Welcome to issue # 7. Winter has certainly arrived here in St. John’s and there are mega amounts of snow everywhere. “Too much snow, too quick” seems to be the common complaint. A local church with a big sign outside its building featuring some whimsical sayings from time to time currently reads: “Whoever is praying for snow can stop now!” Most of us would agree!
Interns, you’re about halfway through your internship. Those of you who have submitted feedback to the eMEMO are very positive and complimentary about the experience to date. It would be naïve to think that the internship is going extremely well for all of you. Those of you who are experiencing challenges and difficulties are encouraged to submit your comments; although they may be less positive than some of the ones already submitted, it is important for our readers including your fellow interns to hear all different perspectives on the internship.
FEEDBACK FROM THIS YEAR’S INTERNS
More from the UK
The school system here is completely different than the system in Canada. Trying to get a grasp of the secondarysystem in the UK was a bit overwhelming at first. I am sill learning new things everyday about the UK school system and curriculum. You will be glad to hear that teachers in the UK are very strict on the way lessons are planned. Each lesson must contain learning objectives (which are shared with the students at the beginning of each lesson), a starter activity, main activity and plenary. Each lesson has three learning objectives ranging from low-level to high-level. The students must pick the one that best suits their ability and make sure they complete the objective during the lesson. Also, each year (grade) is broken up into five bands. For example, 7B1 would be a year seven top set which contains all of the advanced, gifted, and talentedstudents. A 7B5 class would contain year 7 students of the lowest ability. This is very different from the inclusion system followed by the Department of Education in Newfoundland. I teach three different bands of year 8 students and four different bands of year 9 students; it is therefore easy to differentiate lessons to suit students of higher or lower ability as they are grouped together in separate classes. Although all year 9 students may be learning about climate in Geography, I am expected to teach a different lesson to each band of students according to their abilities. As well, lessons are expected to be interactive. It is rare for a teacher to get students to copy notes into their workbooks. Furthermore, another major difference here is the way students are assessed. In my department, there are no tests or quizzes. Students are graded on the work they do in class and their homework. Students are not required to memorize their homework. Students are not required to memorize anything! As well, there are no number grades. Everything is leveled using a rubric that is written by the UK Department of Education. The levels go from 1-8 and each level has three sub-levels (a,b and c). I am still not confident with marking assessments as this method is very foreign to me!
A learning, enriching and challenging experience
My internship thus far has been a learning, enriching and challenging experience. I am grateful that the students and staff have taught me to be patient, organized and prepared.
However, the most important lesson that I have learned is the one from my co-operating teacher. The first day I walked into her classroom, she stated the most apparent and simple fact, she said “Remember we are teaching children.” This statement seems obvious and clear; nevertheless, it is one very important aspect of teaching that we sometimes lose sight of during our lessons.
I think that on our most frustrating day we need to reflect, step back and remember we were in their seats once before. At that particular time in our lives, how did we feel, how did we see the world. So the next time you find yourself losing patience and feeling challenged, “Remember we are teaching children.”
I wish everyone in the class of 2011 the best during their internships. Good luck!
Starting to feel more like a teacher
The seventh week of the internship starts on Monday! Time is going way too fast!! I am really enjoying my internship and I am slowly starting to feel more like a teacher and less like a student each and every day. A professor told me during the fall semester that “If you think you are busy now, wait until you do your internship!” That professor sure was right! I don’t know about everyone else but I have quickly learned that teaching is not a Monday to Friday, 9-3 job, it is continuous. Although my internship takes up much of my time, I love every minute of it.
I am teaching a multi-grade class, which includes grades 6, 7 and 8, including one student who is on pathways 3 and 4. Teaching multi-grade is more of a challenge because it requires extra planning and preparation. The challenge is definitely a great learning experience though, an experience which I am sure I will use to my advantage throughout my teaching career.
The staff, especially my cooperating teacher, have been very welcoming, accommodating and extremely supportive. I am also really getting to know my students now and I look forward to spending time with them every day and contributing to their learning. I am also learning something new from them every day as I continue to experiment and refine my teaching and learning strategies.
Not only am I getting to know my students on an academic level, I am enjoying interacting with them through extra-curricular activities. Since starting my internship I have become involved in coaching soccer and planning the high school graduation.
The whole internship experience so far has been rewarding and I am reminded every day that I have chosen the absolute right career for myself. I personally think it takes something special to be a teacher, so my hat goes off to all of you who have chosen to be teachers!
The greatest feeling
So far, I have no complaints about my experiences during my internship. I am interning at the same school that I attended for junior high and high school so I already knew all the teachers and the majority of the students before beginning. This has made the transition into the school much easier, I think.
The best part about being a teacher is interacting with and getting to know the students. I’ve enjoyed finding out who plays on the sports teams and who is the student council president and who the talented actors are in the drama club.
