Internship – Final Reflections

The end is near. The end is literally tomorrow. WE DID IT. Reflecting IMG_1469back to the start of September, I had no idea what I was in for. I think one of the reasons why internship is so hard to explain to other people or to other pre-service teachers about the expe
rience is because every teacher is so incredibly different and every internship experience is unique. There are about 17-20 other interns at my school and I guarantee we have all had extremely different experiences.

I survived my three-week block, which is where I was teaching four classes a day. Teaching full time is exhausting. People really don’t understand the extent of work each teacher does every single day and night; the work definitely doesn’t stop at 3:30. There hasn’t been a time in the last month that I have been able to leave school and have a night completely to myself. There is always something that needs to be marked, a worksheet to be planned, or some type of prep to do. Although to be fair, I am a very inexperienced teacher who needs a lot of extra time planning, but I don’t know a teacher who doesn’t work hard inside and outside of their job.

I have taught English in grades 10, 11 and 12. I love it – except for the marking aspect. I am really enjoying my grade 11 and 12s; the students are so fun.  A lot of people a
ssume that the senior grades would be tougher, but I like it a lot more than I thought I would. It is solely because of the students, I was so fortunate to have been paired with the students I have been with the past few months.  The grade 12 students were so excited for me to start teaching their class which was a nice feeling. I think one of the reasons I enjoy teaching them the most is because they are (usually) more mature. They enjoy having in-depth conversations about current events, controversies, and politics and then relating all of those things to the stories or themes we were studying. The grade 11s were the grade I was most nervous to teach because there are so many of them (31) but surprisingly, they were one of my favorite classes, although it was a period one class and a lot of them are still a bit sleepy-eyed that early in the morning.
My grade 10 students were great too, but a lot tougher than I had originally expected. It is a really tough age to connect with. I have had them for the entire year, and we currently just wrapped up our study of Macbeth. I have found teaching Shakespeare to be very challenging. Some of my students were very resistant to it simply because it is Shakespeare. They told me from the beginning that they think it is stupid to learn because they won’t even need it in “real life” and so they totally tuned out. I felt very defeated at times because I was trying to the best of my abilities to get them engaged with Shakespeare. We go through it as a class and then review each scene, usually a brief summary unless a further analysis is needed. We aren’t reading through the entire play, picking and choosing an important aspect that contributes to their comprehension. I am trying to let them know that it is not the language that they need to learn how to read, it is the decoding and analyzing new things. It is the higher level of thinking that I want them to get out of it, not just what the plot is. Reflecting on it now, I don’t think I would necessarily study Shakespeare that in depth through only reading. Shakespearean plays are to be acted out and viewed, so reading each scene in depth wasn’t as useful as I had hoped it would be. Although I have been extremely frustrated with them at times, I will definitely miss all of their lively personalities and I am thankful they allowed me into their classroom so easily.

I have found the hardest part of teaching is the marking, not only the copious amounts but also the deciding factor of grading student work. I have found it very challenging to decide what grade they should get and justifying it. In the study of English especially, a lot of the work is subjective so having a clear idea of what YOU as the teacher want is very important, while maintaining the expectations of the curriculum. I felt a lot of pressure with marking in the higher levels, because this has a direct effect on that student’s future. While marking some of the grade twelve works, I felt a lot of pressure to give fair marks that clearly reflect the standard of work they have submitted and I took marking very seriously. This is another part of internship that is very challenging because I am trying to mark my judgment and marking to another teacher whom has different standards so I am always second guessing myself.

One thing I have noticed that I need to work on is my confrontational skills. I am not a huge fan of confrontation but as I have said before, my students were all so great that I didn’t get a lot of experience with discipline, which is something I regret. However, throughout internship I do realize how important classroom expectations and outlining behavior and routines at the beginning of the year, and this is a practice I strongly agree with and will continue to follow.
I have been teaching in the FIAP room as well, and I have been enjoying it a lot. The atmosphere is completely different than a senior English class, and it is honestly just a lot fun. It is very challenging work in different ways from a mainstream classroom because each student has such diverse needs and is at completely different stages so it is really hard to plan for. Being as organized and structured as I am, it threw me for a loop at first because it is very “go with the flow” type of thing, where whatever happens, happens. The period that I have been teaching is called “Personal Management” where they are learning life skills that they will (hopefully) utilize to become independent. It is a senior FIAP class so we have ages 18-22 and it is really awesome to see what a great group of students they are. One strategy my coop uses is to assign roles for students who are finished their task to help others who need it; it works out really well because each student is at such different stages that it combats the issue of planning for each different ability l
evel.  I have learned so much being in the classroom with them and I really enjoy it. Even though inclusive education in my minor and have taken tons of classes relating to it in university, I have never once been told or shown how to actually TEACH a class so observing and being able to teach a class was an amazing learning experience.

