Category Archives: Internship

Balancing everything at once…and kinda failing-Week Eight Reflection

Being busy is nothing new to me, I have the personality where I have to be busy or I get anxious. But I might have myself being too busy (which is really hard for me to say). I am very involved in extra-curricular at the school, especially with volleyball, it takes up the majority of my mornings, many afternoons and quite a few weekends. It also takes up a lot of my personal stresses, how can I help one player get their serves over, at the same time I am trying to correct someone else’s jump serve (I can’t even jump serve, I spent an entire night looking at videos to figure what she was doing wrong), and than there is all the extra stuff, like finding people to drive, and answering parents questions about every random thing they think of, and parents come up with random questions a lot.

I also have my actual teaching to do, I just picked up my fifth class, which means I still have four more to pick up. I now understand why those prep periods are so important for teachers, not because they actually need to prepare their lessons, but because they need to mark for their lessons. I have a stack sitting beside me that is ridiculous, and part of it is that I hate telling students they are not good enough to get 100. The feeling sucks, especially when you know how hard a student worked for a mark, but they make silly mistakes or  get lazy. Its hard to enjoy marking when you know that a student is going to be crushed because of their marks regardless of what they get unless it is 100. There is no winning, because students have been brought up with the expectation that they are supposed to be perfect. Students do not hear, its O.K. to make mistakes, and it will be OK if you get one bad mark, but their parents were raised in a time when marks mattered, a 100 was important, tests were the only way to evaluate and students are all the same. News flash: THIS IS ALL A LIE.

Marks matter very little, because no one cares what you got in a middle years math, but the school divisions care, because to them all the matters are the marks, not the students, not if the material taught is actually going to be carried over into the next year because obviously marks are the only way to measure student success. I am really starting to feel the pressure of students marks with report cards coming up in a few weeks. Do I assign more meaningless assignments, or do I stick to my teaching beliefs and only assign assessments that are meaningful and teach the students how to apply their learnings?  This is so frustrating! They give you all this great information in university but they never tell you that you will have to fight an uphill battle to actually apply the information.

I guess I will go back to marking, so that I can actually figure out how to write report cards for these students who do not want to see their marks, and parents who know that their children are way smarter than a mark a show.

Am I just too busy to notice how stressed I am? Week six of Internship

I have talked a bit with many of the people in my awesome middle year cohort, and I have talked with other interns about what they are going through, I have also talked to new teachers who remember their internship. The common question is, have you cried lately? The reality is that even when a lesson bombs, or I have a not great day teaching. I just do not have the time to whine about it. I always have another lesson to teach or a practice to coach, or something that matters more than sitting and stewing about something in the past. This was a short week, which I am so thankful for because the students needed a few days to refocus their learning. On Monday, I got to experience teaching my first 10/11 physical education lesson, and it was not great. I also completely forgot I was teaching it until 15 minutes before I started teaching. Therefore, the students had the opportunity to see how quickly I could improvise a lesson, lucky we are doing volleyball (sorry Kathy), which I coach so I know the skills. Wednesday was my holy crap day, I could not for the life of me get the technology to work which meant that my well planned lesson, which I was stealing from Amy Klassen, was just not  going to happen. Luckily, I always have a plan, which in this case was reading a few pages of the textbook and creating a visual image of the water cycle. None of this matters because ten minutes into my science class, the secretary came into my class to ask students for their immunization forms, for their needles, later that day. The rest of my class consisted of tracking down parents to get forms signed because the students believed if they did not take forms home, that they would not get needles. This may have been true if I had 30 students, but in grade 8 I have 5. So phoning parents, and explaining to them why their children did not bring their forms home even though they had them over two weeks ago. This task took up 15 minutes of my class, the rest of my class was spent taking five students who did not want needles, and calming them down. This trickled into the rest of my day holding handing, whipping tears, and doing anything to distract students of needles for my five students, and the six grade 6 students. Did I mention that I am petrified of needles? Out of everything, I have ever done during teaching, every hard discussion I have had. The hardest thing I have done is keep young students calm about needles, when every time I looked at a needle I thought I was going to throw up. Nevertheless, I did not, and every student got their needles, minus the fingernail indents in my wrist and hand, we all walked away happy and unscarred.

