Greetings everyone – welcome to the short month of February. Weather-wise, for the most part, it’s been a good and mild winter here in the east – less so in central, the west and Labrador. Week # 5 interns – your internships are moving right along and by now all of you are in the “thick” of teaching – hope it’s going well for you – note the word “well” not “perfect”!
This week one of the submissions references the issue of mental health in our schools. A complex subject, our provincial school boards and the Department of Education in recent years have developed some very worthwhile initiatives to deal with mental health issues. However, the onus is on all teachers to be ever vigilant in their classes so they may be able to help students suffering from these various issues. We encourage students to talk to someone and seek out help but as educators we are not always successful in that effort.
Enjoy the issue.
Feedback From This Year’s (2018) Interns
That is what makes teaching so unique
I have spent my whole life dreaming of becoming a teacher and imagining what my classroom would look like someday.
As the fifth week of my internship begins, I have come to realize that one thing that I failed to consider was the wide range of student behavior that I would have to deal with. Regarding behavior, I believe that I have a very realistic class for my internship. Some days are great with very little problems, and other days I feel like the days are spent just telling the students to sit down, stop talking, and to focus on their work.
While it can definitely be challenging at times, I have no doubt that it is preparing me as best as possible for the future. But what I love most about these challenging moments is that they make the positive moments so much more rewarding for everyone, and I think that is what makes teaching so unique. (Elementary Intern)
I still don’t always know what I am doing
I started my internship at the beginning of January with a slight knot in my stomach. I was informed that I would be teaching in a third-grade classroom, which was not the age or grade I intended to teach. Due to my plans to attend a different school falling through, I was placed at this new place on short notice.
My additional fears about this shift included the exceptionally high ratio of children with exceptionalities in the grade, and the anxiety of whether or not I was ready to handle so many needs with zero hands-on, classroom experience.
What I found out about this internship has shifted my original paradigm about the class, the school, and teaching in general. I now view my internship as an opportunity to embrace the issues and struggles that go into a classroom with high needs children. I notice the tendencies and mannerisms of my mentoring teacher and strive to reach her level of poise, patience, and practicality while teaching.
When my fears about this term changed into challenges in my mind’s eye, the focus went from ‘How can I do this?’ to ‘Let’s find out how to do this.” I still don’t always know what I am doing or what the right move is, but I refuse to let the insecurity or fear take over. (Primary Intern)
At first it was a little awkward
Well it’s been almost a month since I started my internship! They say time flies when you’re having fun and that’s certainly true in this case!
I decided to return to my old high school for my internship and I have been enjoying myself quite a bit. At first it was a little awkward but I’ve had no trouble readjusting.
We just recently finished midterms at my school, or as I like to call it “midterm mayhem”. For me it was a week full of supervision either in the hallways or exam rooms, observing my co-operating teacher interview students and even interviewing some on my own; then of course some correcting amongst all of those. But it’s never just that simple. For a week or two before exams we were concerning ourselves with lesson planning and planning for exams. Now I’m starting to prepare to fully take over another one of my teacher’s courses very soon.
Things are slowly getting busier each day for me. I am very much looking forward to teaching classes but more so as I just received an opportunity to teach a Science class at my school in one of my favorite subjects no less.
I’m very much enjoying my internship thus far even though some students’ behaviors frustrate me slightly. I’m learning lots about the profession and about my students as well. I realized a few weeks back that I’m already dreading going back to MUN as I’ll miss my school, my teacher, and my students.
Hope all is well with everyone. (Secondary Intern)
Even though every day comes with frustrations
Every day I teach I realize more and more why I am choosing this career! Even though every day comes with frustrations it is so rewarding to start building relationships with my students and learn my way in the classroom. (Intermediate/Secondary Intern)
I underestimated the importance of mental health in the school system
I have completed the fourth week of my internship and I would like to think that the students have taught me just as much as I have taught them so far. I am interning at a small school of about 200 students from grades 8-12, and I am teaching a course at each grade level.
Generally, I have a great group of students. We have had some challenges; however, it is all a learning experience and I will be better prepared when those challenges arise in the future.
