I can’t believe has fast pre-internship has come to an end. It seems only yesterday that it was beginning. I am beyond grateful for the wonderful experience I have had; this included an amazing cooperating teacher, teaching partner, students, educational assistants, principle, support staff, etc. There were so many positive opportunities, learning experiences, and memories that I will reflect on for years to come.
The first day of my pre-internship began and ended as quickly as a flash. I spent the day reacquainting myself with students and classroom routines, setting up my first ever bulletin board, signing agendas, photocopying, supervising recess, and teaching the first lesson of my unit. On the first day, we made a classroom culture book to ensure that all students felt they were safe and that their culture is honored and valued before diving into a unit that is full of history, wonder, and culture.
The second day spent in schools began at the new Harbour Landing School where I attended a professional development day where teachers get together in what is called a Community of Practice. For my cooperating teachers Community of Practice, a roomful of teachers discussed the book, “Teach like Finland” written by Walker. It was interesting to myself, and teaching partner, that many of the topics that were being discussed were already being discussed in our classes at university. For example, incorporating learning outside, building relationships with students, taking breaks, and creating a safe environment for students. During the second half of the day my coop, teaching partner, and I went back to the school and had the opportunity to attend a staff meeting.
Over the course of the next week, we dove straight learning about my unit (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Figures and Artistic Expressions). In these five days, we explored terms and definitions that would be used throughout this unit, past and present influential First Nation and Metis figures, the significance of music, dance, and art. For the delivery of each of these lessons, I used a variety of instructional strategies such as jigsaw and learning stations. During this week I introduced the classroom Wonder Board and I must say I loved using it and will definitely be using it in the future. Students wrote down such insightful questions, comments, and thoughts that they were having. It was so great seeing each students engagement with the knowledge that each lesson held. Some of the students’ responses on the Wonder Board were:
- Who writes history?
- How did the history of the world come to be? Who made it?
- How does someone become an Elder?
- Why was Louis Riel so important?
- Why is there history?
- How are tipis made?
- What did Metis kids do when their parents were hunting and sewing?
- Where did medicine come from?
- What did people eat? What did people hunt?
In the next week, we dove straight into our inquiry. Each student selected an individual and began researching. Once students had completed their research they wrote a biography of the individual they had researched and then once everything else was completed, created a visual to go along the topic of which the students had been researching. While I think learning through inquiry is so meaningful, it is challenging. Though, challenges can be overcome. For example, some students did not complete their research as they were struggling to find information on the individual they had chosen. So, as an adaptation, I researched each individual chosen and put together a document for each individual that students could read and find information that they could not previously find. During the inquiry process, each student learned at their own pace. Meaning that for some students they worked on their biography for a day whereas other students took four; thus creating a wide gap in each student’s progress of their inquiry process. For someone who likes to be organized and order, this was a challenge for myself personally; so, I went outside of my comfort zone in order to be flexible and adapt to my student’s needs. For students that could not write, myself and my teaching partner scribed for our students as they told us what they knew, we then recorded it into their duotangs.
My teaching partner and I then had the opportunity to take part in the student/parent/teacher conferences. I loved this. As previously, we had been the student at conferences and had never been able to experience all of the work, effort, and preparation that is spent on this crucial meeting place between a student’s education and home. It was interesting to see and learn about each student’s parents, home life, cultural beliefs, etc. worked. It was truly a valuable experience to have had.
In the last week, in my unit, students finished up their inquiry projects. Additionally, on the second last day we read a story and then made our very own bannock; let me tell you everyone in the school was poking their heads into the kitchen to see what was cooking. Finally, on the last day, we had a celebration of learning where students shared what they had learned and produced and ended with having snacks and reminiscing about the past month spent together as a class.
I have learned a lot over the course of the past month; more than can be put into words. While this experience has gone by like a whirlwind, I do not think I could have had a greater experience with such a wonderful cooperating teacher. During my time spent with her, she was beyond gracious. Many preps were spent pre and post-conferencing, having heartfelt discussions, photocopying numerous resources for us pre-interns to take home. She did more than support me, she allowed me the freedom to grow and develop to find out what works, or what didn’t work, for me as an educator. I can only hope to one day follow in similar footsteps.
In the past three weeks, I have learned a tremendous amount about the teaching profession. I have built relationships with students that I now hold dear to my heart. Their stories, ‘aha’ moments, and accomplishments large or small. I’ve come to learn that it’s not whether you delivered your lessons perfectly, misspell a word, or if you pronounce a word incorrectly that students remember. Students remember who you are. They remember if you were kind, caring, and loving. This has impacted my educational philosophy beyond belief. So I leave you with the quote my cooperating teacher has left me with; which is reflective of my pre-internship experience:
“If a student learns something along the way that’s a bonus. But if your students walk in and walk out of your room each day knowing that they are loved – then you have done your job – and you have done it well.”