Greetings from the Education Building here at MUN and welcome to issue # 8. It’s been a fairly quiet week with the Olympics having ended last Sunday and the NHL resuming on Wednesday night past. February is but a memory and we’re now into what has traditionally been called in Newfoundland, “the long, lean, hungry month of March”! Interns, this month signals the final weeks of your internship and we’re sure you’ll be “flat out” in these remaining weeks. In this week’s issue along with the regular intern submissions, we have a very very interesting “Former Students’ Update” from Ms. Ramey Adams, a MUN 2006 B.Ed. graduate currently living in California. Enjoy!
Feedback From This Year’s Interns (2013-2014)
It’s what I’ve been dreaming of
Every morning when the alarm goes off, I can’t believe that I am finally here, doing my internship at a rewarding school with a lovely group of students and staff. It’s what I have been dreaming of since my own first day of Primary/Elementary school.
Every day is an adventurous journey, full of new knowledge, skills, helpful hints, and encouraging, kind words. Thus far, it has been simply amazing.
My co-operating teacher is nicer than I ever imagined; she is a thoughtful, warm-welcoming, effective individual, who I wish to grow into as I finish my internship.
My students are awesome, to say the least. Each and every one of them brings to the table, unique personalities, characteristics, and behaviors that has helped me grow into a future teacher.
Of course, every day is not perfect. . . however, certainly not in a bad way. Trying to establish myself in the classroom, based on classroom management, has been a challenge. Discovering who I am as a teacher is definitely taking time, but as I’ve been told, this is a normal happening; finding out who you are as a teacher is an everyday process, fluctuating as you uncover new strategies and learn new things.
As weeks pass, and the end is near, I can’t help but feel sad knowing I have to leave such a wonderful school and group of people. However, this is just a chapter in my teaching career, and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store. The immeasurable impact that my co-operating teacher, students, and staff have on me will definitely prepare me for what’s to come. (Elementary Intern)
Lately my confidence has been increasing
So far, my internship has been great. I’m completing my internship in a K-12 school in a rural community in Newfoundland. My co-operating teacher is responsible for grade 7-11 Core French. As of right now, I’m teaching two classes of grade 7, two classes of grade 8, and grade 11 Core French and will be taking two classes of grade 9 within the next couple of weeks!
I was so nervous at first about being able to deal with behavioral issues in the classroom, I was afraid that the students wouldn’t listen to me. As well, I often lack confidence in myself, but lately my confidence has been increasing. Just a few days ago, when doing review with my grade 7 students, I asked them if they remembered how to do a certain structure that I had taught them a few weeks before. As soon as I asked the question, a bunch of them started to recite what I had said to them almost word for word along with the little analogy I used to help them remember it. It was such a proud moment for me!
As well, my co-operating teacher told me that one of my grade 11 students came up to her and told her that she was really enjoying French lately and she’s excited about going to class! It made me feel so great. It really gave me that extra confidence that I really needed. The little things are what make teaching so enjoyable.
I cannot believe that there is only about a month left to this internship. Time has flown by so quickly but I’m looking forward to all that is left to come. Hopefully there are many more awesome moments.
I don’t get nervous anymore
My internship experience has been great so far. I’m back at my old high school and the school I interned at in October. The staff and students are amazing and every day I look forward to going to school.
In the first week I was a little nervous, but my co-operating teacher gave me great advice and I started teaching right away. I don’t get nervous anymore in front of my class, and I feel like I have a great connection with all of my students.
I’ve been helping out with a few extra-curricular activities, and on Thursday the school had a science fair which I helped judge. It was interesting to be the one judging and to see how much work students put into these projects. I am going to be so sad when I leave this school in April; it has been such an amazing experience so far. (Intermediate-Secondary Intern)
I’m starting to warm up to the junior highs
So far it had been a great experience including taking over the majority of teaching, helping coaching the senior high ice hockey and ball hockey teams and getting to experience various aspects such as parent-teacher meetings, staff meetings and IEP meetings.
I’ve been teaching both Phys Ed and Tech Ed courses ranging from grade 7-12 and I’ve really been enjoying it so far. At first I only wanted to teach senior high, but I’m starting to warm up to the junior highs as well. Teaching the Tech courses in the shop has been an eye-opening experience. I was a little nervous the first day when I let the grade 8s use the power tools, but they surprised me and were very respectful with the tools and used them properly. I found so far that if you let them be a part of the safety rule selection and trust them, they will surprise you.
