Welcome to Issue # 13, the final issue of the eMEMO for this year. Thank you to everyone who took the time and made the effort to send in submissions for the various issues – obviously, the eMEMO couldn’t exist if that didn’t happen. Feedback has been extremely positive to the eMEMO and in January 2012 we will be into the 6th year of publication. The listserv currently stands at approximately 2000 subscribers – the first year it was at 80!!!!!
This year has seen a couple of new additions to the content; the Recommended Book Resource for Primary & Elementary Interns and the Readers Respond features have been very popular with readers. They’ll continue next year. Enjoy this final issue for 2011!
Feedback From This Year’s Interns
Has had its challenges
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!
The inclusive classroom
As an intern, I have come to appreciate that the inclusive classroom comes with its rewards as well as its challenges. It is challenging because teachers must cope with the diverse needs of every student and this is sometimes quite daunting and overwhelming. Another challenge deals with communication among the collaborative team members. Open and constant communication is paramount for collaboration to be as efficient as possible.
However, it is indeed rewarding when teams of teachers, instructional support staff and paraeducators work collaboratively together to plan the best course of action to meet the needs and challenges of a particular student. Additionally, it is more rewarding to experience the social value of inclusion. The inclusive classroom instills equity among all students, which is reflective of our diverse society in which we live. It is my belief that creating an inclusive school culture acts as a mirror to our larger community. Canada, after all, is a nation of diversity.
Ready to move on to the next step
The past three months have been an excellent professional and personal learning experience. My co-operating teacher is wonderful; she happily and unselfishly offers valuable advice and resources with a “what is mine is yours” attitude.
From day 1 I have felt comfortable in her classroom. But with that said, I am ready to complete my internship. I think most of my fellow interns can relate to this sentiment. While the experience has been rewarding, I am ready to move on to the next step. I’m looking forward to finishing my degree so that I can then, hopefully, have a classroom of my own.
Difficult to face going back to classes
As the internship program comes to a close, I have a lot to think back on. When I first entered a kindergarten classroom I was overwhelmed and felt completely unprepared. I did not think I was cut out to teach such young children. I’ve always pictured myself in grade 2 or 3. My experience has proven me wrong.
I love being in the kindergarten classroom and I don’t want to leave! I’m glad that this is where the internship program has taken me because I learned a lot about myself in the past few months. Not being able to choose a grade to be placed in made me nervous. In fact, I seriously considered checking the “elementary” box on the internship form instead of “primary” just in case I was placed in kindergarten.
Now I’m thrilled that I didn’t get to choose the grade. My co-operating teacher is fabulous and gives me great feedback on my ideas and lessons. The students are great. I’ve formed a relationship with each and every one of them. I am finding it difficult to face going back to classes in just a few weeks, because I feel as if I’ve learned so much more from this field experience that my time would be better served in a second internship until June in a different grade.
Have nothing but pure praiseI have nothing but pure praise and many thanks to my school, co-operating teachers and students. This internship has been the most rewarding opportunitythat I could have ever dreamed of experiencing. I am walking away with more confidence and I am very excited to get back into the classroom. As cheesy asthis may sound, I have a warmth in my heart, knowing that I have found my calling. I know I will be an amazing teacher and even though I still have much to learn and experience, I hope to get back into it as soon as possible. This internship has been a fabulous experience that I would never have received without my co-operating teachers. I have learned so much from them through theirencouragement and from their varying teaching styles, that it has enabled me to hone my own skills and talents when deciding my teaching career. The school itself, the administration, the teachers, the students – have all been welcoming and encouraging and I hate to leave so soon. I do feel I have been spoiled having such a fabulous internship and I can’t wait to have my own classroom tocontinue this amazing experience of being able to offer my knowledge, skills and talents to help others in turn reach their own dreams and goals. I have to admit I dread going back into the classroom at MUN, where I feel I am wasting my talents and efforts when I should be offering them to inspire and motivate my students. However, I do look forward to the last four months so I can complete my certificate and get back ‘in front’ of a classroom. I just wish we knew when we would actually be teaching again in the future. . . Not the internship of my dreams
The internship is now coming to an end. The least I can say is that it was not the internship of my dreams but yet it has been positive in many ways. I feel very happy in the classroom and I love to be with teenagers.
