Welcome to the 2nd issue of this year’s eMEMO. Interns, you’ve “survived” week 1 and hopefully you’re settling into your new teacher intern role. In this issue we have a couple of submissions from interns and one of them addresses the challenge of getting into that new role, especially getting used to being called “Mr.” instead of his usual first name. We also have a couple of submissions from B. Ed. students who graduated 3 and 4 years ago respectively. They’re both in permanent positions and we think you’ll find their commentaries very interesting indeed. Enjoy!
FEEDBACK FROM THIS YEAR’S INTERNS
I had to remember that now I’m a Mr.
Finally the internship has arrived. I was waiting for this since classes ended last semester. The first day was a little odd; it was the first time I actually felt like a teacher. It is so weird being on this side of the teaching (as a student you just don’t realize what goes into teaching).
The whole first week was really an adjustment period. Some students were asking my name in the hallway and I had to remember that now I’m a Mr., rather then just telling them my first name. I still get a bit of a weird feeling walking into the staff room as well. Perhaps the biggest adjustment to me is finding my way around the school (my high school was a lot simpler then the one I’m interning at), although I have not gotten lost (yet!).
I’m looking forward to the rest of this semester, just to get a feel of the schooling system and how everything works. Exams are coming up at the end of the month which should be another great experience!
Now it’s time to get prepared for the coming week! I cannot wait to teach my first class. It should be fun! (Secondary Intern)
My biggest fear . . . the classroom management thing
During the first week of my Education internship I was mostly observing the students during the teacher’s lecture; I interacted with the students when seat work was assigned. Helping the students and getting to know their names were what I enjoyed the most during the first week.
Many of the students were very pleasant and had lots of questions about myself and “why I wanted to become a teacher”. I was also very surprised when I found out most of the teachers did not have a lesson ready for the first day of classes; they would get the students to do mostly “busy work” or watch a movie that pertained to the material in that course.
My cooperating teacher informed me that during the second week of my internship I would be teaching a Math course and also taking attendance during homeroom. My biggest fear during both these tasks will be getting a handle on the classroom management thing. I found out very quickly the students were quite defiant towards me when I proceeded to tell a student to sit in a certain seat and the student did not listen – my cooperating teacher had to step in. I do not think the students understand that even as interns we have the authority to penalize them for their actions (such as sending them to the office). I hope to be able to have great classroom management by the end of my internship, finding out what works best for me. (Intermediate Intern)
Doing the internship in Hong Kong I’ve just completed my first (hectic!) week of the internship here in Hong Kong. I’m at an IB school so I’ve got A LOT to learn about the curriculum. I’m doing the middle years program in humanities and in design/technology, so mostly I’ll see grade 7 and 8’s. It’s been a bit daunting because the curriculum is so much different than what I’m familiar with. It’s going to be a challenge the next few months but certainly one that will benefit me very much. (Secondary Intern) Editor’s Note: We hope to hear more from our Hong Kong intern about teaching and living there in a future eMEMO issue.
FEEDBACK FROM RECENT B.ED. GRADUATES
2nd Year Teaching vs. 1st Year Teaching – Aaron Power
When asked of the differences between being a first and second year teacher, I could employ many different analogies to attempt to sound intellectually inclined, many of them corny or cliché. However, after teaching junior high for a year and a half, I realize that trying to sound smarter than you truly are often doesn’t fool or impress anyone, especially those students who may be a little quicker than you! Nonetheless, one analogy that I feel holds very true is that teaching is kind of like being on a boat for the first time. The first year you’re acquiring your “sea legs” (hopefully not “C” legs), and learning the idiosyncrasies of the ocean. By the second year, if you’re lucky, you start to get a feel for the “ocean” and figure out how to navigate a little better through the waters, taking the time to enjoy the ride a little more. Albeit realizing of course that any day at any time you can come across unanticipated “rough waters”.
In my first year as a budding young professional, I made mistakes; I laughed, I cried, and I learned what can only be described as “a coliseum of knowledge”. The first month I felt like I was running around without a head. Who’s this? What’s that? Where’s that again? I doubt the students noticed as much as I did, but I always felt like I was just barely treading water, or back to the boat analogy, hardly holding myself upright. A few of the invaluable things that I learned include:
- Realizing that seasoned teachers are some of the best resources you will ever find! The overwhelming majority are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. They’ll hand you a worksheet, a test, or sometimes half a unit that they’ve compiled, and won’t mind some feedback or new ideas!
- Knowing students names not only helps in building your relationship, but also in classroom management and just about everything else.
- Parents can be your friends, if you keep in touch! No parent wants to hear that their kid is a “failure,” but if you build relationships with parents early on, it can help you work through any issues you may have.
- Treat all students the same and keep things consistent! Students, especially those in junior high, are acute to the most minor differences in the way you treat them. This is not to imply that your reaction will be exactly the same for every situation, but make sure to be as fair as possible!
- And lastly, BE YOURSELF! You cannot try to be someone else in how you control a classroom, how you relate to students and so forth. It may take a while to find out how you do these things, but once you find out what’s comfortable and works, stick with it!