The coaching during my internship has allowed me to see the students in a different light and has actually changed some of my trouble makers in the gym into respectful helpers. Now that they see me differently, they respect me more.
Sitting in on an IEP meeting has reinforced my belief in inclusion in the school environment. Seeing this student in the gym and the response from the other students in the classroom is an amazing experience and is definitely something I will continue to do as a future teacher.
I’ll end with a question: How does an intern go about getting their internship extended until the end of June and still get credit for their MUN courses? Enjoy the last few weeks of your internship before we head back to MUN to complete our transition from intern to a real teacher. (Intermediate-Secondary Intern)
Getting them to accept you as a teacher
The greatest challenge with a new class of students is getting them to accept you as a teacher; as a person who is worthwhile to listen to, and can be trusted.
My first few classes went well but getting the students to participate was like pulling teeth. They didn’t know me, and that silenced them. It was difficult to see how much they were absorbing, and what areas they were finding hard.
My first step was to learn their names and try to speak with more of them individually while they did worksheets, in order to make them more comfortable. I knew that they were coming to trust me one day when I saw a hand go up in the back of the class and I heard,
“Sir, I have no clue what you’ve been talking about for the past five minutes.”
While this may have not been a great compliment to how I was teaching that subject, it made me happy because I knew that the class and I were starting to work together. (Intermediate-Secondary Intern)
Recommended Book Resource For Primary-Elementary Interns
Dear Peter Rabbit
Written by: Alma Flor Ada
Illustrated by: Leslie Tryon
New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (1994)
Alma Flor Ada and Leslie Tryon started a delightful play on words and play on fairy tales when they collaborated on this first of four books, filled with letters and illustrations to entertain us. Knowledge of fairy tales is required to get the most out of this set of books: (1) Dear Peter Rabbit; (2) Yours Truly, Goldilocks; (3) With Love, Little Red Hen; and (4) Extra! Extra! Fairy Tale News from Hidden Forest.
Dear Peter Rabbit begins with a letter to Peter from Pig One. Who is Pig One? Why the famous little pig that built a house out of straw! Pig One is inviting Peter to a house warming party. Peter Rabbit is sick and cannot attend, and a few letters later Pig One writes saying the house-warming party didn’t happen because, “Can you imagine who came knocking at the door? The Big Bad Wolf. Since I refused to open the door and let him in, he started huffing and puffing, and would you believe, he blew my whole house down!” So, now there is going to be a house-warming party at Pig Two’s house. But, of course, we all know that that party didn’t happen either, as Pig one explains in another letter, saying, “Lucky for us, we outran that old wolf and made it safely to Pig Three’s house”. So now there is a new party planned.
Interspersed with these letters are letters back and forth between Baby Bear and Goldilocks, and in one of the letters Goldilocks describes how she saw a little girl in red talking to a wolf. We are introduced to several familiar characters through illustrations and letters as we turn the pages in anticipation. And then, there is an unexpected letter from a favourite character.
Wolfy, who had that famous encounter with the little girl in red, writes to his cousin Fer to commiserate over Fer ending up losing his tail to Pig Three’s pot of soup. Wolfy laments, “Perhaps we would do well to change our diet. It is not a pleasant prospect, but it may be in our own best interest to avoid young girls and pigs from now on”.
The rest of the characters end up at a delightful party, and the next book begins with Goldilocks. Wolfy and Fer return, and we are introduced to more familiar fairy tale friends to have fun with through their letters and familiar adventures told with novel twists. This set of books will delight both young ones and the young at heart, as we laugh and revel in fairy tales meant for all.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“My Mom put it on. She said you’d get it off!”
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“I appreciate all the wisdom, but just give me the
stuff that will be on the test!”
Former Students’ Update
Ramey Adams (B. Ed., 2006)
I graduated from MUN in 2006 with a Bachelor of Education (Intermediate/Secondary); my main “teachable” is Science. I then moved to Mississauga, Ontario with my future husband. I was unable to find a teaching job right away. Most boards hire early in the year; I arrived in the fall. In the spring I was hired by the Peel District School Board as a supply teacher for the following school year. I was also lucky to have supply taught at a few private schools in the area. I had to take a retail job in the meantime and also started tutoring with an agency in order to gain some teaching experience.