To date, my most memorable moment occurred the day after I had been absent for a doctor’s appointment. When I returned the next day, one of my grade nine students came up to me and said, “Miss! Where were you yesterday? We missed you!” Knowing that you make a difference to even one student’s day is worth everything in the world to me. I was so touched that they had thought about me enough to miss me after only one day, when I had only been a part of the school for a couple of weeks, was the greatest feeling! I hope that throughout my career I can inspire my students and build caring relationships with each one of them.
I felt very uncomfortable . . . but now
It is amazing how fast this internship is going, but what I think is even more amazing is how much of a difference every single day makes to my progress. When I first started doing small parts of my teacher’s lessons, I felt very uncomfortable in front of the class but now that I have taken over all four of my classes, every day is getting easier.
I think that was my biggest challenge – becoming comfortable in front of the students. Now that this part is getting easier, I am able to focus on improving other areas of my teaching.
Teaching can be very overwhelming. In a lot of ways, teaching is what I expected it to be, but there are a lot of things I did not or could not anticipate before this internship. It is challenging but every day it keeps getting better and I truly do love it. Every day I become more certain that I made the right decision to do this.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
If kids come to us (teachers / educators) from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our jobs easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our jobs more important.
FROM THE LITERATURE
(Continued from last week)
In addition, Kounin says effective classroom managers understand the ripple effect, an effect that occurs when one action directly affects another. He tells us that the cut-it-out look given to one student may help deter another student from the same off-task behavior. This is a positive ripple effect. Similarly, but with negative results, if the teacher interrupts the whole class, loudly saying, “Jeremy, stop right now. You do nothing but continually disturb,” other students may perceive that the teacher overreacted and begin to display the same pestering behaviors (Lemlech, 2010).
Kounin’s research has yielded the commonsense view that teachers who know what’s going on, who can switch from one activity to another smoothly and who can maintain positive momentum will be successful in maintaining a productive classroom environment.
Reference: Powell, S. D (2009). Introduction to education: Explorations in teaching. Boston: Pearson.
RECOMMENDED BOOK RESOURCE FOR PRIMARY & ELEMENTARY INTERNS
The Junkyard Wonders
Written and illustrated by: Patricia Polacco
New York: Philomel Books, 2010
This book is meant to be read by all teachers and aspiring teachers. Based on Patricia Polacco’s real-life school experiences, as are many of her books, it will provoke the reader to reflect on inclusion and diversity. It is sensitively written and teachers will have to decide whether to read it to students, based on individual classes. Patricia decides to live with her father, only to discover that in her new school she is placed in a special class, just as when she lived with her mother. But Patricia has never had a teacher like Mrs. Peterson, and she discovers the wonder of junk and believing in the impossible. There is sadness, joy, rejection, and acceptance in this inspiring tale.
And as always, Patricia Polacco’s trademark illustrations (a mixture of markers, paints, pastels, and pencils) accentuate the faces and emotions of the characters.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE (PART 1)
“No wonder our education system is in trouble,
2 of the 3 Rs don’t even start with an r.”
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE (PART 2)
“I think I need help. I’m hooked on phonics!”
(Editor’s Note: This section will highlight a specific subject/curriculum area in the next several issues.)
Literacy and Language
Based on their review of literacy research, Cheeks, Flippo and Lindsey (1997) recommend that teachers do the following to develop children’s language abilities:
- Allow many opportunities for social imaginative play and other verbal peer interaction, which enhance language and cognitive development.
- Develop learning activities that integrate listening, speaking, reading and writing (oral and written language).
- Use art, music and drama activities to further develop language opportunities.
- Read many books and stories to children every day.
- Choose books and stories that you believe will be of high interest to children and will further stimulate their interest in reading books.
- Give children opportunities to respond to the books and stories you read.
- Reread favorite stories as often as children request them.
- Give children opportunities to retell and/or act out stories in their own words after listening to you read them.
- Give children many opportunities to make their own books. Children can dictate stories as the teacher writes the stories down in the children’s own words. Children can also write their own books using scribble writing, pictures and invented spellings to tell their stories in their own words.
- Give children many opportunities to share with others
the stories they write.
- Accept “less than perfect” readings, retellings, writing and other literacy attempts for all children.
- Provide classroom activities and an environment that enhances the idea that literacy is part of communication and that meaning is essential for communication to take place.
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.
(Next week’s subject: Mathematics)
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE (PART 3)
“If your friends told you to fly into a windshield,
would you do that too?”
That takes care of issue # 7.
Thank you to those interns who submitted feedback for this issue; your efforts in preparing these submissions are most appreciated.
Can’t resist a brief comment about the Habs-Leafs game last night. In case any of you Leafs fans from my 2 Education 4005 classes (this past Fall semester) missed the game, Montreal defeated Toronto by a score of 3-0!!!!!
Have a wonderful week everyone.
Feedback or submissions are highly encouraged by contacting the editor: