Welcome to issue # 11. This issue includes the usual number of submissions from interns, one of which describes a very negative experience with co-operating teachers. The moral of this particular experience is that interns should always seek help from their supervisors or from our Faculty of Education’s Field Placement Office in working out a resolution to those negative experiences. We realize that you interns may be reluctant to do that but if you don’t do something of a proactive nature, the problem(s) will not go away and in all probability will become bigger ones. A step before that could be speaking in confidence to one of your fall semester instructors to get their “take” on the situation. Enjoy the “read”.
Feedback From This Year’s Interns
Well, our 10th week has come to an end and I honestly cannot believe how fast the time is going and I know almost all of you probably have the same feeling. I have mixed emotions about the internship coming to a close because I have made so many great relationships with the students and teachers at my school. But, at the same time, I feel as though I just want to get back in school, finish those last few courses and start looking for job opportunities. It is really great to get these eMEMOs every week and keep updated on how you other interns are finding your internship and the stories you share are great. Many of you talk about the positive aspects of the internship which is wonderful to see but we all know that this experience is not 100% positive for everyone in the program. One issue that I have experienced during my time at myschool is that I am teaching junior high science, which for the most part has been great. Recently however, we started the Physics units in science but my background is in Chemistry and Biology and I have little knowledgeof anything Physics-related. I find this sometimes very difficult because it can be hard to come up with an effective lesson and engage the students in learning a topic that I am a little unsure of myself. Yes, the material is fairly easy and I try my best but as I said, it is a little difficult because I find myself first having to teach myself and then teach the students. I realize this is the reality of teaching and you will not always end up teaching thesubjects you have background knowledge in. Despite this, I am very happy with the experience I have gained during this internship and I am so pleased to have chosen education for my career.Enjoy the last 3 weeks everyone!
It sounded serious
When I was initially corresponding with my co-operating teacher (in about October/November), she seemed optimistic and energetic. She said my French needed work and I agreed as I completed my French degreea number of years ago and haven’t been in the environment in quite some time. This teacher (we’ll call her “French Teacher”), said “we’ll work on that and we’ll be fine. . . I mean, we’re not going to fail you after you’ve come all this way.” And there was a lot of positive energy. I was introduced to two other teachers who would also be my co-operating teachers. Right away, I thought that was a great idea and would give me three different points of view as well as a broader course selection. With one teacher I taught grade 9 “Introduction to Business,” (we’ll call her “Intro Teacher”). With the other teacher, I taught “Sports and Entertainment Marketing,” (We’ll call her “S & M teacher” ). . . wait, we can’t really call her that can we We’ll call her “Sports Teacher”. The three teachers were really really friendly and I was looking forward to starting at that school in January. The first week or so, I observed classrooms. French Teacher got me started early and was more critical of my French than my actual teaching. Sports Teacher had her class working in the laboratory on proposals for thefirst couple of weeks and I never really got to watch her teach anything. Intro Teacher wanted to finish a unit that would bring her to the end of January and then I would start teaching. When I first started teaching, I knew right away that I had a lot of work to do. My French could use some work, my lessons could be way more interesting, I should have paid more attention to dotting my “t’s and crossing my i’s” inmy Powerpoint presentations and my style of teaching could have been less casual. I was far from being an effective teacher and I was keen to learn. After a lesson French Teacher wouldn’t really talk about my actual lessons, rather she would talk about my French. “You said vous comprend instead of vous comprenez and “It’s répéter not répeter (I forget to pronouncethe accent on the second “e” when I say it. . . apparently it’s a big deal and different dialects and accents do not exist. I knew my French needed work and there were no doubt errors but I also wanted feedback on my lessons aswell. When meeting with this teacher as she did give me a lot of her time, I would ask her how to teach certain lessons and she would just say “How would youteach this lesson?”. I’d explain how I would approach something (as a brand spankin’ new teacher) and she would say “No, no, no, why would you do it likethat?” and I would feel a little condescended when she would continue to speak to me in that manner. It made me feel more nervous than comfortable. I would often hear comments like “Your French is bad” rather than “Here’s how you can improve your French while you are with us”. Isn’t that what a mentor is supposed to do? After my first Introduction to Business class, I was told about “timing”. I asked Intro Teacher what timing was and I never did get a concrete answer. So I went on my way. Further criticisms included mainly classroommanagement. At the end of each class she would say “Quintin was talking, so was Bobby.” The worst part about it was that while she sat with the studentsin the class, she would often chat with students. For this class, I had to create Powerpoint presentations as notes. I was never given a curriculum guide, I was given a book and told “do the marketing unit.” I said “Well, how about I put all the contents in a Powerpoint and teach the content like that?” “Sure.” She said. After around 3 weeks and the marketing unit being over, she simply said in a dismissing kind of way “Yeah, I wouldn’t have done it like that”. This led me to think “Well, why couldn’t you have told me that?” but I was sort of embarrassed and nervous about her abruptness and was simply speechless. I remember early in my teaching, I asked her if she had any old material that I could look at to see how whatdirection I could take and see her approach. She said “Not a chance I’m giving you the material I’ve worked on for over 25 years and perfected.” That lead me to believe I wasn’t really speaking to a mentor (more-so a”Dementor” for all the Harry Potter fans). When it came to feedback, she was the one teacher that said, “How many times do I have to tell you?” yet, she was the teacher that wrote down feedback, Said she would print it off and give me a copy and I got one… ONE since Istarted to take over her class. In about 15 classes, I got one sheet of feedback and she has the nerve to say “How many times do I have to tell you?”