Good afternoon and welcome to issue # 7 of The Monday eMemo. Just arrived in my office a little while ago after watching the men’s gold medal hockey game. More on the womens’ and mens’ winning gold in my concluding comments. Interns you have approximately 6 and 7 weeks left – intermediate/secondary and primary/elementary respectively. From the comments that keep coming into the eMEMO, it appears that the vast majority of you are having quite a successful time in the classroom. May that success continue and may you make the best of those remaining weeks. As some of you have already mentioned, you’ll be sad to see the internship end. That’s a much better feeling than the alternative! Enjoy this issue everyone.
Feedback From This Year’s Interns (2013-2014)
Sincerely scared of what awaited me
Walking into this internship, I had a combination of different opinions thrown at me. I was sincerely scared of what awaited me at the school where I was headed. Thank goodness I was pleasantly surprised. So far my internship has been a lesson in expect the unexpected and things are not as they appear. (Intermediate Intern)
Impressed with the helpfulness and respect
As a physical education teacher intern returning to a rural junior high school, I am impressed with the helpfulness and respect that I continue to be receive from all in this school – students, teachers, and staff.
The most memorable part of my internship is most definitely the planning and organizing of our very own 2014 Olympics. We had been planning from the start of my internship in January until we had our opening ceremonies on Friday, February 7th and closing ceremonies on Friday, February 21st. All students, teachers and staff in the school were involved in both the opening and closing ceremonies and it went very well. Activities were organized for every recess time, lunch time and Physical Education class with medals being awarded to first, second, and third place finishers in all activities.
I believe that school events such as these allow the school community to build and grow as well as help in the understanding of important concepts such as respect and sportsmanship. Needless to say, once I have my own opportunity to hold an Olympics at my own school I hope that I am capable of creating a successful one such as this. (Intermediate Intern)
There have been ups and downs
There have been ups and downs, and there’s definitely a learning curve, but on the whole I am very pleased with my internship so far. The kids are awesome, the faculty and staff are very supportive, and I have been made to feel welcome.
I know I still have work to do as a teacher. I am nervous sometimes, I am working to be a better organizer, and there are moments when I’m not so sure the kids take my authority seriously. That said, the good by far outweighs the bad. I have fun at school every day! The best thing ever is when they look really keen about what you’re saying and you’re able to get them excited. It makes me smile just thinking about it.
I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to create entire units here, too. It’s been daunting, but also so rewarding and eye-opening. I am thrilled to be teaching about media literacy and the changing role of the audience in modern journalism, for example.
I think I’m starting to get a better sense of myself as a teacher. I also think it will be a sad goodbye when April 2nd rolls around!
A great experience for me
This internship has been a great experience for me so far, and I’m really looking forward to having my own class in the future. This past week has had numerous amounts of great teaching experience for me as I got to see what parent teacher interviews are like as well as teaching classes and observing a bit of the Olympics.
My school is quite close knit, and seeing how everyone is coming together or stopping in the hallway to check the scores of the games and showing a great amount of team spirit has been amazing. These past couple of days I spent some time with the cadets during their seamanship weekend, and I am looking forward to going skating with them later tonight.
Overall, I really have seemed to integrate myself into the school environment quite well and have formed many positive relationships with both the students and the staff at my school. (Intermediate-Secondary Intern)
Keep me well on my toes
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to have my internship with two different grades. I spend my mornings with 19 happy, energetic Kindergartens. They keep me well on my toes and they make me feel like I am the most important person in the world. Whether it is helping them write their letters, to wiping away their tears, I know I am appreciated by each child.
My afternoons are spent with 18 wonderful and pleasant grade fives. The Fantastic Fives they like to call themselves. I have learned so much from these students and have built many close relationships and I have gained respect from each student. My co-operating teachers are full of useful information and loads of energy. They have taught me the skills that are needed to be an effective teacher and a go-to person for the students. This is an amazing experience and I know there will be many tears shed when I have to leave. (Primary-Elementary Intern)
A bit slow
Well the first few weeks were a bit slow, due to the teachers and students preparing for midterm exams, so I never really had much to do besides correcting papers and helping out a bit in class. It wasn’t until the first week of February that I really got to step into the teaching role and teach classes. The classes I am teaching are World History, Canadian History, English 1201, Art 2200 and 3200. So my plate is nice and full.
I would say that one of the main things that stands out is helping with the Art Club after school. There are a great bunch of students in the art club and they really come up with great ideas. I’m also currently working on a group art project with one of the Art classes. The project involves culture and students researching their own culture. All of the students in that class are from Newfoundland so they are creating images of what Newfoundland means to them.
I also decided on getting the class to build a life-sized dory out of foam core; might sound a bit crazy I know but it has been fun. The life of an art teacher should never be too linear. So, on this dory the students want to create graffiti style images of Newfoundland to go along with their other images. This whole project, when finished, will be put on display in the school library for all the faculty, staff and public to view. So the process of this project has been exciting and it has been looking good so far. (Secondary Intern)
Very nervous when I first started
It is so great to finally be able to foster my skills in the classroom. Having spent my mini-internship in a junior high school focusing on one teachable, English, and now completing my main internship zeroing in on my other one, French, in a high school, I feel like I have gained a valuable varied teaching experience.