Tomorrow is my last day, and it is a very bittersweet feeling. I am so incredibly excited to be done and be able to relax for a few weeks, but I am going to miss the students so much. As much as I get frustrated with them, you get so attached to them. Students are starting to ask when I will be back to visit, another student said yesterday, “You were the best intern ever Ms. T. Usually interns are always really bad but you were the best one ever.” Of course he was probably just saying that because his group hadn’t presented their final project yet, but it is still nice to hear, regardless!

Teaching is one of the most challenging and utterly exhausting jobs I have ever done. I highly respect all teachers; the reason why they do this demanding job for such little recognition is definitely because of the students. Being able to work with young people everyday is exhausting, but also an incredible feeling. I haven’t worked
with a teacher who isn’t enormously caring, and isn’t willing to go above and beyond for each student. As challenging as these past few months have been, it has been able to show me a clear picture of what a teacher career entails. Many people are asking what my plans now. First, I am going to sleep, and then sleep some more, and then I guess I will finish my degree, as I am technically not a teacher yet. Right now I am so looking forward to spending the next few weeks relaxing and spending the holidays with family and friends, without marking any more essays.

To my fellow interns, congratulations! We survived and I appreciate all of
the enormous support I received from you.  I wouldn’t have been able to get through without all of you wonderful people sharing your own experiences and resources. I am looking forward to seeing you all in January!

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Halfway There

imagesI officially reached the halfway point in internship!  There are about 38 teaching days left, give or take. Yes, I am very relieved that I am halfway through and still sane and relatively stress-free. On the other hand, this is scary because I am most definitely NOT halfway through my material for my classes. I have already cut out at least 3 assignments and so many m
ore activities that I had planned which is disappointing, but I simply don’t have time to get this stuff done. For my grade 10 class I have spent about double the amount of time I had originally planned for a novel study. I am not entirely sure how the days seemed to slip away, but with PD days, ass
mbly’s,holidays, and interruptions, the last two months have went by incredibly fast.

Something that I am learning very quickly is that it is really hard to let go of material and condense units. During the summer when I was trying to plan my units for this fall, I was worried that I would run out of things to do and there would be extra time left in the semester. I’m sure experienced teachers would laugh about this fear because I am running out of time, fast. As hard as it is for me to get rid of certain assignments and activities, I am coming to find that it is absolutely necessary because some of my grades 10s are desperately getting tired of this novel.

I am so unbelievably lucky to have been placed at an incredibly good school with even more incredible students. Not to mention being placed with an experienced teacher who has provided me with nothing but support and encouragement, while still ensuring I am learning as much as I possibly can to become a competent teacher.

With that being said, the students are starting to get really comfortable with me and this past week I have to admit that I have been feeling quite discouraged with how they have been acting. The past two days, different students have been battling almost everything in my lessons. “Why are we doing this, we talked about this yesterday, I don’t think we need to talk about it again today. I think we all get the point.” “I don’t want to watch this because we already learned about this while reading the book. I think this is stupid so I am going to play on my phone instead.” “Is that really the best way to say that sentence, shouldn’t you change the verb.” I think the sudden rebelling has to do with the fact that we have analyzed our novel to the bare bones, and want to move on. Which is fair, I get it. It’s just such a great book with so many amazing themes and connections to our lives! After spending a lot of time on this unit and realizing it didn’t go over as I planned, I am sad to see it go.

UnknownMarking. As much as I love literature and wouldn’t want to teach any other subject, I am already overwhelmed with the thought of the immense amount of marking in an English classroom. The amount of time spent on marking papers is amazing. My coop has spent at LEAST 8 hours every Saturday for the past few weeks marking papers. Not to mention the fact that it not only is time consuming, but it is extremely meticulous. There are no right or wrong answers (for the most part). Marking my first few papers was very overwhelming. The ones that I would consider to be garbage (sorry kids!), my coop would go over it with me explaining why they could get a 10/10 in regard to their content, but a 0/10 on their mechanics or something along those lines. You really have to dig deep and look around for what is in there, and analyze their work comparing it to the rubric in order to come up with a grade.

Continuing my marking rant, so you have the majority of the class marked but wait, you can’t hand them back because there are still 6 papers missing. The struggle is so real to get things in on time and that is what I have found to be the most frustrating. You can’t completely finish something until ALL students have their assignments in. I can’t simply give them a zero, and as much as we like to scare these elementary aged children into thinking high school teachers don’t chase you around looking for missed assignments, that is absolutely false. We still do, because we are expected to.

