Welcome to the second last issue of the eMEMO for this year. Where has the time gone! This week we have another interesting batch of submissions, most of which are very positive but one that is very disturbing.
Best wishes to all interns on their last 2 weeks out in the schools. A number of interns have expressed their regrets that they will be finished after next week. Those last few days will definitely be very emotional ones for the majority of you and there may even be a few tears shed on the part of both interns and students. That’s totally understandable because teaching is a highly emotional profession and any type of “leaving” is always challenging for us but even more so in this profession. Enjoy the “read”.
Feedback From This Year’s Interns
The bigger the push the longer the swing
As March slowly. . . I mean quickly, comes to a close there are many things I can reflect on with great detail. However, I want to stick to one thing because it has become very important to me and I know it’s going to be hard to leave.
It deals with one individual who is in my Science 1206 class. When I first arrived he was pretty quiet, sitting with the “social” crowd I suppose; some may refer to him as a “stoner”. I was teaching the Chemistry Unit and he never said anything so I assumed he was doing well. I gave a quiz the week before their midterm. He wrote it and had it turned over in no time. I asked him if he was done and he said “Yup”; this was the first time we had spoken.
I thought wow he must really know this stuff. As I got to his test, I was shocked he had gotten a 10%. I asked my supervisor about him and he said that was normal but his mom had been in and said how smart he was. I told my supervisor I was going to make it my duty to help this kid; he said that was excellent but it may be difficult. So I racked my brain about how I was going to connect with him and I thought of something a MUN teacher had mentioned in our first term. . . just talk to them, not about school just about something that may interest them. We started talking and I felt the trust developing. He is now interacting more in class and it’s been great but, he still wasn’t doing his work.
Two weeks ago I went to Bill Tucker’s Cooperative Discipline course in St. John’s. I went to find something to help me with this teen. I discovered what his misbehaviour type was: a passive avoidance-of-failure student.
I was informed my first steps were great and then the instructor gave me some tips to move forward. I had been talking to him encouraging him to get extra help and he agreed that would be beneficial (first change). My push for success not only got to him but to my whole class and when I held a tutorial, after school, half of the class including this boy showed up; I was ecstatic!! Unfortunately he didn’t pass the exam but he did go from a 10% to a 48%. Although I knew it was a step forward, it was not enough so I asked my supervisor if it would be alright to talk to him before I gave back the test. He agreed that would be fine. I took him out of class and had a casual chat about what he was up to and what I believed he could do and right then when I stressed how much I was gunning for his success, he changed.
He opened up and got mad at himself for being lazy and said there was no excuse for it and he felt terrible and he stressed that he wanted to do more for himself and for his mom. So I mentioned he had a choice to fix this now before he went down the wrong road and I offered my help even though it would only be for a short time. I told him to think about it and talk to his mom.
The next day I waited. . . for him to come to me. At the end of Biology when everyone else was occupied he came up and said really quietly, “Miss. . . I talked to my Mom and she said if you wanted to help me after school I could”. I reiterated that this was for him and I needed 100% from him. He eagerly nodded his head and I told him ok and that we would start next week with LOTS of practice in Science to get those grades up! So with my term coming to an end I’d like to say I really don’t want to go and I am actually staying an extra week, one because I want to watch the performance of our Drama Club that I helped with at the festival and two, I need to give this guy a good push so he can stay in that swing for awhile!
So we’re getting close to the end of our internship experience and I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed it. With a lot of previous work experience in a totally different field, I was concerned about whether I would be suited for teaching or whether I would enjoy it. However, I can honestly say that it’s the first job I’ve ever had where I go to work smiling and come home the same way. A couple of concerns I’ve had over the internship though include student apathy and general lack of effort and the total lack of student accountability when it comes to completing and submitting work. Tied in with this is a bit of frustration at the limitations imposed on teachers regarding what you are actually allowed to do about it! Great experience overall, however.
There have been highs and lows
Here comes week twelve (of thirteen)! I’m not sure I know what to do with myself after this is over. It has been, for the most part, a wonderful experience. There have been highs and lows, of course, and thankfully the lows have been greatly outnumbered by the highs.
I have two wonderful co-operating teachers from two very different disciplines. Each approaches education in a totally different way and I’ve learned to create my own style because of this. I think it would have a much different experience had I only had one teacher to work with. Initially I had worried about going between two but this has worked to my advantage.
