Sunday, October 26, 2008

Continuing Developments

Sometimes I feel like my emotions cause me to bounce back and forth about how I am feeling about myself in teaching. The last week has been a roller coaster and I had intended on addressing some of it sooner so that there was a smaller gap between entries, but somehow I didn't end up making time for (and motivating) myself to do so.

My last entry eluded to me feeling like I had stepped into a much larger hole of confusion and unknown than I had thought I was. I still feel that way - but continuing on with another week definitely led me feeling slightly more optimistic (even if the optimism felt repressed only five minutes later). I will pick a couple of instances and try to focus my writing around them. I apologize if I seem to ramble, as I tend to do =)

On Friday we were able to gain the experiences of attending a Professional Development Day (or PD Day). (Yes, teachers actually do attend school when the students don't!). The day was planned by the PD committee at the school and the theme surrounding the day was transitions - both into and out of high school (One thing I learnt is that PD Days are going to make me feel like I'm at the Faculty of Ed again). We focused on what we, as teachers, should Stop, Start, Continue, and Change about our practises, the school, etc. A group of the TCs at my school hung out afterwards as a chance to blow off some steam and be around people we could talk to (about anything) and it seemed like I wasn't the only one who felt like we were being *evil eyed* by current teachers with "ya, just wait until you're actually a teacher and you can see that you're dreaming" written across their foreheads. Aren't teachers supposed to be life long learners? Aren't they supposed to be here because they want to be and think they can actually make a difference?

We are the new generation of teachers and we are ALLOWED to be excited and enthusiastic about it. I want to be USED as a resource for new things and different insights. I WANT current teachers to look at my attitude and think "maybe she has a point." Is that really too much to ask? Well I sure feel like I'm asking too much of a lot of them anyways - it wouldn't be fair to say that some of them don't embrace us, they ARE out there! (and for you, I am grateful!!)

I did have some personal triumphs amidst the week though. I was able to see that although it is difficult to do now, it really is true that as my experience builds I will be able to figure out where to start with teaching a concept and break it into enough steps that I create minimal confusion. Not that I am there yet, but I feel closer. I do feel like I have already fallen into a rut though. My lessons have consisted largely of "chalk and talk" methods and they are hard to fall away from. My goal has to be to create as interactive an atmosphere as possible in doing this, but sometimes it's hard to pry answers out of students. I have managed to create one handout (and see where it was good and where it fell short) and I have used one investigative class. I am intending to do an interactive quiz with one class this week before their test, so we will see how that goes. I might be able to get some graphing calculator time in before I head back to B.Ed classes but my goal for the second practicum block is to involve some more technology (there is a classroom with a Smart Board).

I cannot wait to get involved with extra-curricular activities!

Now reader, head forth and smile at someone today - you never know how big of a difference you can make!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Built Up Expectations.

Having grown up knowing that I wanted to be a teacher and having almost everyone around me tell me that I would be good at it and had a natural knack for helping people understand isn't always the cup of tea that it seems to be. I am not saying that I wish I had not found my passion so young, or that I want to be the person who has finished University and still really has no idea what she wants to do, but there is something to be said for soul searching and the things that come along with it. Sometimes I feel like I've missed out on a chance to really learn a lot about myself. At the same time, being a Teacher Candidate is the beginning of a road to a lifetime of learning.

What I am getting at is this - through knowing what I wanted to do and having so many people I care about agreeing with me, I have come to have expectations of the profession, and of myself. Finally having the chance to start a unit with more than one class has been a way different experience than my two Undergraduate placements (even though I had a chance to teach a fair number of lessons considering how short they were). I guess it has given me a chance to see how easy it is to fall into patterns and not make the extra effort to find a way to make each day that little bit different. Sometimes you get ahead of yourself and teach a class something that you really do know is completely incorrect, but it takes someone pointing it out afterwards that you overlooked it. It can be easy to make the perspective on something like that larger than it should maybe that is what I did today - but it has lead me to remind myself that I still have lots to learn and that only I can go and seek those things out. I have to create the chances to learn new things, to find people to shed some light on a new angle, to look for the opportunity in everything I do and be willing to take chances (on myself mostly).

I have more to say on the subject, but I should have fallen into my nice cozy, warm bed by now so it will have to wait for another time.