Prior to my internship, I underestimated the importance of mental health in the school system. My school recently started a mental health clinic that takes place every second Tuesday with a nurse; however, I feel that this is not enough. I have asked the teachers about mental health support and training, and they have only completed one Professional Development day with it. I believe it is a bigger issue than we realize. Small schools present challenges that I did not anticipate, but I am very happy for the opportunity to learn from this experience. (Intermediate/Secondary Intern)
In bed every night by 8:30 with aching feet
My first month as an intern have been hectic. I have never been more physically or mentally exhausted in my life. I never imagined it was possible to be so tired at the end of a work day that I would be in bed every night by 8:30PM; or for my feet, knees, hips and all other joints to hurt so badly. But, here I am. In bed every night by 8:30 with aching feet with no doubt in my mind that this is what I am meant to be doing.
While my first month as an intern has been hectic, it has been everything I’d hoped it would be. I have been able to make some great connections with the students at my school through extra-curricular activities. Although it is a huge school, most of the kids seem to remember me and laugh at my lame jokes, which is nice. The first month has been an excellent reinforcement that I have chosen the right career. (Intermediate Intern)
All because we let them try
Interning in kindergarten has already given me a greater understanding of all the little things that kindergarten teaches students. I can’t imagine having half day kindergarten and still successfully completing everything that gets done in the run of a day in our classroom. It’s a delightful whirlwind most days, but a little trying at other times. I love sharing in their triumphs.
I’ve spoken with my co-operating teacher about the shift in parenting where the parents do not want their children using safety scissors, and sometimes even glue, at home. There are several students who still have difficulty cutting out simple shapes. Similarly, there are also parents who automatically do everything for their child. They pick up their clothing when it’s strewn about the floor, clean their garbage up, pick up their toys, and open all their snacks for them. They eliminate opportunities for a child to learn to figure things out and gain some independence. When students enter kindergarten, the teacher is tasked with building all this self-care, independence and willingness to try. This can be challenging when it is not expected or encouraged at home. It can also be difficult at school, because other staff members can be a little too willing to help the kindergarteners, which deprives the student of the chance to try it themselves.
Something we have been working on is getting fully dressed for winter unassisted. This might sound simple, but it’s difficult for many of the students. Winter gear can be difficult to put on. Boots need to go on the right feet, mittens need to be tucked, many snow pants have straps that crisscross, zippers need to be zipped. Although we do help students who are struggling, they have to try it (really, really try it) twice before we help, and ask a classmate to help instead if they have finished getting dressed already. When I do help, I explain everything I’m doing, and make them watch every step, for example: “you can tell your boots apart by this stripe on the outside, see?”. So, every day, I’ve been walking several students through how to zip their coat, saying “you take this piece and slide it down into this piece, then hold right here and pull up on the zipper with this hand, okay?”. It’s a tiny bit slower, but they watch closely and I know it’s only a matter of time and they will be able to do it.
Thursday afternoon, we are all getting ready. It’s the usual chaos – clothing, book bags, and baggies scattered, other students passing through the hall to get back to their classroom, and our class moving back and forth trying to get ready. One student comes to me, and just looks up. I know precisely what he wants, I’ve helped him every day since I started my internship. He knows the drill: I smile and say “Did you try it?” and he smiles, and tries his coat. Unsuccessful, he looks up at me again. “Try it again, you can do it”. He fiddles with it for a minute, and lets out a little excited yelp. He’s got it! I start cheering “Oooh you got it, up up up!” and his face breaks into a huge grin. I’m cheering, my co-operating teacher is cheering, the other students start cheering, and he is so excited he is bouncing up and down. I hear a “Miss!” from behind me, so I turn around quickly, and another student has just got her coat for the first time too! We all start cheering for her too, and she looks so proud.
All because we let them try. (Primary Intern)
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)
MUN Email Accounts
Teacher interns are gently reminded they should check their MUN email accounts on a regular basis. That’s the only way our undergraduate offices and your instructors can communicate with you. You don’t want to miss any important reminders re dates, etc.
Interns, If I’ve Missed Your eMEMO Submission
Sometimes that happens, unfortunately! In fact 2 thus far this year! However, they were included in last week’s issue – so don’t be shy, please let me know!
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 1)
“I said those three little words that drove her through the roof: back to school!”
Recommended Book Resource for Primary and Elementary Interns
Author: Melanie Florence (2017)
Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard
How do say grandfather in Cree? The seven year old girl skipped and danced home from school one day, clutching the dream carver she had made, excited to ask her grandfather this important question. When he replied, “I lost my words a long time ago”, she asked a quieter question, “How do you lose words?”
