Welcome to this week’s installment of The Monday eMemo. From interns’ submissions to date, it’s obvious they’re settling into their new roles and as articulated in a number of this week’s submissions, there are some obvious challenges but that’s all a part of the internship experience. Enjoy!
Feedback From This Year’s Interns
My first experience with classroom management gone horribly wrong
It’s the end of week 4 and I already feel like part of the school community. The students say hi to me in the halls, the teachers chat to me during recess, lunch and after school and I have been fortunate enough to be placed with a great group of fellow interns who are eager to share lesson plans, teacher handouts and other resources.
I have already had my first experience with classroom management gone horribly wrong when during group work with junior high, I could not regain the students’ attention. I tried nonverbal and verbal interventions and proximity interference but as soon as I addressed one group, another group was acting up. I remembered that it was important to stay calm even though I felt so frustrated. I directed the students to change the seating plan from groups to rows in the middle of the lesson. After they made rows and I had their attention, I talked to them about respect in the classroom and how I needed their co-operation for everyone to have a chance to learn and succeed.
The next class, I decided that I would give them the tools for success and gave them five minutes to practice cues (turning off the lights, saying their class number and “small voices”) to get their attention. It was really effective. My co-operating teacher told me that I have a good understanding of how to handle the unexpected but I thought that I was just directing them the way that I would like to be directed, with clear expectations and mutual respect. (Intermediate Intern)
I was a bit nervous going into it
So far I am very happy with the way my internship is going. Like most other interns, I was a bit nervous going into it but I had already met with my co-operating teachers so I knew I wasn’t going to be thrown to the front of the classroom right away so that made things easier.
I am slowly gaining more responsibility in each class and once exams are over (next week) I am going to be taking over all of them. I am definitely looking forward to being at the head of the class on my own for the first time.
I am taking the time to get to know as many student names as possible and find myself learning more of them each and every day.
Another great thing about my internship so far is the teaching staff. The staff at my school is phenomenal; they are all very close and have been very welcoming to all of us interns. (Secondary Intern)
My co-operating teacher is wonderful
I’m really enjoying my internship so far. I’m in a K-12 school and am teaching grades 7, 8, 9 and 11. The class sizes are far smaller than what I’m used to from growing up in town but I think it’s great.
I feel like I am getting to know the kids well and understanding their abilities and their personalities.
My co-operating teacher is wonderful and I really couldn’t have asked for anyone better; she is so helpful and gives me a lot of freedom on what I want to do. For example, with the grade 8s, we just completed a letter to a government official about a certain issue (e.g., child labour, animal abuse, moose detection systems, etc.) and I was so proud of them because after all the original moans and groans of having to write something, they really got into it. I never imagined I would love living in rural NL, but it is really great. I’m learning a lot and having a fabulous time. (Intermediate/Secondary Intern)
I feel very comfortable and very welcomed at the school
So far, I am thoroughly enjoying my internship. I feel very comfortable and very welcomed at the school. I enjoy the classes I am in and I get along very well with my co-operating teachers.
I have learned a lot about teaching in the 3 short weeks that I have been here and I cannot imagine how much I will have learned by the time my internship is over.
I am eager to begin teaching on my own and have realized how much I enjoy the classroom atmosphere. (Intermediate/Secondary Intern)
It’s all starting to come together
I am enjoying my internship so far. It’s all starting to come together a bit
more for me compared to a few weeks ago. At first I found it a bit overwhelming as one could expect due to nerves and so forth. However, my nerves are calming down and I am easing into it nicely.
I have been teaching some lessons in areas such as Health, Religion, Science and some Social Studies and I am really enjoying it.
One issue that I have is classroom management. I find it difficult to get their attention a lot of the times and I know it’s because they know I am not their “real” teacher and think I don’t hold the teacher-like authority. Over the course of the last few weeks though, this issue is starting to become less of a problem and I am holding their attention much more and they seem to listen to me when called upon. (Primary/Elementary Intern)
I was just completely overwhelmed
Four weeks in, wow. I remember the end of the first week, wondering what in the world I was doing. I was just completely overwhelmed by the pace of a school day and I hadn’t even begun teaching yet! Very quickly however, I was leading three classes in the Skilled Trades shop. If thirty students using power tools that can easily rip them limb to limb doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.
After about two weeks, the dreaded day prior to my first Math class arrived. I quickly realized that Math takes a whole lot more preparation than Skilled Trades. I was fine until about 9:30 the night before but that’s when it all went downhill. I kept thinking of little tweaks I could do to my lesson (which didn’t make it any better or worse) as well as nerves and worrying that it was too short or too long. Needless to say, there wasn’t much sleep that night.
But when the time came to get up and teach, all trepidation was forgotten as confidence and eagerness to succeed set in. I was on fire! Going through my lesson, involving the class in examples and explaining everything the best I could. Then all of a sudden, I was out of material. Turning to the clock I quickly realized I was only teaching for 30 minutes! Luckily I was teaching a Math class and I quickly assigned some seat work so that the students were not too idle.