Something else I have been struggling with is the fact that my ideals and teaching philosophies are not completely coming through even though I am in a classroom teaching everyday. I struggle with the fact that sometimes it is a contest between philosophy vs. reality. Is it in my philosophy that I should rely on direct instruction? No. Do my students complete tasks and behave when we do student led learning? No. It baffles me that I have tried to include so many interactive and differentiated learning tasks in my lessons, and more times than not, they completely flop. As soon as I get up in front of the class and direct instruct them, they completely switch and are the best students ever.

Despite my struggles, I have to remind myself that this amazing teacher that I have created in my head, will not always be able to transfer into the real classroom. If this is what works for this particular group of kids, then I will do whatever they need to succeed. They seem to respond really well to structure and direct instruction. Obviously at the end of this internship, I will  be re-evaluating my philosophy and perhaps it should read something more along the lines as, adjusting to the needs of students to ensure their success in the classroom, regardless of what I have pictured in my head or what I think works best.

Something else included in my teaching philosophy is ensuring that I have alternative forms of assessment. I have found this really challenging to implement in the classroom because there is the restriction of the curriculum. Would I like to have the students be writing three or four essays in a semester? No, of course not. That sounds awful. Yet the ELA 20 curriculum has at least three different types of essays expected, not to mention other types of writing and oral outcomes. I have been able to utilize alternative forms of formative assessment because there is more leeway, but I will admit I am not doing this as much as I would like to.

I am finding it really hard to completely come out of my shell because I am in someone else’s classroom. I won’t be there at the end of the semester when they are preparing for their finals, so collaborating with my coop to ensure that I will have hit everything needed is crucial. At the end of the day, my coop teacher’s name is the one beside each student’s grade therefore I have to teach in a way that pleases my coop. I have been fortunate that my coop has basically left me with free reign for preparing and teaching the class I have been carrying throughout, however she still needs to know what I am doing and where I am going with things. As strange as this sounds, I feel more confident in front of my kids without my coop there, because then I act instinctively on what I need to do in regards to classroom management or anything that arises. Whereas when she is there I always second guess myself, thinking, “Is this what she would do? How would she handle it?” It’s really tough being watched and judged everyday.

Overall, I am really proud of myself for making it this far. I have managed to find a resemblance of balance in my life. I try to utilize my time well, so that when I go home for the day I can go home and do other things besides school. So that basically means going to bed at 8:30, but I definitely need my sleep. I really enjoy my time in the classroom with the students, and I love being in the high school environment. I know that I chose the right age group, because I find it so enjoyable to be around people this age. I will be honest – I am really looking forward to next semester (my last semester!) back at the university with the roles reversed one last time where I can be the student again for a few months.

Internship: Weeks 2 – 4, Flushed Classroom Keys and Sleepless Nights

Most people hate MonIMG_1301days, right? Last week I took my Monday morning to a new level, as I watched my classroom keys get flushed down the AUTOMATIC flush toilets. I just stood there for a few moments, not really sure what the next step would be. After the initial shock of seeing my precious keys flushed down the toilet wore off, I realized I had to gather up the courage to tell my coop teacher this embarrassing story. Fortunately for me, she was able to find the humor in this, and I was able to get a new set. If this was setting the tone for my week, then it was going to be a long one.

There was a partial lockdown issued in all of the schools in the city this past week, and although it was somewhat nerve-racking and of course put a damper on the afternoon, we continued with classes as normal. Despite the annoyance, it was definitely reassuring to see how well the schools are able to adapt to circumstances to ensure the safety of all students and teachers throughout the city, because regardless of the situation, students’ safety is always the number one priority.

This past week was my first full week of teaching, and it was exhausting. I have come to find it to be really frustrating to teach something that your students do not understand because you have tried your best to explain it in various different ways, and still they are not understanding. I remember in high school getting so frustrated with my math and science teachers because I felt as if they weren’t explaining things enough and I wasn’t getting it at all. Now the tables have turned, and I feel like I am the one who isn’t explaining these concepts to students enough. This is one of the reasons that I think formative assessments are so important because when I look out at my students, so often I am thinking they have no idea what I am trying to explain. I wonder if they are simply bored to death, do they have no clue what I am talking about, or is there something on my face?