 

The rest of my week has consisted of Professional Development in Saskatoon at the Horizon School Division Literacy Summit 14. I love PD, I have always loved PD because it gives me a chance to learn something about a specific topic, but when I attend PD I want to attend it with people who are equally excited, people who want to learn as much, or more than me. When you have colleagues that don’t care, or only pick out the negatives of each speaker, than what is the point of going. Why is a school division making people who do not want to learn attend PD, they ruin it for those that want the discussion. I do not always agree with everything a presenter says, but at least I listen and openly consider what is being said, finding something you do not agree with is as much learning as finding things you do agree with, but how is it possible to disagree with everything? The research is changing.  Why are the teachers who refuse to change the ones who have job security, why are they never questioned, never reviewing their learnings and teaching philosophies? Why are first year teachers evaluated but thirty year teachers not, because they have been doing it for so long, or because people are too scared to question those that may have also taught their parents?

 

Are these really my concerns, or do I just have so many things that I need to be worried about that I am finding anything possible to distract me? Or is it just that I am not stressed? Is it possible that all of the stresses I experienced from last year, have nulled my ability to get stressed over the not great lessons and the time I stray from the curriculum, or do I just internally know that the curriculum only matters to those that are scared to mess up. I don’t care if I fail at a lesson, but I do care if I have every student dreading whenever I am in charge of teaching a lesson. Does that make me a weak teacher? I guess that depends who you ask.

A Week in Review-Game-based lesson, volleyball and not enough sleep.

This week has been a busy, actually busy does not even begin to describe how it has been. On top of it being super busy, it was also Global TVs premier week which means my priorities were a little split during the week. Besides my normal three classes that I teach, I also picked up a 5/6 PE class, a 7/8 science class and a 7/8 PAA class. It also happens to be my Jr. Girls home volleyball tournament which means I am running around trying to make sure everything is organized, fitting in a practice at every moment that I possibly can, which means mornings, lunch and after schools to the point where I spent more time with the girls than I do with my boyfriend. Besides volleyball which has once again taken over my life, I have actual prep to do with my classes.

I got to experience planning my first game-based learning, which went off surprisingly well. For a performance task assessment that I used with students was to have them use the squares on the floor as a coordinate grid, with different coordinates leading to clues which had questions on them to lead to a final treasure. The students had to video tape the whole quest, which I will use to a reference to provide them a mark out of 10. It is a small step towards having a game-based learning classroom full time, but I figured that the first few activities are going to be the most nerve racking.

Now back to volleyball, this weekend was my Jr. Girls home tournament, which also happened to be the first tournament of the season, and the girls got 2nd!!! Am I sad that the girls did not get first, yes but only because I know how hard they have worked for it, considering that my team is made up with the majority being grade 6 students, a few 8s and one 7, no grade 9s,  yet our final game was against a team with all grade 9s who were taller than the net. The girls did fantastic, they won one set of three, and came close in the third set. Am I disappointed that they got second instead of first, not even close. Do I know that the next few games will provide the students with a chance to build their skills and improve on their weaknesses which only makes me more excited for the next tournament.

This week was busy, just like all the next weeks during my internship will be, but I seem to be giving myself a chance of surviving by working on weekends and utilizing my breaks at school. When people say that internship is hard, I never realized that it being hard had nothing to do with the teaching, that is the easy part, but the extra-curricular, the balancing between teaching, coaching, and having a life that is what makes it hard.

 

Being an educator is more than making lesson plans and grading tests

This week was full of firsts for me. It was the first time that I ever had students excitedly ask if I was teaching their class, it was the first time that I ever decided to not bother putting together a proper lesson plan and just doing what was needed, and it was my first time completely changing what I was planning on changing because my students were not ready for new material. These are all firsts related to teaching, but I also had many other firsts this week.

I was my first time ever coaching a volleyball practice, I also got to be a coach at a volleyball game. My girls lost, and anyone that knows me is aware how competitive I am (which is hard to believe because I am not a good athlete). For the first ever, I did not care that we lost, because all I could focus on was that two girls who are just learning how to serve got a serve over during the game. I care that the girls, who were playing against older, taller, and stronger players were able to hold their own in a game, and I am proud that the girls made so many strong plays against a team who could all reach over the net while only one of my girls could.

I got to supervise art club this week, which is new to the school but based on the turn out a necessary club to have. I got to not coach, and not lead but just sit back and allow the students to take charge of what matters, and interests them. I was able to just allow the students to work, and got the opportunity to see my students create something with no end goal, no outcome to be evaluated and no rules set in place. I got to see my students in a new way.

When I first got into education, I knew that I would want to do extra-curricular, but a lot of that had to do with realizing extra-curricular is a must for new teachers if I ever want to get hired. However, this week I got to spend time really engaged in extra-curricular and it was by far one of my favorite experiences of my teaching career.

