cited in the literature studied in class. I have learned that experience, concern for the betterment of children and true passion for teaching are often the only factors necessary to resolve challenges in the classroom as effectively as my co-operating teacher does; I aspire to that level of proficiency in my own career.
I have also learned that organization, time management, creativity and problem solving skills are key to facilitating the teaching and learning processes and I have focused a great deal of energy into learning the ‘tricks of the trade’ from the teachers at my school. The language and theory studied throughout the program is finally being put into practice and the practice is opening my eyes to what it is like to actually teach.
I am truly enjoying this experience and having students write poems and letters expressing their gratitude for my help, jokes and patience is the greatest feeling in the world; this feeling reassures me that I am making a positive difference to the lives of children who may have little, if any, positive male influences in their lives.
I do not envy my peers who may be placed in “ideal” classrooms with less challenging students as it is these challenges that make me aware of the issues and obstacles that the real world places in front of children. Their resilience and strength to move past the issues, even for a short period of time, and to show me, a relative stranger, respect, kindness and co-operation is truly remarkable and well-worth the blood, sweat and tears of learning to be a teacher. (Lastly balancing my internship with my “money making job” has been exceptionally challenging. I essentially have two full time jobs! (Elementary Intern)
Recommended Book Resource For All Interns
Brother Sun, Sister Moon
Written (reimagined) by Katherine Paterson
Illustrated by: Pamela Dalton
San Francisco: Handprint Books (2011)
Wondrously portrayed in Scherenschnitte (scissor cuts), The Canticle of the Sun written by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1824, is “reimagined” by Katherine Paterson, author of so many beloved novels for children. This immense undertaking by both author and illustrator will resonate with all of us as we traverse through the pages, not knowing whether to read the words first or revel in the illustrations.
Scherenschnitte is an ancient technique from Germany of cutting each picture out of a single piece of paper, carefully folding the pages, once, twice, or however many times needed for the symmetry we want as an effect. In this story the paper cuts were then painted with watercolors. Words cannot do justice to the artwork in this book, one needs to spend time with the illustrations.
The original prayer is included at the back of the book, while the double page spreads, verses, and paper cuts take us from birth to death. The words and illustrations have reverence and beauty. The following example is of Sister Moon, “We praise you for Sister Moon and all our Sister Stars, who clothe the night with their beauty and, like you, watch over us while we sleep”. The paper cuts in whites and ivories, with the animals in nature underneath the night skies, lovingly surround these words to give us a sense of peace and life and joy.
Meant for all ages, this prayer/poem/canticle, almost 800 years later leaves us with praise and wonder for the world in which we live.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“The worst achievement gap is the work we
do and the salary we get!”
The Story of Little teddy Stoddard
For this truly inspirational story about how teachers can impact students, go to:
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“See Sally blog. Blog, Sally, blog. Blog. Blog. Blog.”
Former Students’ Update
This feature is unavailable this week. It will return in next week’s issue.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“That’s a tough question, Mrs. Mason. My right
brain has one answer and my left brain has another!”
Re Intern Submissions
Interns, if you have sent in a submission for the eMEMO and it has not yet been published in one of these issues, please email the editor as this is an obvious oversight – we print all submissions. However, with the increasing number of submissions, it can sometimes happen that the occasional submission gets overlooked.
Concluding Comment From the Editor
That’s it for issue # 5. Again our thanks to all those interns who sent in submissions for this issue – your taking the time to write these is most appreciated. A record number of submissions this week – 14 – most impressive.
Hockey-wise, our Friday night scrimmage game at St. Bon’s continues – apart from the editor being held pointless this week, we’re all having a wonderful time and “living the dream”!
Watched the US v. Russian hockey game in the Sochi Winter Olympics on Saturday – what a game! Pavel Datsyuk and TJ Oshie stole the show!
Headed home in a few minutes to watch the Canada v. Finland game – should be a great one!
And lastly, have a good week everyone.