Greetings, everyone – welcome to issue # 9 of the eMemo. After this week, interns, you have 4 weeks remaining in your internship. In those 4 weeks a suggestion would be to “consolidate” any of those objectives or goals you’ve set for yourselves in the internship – you may not achieve all of them, but hopefully you will have made significant progress on that journey to becoming a good teacher. Enjoy this issue.
Feedback From This Year’s Interns
I did find my “gym voice”
So far, so good! I am interning at a high school in the St. John’s area. I have a relatively quiet personality and therefore at the beginning of my internship I was nervous about every little thing – even taking attendance. Being in the gymnasium for most of my teaching did not help my quietness. At first, I was scared I would not have a “gym voice” and never find it.
However, that next week, I told myself there was nothing to be nervous or quiet about anymore and eventually I would get the hang of everything; I was right! We are now 8 weeks in and I hardly get nervous anymore. I teach three Physical Education classes, along with two Healthy Living classes and I would not want it any other way. I’ve managed to build a good relationship with my students; I know most of their names now and some of their interests so I can connect to them better— makes teaching a lot easier. I think because of that connectedness I’ve built, the students are more supportive and co-operative back towards me, which makes my teaching experience a breeze.
Oh, I did find my “gym voice” – my co-operating teacher was pretty impressed too!
Can’t wait to see what the next few weeks have in store for me. (Secondary Intern)
I still get nervous sometimes
I am interning at the elementary level in French Immersion at a school in the St. John’s area and I have really enjoyed my experience so far. I am more comfortable now with the classroom and my students since we’ve had the time to get to know each other; they know what to expect from me and I have some idea of what to expect from them.
I also have more confidence when speaking to the class. The first time I introduced a lesson, I swear that all the words went right out of my head. Now I still get nervous sometimes, but I’m more able to manage that stress and I don’t worry if I don’t know exactly what I’m going to say.
I’ve learned so much so far and I am looking forward to the next few weeks of my internship. (Elementary Intern)
The atmosphere of the school was tense and somber
I’ve completed eight weeks of my internship and time sure is flying by! One thing stands out since being here was my school’s spirit week. The spirit week was a breath of fresh air that came right after our mid-term exams. During the mid-terms I constantly saw students stressed out and upset about their upcoming exams; the atmosphere of the school was tense and somber. When spirit week came along the students seem to get a spring back in their step. Spirit week consisted of activities such as “Husky Olympics”, a dodge ball tournament and “formal Friday” (students dressed up in formal attire). Having activities such as spirit week develops a sense of community within the school which in turn gives the students a sense of pride.
In an era where there is so much emphasis put on reaching outcomes and preparing students for post secondary it is refreshing to see that these types of activities still play a major part in the school. (Secondary Intern)
They are changing the person that I am
Being an intern means that you are constantly learning. Your co-operating teachers are always teaching you by showing you how they teach their students and how they manage their classroom. They teach you by passing on their wisdom, giving you advice and providing construction criticism. You also learn from other teachers at your school, who provide you with information and advice.
But the people that you learn the most from are your students. My students have taught me so many valuable lessons and have been the inspiration behind my personal and professional growth. My students have taught me that it is okay to make mistakes, and it is okay to own those mistakes. They have taught me the importance of getting to know your students on a personal level and creating a strong bond with each and every one of them. My students have taught me that it is essential to be a good listener, and to hear about their concerns and worries. They have shown me that something as simple as a smile can brighten their day. My students have also taught me that being a teacher is a gift, and not a burden.
As an intern I am required to learn about lesson plans, curriculum guides, classroom management strategies and so much more. But the lessons that my students have taught me are not only changing the teacher that I will become, but they are changing the person that I am. (Primary Intern)
I find myself struggling to keep up with the pace
During the first couple of weeks of my practicum, my experience was greater than I had imagined it would be. The staff was friendly and genuine, and I felt quite welcome from the get-go. My co-operating teacher, who had a fantastic rapport with her students, allowed me to observe and assimilate with ease. She seemed to use modern teaching techniques and methods in her classroom, and it was interesting to see how the dynamics of teaching had evolved since I was in middle school.
During those weeks, I had an opportunity to observe and interact with numerous classes outside of my teachable areas including Drama, Music, English, Geography, and History, and I am currently in the midst of teaching units for Geography and English. Initially, I also had plans to join the after-school drama club, and had hoped to organize an after-school/noon-hour guitar class. However, I broke my finger – temporarily derailing some of those plans! Needless to say, my experience up to that point had been quite enriching.
As most, if not all, of the Education students can attest to, the practicum has become increasingly more difficult as time progresses. With my responsibilities growing (i.e., grading, lesson planning, lesson revisions, extra-curricular activities, working part-time, etc.), it has been more trying as each week passes. Now, at the halfway point of my practicum, I find myself struggling to keep up with the pace, while simultaneously trying to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. But, of course, this is all part of the learning experience. For me, the most rewarding part of this internship, thus far, has been connecting with the students; it has been more enjoyable than actually teaching them. I believe that showing an interest in the students as individuals, while also learning their stories, is equally as important as motivating them to complete their work. In fact, in my experience, establishing such a rapport with the students can actually make them better learners, or at the very least, they want to try harder.