I can’t believe that the internship is already half over but I am definitely milking every minute of it. The school I am at is substantially larger than my high school and is thus a sizable adjustment to me (no pun intended). I have been introduced to so many quintessential components of the changing education system in Newfoundland: flipping the classroom, semesterization, International Baccalaureate program, Advanced Placement, and also many facets of 21st century teaching.
I was very nervous when I first started but I had a very fast adjustment time and now I find that I am very at ease with my class and I have developed a great rapport with my students.
I have made strong efforts to get involved with extracurricular activities with the school and have been already involved with leadership activities, speak-off competitions, backstage work on a play, breakfast program, and hopefully more to come! As my workload increases, so does my responsibility as an intern and my development as a teacher.
I am looking forward to the latter half of my internship with eyes wide open and a thirst to experience as much as I can. I do miss my classmates and I will be seeing everyone else back at MUN very soon, I am sure that these next two months are going to fly by. Best of luck to everyone, see you all on the flip-side! (Secondary Intern)
Full of ups paired with a few mini downs
My internship this far has been full of ups paired with a few mini downs here and there. I am learning new things every day, and becoming more comfortable with my role as an educator. I have had a slow start with the mid-terms but am now starting to get back into the swing of things and feeling more like a ‘real’ teacher.
Before coming into my internship I had anticipated my biggest struggles coming from dealing with discipline, and that has proved correct so far. I am amazed at how rude and disrespectful some students can be, and am having some trouble exerting my authority when dealing with them. I am sure it is something that will become easier as I grow more comfortable with my role.
Other than these few things, I am truly enjoying my time at my school and I believe I have chosen the correct career choice for me. (Secondary Intern)
Learning that teaching is about attitude
We are now over halfway through our internship and one thing that becomes more and more apparent as time passes is that there is much more to teaching than standing up in front of a class and giving notes or assigning seatwork.
I am learning that teaching is about attitude. At the end of the day, your students are more likely to remember your mood and attitude than your brilliant lecture on the beginning of the Cold War. Even the most dazzling lesson won’t stick with them if you acted like a condescending grouch for an hour. They’re going to remember how you treated them and whether or not you talked to them with respect. They’ll know if you were being yourself or if you were just putting on a persona of a “teacher”. Kids can really sniff out a phoney a mile away.
My school recently had a PD Day and one thing that was said that really stuck with me was this: “It is not important what your students achieve in your classroom, it is important what they become in your classroom.” As teachers, we are preparing students for life after school, and we need to be proud of the young people that we are sending out into the real world, and in order to do this, a good attitude goes a long way.
Questioned whether I would be a good teacher
Going into my internship I was very nervous. I questioned whether I would be a good teacher, whether I would be able to communicate things to my students in ways that would help them to understand. Mostly I questioned whether I would be able to manage the classroom and handle behavior issues.
I am generally a shy person and I need to take some time getting to know and be comfortable with people. Being authoritative definitely did not come naturally to me. However, I got to know the students in my classes quickly and have come to have a great relationship with them. I have learned things from them and I have had the fantastic experience of watching as they develop and learn the things I am teaching. I have recently done tutorials after school with students and have had days where school trips resulted in low attendance in my classes. These scenarios allowed the opportunity to interact with students on a one on one basis without having to worry about having time to get around to all the other students in one class. This allowed the students and me to figure out exactly where each of them was having issues, correct understanding and approach things in different ways.
It is so unbelievably rewarding to sit beside students and guide and watch them as they come to a realization or finally understand something. I have really come to care about and love all of my students as well as what I’ve been doing; I think the students see this. I haven’t had to be authoritative to manage the classroom or behavior but instead built a relationship of mutual respect and simply discuss things and reason with my students when issues arise. I knew that this was necessary but before this internship, I really didn’t believe it would be so effective. Now I don’t worry about my ability to teach; I’m much more confident and just loving what I’m doing. (Secondary Intern)
Our Congratulations to Dr. Gerry White
on successfully defending his Ph.D. dissertation this past Friday. Gerry works as a research specialist with the Faculty of Education. He was a doctoral candidate in the Division of Community Health and Humanities in the Faculty of Medicine. Gerry’s dissertation was on school bullying. Well done indeed.
Recommended Book Resource For Primary-Elementary Interns
How Smudge Came
Written by: Nan Gregory
Illustrated by: Ron Lightburn
Alberta: Northern Lights Books for Children, 1995
Good books age well, and that is true for this Canadian tale of how Smudge came to live with Cindy. The first words of the story, coupled with the pencil drawings of Cindy walking in the rain and spying a puppy scrounging in an overturned garbage pail, draw us in:
If there’s one thing Cindy knows, this is no place for a puppy. Up goes the puppy, tucked into her bag. Home goes Cindy.