I’ve been told that some people believe that we teachers all get a “book” that we read, and it just tells us what to teach. I think the “book” they are referring to is the curriculum, which of course all teachers (are supposed to) follow, however what most people don’t realize is that the curriculum explains what outcomes we as teachers need to ensure our students are meeting, but the curriculum doesn’t explain how to get those students there. How do teachers hit these outcomes for students who need extreme help along the way? How do teachers go above and beyond these outcomes for students who need more enrichment and are already way past these outcomes? People really underestimate how hard teachers have to work every day. Teaching something that some student’s get immediately,  and some have no idea what you are talking about, where is the balance? Teachers need to figure out how to get that deeper explanation to the students who need it, and then need to also decide how to get the students who have already mastered this to the next level, all while doing this in an hour with all students working on task on something  meaningful to their educational and meaningful to their future. This something that will hopefully come with experience, as I have no idea how to do any of that yet.

I am slowly settling into the teaching routine. The drastic change is now becoming what I am used to. What I am not used to is thinking about school and lessons 24/7. It is not only mentally exhausting, but also physically and emotionally exhausting to be thinking about school every hour of the day. This has been a struggle because I haven’t been sleeping well most nights because I am constantly thinking about my lesson my next day. I try not to stay at school too late most nights, as I usually arrive pretty early. However, when I am leaving school and arrive home, I feel as if I should be doing something. Surely, I can’t take the night off and spend my time doing non-school related things.

For the first few weeks of school, I was in this routine where I would literally take home six or seven books thinking I would maybe need them or work on something in each book. I decided last week I needed to stop doing that, because seeing these books and binders piled up on my table only added to the feelings of anxiety. I don’t need to take my entire desk home with me every night; it is unrealistic to think I am going to do hours and hours of planning once I get home, after planning for over five hours during school time. Even when I am not spending my evenings and weekends planning, I still cannot get planning out of my head while I am sleeping. I am thinking maybe I should try going to the gym before I go to bed, or maybe practicing some kind of yoga or meditation.

Something I have realized over the past few weeks is that I need to work on is turning school off for the day when I leave. Any of my teacher friends have suggestions to this issue? Or is this what it will be like for the next 3 months??

Ready or Not, Here Comes Internship

Weeks One & Two 

Regina-20150901-00184It seems as if it was only yesterday that I was sitting in my small high school library, typing out my essay stating why I would be a good candidate to be accepted into the faculty of Education at the University of Regina. Fast-forward three and half years, and here I am (to the left) ready for the first day of school. Only this time I am a teacher instead of the student. The 4th year internship seemed to have come out of nowhere. Am I ready for this internship? No, probably not. I don’t believe anyone can be fully prepared for this big of a challenge. On the first day of classes, a student asked me what my name was and I almost blurted out, “Tessa”. I mumbled something inaudible, trying to recover before responding with Ms. Thacker. I don’t feel like a “Ms.” anything! Even after chopping my hair off in hopes of looking older, I still feel like a student myself.

People always tell me I am crazy for wanting to teach in a high school, asking, “Who would want to spend their days with moody teenagers?” Of course I was nervous going into a senior classroom because I was a teenager once, and it was awful. My nervousness quickly washed away once I realized that even though these kids are stuck in oversized, growing bodies, their maturity is still only of that – kids. Besides, after my many years in the service industry, whatever naïve-ness I once had is completely gone – nothing shocks me anymore.

I am starting my internship teaching a grade ten class. I feel lucky because it it is one of the smallest class sizes my coop and I have at 25 students, which is a nice number to start with. These “moody teenagers” are my favourite part; I love seeing the individual personalities appearing and can tell this is going to be a great class to carry throughout the entire semester.

Coming from small town Saskatchewan, moving to Regina was obviously a big change from my familiar little niche. However, coming to teach in a school with a population that exceeds my entire hometown proved to be a much bigger culture shock. The first day of school was all about introductory activities, and I soon realized it wasn’t just about introducing who I was to the class, but also about introducing the students to each other. Even in my faculty in university, we all basically know each other. Regardless of the size, I am excited to have the chance to be at such a great school with so many more opportunities that I grew up having.

Starting internship was something I have always been anxious about. For years, fellow Ed students have instilled fear in pre-internship students. Hearing horror stories like, “You won’t sleep for four months” and, “You will cry more than once, probably at school. Your students will probably make you cry, actually.” Or, “You won’t be able to work another job, this is your full time job and if you try to work, you won’t pass internship”. And “Your coop will most likely hate you and make you cry, and make you do all of their marking and photocopying”. They left us with the impression that there will be a lot of crying going on.