As a supply teacher I worked almost every day. Peel gives you two schools that will call you first. I could also accept jobs online which was very convenient. I accepted all supply jobs no matter the subject. Hence I was able to get to know the staff and students at one of the schools as I was there so much. I supply taught at the other school for the Science Department one day and a few weeks later was called to interview for a maternity leave contract. I was lucky and was given the position. This was in the spring of 2007.
I stayed at this school for the next three years. It is a high school, grades 9 to 12. I taught grade nine Geography once. I did have to take one Geography course at the University of Toronto in order to get a second teachable for my Ontario teaching certification. The rest of the time I taught 9 and 10 General Science. I taught mostly academic classes but did teach two grade nine college prep classes.
Over these three years, unfortunately I was not able to secure a permanent contract with this school or board. My husband was not happy with his job so we left Ontario and traveled around Europe and the Middle East. I returned to Ontario to complete a few more contracts but we decided to give living in California a try and made the move. We knew I would not be able to work because it would be difficult for me to get a work visa, and because of the current state of education in California. But I did know I could at least volunteer and who knew what other opportunities would arise.
One day we were at the farmers’ market hosted by the Grove School, a Montessori charter school in Redlands, California, where we now live. I met the principal of the school, mentioned my situation as a teacher but unable to work but very willing to volunteer. I met with her after the Christmas break in 2011 and have been volunteering there since.
I am currently waiting for my work permit which should arrive in the next few months. My husband and I are lucky in that we are getting our green cards much sooner than most Canadians do. The principal is also excited because she is planning that I will be teaching next year. I feel very lucky because this is a pretty cool school. The Grove has junior grades, 7 to 9, and is a working farm. They have a small flock of chickens, four goats, two pigs, a large vegetable garden and small citrus orchard. We just started selling produce to a local grocery store, restaurant and food co-op. I help out mostly in the garden. We are teaching the students how to grow food but also the science behind how food grows. So we look at the chemistry of the soil, biological systems and relationships, as well as the economics of running a business.
It was a tough start for me. I was very excited to start teaching but was not so aware of the work involved to get certified, meet different requirements, how and when to apply for positions, how each province differs with certification, how each board differs with hiring. It all takes time and perseverance. I found tutoring to be a wonderful experience. I was able to work one on one with kids, become familiar with different individual learning needs and issues. Most importantly, I became familiar with the curriculum and learning expectations at different grades as well as teaching methods within those grades. My time as a supply teacher contributed to this understanding and appreciation as well. As a high school teacher you expect students to enter each grade with a set of knowledge and skills they would have gained in previous grades. When kids struggle, if you know what they should have learned and where they have gaps, you can better help them to sort through the information. I never told my students to value science over their other subjects. I made connections between them. You need English in order to communicate, read and write scientifically. You need computer technology to use and develop scientific equipment. I feel that if you as a teacher know more about what other classes are doing, you can make it all the more relevant for the kids and they will have a better understanding of why what they are learning is important.
I had an amazing time teaching science in Mississauga. The students were so wonderful. I tried to make science as much fun as possible with demonstrations, labs, films, cheesy jokes etc. I was lucky that the Science Department practiced team teaching. We collaborated and planned with those teaching the same classes. We also consulted between grades to ensure a continuum and flow of concepts and curriculum requirements. There were bad and challenging days, but for the most part it was wonderful. I volunteered and did what I could to show that I could be a vital addition to the school. I supervised the environmental, cooking and science clubs was well as a student activism club. I was the assistant coach for the girls’ softball team for two years. I played on the teachers’ floor hockey team. As a new teacher you feel obligated to take these things on to show your worth and value. It was a lot of extra stress and contributed to my disappointment when I was passed over for a few permanent positions. However, participating in extracurricular activities enriches you as a teacher and person and the kids love you for it. I would not change anything I did.
I am now very excited to begin a new phase of my life as a teacher at the Grove School in Redlands, California. I am very scared as the Montessori system is a little intimidating along with having to become familiar with the California curriculum. However having spent so much time at the school already, I know most of the kids and am ready for this challenge. I know it is going to be a great experience.