I find the daily work stimulating, I deeply enjoy marking their essays and encouraging and challenging them to do better and to work even harder.
I am the kind of person who easily gets bored and I find this job very enjoyable in the sense that I continually have to question what I am doing and how I am doing it.
I find the discussions with other teachers interesting as well (OK not with each and every one of them, but, with most!). I really appreciate getting my colleagues’ perspectives on what I am doing.
I do have some concerns about my co-operating teacher but in the interest of getting good evaluations, I have kept those concerns to myself!
The question posed in issue # 11:
What advice would you offer the teacher intern who wrote the submission titled “An absolute nightmare”?
Response # 1: While I have only been teaching a few years, I have taught in some very different situations. On my internship I taught in an urban school, then moved north to teach on a reserve, then down to a junior and senior high school of about 500 students, teaching general stream students and now I am teaching in that same school in junior high. Each of these placements has been extremely different and not all of them were as good as the others.
The environment in which you teach makes a HUGE difference to your experience. I did not enjoy last year teaching in the high school general stream for much the same reasons you cited about the kids being conditioned to not do work and then being asked what more I could do to get their grades up. I was seriously reconsidering my career path. Then I moved to the junior high in the same school and had a completely different experience. This year I enjoy my job very much and love working with the kids at this age.
Sometimes the situation and environment in which you teach makes for a bad experience and it is the situation and not the actual profession you dislike. You might love chocolate or candy very much but if you are stomach sick, chances are it’s not as enjoyable at that time!
My advice is to hang in there, finish your internship, proceed as planned and try teaching on your own terms in different places and different grades. You’ll either find your niche or know for sure it’s not for you. Either way, don’t let this experience be the determining factor if teaching is something you really feel you want to do. As you said, you are coming in on someone else’s turf and they have had months in the classroom to set the tone and you are walking in on that. When you have your own classroom you have much more power to set the tone of your class and you may find it much more enjoyable.
Response # 2: I understood (and I stand to be corrected) that each intern has an internship supervisor. This person -a qualified, professional, undertakes the responsibility to help mentor the intern throughout the term. The supervisor is the first point of contact between the intern and the teacher and the school administration where/when necessary.
Did this intern have no supervisor? If there was a supervisor, did he/she do the job that was expected?
How do the Faculty supervisors respond to this condition having been allowed to play out for three months and one that seems to have destroyed the career expectations of a young person?
(Editor’s Note: In fairness to the university supervisor, s/he may not have known about this situation if the teacher intern decided not to bring it to the supervisor’s attention. In the submission on this page “Not the internship of my dreams”, this teacher intern kept silent about his/her concerns. Unfortunately, this does happen.)
Wise Advice From Another Former B. Ed. Student
The following submission (we’ll title it “Other Places”) was written by Ms. Sheena Kelloway, a 2010 Bachelor of Education graduate.
Educating those who see no value in education can be the hardest obstacle to overcome as a teacher – it’s a Sisyphean endeavor. (For those of you who don’t know Sisyphus, he was a guy who was sentenced by the Greek gods to forever push a giant boulder up a hill. Once he got to the top with the boulder, it fell back down). This is one of the hurdles that I had to deal with as an intern. I taught last year in Northern Alberta for my internship and this experience was the hardest I have ever lived through. I barely survived it. I felt quite isolated during my internship, both geographically and mentally. I felt as though my perception of my internship experience was extremely negative compared to my counterparts in the Education program.
Here’s what I will tell you: If you are having a terrible time right now, if you don’t believe in the policies of your school, if you don’t agree with the approach of your co-operating teacher, if you feel ineffectual on a regular basis, you are not alone. Chances are others in the program feel exactly the same as you.
Here’s the beauty of an education degree – it is highly transferrable and transmutable. Teaching K-12 seems to be “the be all and end all” but there are many ways to teach. Keep your mind and options open to future opportunities. I did. Now I am completing contract work for the Government of Nunavut and have created my own training/facilitation company. My grandfather always says “time waits for no man” and if you’re having a hard stretch right now, this too shall pass!