Okay so I am only in week two, (and yes I have already cried) so maybe this is the reality of Internship. It is true that this has been the most challenging part of my education, thus far, but definitely not the most horrible time in your life as some people have made it out to be. Time-management will be your best friend. Yes, you will be focusing on school related topics basically 24/7. I have already started dreaming about lessons and how I am going to teach the next day. I actually have had a nightmare regarding the Holocaust – a topic that my grade 10s will be studying in depth.

However, I actually have been enjoying my weekends working at my other job. It’s second nature, I have been doing it for so long. I like that its mindless (in the best way possible), and I really enjoy having a change in environment. As much as I love my teenagers, it is nice to be surrounded by adults.

In reality the biggest challenge I have had so far is drastically changing my daily routine. I have never worked a full time job before, nor have I ever worked a job where I was challenged every single day. I have had summer jobs, of course, but for the past few years I have served full time during the summer so my routine has been complete opposite and barely required critical thinking. The biggest challenge is getting settled into this drastic routine. Being a student the majority of my life, I have always had a choice of whether or not to go to class that day. If I felt like sleeping in, I would. It’s really hard making the switch from student to teacher, especially since being a student is all I have ever known.

The end of the first week, I was completely overwhelmed. There is such an incredibly high workload, especially in English classes. Looking at everything made me cry. Literally, I had a little cry Friday after school. Fortunately for me, my mother was a teacher for over 30 years and she always listens and understands my teacher troubles. Like I have said, making the switch from student to teacher is obviously necessary, but still very overwhelming.

I am fortunate in the fact that my coop teacher is great; she has an incredible record of teaching under her belt, and is very willing to coach me. She is a great teacher to have as a mentor, and I know that I will be able to learn amazing things from her.

Although I am slowly starting to get into the teaching routine, I have a newfound respect for the phrase, “TGIF”. Friday’s are my favourite day.

Thanks for reading!

Demonstration of Learning Interview

1. Philosophy of Assessment and Evaluation:

I believe that assessment and evaluation needs to be different for every student, and that there is no one-way to assess all the time. I also believe that the students should know exactly what and when they are being evaluated on. One of the most frustrating things I have experienced, as a student, is feeling unclear about assignments and exams and then realizing that I didn’t complete what the professor or teacher had wanted. I don’t believe that tests or assignments should be a surprise. Something I hadn’t really considered or thought about before this semester is the difference between assessment and evaluation. Assessment is gathering information about student learning, and we as teachers may teach differently based on what we find as we assess. Evaluation is when we decide whether or not students have learned what they needed to learn and how well they learned it. (Davies, 1)

After taking this class, I definitely agree that assessment should be happening constantly in the classroom to understand where the student learning is. Throughout my limited experience in the classroom, I have learned that regardless of what you have planned in your lesson outline and weekly plans it doesn’t mean that your students will achieve everything you have set out. That is exactly why it is so important to be always assessing your students to see where they are at because realistically, they will always be at different places at different times.

Student involvement is a large part of my assessment and evaluation philosophy. Giving the student’s choice is something that I believe goes a long way in regards to motivation and engagement. Davies outlines on page 5 how involving students can shape their own learning because:

  • Understand what is expected of them
  • Access prior knowledge
  • Have some ownership over making it happen
  • Be able to give themselves descriptive feedback as they are learning
  • Give information that teachers need to adjust their teaching

I think that the last bullet is extremely important, especially as an inexperienced teacher because we won’t always have the best lessons starting out, and it takes a bit of experimenting before we can see what works and what doesn’t work. Involving your students in this process gives them a sense of responsibility and confidence because if something isn’t working, then you as the teacher are flexible enough to make a change if possible. It also gives you the accessibility to be more on the same level as your students instead of you being the leader all of the time

Finally, differentiating assessment and evaluations are extremely important because every learner is so different, and therefore success looks different for every student. I have realized through my experience as a student, specifically in-group work, how differently success looks to each student. I have also realized in my field experience how each student has different strengths and weaknesses, and therefore need to have different ways of showing their success.

2. Describe how you used assessment and evaluation in your field experience.

  • Consider how you used formative and summative assessment

As mentioned before, my partner and I were not able to use a lot of our own assessment and evaluation practices during our placement, only because of bad timing in the unit plan. However, we were able to do a lot of formative assessment. We spent a lot of our time at the school reviewing essay writing, therefore a lot of the observation we did was formative assessment. The only formative assessment I was able to use was an exit slip during some spare time we had. Our class had been reviewing the novel and connecting different parts of the novel to the essay topics they were given the choice of choosing, so when I had some extra time left over in class one day I asked the students to write down on their piece of paper what essay topic they were considering, and why they think they could write an awesome essay about it. I was really surprised by their answers because I honestly thought that they were getting nothing from my lessons, and were annoyed because they were so repetitive. However, when reading the exit slips the student’s gave me, I realized that they were engaged because many students wrote down that they would use that topic because we as a class discussed specific examples from the book, and some even wrote down the page numbers they were on! I was amazed, and really happy because if I hadn’t assessed the students, even in that simple of a form, then I would have had no idea where they were at in regards to how prepared they were to write their essays. I felt after seeing where each student was at, that I could move on to the next step in the process.