Head off and use your brains as the sponges they were meant to be!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Baby Steps

Leading up to final year (aka this year) we have been taking small steps into the teaching profession. At times it has been trying - meaning that when you are observing for an extended period of time it can be difficult to stay awake - but there have also been some key moments that have probably kept many concurrent students on this track to teaching. Through my undergraduate placements I did more teaching than I was "required to do" which led to me teaching about 6 days of a full course load. While it feels like this gave me a taste of it I am sure starting with a full unit in one or two courses will feel completely different. All of a sudden my giant! baby step is to leap into two classes head on in the third day of my placement! I'm pretty excited (beyond just meeting the students and basically watching them do seat work or write a test...).

I was able to make it to my old high school on my way home to stop in and talk to some of the Admin and a few teachers in the math department (ones who taught me and/or were my host teachers at one point). I bumped into a couple of students who had been in the classes I had been a student teacher in and even ran into a girl who was in a class that I was a co-op student in when I was in Grade 12. I always find it fascinating that you can forget the people you've met have moved forward (and gotten older) and made their own baby steps.

It gets me thinking about the impact you can have on someone and the impact that others can have on you - and sometimes not even realize they have for a long time to come! You can think of it as forgetting, but I prefer to believe that realizing what someone has done for you happens right when you need it to - after all, it's the context you learn something in what has the effect, not the lesson itself. I don't think that very many of us consciously realize what life/someone has taught us and I think that even fewer of us ever come to understand it enough to give credit to whom it is deserved. Or maybe I am just way too philosophical on trivial things for my own good.

Either way, I am in my first practicum block of my final year and about to start teaching a set of minds that will affect my future. One day they will be the politicians, doctors, carpenters, electricians, engineers, and lawyers that our society so much relies on. Who's to say whether one individual can really make that much of a difference in a life - but I have to believe it if after 15 years I still want to share my knowledge and love for learning with others. That is to say, it was 15 years ago I realized this dream and that has to be worth something!

Wish me luck!


I knew I had a purpose when I started writing this entry, but of course by the time I got to a point where I wanted to mention this, I could not remember what on Earth it was. My baby step from Wednesday was realizing that I had been so caught up thinking about how I was not going to be teaching in my own environment and would have to use the classroom rules of someone else, that I had not taken the time up to come up with my own, never mind a way to let a class know what they were. So when I was told that I should do what I wanted and let them know what MY rules were I wasn't quite prepared. But I plunged feet first...and it would suffice to say, I survived and will keep rethinking and adjusting those rules and how I presented them. It's definitely something worth putting a lot of effort into (the thinking part!). After all, what's the point of fighting your students on those rules all year when you can get them right from the beginning and have way fewer battles to wage!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Heather's Letter Home

I am currently in my Physics curriculum class and we were asked to write as if we were writing home to someone to tell them how things had gone here. So obviously I figured it was worth posting here as well. It's not really as informative as it could be, but it was written in a limited amount of time and I will be adding in something more concrete to my blog sometime soon. Not that I expect anyone to keep up with me enough to care about my attempt at being concise (this time...).


I'm trying to think of a concise way to let the outside world know how things have been going since I have arrived at Duncan McArthur Hall and am at a bit of a lost of how to do that. It's funny how every time I've talked to a friend that isn't at the Faculty I am always asked "How's Teacher's College?" so maybe it is just as easy to use this as a chance to answer that question.

It has been easy to feel the (general) gap between the concurrent and consecutive students throughout classes (more so the first couple of weeks) so things have been a little bit redundant. But at the core of this, I try to pull myself away from this view as much as possible - after all, I'm here so I may as well make the most of it. This is to say, that when I am asked how things are going I generally say: "They're going. But I am keeping an open mind and putting the effort into it that I wish to receive from it."

If that isn't the reason I am here than maybe I am lost amongst my ignorance. I'd like to think that someone would point out my ignorance to me if I had made it to that point...but I would be more surprised if any of us had really gotten beyond a lot of our ignorances.

It's been exciting (and sometimes very overwhelming) to discover new aspects of the teaching profession. I have spent most of my time listening for teaching ideas and for things that are "inspiring and worth remembering." These are really the only sections of my "commonplace book" that are worth looking at. I'd like to meet a teacher that managed to get through a year where they actually implemented all of the things they wanted in their doesn't seem possible.

Let the real test begin! (aka Prac)