Welcome to issue # 8 of the eMEMO. This week we have a submission (the first one on this page) from an intern who is experiencing some challenges with his/her co-operating teacher and how the intern is coping with those challenges. You should find it an interesting “read”.
When thinking about the challenges eluded to in that submission, a thought came to mind about a new feature for the eMEMO where a question (which could be related to any of the interns’ submissions or a more general question about teaching and teachers in general) would be posed and reader feedback would be solicited for inclusion in the next issue. More on that later in this issue. Enjoy!
FEEDBACK FROM THIS YEAR’S INTERNS
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade
As has been implied in previous eMEMOs, not everyone is having an excellent internship and honestly I happen to be one of them. I was teamed up with a co-operating teacher who is not very receptive nor is she really friendly at all. I was slightly perturbed by her but was receiving positive feedback from students and for the first few weeks was just trying to get material covered toensure students were prepared for their upcoming exams. THEN CAME WEEK FOUR!!!! I received what was one of the harshest criticisms I have ever received and wasbasically told that I am overall very ineffective. I was shocked and distraught by the comments I had received from her. I didn’t really know where to turn so I emailed my adviser. Happily, I can sing nothing but praises for my adviser who after receiving my email called me immediately. I sobbed on the phone to her explaining my situation and the whole time her voice remained steady and strong. She advised me on how to make the best of my situation. Since her chat with me she has been keeping in constant touch with me and I feel reassured. In the meantime, I have also made friends with other teachers in the department who are teaching different sections of the same courses as me which has been quite helpful. I am also amused by my co-operating teacher’s students who have said on a number of different occasions, “THAT IS YOUR TEACHER TOO??? OH I FEEL BAD FOR YOU!!”, and “WELL AT LEAST YOU NOW KNOW WHAT NOT TO DO”. I can honestly say now that I completely understand the saying when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
There are positive aspects to the internship but there are also challenges. I’m teaching Canadian and World Geography at a senior high school. Due to midterms, I have only really been teaching for a week. It was stressful and that hampered my initial efforts. I have done public speaking before but being in the front of a classroom of grade tens and elevens is rather intimidating. My best class so far was due to the fact that I finally relaxed. I had taken sometime for myself the night before and stopped thinking about teaching. We have to make sure we take care of ourselves in the midst of the high demands of the internship. If we don’t, were not of much use to the kids. Easier said than done I know, but it is important.
Did not yell or get all red in the face
My internship is going well I must say and I really am enjoying teaching even more than I thought I would. Ichose to teach a basic stream of Canadian Geography and my class is filled with students with a lot of issues from learning disabilities to problems at home.It has been a challenge but one I’ve enjoyed very much until to my dismay I had to send my first student to the office yesterday (which I was trying to avoid atall costs). But the situation couldn’t be dealt with by means of nonverbal-verbal intervention. What actually amazed me the most was how upset I was afterward mainly because there was nothing else I could do but send him out of class. I’m wondering if those situations get any easier the longer you’re a teacher.But on a brighter note, I did not yell or get all red in the face!!!
Has been going great
So far my internship has been going great. I am doing my internship at my old school and knew most of the teachers and students before coming back to do my internship. I have also worked at this school in the past so I am quite familiar with the school.
Before starting my internship I was worried that because the students knew me, they wouldn’t respect me as they do their other teachers. But this has not been an issue; the students are very respectful to me. Some students are finding it hard and forget to call me Miss and still refer to me by my first name since they all know me outside of school because it’s only a small community. I don’t really take notice of this because I am finding it hard to adjust to someone referring to me as Miss.
Because I am in a K-12 school I have had the opportunity to sit in on some K-6 classes on some of my preps and see how things function in those classes. It was nice to observe and just watch the differences in elementary to junior and senior high. (I think I’m sticking with 7-12 though!)
I am also glad that I am teaching a few courses outside of my subject areas. It’s a little bit harder to prepare for these courses because I have to teach the material to myself first before teaching the students but I like the challenge. I know that when I finish my Education program, my first teaching job won’t necessarily all be in my subject areas so I appreciate that I am getting a taste of this now.
Since starting my internship I have participated in parent-teacher interviews. I was stressed out for a few days thinking about parent-teacher interviews because I was afraid the parents would come and attack me but everything went fine. No complaints from any parents.