  • What assessment tools you used,

As mentioned – the only assessment tools we were able to use was the exit slips. However, my cooperating teacher used a lot of Scantron sheets as a form of evaluation. I wasn’t completely sure how I felt about Scantrons because I remember using them as a student and hated them as there was no choice and often I received a very low grade, which wasn’t reflective of my actual knowledge. However, my coop still used it as a form of assessment because he often used them for grammar quizzed or “have you read the book” quizzes. They were still for marks, however he usually made these quizzes to be a low portion of their grade. It also was more so a form of evlatiation because the student’s were not able to re-do the quiz without coming to see him for extra help. For example, many of the students did very poorly on the grammar quiz and he gave the students the option of re-doing the quiz, only if they were willing to come after school or lunches for extra help. Only one of his classes took this offer up, and only a handful of students showed up for the extra help, so not everyone was given the opportunity to re-do it. He also didn’t give this option all the time, which is why I am unclear as to if it was an evaluation or form of assessment.

  • How you involved students in the assessment/evaluation process,

We spent a lot of our time while we were in our pre-internship teaching the students how to write essays. We did this by giving them a rubric that our cooperating teacher gave us that he was using to mark the essays, and we went through this rubric in depth with the students for many classes. The rubric was a really specific rubric that had examples of what each mark would get. For instance, for the title it had an example of what would be considered a title worth a full mark, an example of a title that would be considered a half a mark, etc. Our coop outlined the rubric like that for all aspects of the essay, so I thought it was a really great rubric. We also involved the students by having them mark a sample essay created by our coop from the rubric. They did this in partners for a class, and then the next class I projected the sample essay through the smart board and we went through as a class marking the essay, using the rubric as a check list to ensure that the essay followed the rubric and then I would get the students to tell me what mark they would give the essay, using the rubric. They students really enjoyed being involved in this activity because they knew they were marking their teacher’s essay so they took it seriously and really pulled it apart. I also think they really took a lot away from it, and am confident that almost all of the students can outline a five-paragraph essay easily.

  •  Differentiation and accommodations you made for equitable assessment/evaluation, etc.

I wasn’t able to witness a lot of assessment or evaluations; however, I must admit that I didn’t see a lot of accommodations made for the students. As mentioned before, all students were given the same quiz on in a very unforgiving format – Scantron. There was one EAL student in our class who really could have used accommodations, as they were still writing down their notes in Mandarin. This particular student also did very poorly on both of the Scantron quizzes that I witnessed and I felt as if there could have been some sort of accommodation.

However I must say that my coop did have a few different forms of evaluation and assessment because there was more than one way of assessing the students taken into consideration. For example, when we arrived the students were just finishing up some debates revolving the topics found in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This debate was worth marks, and there were some students who really shined. Since we were relatively new at this point, we were not that familiar with the students so after discussing these debates with our coop, he told us that he was very surprised at how well some students did and how poorly others did. He said that one student in particular wasn’t that strong of a student on paper through writing, however doing this type of oral presentation, the student did extremely well. I realized being in the classroom how important it is to incorporate numerous ways of evaluating because each student shows strengths in different ways.

3. How closely did your assessment and evaluation practices in the field align with your philosophy?

I am not confident that I observed enough forms of assessment during the three weeks to say whether or not the assessment/evaluation practices aligned with my philosophy. I would say that I did witness a limited amount of differentiation in regards to evaluation practices, because we were able to only see oral and written evaluations. As mentioned previously, I wouldn’t say I am 100% comfortable with assessing students through a Scantron sheet because it is so limiting to their knowledge, however after experiencing it a few times I could see how I would use this as a form of assessment in certain things from time to time, definitely not all of the time. I also think that there was many times that differentiation could have been put into use in regards to certain EAL students. In my classroom, I would try to adapt the evaluations and assessments to help the EAL students succeed, and I don’t think that there was everything done to differentiate to suit their specific needs.