In my application essay  to the University of Regina I talked about how seeing the students’ “light-bulb” moments was one of my favorite things. I can honestly say that it pales in comparison to watching my students do something that they truly enjoy and are dedicated to, just because they want to and not because they have to.

Being a teacher may only be a job, but being an educator is more about the lessons learnt outside the classroom than from the curriculum.

Next week I get to tackle a 7/8 science class, a 5/6 PE class, and a 7/8 PAA class, on top of my continuous classes. I also get to watch my volleyball girls in their home tournament, as the coach, which I am beyond excited for.

Using a textbook feels like cheating…but it isn’t?

Throughout my entire university education I was taught by many professors to not use textbooks to create my lesson plans. That the textbook is not curriculum and that it is a resource, it can be used to supplement lessons but not be the lesson. And than I entered internship, and my co-op only teaches from textbooks, except for PE (where all of Kathy’s rules are broken). I started my internship not using a textbook, planned my entire Social Studies plan without using it, and than I got to math. By time I finished planning Social I was so tired and rushed on time that I did not care that I used the textbook to plan math. Social planning was stressful and time consuming but Math took no time at all. Using the textbook made my life easier, made me feel like I had a fighting chance to survive internship. Now I am planning Science, and the idea of using the textbook to plan is way too easy, but I feel guilty. I feel as if I am not giving my students 110% of my effort. However, I also feel that if I give 110% effort in all of my subjects and extra-curricular than there will be nothing left of me.

Does using the textbook mean that I don’t care, or that I am lazy. It feels that way but than I think about how much work I put into lessons, and resources and maybe using the textbook is just smart teaching. I can still manipulate the textbook into using the 5Es, and allow some game-based learning. This would allow me to put more effort into the fun and engaging lessons if I do not have to spend all of my time on information lessons and creating new experiments.

Logically it makes sense to use the textbooks as  a valued resource, but that does not make me feel any less guilty. Didn’t someone say that a poor decision is defended only by someone trying to make logic from it. Is that what I am doing? Am I falling too easily into the style of teaching that is no longer celebrated? Why are these not the questions that are discussed at university, why do we only talk about the theoretical material and not the stuff that we actually need to know about? Anyone have ideas, am I the only one struggling? Or is this all interns?

First week of Internship

On Thursday September 1st, I started a routine that I am very familiar with. Getting up, getting ready in my best looking clothes, putting on make-up and brushing my hair. Except this time was different, for the first time in 16 years I got ready for the first day of school, not as a student but as the teacher. I would not be the one being greeted my cheery-eyed teachers, asking what I did over the summer, and noticing my tan. Instead I was the teacher that was cheery-eyed and smiling, inquiring about the students’ summer, and commenting on how tall they have gotten, how tanned they are. I finally got to experience the other side of the student-teacher relationship. I also got to experience the amount of work required to be prepare for the first week of school. I started my first day with the standard assembly, hearing motivational thoughts, and entertaining videos explaining why students, teachers, and schools are important. This took up the majority of the morning. Lunch happened, than it was on to observing 3/4 PE. I assumed that my first day would be mostly observing, but 5th period started and I was sitting with my grade 7/8s in their Information Processing (info pro) class, before I knew it I was teaching an Info Pro class on typing. More surprisingly the lesson went smoothly. I had no lesson plan, have briefly glanced at the textbook and none of it mattered. The teaching just felt natural, I know computers, I know what skills are needed for a person to be successful in terms of typing, so I just started with those skills. Starting with typing is mostly so I can gather the rest of my units before I pick up too much.

The second day I started right off the day with teaching math, both 7 and 8 curriculum. I am lucky that I have such an amazing class. Teaching two separate curriculum at the same time is challenging, but it is much easier when I get the chance to spend time focusing on one grade while the other grade works silently. I have started a routine where I start with the grade 7s on day 1,3,5 and grade 8 2,4,6. After laying out expectations and a class routine of how math class will work the class went fairly smooth. It is much different circulating a class with 9 students total than when there is 30 students. I have so much time, I have always believed that the teacher should be circulating while students are doing quiet work, but it felt a lot like I was walking around in circles for no reason. Social Studies was taught later in the day. While I have a split class, I am only teaching the grade 7 curriculum. This gives me a chance to really learn the curriculum, which is something you do not get enough of in university. I would like to spend time finding connections between grade 7 and grade 8 but for now just connections between grade 7 and treaty education will work.

I am excited to see how next week goes as it is my first full week.

Wish me luck!!