I could go on and on. These all seem like common sense practices but when you are faced with 25 faces every day, sometimes they are easy to overlook.
The biggest difference in my second year is that right from day one, I knew (almost exactly) what I was going to do. I was more confident, more prepared and ready to start “afresh” with new classes. The first day I had a routine in mind – I spent most of the day introducing myself, getting to know the students and discussing expectations. I’ve really realized that every class is different and that what works for one class, may not work exactly the same way with another, if at all. You can never underestimate the value of being prepared but with room for flexibility. Your biggest indication of how you are doing is your students. I’ve also been consistent and persistent in classroom management. I give students the benefit of the doubt and try to give them opportunities to “refocus” their behaviour. Many small changes that make big differences! “Practice makes perfect” is certainly a cliché, but has never been more applicable than in our profession. I’ve learned to appreciate every day, even the ones that fall on full moons. Teaching is a great profession, and with patience, you’ll continue to grow and become the most effective teacher possible! All the best!
Aaron Power is a 2008 B. Ed. graduate from MUN. He holds a B. Sc. from MUN and is currently on a permanent contract teaching French Immersion at Mount Pearl Intermediate.
Have a Sense of Humor – Jennifer Hillier
Teaching full time is indeed different from my training days or even my sub days. The days are longer than ever, duty and daily tasks fill each spare moment, and I wake with thoughts of the day ahead and what needs to be accomplished. I have post-it notes covering every spare surface so that I am greeted with a sea of yellow whenever I sit to my desk. I had always thought that yellow was cheery but now it’s boring. I am definitely contemplating a multi-coloured pack from Staples for future use!
I can’t remember the last prep period that went without interruption and that is only since I started taking my prep periods. But for all the things that make me groan and sigh and cradle my head in my hands, I find joy in every day I teach. Take a moment, a breath, and you will see things that you will never forget. I know I do. Did you know that on occasion a dog really does eat a person’s homework? I do now. Did you know that bringing a fish to school for Social Studies is normal in some parts? I do now. Did you know that “the once” is proper English? Not so much I know, but the people around here definitely think so. Did you know that once in a while a teenager actually means it when they say ‘Good Morning’ in the hallway? I do now. Did you know that some students actually care what you say, what you think, and what your opinion is? I do now. Did you know that many students appreciate boundaries, rules, and sense of humor when you mess up? Boy do I know now.
I have to be ready to laugh at myself sometimes and they respect you for it. Which brings me to my main point. When we have those days that just make us want to throw in the towel, to scream, to cry… just smile. Laugh at yourself. Have a sense of humor! When everything else gets you down make sure you keep that sense of humor, because that is what the kids will respond to and that is what will get you through the tough times. I have found (in my limited teaching experience) that teaching with humor and laughter makes everyone’s day better, not just the students’ but also mine. So take the time, smile, have a laugh, because a happy teacher makes for a much more effective learning environment… and makes getting up in the morning totally worthwhile.
Jennifer Hillier is a 2007 MUN B. Ed. graduate. She also holds a B. A. and a Bachelor of Special Education from MUN and is currently in a permanent position as instructional resource teacher at Harriot Curtis Collegiate in St. Anthony.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“In teaching, care and compassion are essential features of becoming and remaining connected to students and colleagues.”
Reference: Day, C. (2004). A passion for teaching. New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
FROM THE LITERATURE
Great teachers win students over, sometimes subtly, sometimes actively. But they always do it by building positive, not punitive, relationships. The obvious tools of relationship building include memorizing names, learning students’ personal interests and using them as a hook for learning, and making time for one-on-one discussions. High school students have the same basic need for relationships with teachers as do younger students. Every student needs real human interaction to excel. What’s true for young people is also true for adults: Gallup’s extensive research on employee engagement finds that adults seek workplaces where their managers care about them and in which their opinions count.
Reference: Liesveld, R., Miller, J. A., & Robison J. (2005). Teach with your strengths. New York: Gallup Press.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE (PART 1)
“Can I call you back? This isn’t a good time.””
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE (PART 2)
“Do you realize that they pay our teacher to come to school every day and that we do it for free?.”
CURRENT B. ED. (PRIMARY/ELEMENTARY) STUDENTS BEING ADDED TO THE eMEMO LISTSERV
Earlier today approximately 130 current Primary/Elementary students were added to the listserv. It is anticipated that after next Sunday, all Primary/Elementary students doing classes on campus will be on the listserv and receiving their weekly issues of the eMEMO. Those P/E students doing their internships this semester have already been added.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE (PART 3)
“Hard morning, Patricia?”
Yours truly is a tad obsessed with the sport of hockey and is a huge fan of the Montreal Canadians. This makes for some interesting discussions in my Education 4005 (Effective Teaching) classes in the fall semester especially when there is a sizable number of Toronto Maple Leafs fans also in those classes. I have to acknowledge a couple of recent NHL games:
- Leafs vs. Atlanta Thrashers: a shellacking 9-3 by the Leafs on
Heidi Miller, I’m sure you’re very pleased and very proud!
- Habs vs. Boston last night: 3-2 (overtime). Yours truly is
equally as proud!!!!!!!
That takes care of issue # 2. Interns, have a great second week.