. Finally on March 3rd, she shared a lesson plan template with me. So, maybe Iwas wearing her down after a while.After my first Sports Marketing class, I was told that the Powerpoint slides had too much information. So, I took the next few days to dumb down the slides and create new ones. Anther criticism with her class was management:students talking too much. While I do admit I could have been too casual with my classroom management, I never really saw her teach so I didn’t have anything to go by.The Sports Teacher and I had an exercise book where shewould write down what I needed to work on. After a while, she stopped asking for it and when I did present it, it eventually stopped getting written in. I took that as a good sign. At this point, we were coming up to the second evaluation sheet for the university. I thought I was doing okay, slowly but surely coming along. The day before my evaluation came out, French Teacher said “Myself, IntroTeacher and Sports Teacher want to have a meeting with you tomorrow morning at 7:30 about your evaluation”. It sounded serious, I couldn’t really sleep that night thinking about it as they never really gave me an indication as towhat was going on. That night, I spoke with my girlfriend’s mom, a former guidance councilor, about what was going on. We had a long conversation and she said that she didn’t feel I was being mentored and more-so being told what to do allthe time. And in an email she said (and I’m copying and pasting it here):I thought that maybe tomorrow at your meeting you should ask them – after they & you have discussed the ‘concerns’ that – given you are a student-a teacher in training – and therefore learning to become a teacher – do they think you have the skills, abilities, characteristics, personality – to become an effective teacher with more practice, guidance, learning and experience.She later called me to explain that what she was saying was that if these people are mentoring you and they don’t say “yes, of course!” Then, they are not good mentors and how are you supposed to learn to become an effectiveteacher if they’re not helping nor have faith in you to become an effective teacherSo, the next morning I got up bright and early to meet with these teachers. I sat down and I noticed that the three of them sat opposite me. It made me think of the ol’ interrogation scene that you’d see in the movies. Three of them sat there and ripped into me. They kept on saying “We told you to work on timing.” and I said “How do I work on timing?” and Intro Teacher actually laughed in my face. At that point, pride took over and I said “Listen! Do you think it makes me feel good or welcomed in a learning environment when I’m being laughed at in such a condescending way?” The three were silent and quickly changed the subject. Finally, after each had a turn ripping into me, I said “Given the skills, abilities, characteristic and personality that I already have, with practice, do you think I will have what it takes to become an effective teacher?” They were silence, until finally Intro teacher said “well… I don’t think so, not right now” and the two others agreed that they could not answer that question. Well, after that meeting I thought “What do I do? How can I make this better?”. I contacted my supervisor at MUN shortly after our conversation and he saidhe had already been in contact with my co-operating teacher via email and as a result, MUN suggested I come back to Newfoundland and I did. I can’t say all was lost though. I did learn a lot from these teachers in terms of classroom management and made my French better than when I went up. I know that I would not suggest an education student have three co-operatingteachers with very strong personalities as I felt as though I spent most of my time accommodating TO them than learning FROM them. All had different values and trying to accommodate all of them proved to be difficult as a new teacher. I also don’t recommend teaching pilot courses (as the sports marketing course was) because there was no real curriculum guide (not that I would get one anyway) as I found myself working more on content than teaching effectively. I recommend teaching with an open co-operating teacher. My French teacher did help me out with her content, There was no content in the sports marketing class and intro to business just wouldn’tshare. I also think that co-operating teachers should explain “how” and not just tell the “what’s”. There’s no way in hell I can be an expert in teaching after a month. I have to be able to make mistakes and yeah, I made several ofthem, but that’s what I was there for. Tell me “what” I did wrong and “how” to go about fixing it. Since then, I’ve been home in Newfoundland to finish up my placement. TOTALLY different group of kids as you can imagine, but I feel more at home,more welcomed. Even hearing a student say “YES B’Y” or “YER SOME FRIGGIN’ IDIOT!” makes me feel warm. The teacher I’m working with has never had anintern before and she’s open to a new experience as well. We’ve already had a few chats and she essentially told me “what’s mine is yours.” That little bit of backing made me breathe a sigh of relief. And, I guess from (anotherprovince), I’ve learned “what” questions to ask a teacher to ensure clarity and direction and hopefully s/he will answer with “how” to accomplish that. Hopefully, I do. And if I don’t, maybe the teachers in that other province were right all along!
