10-Day Countdown… :(

As tomorrow marks the 10-day countdown until Winter Holidays, it also marks the 10-day countdown until internship is complete.  To say the least, I’m feeling quite scared about the whole thing.  I know I learned so much and grew since the beginning of September, but I’m still shocked at the fact that I will be a certified teacher in four months!

As I put the final touches on my professional portfolio, I look back at all the fun I had over the past four months.  There were definitely struggles, but I am proud of the work I have done since the beginning of the year.  People always say that it goes by fast, but never would I have thought this fast!

I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to the next two weeks.  Tomorrow I get to go back to my Health 9 class as we move onto Mental Illness, Tragic Death, and Suicide.  Though this is a tough unit to get excited about, I think the teacher and I are setting it up in a way that it won’t be a dry or saddening unit.  This unit is full of guest speakers, and our very first Learning Agreement that we made together (a copy to come when it is completed)!  Tomorrow, we have the guidance counsellor coming to share his knowledge on these topics, and help students identify warning signs and strategies for someone who is coping with a tragic death or suicide.  A few days later, we have the two founders of Understand Us coming to talk to us about mental illness, why they think it is important to discuss, and how their organization is helping people with mental illnesses.  Just as our inquiry projects begin, we’re having the Kids Help Phone in to talk about how they can benefit someone who is suffering from depression, as well as many other challenges our students may be facing.  I really hope the students get as much as they can from this unit so that they know how to appropriately create awareness for these topics in the future.

This weekend also marks the 25th Anniversary of the Balfour Classic!  As the assistant coach of the Jr. Girls basketball team, I am so excited to be part of this tournament.  I remember playing in this tournament when I was in high school, and often think back on what a blast it was.  Since this year marks the 25th Anniversary, we have some “extra’s” going on throughout the weekend as well!

I am so grateful to be helping out with the Jr. Girls basketball team.  This group of girls are so much fun to work with, and I feel connected to Balfour in a whole new way.  I’m enjoying getting to know students I’ve never met before, or getting to know students I have taught a bit better.  Talking with my co-op the other day, we were talking about how nice it is that basketball season runs until the middle of March.  It will give me another reason to keep coming back to Balfour and feeling like I’m still connected to the school.

Here is to hoping the next 10 days don’t go by too fast!

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Only 5 weeks left?!

First off, let me say – oh my goodness, I cannot believe there are only five weeks left of internship! People always say that it goes by fast, but never would I have thought it would go this fast.

I have had the opportunity to spend the last two weeks in the “Making Connections Everywhere” (MCE) classroom. This room’s focus is to keep at-risk youth at school. This room is made up of 47 students in grades 10 and 11. Although there are 47 students enrolled, there was usually about 20 students a day that showed up. It was really interesting to see how these two teachers in the program were working together to ensure these students succeeded.

When I was there, we spent a lot of time working on math. The good thing about this math was that students worked from booklets, so no one was behind/ missing a lot of instruction when they did come to class. It was also nice to see math that they called real-world math. We were working on grocery shopping on a budget, finding the best deals while shopping, and converting pounds of apples into kilograms. I thought at how good this would be for other students too – math that actually makes sense in their lives.

I have to admit, the first two or three days in MCE I felt a little useless. I found these students very reluctant to talk to me or work with me. After hearing bits about their lives, I quickly realized how hard it would be to trust someone new in their lives, especially an intern who they’ve never seen before. It wasn’t until the fourth day when we had a substitute teacher that the students actually talked to me. For once, they asked for help! I thought it was a huge step that some were starting to trust me and interact with me. It also helped that I have a brother similar in age who also listened to 2 Chainz. As soon as I started singing along to one of his songs that the kids were playing, some finally started to work with me.

This classroom was so much fun. I instantly noticed how relaxed the environment was compared to a regular classroom. The students were treated as young adults, and the teacher was super real with them. I’m not saying that this shouldn’t be the case in regular classes, I just felt that the kids seemed more comfortable and relaxed in this space.