Cindy has developmental challenges and lives in a group home where no pets are allowed. But, when Cindy sees the abandoned puppy she cannot resist sneaking him into her room. “Puppy sleeps under Cindy’s covers. If there’s one thing Cindy knows, this is her best friend”. She takes him with her next day to the Hospice where she works and keeps him in the big pocket of her apron. The patients at the Hospice take heart when they see Cindy with the puppy, whom Cindy calls Smudge. However, when she gets home she has been found out and Smudge is taken
from her because she is told she is not able to take care of a puppy.
Next day, the patients are disappointed there is no Smudge and one patient tells Cindy how to get to the SPCA, where she visits the puppy after work. Cindy goes back to the SPCA on Saturday, but Smudge is gone, so Cindy sits forlorn in the park. At home she is told that she needs to go to the Hospice first thing Sunday morning and she and the workers at the group home think Cindy has done something wrong.
When Cindy gets to the Hospice, everyone is in the living room. “If there’s one thing Cindy doesn’t need, it’s another scolding”. She closes her eyes and something soft is placed in her arms. The Hospice is going to keep Smudge there, “for you, Cindy. For all of us”.
“If there’s one thing Cindy knows, this is the perfect place for a puppy”.
This story about a girl who needs a puppy and a puppy who needs a girl is a tender example of how relationships are central to all of us.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“My teacher says we have to write our homework
in cursive but I can’t find a font for that!”
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“That’s it? That’s your teacher recruitment plan!.”
Former Students’ Update
Aaron Power (B. Ed., 2008)
Since finishing Education in 2008, I’ve been fortunate enough to be employed in a full-time job and have become permanent and tenured. I started my career at Beaconsfield Junior High and in my second year applied to teach at Mount Pearl Intermediate where I have been teaching ever since. In my first position, I taught Core French to grades 7 and 9 and French Immersion Science and Math. At Mount Pearl Intermediate I’ve been mostly teaching Science and Social Studies in the French Immersion stream as well.
After 5 years of teaching I feel confident about my decision to teach and I thoroughly enjoy most aspects of the job. That’s not to pretend that teaching is without its challenges. My first year was a struggle at times, with lots of emotional ups and downs, a fair bit of self-doubt and reflection, but lots of personal growth and lessons learned as well. Teaching can be very emotionally and physically draining if you allow it to be.
Classroom management was also a challenge my first year. I completed my internship at a private English school in Phuket, Thailand where classroom management took care of itself and the beach was a great place to burn off some stress (and flesh with a couple of sunburns unfortunately!). I also tried to be involved in as many extra-curricular activities as possible in my first year, and between the learning curve of first year teaching and over-exertion, I often found myself out of steam. Nonetheless, I left my first year feeling encouraged that I would continue to teach and that I would eventually learn to love the career.
So what’s the advice that one might be able to take from this?
Volunteering is important. It allows you to get to know students outside of the classroom, which helps with classroom management, and it also helps to establish your investment in the school community. Nevertheless, it is important not to take on too much, especially during your first year. Choose activities that you enjoy doing and for which you won’t regret giving time and not too many activities. I still often find myself doing more than I probably should and while I normally enjoy this, sometimes I can’t find enough time in the day to get everything done.
Classroom management is a practice that gets perfected over time. Being consistent and fair sounds easy in theory, but takes time to realize what it truly means and how to implement this in your classroom. It’s important to set out your own expectations for behavior early in the year and to constantly remind students of these. Different teachers do have slightly different expectations and sometimes when students act a certain way they are not trying to be rude, but may do things differently in other classes (This is not always the case). It is also very important to get to know your students – including their likes and dislikes – but not to act as one of their friends. Students, especially junior high students, may love you dearly one day and dislike you passionately the next. It is important not to let their emotions affect your decisions and to act fairly and accordingly in given situations.
Organization is key! Keeping track of hundreds of students is daunting. Establishing routines and good organizational practices makes life so much easier. Take attendance immediately. Get students into good habits, such as taking out their books, sharpening their pencils, and being ready before you! Keep track of when things are due and who passes what in when. Be prepared for lessons and number and/or label sheets to help students organize themselves.
Parents can be your best friends or your worst nightmares. The key to remember is that most parents want the absolute best for and from their children. Staying in contact with parents is important, not only for negative reasons, such as misbehavior, but also for positive reasons or reminders. And always remember, no matter how frustrated you may be with certain students, they are most likely someone’s pride and joy. Be constructive and use precise examples – but don’t let emotion cloud your judgment.
Lastly, it is important to keep everything in perspective. If you and your students can come to a building where they learn, feel safe, have fun (occasionally!) and push themselves to become the best that they can be, you’re doing a fine job. Every student and every class are different and there is no “one size fits all” approach – though best practices help you to get there. Be flexible. Set expectations that are high enough for students to achieve, but not so far out of their reach that they can’t see them. And finally, no matter how closely you follow these suggestions, not every day will go exactly how you imagine or desire. Realize that you’re human too, and until androids are in charge, appreciate the ebb and flow. While teaching is, in a very clichéd way, often “thankless”, when a student returns years later to tell you about their life or about how much they enjoyed your class, it makes it all worthwhile.
Best of luck and I hope you enjoy yourselves as much as I do in this career!
Aaron Power is from Grand Falls and received his B.A. in French from MUN in 2007.
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.