Since then, I have taught a few more Math classes, inhibited only by exams. While this was a slight delay in my teaching, I had the entire past week to prepare for three Math courses which I am taking over as of Tuesday. Actually, thinking about my level of preparation, does anybody know how to use a Smart Board?
I am having so much fun
I am having so much fun and really enjoying my internship. I found that after spending so much time trying to figure out what I wanted to be “when I grow up”, it is such a great feeling to finally have found it. I feel so comfortable in the school in a teacher role.
I was really nervous that the students would not listen to me where I am only an intern but they actually do. You will be proud that I know just about every student’s name (especially in the 3 slots that I am teaching) and I also have a chocolate/candy treat bag (that might be why they
tell me I am their favourite intern, ha ha).
We played a little name game the first week and I got the names down then. My internship teacher and I get along great; we are so much alike in many different ways.
Midterm exam week is finishing up on Monday and then I get into some real teaching. I have already done a little bit before midterms so I am not too stressed. . . yet. I have started a “joke of the day” that I put on the board every morning and the students really look forward to them. The one for Tuesday is this: What did the zero (0) say to the eight (8) . . . NICE BELT! Ha ha ha – get it!? They love those little puns/jokes.
My internship is going swimmingly
My internship is going swimmingly! I am placed in Grade 6 at a primary/elementary school here in St. John’s and I am having so much fun. My class consists of 21 students, all with varying needs and ‘opportunities’. I have taken on teaching Science, Social Studies, Art, and Religion thus far and have also started reading the class Suzanne Collin’s “The Hunger Games” each day.
It has been an incredible opportunity to work with such great kids (and a fantastic co-operating teacher) to learn all of the ‘ups and downs, ins and outs’ of teaching.
Hopefully it all continues to go up from here. (Elementary Intern)
I’m learning so much
My internship is going great. I’m learning so much and my co-operating
teacher is full of ideas and strategies. He was the first teacher who allowed me to explore my love for literature and he is also the reason I want to become a teacher. Truthfully, it’s a little humbling!
My intern school has about 300 students ranging from grade 7-12. Seeing the 7’s pass the 12’s in the hallways is a little crazy – but it keeps them all in-check.
I have developed a weak spot for my grade 9’s and 11’s. My 11’s are very bright and use the English language very well – it’s lovely. My grade 9’s are very. . . interesting. I have been told by one class of my 9’s (a little more than difficult class) that I’m “spot on” but they don’t like it when I fall silent. “It’s like you’re going to blow us up with your mind miss!” Humorous and maybe a little evil, but definitely needed. It took me a lot of searching to figure out classroom management with this bunch but now I have 3 tricks: 1) my Ed 4005 instructor’s proximity interference; 2) Drop the lesson and ask a single student a bizarre
question (What did you have for breakfast? Who was your favorite Power Ranger), then head back into the lesson, and of course 3) falling silent. They like the questions and it always leads to “So who was your favorite Power Ranger, miss?”
Overall, I couldn’t ask for a better placement. Awesome staff to work with awesome students – I specifically like the bad ones and I can’t help it! And best of all, the time and ability to get totally wrapped up in two drama teams! Whoop, whoop for extra-curricular activities!
I anticipated being more nervous and anxious
Upon entering the classroom for the first time, I felt a sense of excitement and I felt as though this is where I was supposed to be. I anticipated being more nervous and anxious but when I first got there, I felt like this is where I belonged.
My grade two students were welcoming, inquisitive and curious about me. Still, three weeks later, I make sure to ask about them, compliment them and encourage each of them at least once a day.
I have also started teaching a fair bit in the classroom and I am feeling quite comfortable. It was a little challenging at first, as I am a very soft-spoken person but I am learning to use this to my advantage. I had to tell the children that I cannot talk very loud and I need them to be super duper listeners, so that they can hear what I am teaching. It’s going great so far but I obviously have a lot left to learn.
That’s one of the reasons I wanted to get into this profession. I want to continually learn and improve myself as a teacher so that my students can have the best possible learning experience. (Primary Intern)
My internship so far has been. . . interesting
My internship so far has been. . . interesting. During my first week I had several teachers ask me who I would be interning with and after telling them, they said things such as “Oh God help you!”. You can imagine what kind of worry this stirred in me.
Observing the class added to this worry. There are a number of
behavioural issues and a multitude of students with learning disabilities in the class. I began to think that I could never teach these students. However, my co-operating teacher is fabulous and has had these kids for two years in a row so she is very familiar with them and knows how to handle them well. I could not have asked for a better guide and mentor. It’s been three weeks now and things are starting to come together. I am getting used to the kids and learning how (not) to react to them. They are a good group of students who just need a little extra attention and care which makes lesson planning a little more time consuming as there are high and low abilities that need to be accommodated for.
I’d probably say that I’ve been “baptised by fire” and will use this experience as a positive one that will help me grow as a teacher. (Primary/Elementary Intern)
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“That’s very important, especially on field trips!”