Now, I’m in the midst of show week: planning and participating in the school’s fundraiser has been a major part of the internship (and I get to be in the band). You learn so much more about the students by being involved in the extras and I’ve loved every minute of it.
In terms of curriculum, I’m at an awkward part: most of my units are finished and I know that I’m starting new ones but will not be the one finishing them. It’s an odd feeling. I’ve dealt with a mutiny in my Level One class (I wanted them to think for themselves), I’ve granted extensions on assignments, I’ve had to deal with cheating and I’ve had a great Ides of March with my Level Two’s.
Everywhere I go, I’m being recognized: my students work at all the places I frequent, it seems! My grocery store, my tanning salon, restaurants. . . none of them will be the same. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is what I was meant to do and leaving next week will be hard.
Interning in the UK
As of this moment, I have five minutes before I am about to meet a bunch of the staff from my school for drinks. It is one of the teacher’s birthdays and everyone is very excited. There is also a Wales rugby game and since many of the teachers are from Wales, it is a big deal (apparently)!
The internship is going great. Before starting it I was very nervous about whether I would like teaching once it got going or not. Everyday that I have successful classes I get such a high from it. It is the most rewarding job I could imagine.
Teaching in the UK has given me such a firm grasp of classroom management techniques since the kids here are out of control compared to our standards in St. John’s. Also, they are very strict here about having a “starter”, and a “plenary” in each lesson. This means essentially that you have a warm-up activity and a conclusion that allows for a degree of formative evaluation of students’ progress. It has given me such a firm grasp of how to plan lessons.
Travelling has also been amazing but boy does it wear you out! Since we do not stop during the week and travel all weekend, I am really looking forward to having a term back in school where I can kick back and STUDY! Who would have thought?
Hope everything is good back on campus. Looking forward to getting back, except for the weather! Take care.
A sense of my own style
Two weeks left in my internship now and I’m starting to feel like I am getting a sense of my own style as a teacher. Beyond that, I am developing a routine that I can continue throughout my career. That has been the best part of this internship; it really gives you a sense of what you can expect for the next thirty years or so.
I’m teaching four classes and starting most of my lessons from scratch so I think that the amount of work I’ve been putting in is pretty typical of what I can expect.
I’ve worked a number of different jobs but what I can say about this one is that I feel more exhausted at the end of a day’s work than in any other. This might be because the day never really ends. You always bring your work home with you in some form or another. It may be marking or creating a test or just the weight of a problem that needs dealing with on your mind.
In this sense, I don’t even really consider teaching to be a job. It’s more of a new lifestyle that we’re embarking on.
An absolute nightmare
My internship has been an absolute nightmare. I am seriously considering a different career path as I do not enjoy this at all. I find it to be an absolute headache. The kids are absolute anarchy and the whole thing is uncontrolled chaos. My biggest grief regarding this whole internship actually lies with my placement and the teacher I have been placedwith. He is one of those teachers who actually does absolutely nothing at all during the entire year. He collects his pay every 2 weeks and that’s it. Since day 2 I’ve been teaching at least 4 courses. The situation I have been placed in is one of chaos. The teacher himself actually doesn’t have the kids do any work. The kids show up, sit down and play on their ipods. This is not just my observation. EVERY kid says this. I came into this situation with a full plan of work to cover content etc. but it’s all turned out to come right back in my face. These kids are pre-conditioned to do absolutely NO work, no instruction and no rules. I come in with the opposite approach trying to do the reasonable thing and prep a group of kids for apublic exam and I’m instantly the bad guy who gets resistance at every corner. I hate what I am doing. I hate the placement I am in and I honestly have been counting down the days until I’m done. I was enthusiastic upon entering my internship but now I’m in an absolute state of chaos. I hate it, I absolutelyhate it. The whole experience has soured me to no end. I do recognize that it would be entirely different if it were my class from the beginning of the year; there would be rules, etc. But this is an environment that I’ve been placed in which is unfair to me, unfair to my learning experience and completely unjust to me. My plans for next year are to return to my home province, do my 3 course certification in order to qualify me to teach there, then begin supply teaching in the second semester.I do like the actual teaching element of the job. However, in my current situation that’s about 10% of the job. It’s absolute chaos and I can’t wait to be done with this internship because not only are the kids suffering from the teacher they were assigned at the beginning of the year, I am suffering. At one point I missed 4 days in a row because I ended up hospitalized with an ulcer due to the stress and problems I am enduring. How am I supposed to deal with this? How am I supposed to preserve my sanity? I understand if you do not wish to use any of this for the eMEMO as it is rather blunt and puts a real sour perspective on the whole scenario of the internship.However I do feel that honesty is the best policy when it comes to such matters.This is how I feel, this is what I think so I sit here, remaining, counting down the days until the very end. At this point the count rests at 10. . . single digits – here I come!