  1. Three key leanings you have taken away, and why will these three things be so important to your teaching practice?
  • Differentiation:

Throughout this semester and especially from my field experience, I have learned that differentiation in assessment and evaluation is so important. Every student has a different take on success in the classroom. I especially noticed this in the classroom because often the students who spoke up during class discussions answering my questions and prompts were more so the average students who did poorly on written evaltiatons or assessments. The students who were at the top of the class in regards to academics were very quiet and often never spoke up unless I called on them. I also noticed that the very strong students academic wise, also did very poorly on oral presentations and vice versa for the weaker students, who did quite well orally and very poorly on written. Therefore, it was such a great opportunity to learn how important differentiation is because all of those students were showing their leanings in completely different ways, and if they were only given one way of presenting their knowledge, it might not be an authentic showcase.

  • Descriptive Feedback

Unfortunately, I wasn’t given the opportunity to actually give my students descriptive feedback however I still took this part of assessment and evaluation as one of the most important parts. From class discussions, and from experience as a student myself I believe that instead of just slapping a mark on an assignment, you should be describing why and where the student succeeds, and where the student can still improve. Using a rubric is something I hadn’t really done before (as a teacher), but going through a specific rubric that outlines exactly where and why the students will get their marks made it very clear to the students how they can succeed.

  • Frequency

I think this aspect of assessment ties my first two key leanings together very nicely. For instance, differenation needs to happen all the time in order to get an authentic understanding of there the student’s are, as my example previously about the differences in the student’s understanding of the content when presented orally verses written. This differentiation of evaluation and assessment needs to happen more than just once because then the student has multiple opportune to show case their work. For example, if the students were only given the opportunity to be evaluated orally, then not all students would succeed. In regards to descriptive feedback, I think frequency definite ties into that well because if you are giving the descriptive feedback at the end of the unit where there is no oppoirtiny gor the students to improve is not beneficial for the students, nor for the teacher. Descriptive feedback needs to be given at multiple times throughout the unit because then there is the chance for students to succeed because perhaps they don’t even realize what they need to improve on. It was so interesting to read Beth’s blog post about her experience with descriptive feedback because it seemed as if it was very successful and she was very proud of it. I would love to use this during my internship in the fall.

With all of these learnings, I feel a lot more comfortable with the assessment process and am very excited to put these key elements to use in my own classroom.

Pre-Internship – Final Reflections

I was very nervous and somewhat apprehensive going into my first ever high school teaching experience. However, I realized very early on that I had nothing to be nervous about, and that I definitely chose the right career path. I loved being in a high school, interacting with the students in that age group. My only wish is that I could have spent more time in the classroom to continue to build relationships with the awesome students because they were my biggest fear, but turned out to be my absolute favourite part of pre-internship.

I cannot even begin to explain the knowledge I have gained throughout the three weeks. I completely understand why people have said that third year in education is the hardest because of the pre-internship. It is so difficult being dropped into a classroom smack dab in the middle of a semester. I really learned what an asset flexibility is as a teacher. I also learned how to collaborate effectively and professionally with colleagues, even if our ideas didn’t always match up with each other.

It was probably some of the toughest three weeks that I have ever experience, only because it was completely out of my regular schedule and something completely and totally new to me. However I feel as if I have already grown so much as an educator and am motivated and excited to get back into the classroom and continue doing what I love.

Overall, I had a really great experience and was very fortunate to be able to work with an established and successful cooperating teacher who was so willing to welcome us into his classroom. He gave us a lot of really detailed and informative feedback about what I should continue to work on during my internship. I really appreciated all of the heartfelt advice he gave us because much of it was a thing that I would never have realized without being observed. This experience has also prepared me for internship and I am nothing but excited and confident.

Pre-Internship – Separate School Experience

Being placed in a separate school division is a great learning experience for me. Not only did I attend a public school, but I also attended a really small high school. It is so interesting to see the differences in both. Something I admire is the sense of community this school seems to have with each other because they gather very often for things like mass and reconciliation. It is definitely a breath of fresh air.

I also find it very interesting that the students who attend schools in the separate division do not have to be religious, because I wonder why they would want to attend the school if they weren’t practicing religion. I also wonder why the parents would choose to put them in that school if they did not practice a religion. Perhaps it has to do with the school reputation in regards to academics or sports. It is all very interesting to analyze. I think that is is great that the students who don’t identify with a religion can choose whether or not they participate in the religious activities, such as reconciliation. I like that aspect of it because perhaps a particular student is religious but feels uncomfortable making confessions in the library at school. I like the fact that everyone has a choice.

I really value getting to experience different school divisions because it is so different than what my high school was like. My partner went to a school in the separate system so she is familiar with a lot of the protocols, whereas it is all new to me. I am soaking it all, and taking everything I learn as a piece of knowledge expanding my education experience.