But do not forget what you have invested in yourself and the knowledge you have gained. If K-12 is not for you, with a bit of creative thinking, your education degree can and will take you to other places.
From the Literature
“Expectations” (Cont’d from last week)
Establishing behavioral expectations is generally a teacher task. However, proponents of what is sometimes called a democratic classroom, one that promotes choice, community, authentic learning, and relevant, creative curriculum encourage student participation in the establishment of behavioral expectations. Other influences affect the task, including expectations previously established by the school district and those held by the grade level or the whole school staff. There are few circumstances in which an individual teacher should set expectations less stringent than grade-level, team or whole-school expectations. However, teachers can certainly add to, or make more stringent, their own classroom expectations. For instance, if school expectations include a “no gum” rule, then a teacher cannot allow gum chewing in the classroom. But if there is no school-wide rule against gum chewing, a teacher may nonetheless establish the expectation that students will not chew gum in a particular classroom.
Reference: Powell, S. D (2009). Introduction to education: Explorations in teaching. Boston: Pearson.
Social Studies (Cont’d from last week)
Social Studies curricula have been expanded in recent years to keep pace with societal trends; specifically, courses or units in African-Canadian and Aboriginal studies and women’s history have been developed to give voice to minorities whose stories were previously ignored. Efforts will continue in this area to address such issues as racial, ethnic, cultural, gender and socio-economic biases and to promote multiculturalism, diversity and anti-discrimination in society.
Social Studies curricula have also experienced a rapid expansion of information related to the proliferation of the internet. This development underlines the need to develop media literate students who can critically interpret and analyze information.
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
Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important. – Bill Gates
Recommended Book Resource for Primary & Elementary Interns
The Giant and the Beanstalk
Written and illustrated by: Diane Stanley
Harper Collins, 2004
Most children love the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, but many may not have heard the story from the giant’s point of view. In this enchanting version, Otto is a polite giant who “never made above a C – in Cursing, Growling, or Stomping (he would have made all Ds except that his teachers worried about his self-esteem)”. He dearly loved his special hen, Clara. And then, one horrific day, a devious boy named Jack climbs a magic beanstalk and steals Clara away. Poor Otto! He descends the beanstalk to look for Jack and Clara. But there are so many Jacks — Jack who went up the hill, Jack who jumped over the candlestick, Jack who stuck his thumb in a pie, and so forth. Travel through this humorous adventure with Otto to see how he and Jack find a solution to both of their troubles so that they, Clara, and Milky White the cow can all live happily ever after.
On The Lighter Side (Part 1)
On The Lighter Side (Part 2)
“Sure, history’s easy for you. You’ve lived it!”
On The Lighter Side (Part 3)
“They’re words. Eddie. Assembly required.”
That’s it for the last issue for this year. Hope you’ve enjoyed the various submissions and articles. The eMEMO (Volume 6) will return on January 2, 2012.
Congratulations to all students on completing their internships as of this coming Friday, April 1st. As documented throughout these eMEMO issues, for most of you the internship has been a very positive one and for others, not all that positive. However, there is no doubt that for everyone it has indeed been a valuable learning experience.
Have a great last week out there in the schools.
You’ll notice of course that this issue is a tad late getting out to you. Well, yours truly had a busy weekend – attended 6 hockey games in the past 3 days! The Under 20 Women’s Provincial Tournament at Twin Rinks involved 5 teams. The youngest daughter of our good friends, Frank and Theresa Edwards – Erin (2nd year MUN Kinesiology student) participated and hence my attendance at her 4 games. Erin is a very skillful hockey player and it was a delight to see her play on the Trinity-Placentia team. I have to say those gals know how to play hockey and they’re great skaters. I took copious notes with the intent to help improve my St. Bon’s scrimmage game – however, putting those notes into practice is easier said than done! A problem of transference!!!!!
And lastly, I was at games 1 and 2 of the Herder Finals at Mile one last evening and this afternoon. Congrats to the Grand Falls Cataracts on defeating the Conception Bay North CeeBees in those 2 games. I’m hoping the CeeBees will win all 3 games in Grand Falls next weekend and bring the series back to Mile One the following weekend.
It’s great hockey with sold out attendance at Mile One.
“See” you next year.