One bit of advice for new teachers is to travel. My time traveling contributed so much to my ideals of being a teacher and what education should be about. So even though I was not in a classroom, I became a firsthand student of life, geography and history. This experience is an asset for me in the classroom and I would not trade a permanent teaching job for my time abroad. I encourage all of you to take any opportunity you can to see the world. You change and learn so much as a person. It gives you a different perspective which changes your approach in the classroom. For example, Mississauga has a large Middle Eastern and Asian population. After visiting some of these parts of the world I had a much better understanding of some of my students. The cultural gap became smaller. I think they liked that their teacher had been to the part of the world where they were from.
You will inevitably have to work with people you cannot stand, disagree with, feel are incompetent or just do not care about the students the same way you do. It is very challenging. At the end of the day you can only control what you do, how you react and choose to handle a situation. I would also tell this to the kids if they complained about a teacher, person or situation. You cannot always control a situation, but you always have control over yourself.
Be reflective. Reflect on the day, the lesson, the unit, the month. Reflect on your life experience. Reflect on the teachers you had. Reflect on what you were like as a student and teenager. Remember what it was like to be nine, thirteen, seventeen. Keep that perspective.
Don’t be scared to make mistakes. And don’t be scared to admit when you make mistakes. The students are very forgiving, especially when you are honest with them. They really appreciate and have great respect for adults when they can admit they are wrong. This is probably one of the first lessons I learned as a new teacher and have embraced it since. Nothing is perfect, especially teachers. And how else can we learn, if not from our mistakes!
Don’t be scared to try something new. If it works, discuss and reflect on why. If it did not, discuss and reflect why. Do not expect the same lesson to work with a different class. There is so way to predict how a group of kids are going to respond.
I kept a notebook with how to do things like report cards, exams, parent teacher meetings. Because these things do not happen every day and you have so much else on your mind, write notes so you do not need to try and remember what you did or did not do last time which was four months ago. And ask questions to experienced teachers. They are a fountain of knowledge. I remember most days in my Effective Teaching class at MUN we would share stories. Hearing how others approached a situation was so useful. You can have all of the procedures you want, but you never know how things will go until you get through it.
I feel like there are so many things I could write but this is getting long enough. The last bit of advice is time. Give yourself time. Time to get things done: lessons, marking and making tests. And most importantly, give yourself time to get to where you want to be as a teacher. The school year moves slowly and it is only with those years that you can start to change what you do, build from your experiences as they come. One of my instructors at MUN said it takes about five years for you to start to feel comfortable as a teacher. I agree. Let that time happen, keep reflecting and trying new things. It is a process and it is so much fun and greatly rewarding.
Ramey Adams is from Middletown, Nova Scotia and in addition to her B.Ed. from MUN, she also holds a B. Sc. in Marine Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University in Halifax. Her husband is Justin Colville and although they graduated from the same high school in Middletown, she tells me they were not high school sweethearts!
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On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“Homeland Security wants to see that note you passed around in class!”
Concluding Comment From The Editor
That does it for issue # 8. Our thanks again to those interns who sent in submissions this week and a special word of thanks to Ramey Adams for her submission and sage words of advice for our interns and beginning teachers. We wish Ramey and hubby Justin all the best in their adventures in California.
On a personal note, this weekend has been a great one hockey-wise for moi. Les Habs defeated the Leafs last night in OT (4-3) – doesn’t get any better than that! Attended the St. John’s IceCaps-Binghamton Senators game at Mile One last night and the Icecaps won that game by a score of 1-0. Great game and they’re currently on a 6 game winning streak!
Friday night I had a multi-point night in our scrimmage game at St. Bon’s – 2 goals and 1 assist! Pardon my humility or lack hereof! Well, actually one of those goals could be disputed – if we had video review at St. Bon’s. Here’s my “version”: I was in front of the net – puck was under Goalie Zack’s left pad – I could see it so I kept banging at it with my stick and it eventually went in! To those on Team Light who were protesting, my “rebuttal” was “I banged it in before the referee blew his whistle”! But, I have to confess that there was no whistle and actually, there was no referee!!!!!!!!! You be the goal judge!
Still with that game, delighted to have a couple of our interns playing with us on a regular basis, Mike Ricketts and Andrew Little. And making his debut with us Friday night was John-Ray Baird of Marystown. Because of “equipment issues”, he was unable to play with us before Christmas! Can’t remember if it was Mike or John-Ray who assisted me on one of my goals but I do remember passing to John-Ray to get my assist! C’est le but! Living the dream continues!!!!!!!!
Have a wonderful week everyone.