Pre-Internship – Reflection of First Week

I have been in my classroom for a couple days, and so far I am loving being in a high school environment. I was nervous about entering my first high school teaching experience because it seems as if not long ago, I was still a student at a high school! I am mostly involved with grade 9 students. My partner and I are teaching the same grade 9 class, in different periods. We haven’t gotten a chance to teach yet, however I am learning a lot from observing which is awesome.

My partner and I have the opportunity to observe a different teacher’s supported grade 9 class. Right away we could see noticeable differences between the classes. For example, this supported english has a lot of EAL learners, therefore the dynamic of the classroom is quite different than our first periods. I noticed a lot more need for classroom management in this room, and the lessons and content also move at a much slower pace. I am very excited to be involved with this classroom because I know that there is an increasing number of diversity in schools, specifically an increase of EAL learners so it is a fantastic learning experience.

I am very happy with what classes I am observing because it seems as if everyone talks about how awful grade 9s are, however I am quite enjoying them! I also appreciate that my partner and I have a bit of observation time before jumping in because it gives us a chance to get to know the students better and an opportunity to get familiar with the school.However, I am excited to start teaching!

Inquiry Project: Final Post

The reason that I chose to research Treaty Education for my inquiry project is because I feel such an emphasis placed in almost all of our education classes, however I felt very lost to how I could actually implement these philosophies in my classroom.

imagesI have researched a lot about why it is crucial we as young teachers need to be introducing this education into our classrooms. I have been very encouraged, but also have had moments of extreme discouragement as well. For example, I overheard a fellow pre-intern during our three week block explain how he was teaching a social studies unit to his class, and his cooperating teacher had told him to skip over the part of the Catholic church’s involvement in residential schools. Hearing that I was very shocked, however I was motivated again when my cooperating teacher would make a point of always referencing residential schools and the mistreatment of Ingenious people in Canada’s history.

I feel as if many teachers feel like they are teaching Treaty Education if they mention residential schools. That’s a step, however there are many other aspects to Aboriginal history than just that horrible part. I was enthusiastic to find that there are resources readily available for teachers to incorporate Treaty Education, such as my previous post about the amazing 100 Years of Loss curriculum I received from the Legacy of Hope Foundation. tupper-mosaic

I also appreciate fellow educators and their continued research about Treaty Education. Jennifer Tupper is the Associate Dean of  Faculty Development and Human Resources in the Faculty of Education, and she is doing amazing research about this topic that I will continue to follow and learn from.

I found this project to be challenging, but I am motivated to keep my research going and always implement Treaty Education into my classroom. As a teacher I am a life long learner, and will continue to feed my crave for more resources and information. images-1

Inquiry Project Post #6: 100 Years of Loss

Throughout my inquiry project, I have highlighted a lot of different reasons why Indigenous education is crucial to be taught in schools because of the serious implications of the past still being so prominent in our society today. However, I haven’t really highlighted how I have found to actually include this in the classroom. One thing that I really struggle with is actually implementing Treaty Education in the classroom. I am so excited about  a resource I have found that I will most definitely use in my future classroom, hopefully even as soon as internship in the fall.lgacy_logo-300x67

A friend told me about this website called Legacy of Hope Foundation, where you can request specific resources from the organization for teachers to use in the classroom. These resources are created with the purpose of educating and creating awareness about the legacy of residential school and the intergenerational impact it has had on First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. The organization also supports the ongoing healing process of Residential School Survivors.

I requested a 100 Years of LosIMG_0708s curriculum, with little hope that I would actually receive one because the organization survives on donations alone, and gives away these amazing resources for free, therefore it is in high demand and they are only able to give what they have at the moment. However a few weeks after requesting a resource, the curriculum was mailed to me, entirely for free!

IMG_0711 I cannot express how enthused I am with receiving this incredible resource. It is absolutely amazing. It comes in a very organized folder with an information booklet, a teacher’s guide video, and a teacher’s guide filled with information, lesson plans, and activates.

The information booklet is filled with information about the foundation, as well as a brief overview of what residIMG_0710ential schools were, the conditions, the healing and reconciliation that is trying to happen, as well as information about what we can do as educators and Canadian citizens.

The teacher’s guide is filled with more information about how to use the guide, dealing with tough situations and how to get through them,background information about Residential Schools, and then six very detailed lesson plans with complementary resources such as actives and information.

Finding this resource gives me hope because it shows that there are real steps being take-in the direction of young teachers like myself are being educated and given the right tools (sometimes, free of charge!) to incorporate Treaty Education.                                                                    IMG_0715IMG_0712       IMG_0713