Quote of the Week
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach
the way they learn.” Ignacio Estrada
Recommended Book Resource for Primary and Elementary Interns
What Cats Want for Christmas, 2007
What Dogs Want for Christmas, 2008
Written and illustrated by: Kandy Radzinski
Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press
This pair of books is a delight that should be enjoyed year round. They invite laughter and whimsy and pure enjoyment. The letters the cats write to Santa show the pride and arrogance of cats that many will recognize, such as “Dear Santa, How about a sweater knit of red Irish Setter” or “I’d really like something sweet, that went tweet, tweet”.
The dogs’ letters have a softer tone that do not show this disdain for other creatures, such as “I do like eating a nice leather shoe, but maybe I’d better try something new” and “I’d like to help guide your sleigh. I even practiced on my own today”.
Pet owners will see many of their pets’ habits reflected in the short poems that are written as letters. Most children seem to enjoy animals and there is something for everybody in these pages.
The books offer opportunities for teachers who want to inspire writing, perhaps “What horses want for Christmas” or any animal of choice. The artwork has been described as “quirky realism” and adds to the charm of the cats and dogs portrayed. This book will not only be enjoyed by K-6 students but has possibilities for students and creative writing teachers in higher grades.
Co-operative Discipline Workshop
As mentioned in last week’s eMEMO, this very popular and worthwhile workshop is being offered again this year by Bill Tucker, principal of the Eastern School Board’s District School. The date is next Saturday, February 4 from 8:30-4:30 and the fee for students is $60.00, $75.00 for teachers. The deadline for applications is tomorrow Monday, January 30 and for more information, please contact Bill at 726-0822 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“You know report cards were done yesterday, right Finnegan?”
From Newfoundland and Labrador
A (hopefully) reassuring word to current students: we enter this
profession unaware of all that it entails and precisely what might lay in store for us. Your first nervous steps, figuratively speaking, mark the
beginning of what will hopefully become the journey of a thousand miles, to borrow from Confucius.
For me, as I’m sure is the case for many of you, the internship was a trying experience. Some days were torturous and others, worse still. Yet, there are other times when you nail a lesson and you can actually “see” the acquisition of understanding. It is in these moments that you reach that position of clarity and self-affirmation, when you begin to think maybe, I am cut out for this.
Build on these experiences. Use these as a gauge, a measuring stick of sorts, for which to ponder other lessons that were, perhaps, poorly or unsatisfactorily received. Something that you should be quick to learn is that teaching is an especially reflective practice. The more you consider your lessons and their effectiveness, the better your instruction becomes. What’s more, your role as head of the class becomes easier and all the more rewarding. Build relationships with students, staff and administration. Grab as much as you can in the way of resources. Ask questions – as many as you can possibly ask – and try to discover at least a little of what it means to be a teacher outside of just teaching, namely the sorts of things we encounter and sometimes wrestle with on a regular basis that you were probably unaware of (policy, the code of ethics, etc.) Perhaps most important of all, try to enjoy your internship and make time for fun, both in and out of the classroom, and for yourself.
As aspiring teachers, you know you are entering into a demanding profession, one that can become all-consuming. As such, do not hesitate to imbue each day with a little levity. Best of luck! Shane Lambert
(Shane received his B. Ed. (Intermediate/Secondary) degree from MUN in 2008 and is currently a Math teacher at Baccalieu Collegiate in Old Perlican, He received his B. Sc. in Mathematics in 2007.)
After I graduated I went back to Korea for 3 and a half years, then went home to get married and now I am the grade 6/7 teacher at Petit Casimir Memorial School in Lac Brochet, Manitoba. It has been an interesting
and challenging experience. This is my first time working with First Nations students. I feel that it is a really good experience for me as a teacher. I am learning a lot, although some days I question my choice of living in the isolated north. Lac Brochet is a fly-in community of about 700 people.
Going from Seoul to Lac Brochet has been a little bit of a shock but I am actually enjoying living in another unique culture. I have taken part in a few cultural activities (my favorite being the sweat lodge) and I am hoping to return again next year.
The students can at times be quite difficult to deal with. Many of them come from difficult family situations and I have experienced aggression and violence in the classroom. Many days I feel defeated and deflated but I try to adjust my attitude and get myself back on track. The best thing that I can do is try my best to be a positive role model for these kids. I feel that I have made some progress over the last few months and I am looking forward to the second half of the year. Krista Cahill
(Krista graduated from MUN in 2007 with a B. Ed. (Intermediate/Secondary) degree. She completed her B.A. in English in 2000.)
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“As I understand it, the turkeys left England, where they were oppressed. Then they came over to this country where they were eaten!”
That takes care of issue # 5. A special word of thanks to those interns who sent submissions this week – it is most appreciated.
Thank you also to Krista and Shane for their submissions – it’s always good to hear how our former students are doing. It seems just yesterday when they were here in the Education Building doing classes. Time does fly.
And lastly, I have to make a few hockey comments as per usual. Watched the NHL All Star Fantasy Draft and the Skills Competition these past couple of days. They were all very interesting and with respect to Zdeno Chara’s 108.8 mph hardest shot, wow! Sure wouldn’t want to be on defence blocking that shot – pity those goalies who do!
I’m looking forward to the all star game later this evening.
Have a great week everyone.