Winter Practicum Report 4: Bye for Now

by Caitlin
Master of Teaching student

As I previously mentioned in my Winter Practicum Report 3, my final day with my students was on Thursday. It was the last day before the March Break. My AT and I planned a couple of lessons for the day. We started the day with a Math Test…am I not the best teacher ever for doing this? Haha. I remember hating teachers who gave a test before a holiday or break. Oh, how the tables have changed.

The second thing planned was a poetry cafe, where students would sit and read each other’s poems. My AT and I set up the classroom like a cafe. The tables were covered with table cloths. Students snacked on popcorn and sipped on hot chocolate. Everything was going great until the final periods of the day…

Those final periods of the day were emotional and bittersweet. After completing a challenging practicum, it was nice to be rewarded with a sweet sendoff. My AT ordered a cake and we had a mini celebration. The students presented me with a hilarious card with “Bye” written all over the front of it. It was nice to read the messages the students wrote and the impact I had on their lives, in a short period of time.

The funniest part of the day was when a few of my Grade 6’s girls pulled out their cellphones and asked if we could “selfie.” I was shocked but it was quite unique that I am teaching students that have access to technology and luxuries. It astounds me that these kids have phones at this age. I’m now teaching a generation different than the one I grew up in. CRAZINESS!

My final day was a Professional Development Day at school. I attended a workshop supporting students’ Mental Health and Well-Being. Before the workshop started, I announced the winner of my contest. One of my peers, Misbah, created a contest for her last practicum. She created a basket full of books, and asked teachers to give their best teaching advice. They would write their advice as a ballot and on her last day the Vice Principal of the school randomly picked a ballot to win the basket.

I created a similar basket. Instead, I put a bag of coffee beans, a tin of tea and a hot drink tumbler. I got an overwhelming amount of ballots in my basket. I wanted to share some with you:

  • Do much more than what’s in front of you. Seek opportunities of involvement to broaden your skills/portfolio to extend your shelf life, use and value!
  • Always make a true effort to say “Good Morning!” and “Good Afternoon” to your admin, secretaries and custodians!
  • Teaching is a vocation! You are on 24-7…but try to find a balance
  • Curriculum Night. Tell the parents that you give them the truth but don’t crucify you like Jesus for he also offered the truth
  • Be an “anchor”: anchor your lesson in their world
  • Custodians will be your most valuable resource on-site. Give them the utmost respect they deserve
  • Never use/ refrain from using/starting when writing a piece of correspondence
  • A healthy breakfast will give you energy and set the stage for smart decisions all day long
  • Teaching vs telling. Very different indeed
  • Have a sense of humor and fun when teaching your students
  • I always start my day by asking the students about their night! This ensure that they share with you and feel comfortable in telling you things and find out many things about them and their family. Teaching isn’t always about just education; its about them as a whole.
  • When on site, identify the “power players.” Those who will strengthen your rep, vouch for you and be your social strength to survive comfortably
  • A mentor told me to not stay in the same grade too long. To keep challenging yourself by trying a new grade every few years
  • Students will remember the kindness and respect that you show them more than any curriculum content you can teach
  • Parents are your biggest clients — pick your battles and keep the “influential” ones happy! They will be your best support, defense, friends and community
  • When they say “lead by example” dont forget to 1) admit you “don’t know” something but are willing to find out and 2) you made a mistake and will fix it
  • Document everything and communication with parents
  • Document everything, especially when speaking to parents
  • Always dress for the weather- you never know when you will be ask to do emergency yard duty
  • Teaching is truly about make sure your students leave happier at the end of the day than when they started the day
  • Always return a parents call to you the same day
  • Be flexible…you will learn something new everyday!
  • Be an investigator: investigate new discoveries with the class
  • Grow: Grow along with your class each and everyday
  • Creative…if you are bored, your students will be as well
  • TRIBES – take the course as it will help the “well being” of students and getting along with others
  • Have a pair of runners at school
  • Relationships! Relationships! Relationships
  • Always visualize your lesson while planning to minimize errors and anticipate barriers.
  • Attend Sunday Mass at the school – many opportunities to meet important people. Those who can/might/will support your beginning career

I think next time I will make it into an advice contest. It will be more fair for me to read the advice given and reward the one that resonates with me.

Although this practicum challenged me and pushed me past my comfort zone, I don not regret anything whatsoever! I had an amazing last couple of days with my students, my AT and the staff. Now its time get back to OISE and get those assignments finished!

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