This week was teacher appreciation week and just ended today. It was really nice to see that students and parents appreciate all the work teachers do for the students.
The other shoe to drop
My internship thus far has been a great experience. My co-operating teacher has been nothing short of confident in my abilities and has been very receptive to my ideas, suggestions and my lesson plans. He allowed me to start teaching at my own pace, which turned out was nearly right away since I jumped at the chance. We have since developed a schedule that will gradually add more to my plate over time.
Organization has been a primary concern over the last few weeks and so I have found myself grouping everything together in a binder with dividers and coloured tabs and other such helpful things.
The students have been quite receptive to my teaching and seem to be respectful of my position despite my “only being an intern”. I owe this in part to good classroom management from my co-operating teacher but also because he has allowed me to manage the class without interruption. Then after class, we talk a little about my decisions and what I might want to try in the future.
The most telling thing I have noticed is that I have not returned home each day complaining about work since starting my internship. I think this means I must be happy teaching though I am still perhaps a little wary of it all and am waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop”.
Editor’s Note: As mentioned in the intro on p. 1 of this issue, we’re hoping to introduce a new feature next week titled “READERS RESPOND”.
This feature will highlight responses to a specific question from a number of you, readers. This question could be related to any of the interns’ submissions or it might be a general question on any aspect of teaching or teachers in general. Not sure how this might go but no harm in trying!
You’re asked to keep your responses short and to the point – preferably, 4 to 5 sentences max! And, no names of course. Deadline for each issue is 9:00 Sunday mornings.
This week’s question: What advice would you give the intern who was having difficulty with his/her co-operating teacher?
(See the first submission in this issue titled “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn’t want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher’s job. (Donald D. Quinn)
FROM THE LITERATURE
“Practicing Routines and Student Attention”
When students are engaged in class activities and the teacher wants to make an announcement, give directions, or remind students of the time, an attention getter is necessary. Some teachers turn the classroom lights off and on or simply speak loudly enough to be heard. An excellent method for getting attention involves the teacher raising a hand and students doing likewise. Students know to stop talking as their hands go up. Once there is silence, the teacher talks while students listen. If rehearsed repeatedly during the first few weeks of school, this method (and a variety of others you’ll observe in field experiences) will become automatic. Having one method, practicing it, and consistently using it will return big dividends.
Reference: Powell, S. D (2009). Introduction to education: Explorations in teaching. Boston: Pearson.
RECOMMENDED BOOK RESOURCE FOR PRIMARY & ELEMENTARY INTERNS
Written by: Veronika Martenova Charles
Illustrated by: Annouchka Gravel Galouchko & Stephan Daigle
Toronto: Tundra 2006
Noor Nobi is a tailor in Calcutta whose family died in an accident. He is so filled with grief that he can no longer work, and then one day he sees caged birds for sale. He buys the last bird and sets it free under a banyan tree. Renewed with purpose, Noor Nobi starts sewing again, and each week he buys more birds, nourishes them to health, and sets them free under the banyan tree. People now come to the banyan tree on Mondays to see the birds released. “Some smile behind their hands, some say the Birdman is crazy, some stand respectfully, some think nothing at all. But most forget their troubles, just for a moment, each time a bird takes flight.”
Veronika Martenova Charles read about the Birdman in The Toronto Star and travelled to Calcutta to write his story. The illustrations blend colour, design, and pattern in an exceptional portrayal of Noor Nobi turning despair into hope.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE (PART 1)
“Yes, Mr. Nichols, we do encourage parent
involvement – but not during test time.”
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE (PART 2)
“I hope it’s not too much of an inconvenience for
you but I’m desperate to hold on to good teachers!”
Although there is no pan-Canadian framework in Mathematics curricula, most provinces follow a similar approach to this content area. The current teaching approaches in Mathematics embrace a constructivist, learner-centered focus with the goal of mathematical literacy. New Math curricula across Canada emphasize problem solving and inquiry. For example, the Common Curriculum Framework for K-12 Mathematics (Western Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Basic Education 2000) incorporates the following seven interrelated mathematical processes:
- Estimation and mental Mathematics
- Problem solving
(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.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE (PART 3)
“Daydreaming is a serious problem in my classroom. I can’t stop thinking about retirement, summer vacation, winter break, snow days. . . ”
That concludes issue # 8. Thank you to those interns who submitted feedback for this issue. Have a great week everyone.