I can really see myself working in a class like this in the future. I think it’d be fun to find neat ways to tie their interests to the curriculum. For example, for ELA they just finished analyzing Tupac’s lyrics, then had to write their own poetry. How much fun would that be?!

Tomorrow I start in the Shirley Schneider Support Centre. The SSSC is an program at Balfour for females who are pregnant or are already young mothers. I’m planning on spending the next week there, learning how teachers in there are tying the curriculum to things relevant to these young women, such as prenatal health. I can’t wait to see what goes on!

On a sport note, basketball season has officially started!! I could not be more excited to be in the gym assistant coaching an awesome group of girls. I think the head coach and I are going to have a great time, and hopefully the Jr. Girls feel the same way.

And so it continues…

As my three-week block is coming to an end (early next week) I’m finally starting to feel like a real teacher.  I’m finding myself busy and slightly stressed, but not stressed enough to panic.  I don’t mind the stress, because from what I hear, that’s normal during my 3-week block.  My two health classes have been quite an experience.  There are tons of challenges and interesting behaviours that I have come across over the past month, and I’m learning so much from these two groups of students.  My cooperating teacher and I were talking about it one day, as I felt deflated and like I wasn’t getting through.  She brought up a good point – I’m lucky I’m experiencing these challenges now with so many support people around me, as opposed to when I get a job and am teaching on my own.  It made me feel more comfortable and confident in what I was doing.

My grade nine tutorial class is my favourite hour of the day.  These 10 students are such a great group of kids and everyday I feel like I’m getting to know them better and better.  Though some days I have my struggles with some of them, most days are a lot of fun and I really enjoy it.  Eight of my ten tutorial students are also in one of my health classes, so I see most of them for another hour each day.  I’ve realized that by having these specific students in mind when planning my lessons, I have become more adaptive in my lessons.  For some reason, I almost feel defensive about these kids, and want to make sure they are getting what they need to be successful.  As it turns out, there are quite a few others who need the same supports, so most of my students are also benefitting.

My health classes are filled with quite a few defiant students.  I’m still trying to figure out how I can help them be successful.  I have to admit, I find it a little frustrating when someone is fully capable to do the work, he/she just refuses to work on it, then refuses to give suggestions as to how they would like to learn.  I think coming from the Learning Resource program, I find myself constantly trying to figure out what works for them, where some teachers may have already started to let things slide.

3-way conferences are coming up next week, and I’m looking forward to meeting the guardians of my tutorial kids.  I’ve exchanged e-mails with most of the parents, but it will be nice to finally meet them face-to-face and talk about how their son/daughter is doing so far in grade nine.

Man oh man, who knew this job came with so many meetings and e-mails?!  I feel like any extra energy I have throughout the day is donated to responding to e-mails or planning/attending meetings with other staff members!  Having said that, the many meetings in the past month have been quite beneficial!  I learned how to collaborate effectively, make semester/year long plans, and have been exposed to numerous ways of helping struggling students.

Chapter Ten Response

This chapter discusses how to evaluate the evidence that the student produces.  This chapter discusses the triangulation of evidence, and it’s importance when evaluating students.  Therefore, we need to do more than just total the students grades; we need to look at all the evidence – observations, products, and conversations.  I liked the example of how a judge in a court room needs to examine all the evidence before sentencing.  The same goes for teachers; we need to look at all the evidence of learning before evaluating our students.

I liked how “Ms. D” let her students provide the evidence for each outcome that they wanted to be assessed on, then explain why they think they deserve a certain mark.  I think that is good, because it shows just how much the students knows, and how well he/she thinks he/she did throughout the semester.

I think that it is important that we as teachers stay within the legal requirements of evaluating students, but we do it in a way that is meaningful for the students; whether that be self-assessment compared to teacher-assessment, providing evidence of learning, and allowing multiple ways of achieving each outcome.