Grandfather began to explain about how the children were taken to a residential school and how harshly they were treated. The little girl handed him her dream catcher and said, “Maybe it will help you find your words again”, as grandfather smiled and kissed her.
The next day the little girl skipped home again and said to her grandfather, “Tanisi, nimosom”, as she took a tattered book, Introduction to Cree, from her book bag. Grandfather whispered, “Nosisim” (Granddaughter). “The word felt familiar in his mouth. It felt like his home. His mother”.
As they walked together, the little girl asked her grandfather to read to her. “Will you teach me your words?” And Grandfather’s “heart danced as he nodded, holding the book against his chest”.
The illustrations are colored in shades to match the mood of each part of the story, from black and white to soft colours, to vibrant colours. This is a story of the love between a grandfather and granddaughter and how this love became hope and possibility.
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 2)
“Why, yes. I do think you should join the swim team.
You’ll just need to get your mother’s seal of approval first.”
Research Study: Educators’ Perceptions of the Characteristics of Effective Principals
This is a study yours truly is currently involved in and is scheduled to be completed by late spring/early summer of this year. It is open to all educators, active and retired. The survey will take approximately 30 minutes to complete and all participants are eligible to be entered into a draw for an Apple iPad. If you are interested in participating, please email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are attempting to read this eMEMO via my blog, you may be having difficulty accessing the site (being asked for a password etc.!). Not sure what’s going on there.
A number of readers have sent in suggestions – thank you – and the one that seems to be most reliable is:
Just click on the latest issue and you are good!
Education Law Corner
We continue this week with another incident of teacher misconduct as reported by the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT).
Member: Angela Anita Grogan
Registration No: 291737
A Discipline Committee panel revoked the teaching certificate of Angela Anita Grogan for falsely reporting that a male colleague had physically abused and inappropriately touched a female student. Grogan, employed by the Toronto District School Board, was certified to teach in July 1984.
The hearing took place on November 1, 12, 13, 15 and December 2 in 2013, January 13, April 1–2 and October 17 in 2014, and on October 23, 2015. The member attended all the hearing dates and was represented by legal counsel. The College called 11 witnesses, including school administrators, teachers, educational assistants and a school board representative. The panel found that during the 2008–09 academic year, Grogan falsely reported to school administrators in separate incidents that a colleague had: • stood on a student’s toes and did not allow her to get out of her chair in the classroom; and • stroked the student’s hair and touched her shoulder. Grogan was on medical leave until her intended retirement in June 2016. The panel found her guilty of professional misconduct and ordered that her Certificate of Qualification and Registration be revoked. The panel also found that Grogan inappropriately called her colleague a liar in front of staff and students, but it made no finding of professional misconduct because this was an isolated incident.
Grogan filed a Notice of Appeal in relation to the finding of professional misconduct to the Ontario Divisional December 2017 | Professionally Speaking 57 GOVERNING OURSELVES HEARINGS Court on May 28, 2015. Her appeal was subsequently dismissed. While the panel acknowledged that it’s very important to encourage teachers to report all incidents of abuse where a teacher has a reasonably held suspicion that a student needs protection, the Committee found no evidence that Grogan had reasonable grounds to suspect that any abuse had occurred in this case. The panel noted that members of the profession need not worry that they, too, may have their certificates revoked if they follow through on their duty to report, provided that they have a reasonably held belief that a student is in need of protection.
Revocation is being ordered in this case to address the member’s egregious conduct. In its decision, the panel stated, “The Member had levelled groundless accusations of physical and sexual abuse against (a colleague), which were both stigmatizing and career-threatening.” Members of the panel also noted that “false reporting can be extremely damaging,” and that this was not the type of behavior that the duty to report seeks to encourage.
Source: Ontario College of Teachers Professionally Speaking magazine (December, 2017).
On The Lighter Side of Teaching (Part 3)
“Throwing someone under the bus is just an expression, Heather!”
For follow-up, please contact:
Jerome G. Delaney, Editor
Associate Professor – Educational Administration
Faculty of Education
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s, NL Canada A1B 3X8
Facsimile: 709-864-2345 Email: email@example.com