Wonderful so far
My internship has been wonderful so far. I have developed a great professional relationship with my co-operating teacher and I have the utmost respect for him. He has been a pleasure to work with and I’ve learned so much from him already. Teaching Math to junior high students has its challenges at times but for the most part I’ve been successful with it.
The teaching styles and classroom management skills that I’ve adopted from my co-operating teacher have helped me to have a rewarding and positive experience at this school. There has been nothing but good feedback from my co-operating teacher and from the experiences I’ve had so far, I really feel like this is the job for me. I only have good things to say both about my co-operating teacher and the staff that I’ve been working with. It’s really been great.
Looking forward to it but nervous
I can’t speak for everyone but back when I started the internship, I was looking forward to it but nervous about it, all at the same time. Now with only 3 weeks left, that moment feels like it was ages ago. At the same time, I feel like time has passed very quickly but once you settle in and get used to what you’re doing, it feels like you’ve been doing it for ages. It’s like a paradox.
One thing about my internship that I’m really happy about is how well my co-operating teacher and I match. At first I had some apprehensions, wondering what he was going to be like. Would we get along? How does his teaching style compare to how I’d like to teach? But once we got started I realized that we are a great pairing. We get along well and have similar views, beliefs and styles.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with how things have worked out. I would imagine that it could be very difficult for interns who are drastically different from their teachers, especially if the teachers don’t accept the way their intern wants to do things.
My teacher is a firm believer in me finding my own style and figuring out what works for me. He’s there to spot problems, offer suggestions and help me get there. Being a co-operating teacher must be an interesting experience. It seems to me like it would be hard watching someone else teach your class. I was out for a day and felt weird about leaving my class in the hands of a sub. No disrespect to subs, especially since I’m sure I’ll be one for a while but it just seemed odd for someone else to deliver my lesson to my students.
Anyway, I just want to finish off by saying that overall my internship has been a really good experience. Some days go well and I feel great about it; other days my students seem to bounce off the walls and I go home drained, but all in all it’s been a good time. I must say, I am going to miss my students. Not being able to finish the course with them or teach them again next year and watch how they progress, is kind of sad. I will have students of my own someday though. That being said, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to taking a break in April.
Readers Respond , From the Literature and
Although the submission “It seemed serious” was a long one, I thought it was an important one to include in this issue.
And in an effort to keep this issue to 4 pages, the above 3 regular features are “pre-empted” this week and will return in the next issue.
Quote of the Week
Recommended Book Resource for Primary & Elementary Interns
The King’s Taster
Written by: Kenneth Oppel
Illustrated by: Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
New York: Harper Collins, 2009
Max, the cook’s dog and the king’s taster, ate like a king. But when a new boy king took the throne he refused to eat anything the cook prepared. Max and the cook were perplexed. “I will not eat this food,” the King said, and he put it in his catapult and fired it against the dining room wall. So Max ate the king’s meal. The king continued refusing to eat and Max kept eating all of the king’s meals.
The cook and Max travelled everywhere to find recipes to delight the king, but to no avail. Then, to Max’s horror, the king shouted at the cook, “Off with his head”, and threw his food in the moat where it got eaten by the crocodiles. Poor cook! Poor Max! However, Max was a sleuth and one night he spied on the king, only to discover why he would not eat his meals.
I will leave the readers to discover the mystery and how the problem was solved. This humorous tale with its colorful illustrations will be sure to delight all primary students and dog lovers.
On The Lighter Side (Part 1)
“You’ve already made up your mind on this,
On The Lighter Side (Part 2)
“I see the board still hasn’t found a new superintendent.”
On The Lighter Side (Part 3)
“Of course you have problems! You’re a Math teacher.”
That’s it for issue # 11. Thank you to those interns who submitted feedback for this issue.
On the NHL front, it was another good Saturday, not perfect though, as the Habs won and unfortunately for Habs fans, the Leafs also won!!!!!!
The hockey world is abuzz with the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty. I don’t consider Chara a dirty player but I do think he should have received a 2-3 game suspension for that hit.
And, on a local level we had a great scrimmage game on Friday night at St. Bon’s. No points this week for yours truly but last year’s B. Ed. student, Tom Connors of Torbay scored 2 very nice goals – congratulations Tom!
Have an enjoyable week everyone.