Sad to see the end
I am so very sad to see the end of my internship. The environment in the school was so fantastic, the staff members were great and the students topped it all off. I have made some great friendships and I know for certain that I will maintain most of them throughout my professional career.
I have to say, my co-operating teacher was fantastic. It seemed that from the very beginning we were on the same page about things. She allowed me to truly discover my teaching style, supported everything I wanted to try and allowed me the freedom to experiment. She has taught me so much and I know I have taught her a few things too! I will definitely not lose touch with her.
With the rest of the staff, they were excellent. It seemed like everybody on the staff were friends, rather then just colleagues. They are a very close knit group, sharing laughs, troubles and helping everyone out. I really hope wherever I end up teaching has that kind of staff environment. They were fantastic!
All that being said, the true thing that made my internship great was the students. I already know what the hardest part of this internship will be and that is saying goodbye to the students. They were absolutely fantastic and I will hate to leave them, even the “trouble makers”. I already know I will be back before the end of this school year to help out with some things (I have already arranged to attend one of the student projects that my co-operating teacher is doing with her students). The students just make the entire job so worthwhile and rewarding. I already feel the worth from these students so far and I have only been with them for a few short months! I can only imagine how wonderful it will feel when I have been with them the entire year (or more)!
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher but I never knew how great it would be. This internship not only confirmed I made the right choice but made me want to be a teacher even more then before. At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it as a teacher, I was nervous and unsure if I could make the connection with the students. Boy was I wrong! I now know I can make that connection and I now know this is the career for me. I cannot wait to do this for the rest of my life.
Exhilarated but also a bit disheartened
As my internship is wrapping up, I’m left feeling exhilarated but also a bit disheartened. I have confirmed for myself that I am a good teacher and that teaching is what I want to do. And, I know I can grow into a better teacher. I’m interested and the children are great motivators as I observe them engaged in learning.
But I’m also frustrated because I’ve met so many substitute teachers throughout the process who have been trying to get classroom positions for years with no luck. Should MUN really be graduating so many students every year to be substitute teachers or to move away, with no hope of getting a job back home? Or here’s an idea (probably a pipe dream): With the new model of inclusion our schools are adopting, the Dept. of Education could see the need for more teacher supports in the classroom and start hiring some of us qualified, energized and competent teachers. Most of these substitute teachers are young and can bide their time but I’ve come to teaching later than most, so this issue touches me greatly.
I have my kids and we are now established in the St. John’s area. Moving back to a very rural area in the Eastern School District for a few years appears to be the only way for me to get a position back home. This would be a sacrifice for all of us. They would have to leave their grandparents, not to mention friends and their extracurricular activities.
It is also frustrating when you see some tenured teachers who are, for whatever reason, not actually teaching their students but only filling in their time with valueless worksheets and counting down their days to the summer holidays. I know untenured teachers do get evaluated but tenured teachers should also have opportunities for professional development that involves evaluation and reflection. They might decide they are not up to it any longer or it could help them find a way to re-engage themselves as teachers. Anyway, I wish everyone the best of luck in finding employment.
The question posed in issue # 10:
“Are there co-operating teachers out there who take unfair advantage of teacher interns?”
Response # 1: Yes I think there are some situations where this does happen. I’d like to think not that many but I’m not really sure. Teacher interns are “between a rock and a hard place” as they may be very reluctant to say anything negative to or about their co-operating teachers because the co-operating teachers decide as to whether the interns pass or fail their internships.
Response # 2: The relationship between a co-operating teacher and an intern should be equally beneficial; while the co-operating teacher is asked to share their expertise and experience, the intern has a lot to offer as well with new ideas and new methodologies. However, there are some co-operating teachers who do take advantage of their interns, those who volunteer to take interns for the wrong reason – so that he or she will have a semester “off” or able to spend the semester at Tim’s! There are certainly benefits to being a co-operating teacher; however, there are also important responsibilities. You are responsible for the professional growth of a pre-service teacher and you are still responsible for ensuring the academic growth of your students, despite the fact that someone else is teaching your class. The best co-operating teachers realize this and gently guide the intern into developing best teaching practices, which thus benefits both the intern, the co-operating teacher and the students.