On Valentine’s Day, I received a card from a student that said, “You are going to make a great teacher!”. When I read this, it made me feel like I was accomplishing something in the classroom. All in all, I must say that, while I look forward to the end of my practicum, I will miss being in the classroom. (Intermediate Intern)
The work load seems a bit much at times
At the midpoint of my internship, I am beginning to notice some differences. They appeared so gradually that at first I wasn’t even aware of the changes. The first is how the students react to me as if I was just another teacher. I am no longer “The new teacher” but someone they have begun to accept; of course this isn’t always a good thing but overall I appear to be blending in with the faculty.
The second is my relationships with the other teachers, who have begun to accept me as one of the staff. No longer the outsider but one of many trying to make some difference in the lives of the students.
The biggest difference, however, is how comfortable I feel. The nervousness is gone, I no longer second guess if my lesson plans will meet my co-operating teacher’s approval. The work load seems a bit much at times, just trying to stay ahead of the classes I am teaching. But, should I have the opportunity to teach these classes again, I can see how much easier it will be the next time.
By recognizing the differences between where I was when I started and where I am now, I feel that I have made the right choice. I can truly see myself thriving as a teacher. I am actually excited for what the future has in store for me. (Intermediate-Secondary Intern)
Our Congratulations to Dr. Sylvia Moore
Dr. Sylvia Moore of our Happy Valley-Goose Bay campus, recently published her first book titled Trickster Chases the Tale of Education McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017). According to Dr. Kahente Horn-Miller, a professor in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton University, this book “illustrates the power of Indigenous storytelling as we are taken on a journey of decolonizing research through the story of a researcher, Crow, and the salmon that inspired two communities to come together”. We congratulate Dr. Moore on this wonderful achievement.
Recommended Book Resource for Primary and Elementary Interns
The Magic Pillow (2008)
Illustrated in Demi’s signature GOLD overtones, The Magic Pillow is based on a Chinese story from 700 A. D. Ping, the protagonist in Demi’s tale is based upon Lu Tung Pin, one of the Eight Chinese Immortals, the Patron Saint of Literature. His goal was to destroy greed, ego, passion, jealousy, and ignorance.
Ping was from a poor family. One day he went into the mountains to collect firewood and got caught in a snowstorm. A kind innkeeper agreed that he could stay the night until the storm passed. A magician was staying at the inn and was performing tricks. Ping was entranced with the magic, but then became sad when he remembered the poorness of his family. When Ping told the magician about how poor his family was and how he would never have much, the magician replied, “The greatest gift of all is having wisdom, for with wisdom you can find the truth! You can become enlightened!” He gave Ping a pillow to sleep on and told him that all his wishes would come true while he was sleeping on the pillow.
As soon as Ping lay down, he fell asleep and began to dream. He dreamt he was grown up, married to a rich girl, living in a palace, and prime minister of the land. He was powerful and happy. But then, things began to change as others became jealous and envious of him. He was put in jail, lost everything, and after a long time regained his freedom and riches. As time went on in his dream, Ping’s sons and grandsons became rich and famous, but then they, too lost everything, were jailed, and eventually regained their riches and power. Ping saw his family’s fortunes rise and fall, rise and fall—“money was like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, power was like a flickering lamp, and fame lasted no longer than a bubble in a stream”.
When Ping woke, it was morning and the sun was shining. When Ping returned the pillow to the magician he thanked him, “. . . it has given me great wisdom. Now I know what it would be like to be a great man and have money, power, and fame. And now I know that I am happy just the way I am!” As Ping went home to his family, he sang all the way.
“He who finds peace in his heart has found his palace of gold”.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“I’m a problem child. I’m majoring in Math!”
Quote of the Week
There are three things to remember when teaching: know your stuff; know whom
you are stuffing; and then stuff them elegantly. – Lola May
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
Education Law Corner
In an earlier issue we discussed negligence and how negligence would be determined in a court of law. One important concept in negligence is that of contributory negligence. The Canadian Law Dictionary defines this concept as:
“Conduct on the part of the plaintiff that falls below the standard of care to which he should conform for his own protection and that, when combined with the defendant’s negligence, was a legally contributing cause bringing about the plaintiff’s harm or injury. The defence of contributory negligence has but two elements, namely, that the injured person did not in his own interest take reasonable care of himself, and by this want of care, contributed to his own injury”.
More on the practicalities of contributory negligence in next week’s issue.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“I keep reminding myself why I teach – to leave my mark on
future generations that will take years of therapy to erase!”
Concluding Comments From The Editor
That takes care of issue # 9.
A word of thanks to the interns who sent in submissions this week.
On Friday night past we had an “interesting” game at St. Bon’s – 1 goalie and a total of 10 players which meant that, because we play 4 on 4, we had 1 player on the bench when it came time for a shift change! Our only goalie, Dave Rockwood, did double net-duty as every 10 minutes, he’d “boot it” down the ice to the other net. If we were shooting on an empty net, we had to hit one of the posts for it to be a legitimate goal. Obviously, overall, not one of our better games but we did enjoy the workout. I managed to score an “empty net” goal: I was in the right corner, shot the puck in front of the net, hit one of their players’ skates, and then the puck gently hit the left post. I thanked him for the “assist”! Probably not worthy of a TSN video clip!
NHL-wise, missed the Habs-Leafs game last night due to another commitment but was delighted to hear les Habs beat the Leafs in OT. It was good to get that win – badly needed!
And, as usual, feedback is always welcomed from the current interns and from the general readership. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a wonderful week everyone – long term forecast looking good – Jerome