This week’s question:
“What advice would you offer the teacher intern who wrote the submission titled “An absolute nightmare”?
Deadline for responses: 9:00 am, Sunday, March 27.
From the Literature
How do teachers establish expectations that are foundational, including physical norms for preserving the health and safety of students, moral norms pertaining to respect for others and societal norms for politeness and individual responsibility?
The answer, in large measure, depends on the developmental stages of the students. With young children, most expectations have to be made very explicit, for example, “Don’t bother classmates”, “Share materials”, “Don’t tease one another”. For older children and adolescents, many expectations can be summed up with statements such as “Treat one another with respect”.
To be continued next week.
Reference: Powell, S. D (2009). Introduction to education: Explorations in teaching. Boston: Pearson.
Canada does not have national guidelines or standards in the Social studies curriculum area but common themes can be recognized in the various provinces and territories. The Atlantic Provinces Education Foundation (1999) identified the following six strands to categorize Social Studies content, along with general outcomes for each:
- Citizenship, power and governance: Students need to understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the origins, functions and sources of power, authority and governance.
- Individuals, societies and economic decisions: Students need to make responsible economic decisions, both as individuals and members of society.
- People, place and environment: Students need to understand how people, places and the environment interact.
- Culture and diversity: Students need to understand culture, diversity and worldview and to recognize similarities and differences among personal, cultural, racial and ethnic perspectives.
- Interdependence: Students need to understand that relationships among individuals, societies and the environment – locally, nationally and globally – are interdependent and the relationships have implications for a sustainable future.
- Time, continuity and change: Students need to understand the past and how it affects the present and the future.
To be continued next week.
Reference: Parkay, F. W., Hardcastle Stanford, B., Vaillancourt, J. P., Stephens, H. C., & Harris, J. R. (2010). Becoming a teacher (4th Canadian Ed.). Toronto: Pearson.
Quote of the Week
– Dr. Haim Ginott
Recommended Book Resource for Primary & Elementary Interns
Tikki Tikki Tembo
Written by: Arlene Mosel
Illustrated by: Blair Lent
Toronto: Scholastic, 1968
Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bar ruchi-pip peri pembo was a long name for a little boy, and it meant “the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world”. In this very old Chinese tale, first born sons were given long names, but “second sons were given hardly any name at all”.
Arlene Mosel decided to write her own version of this popular tale because so many children were delighted by listening to it, and young children today will still enjoy this humorous tale with the name that children and adults alike enjoy pronouncing.
One day Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bar ruchi-pip peri pembo falls into the well, and his younger brother Chang has to get the old man with the ladder to get him out. When Chang tries to say his brother’s long name it leads to difficulties in saving his brother, but all ends well, and according to this tale the Chinese no longer give their children great long names. An old tale that is meant for fun, and that many children will beseech, “read it again”.
On The Lighter Side (Part 1)
“Yes some adults paint like that but we
expect more from children.”
On The Lighter Side (Part 2)
“I’m not sure what Mr. Ziegler has got planned for
class today but quite frankly, I’m worried!”
On The Lighter Side (Part 3)
“What I like about talking is that you don’t
have to worry about spelling.”
Education 4420 (Legal & Moral Issues in Education)
In response to several queries, there are 2 sections of this course offered in the spring:
Section 001: Tues and Thurs from 2:00-3:45 in E1005 & taught by yours truly (CRN 81757); runs from May 9 – Aug. 13.
Section 002: Mon, Wed & Fri from 11:00-12:40 in E1005 and taught by Dr. Noel Hurley (CRN 84652); runs from May 9 – June 22.
That concludes issue # 12. Thank you to those interns who submitted feedback for this issue.
Re NHL hockey, yours truly acknowledges, albeit very reluctantly, the following:
1) the Habs 6-3 loss Friday night to the Rangers; and
2) the Maple Leafs 5-2 defeat of the Boston Bruins last night! (PS: Doing that was a tad painful!!!!!!)
Congratulations to the Conception Bay North CeeBees & in particular, teacher Chris Bartlett on their defeating the Mount Pearl Blades in the Herder Cup Semi-Finals. The CeeBees now meet the Grand Falls Cataracts in the finals beginning next Saturday with games 1 and 2 at Mile One. Should be a great series.
Have a wonderful week everyone.