To start off with, I will say one of the most obvious things I’ve learned from pre-internship is that time changes and the hours in a day turn into merely minutes. I was so focused on pre-internship that I forgot to post to my blog- so, instead I am going to give a summary of the things I learned and experienced in my 3 weeks of pre-internship.
1. The comic I started with… that’s literally how I felt. I was either at school learning and planning, or somewhere else and thinking about learning and planning. This is a very scary thought because I only taught 2 class –> how will I do it when I have 4-5 classes to teach?! I look forward to internship when I get to find out.
2. Teachers really are underpaid. I learned this from simply being in the Cooperative Room with all the science teachers. I cannot tell you there was a solid 5 minutes of silence. There was always students coming to the door needing help or trying to catch up on missed work, etc. The roles teachers have to take on to meet the needs of students is unthinkable: from nurse, to parent, librarian, accountant, cook, leader, team member, and so on. I constantly witnessed teachers stepping out from their role as an educator to whatever they needed to be to meet the needs of students.
3. I also learned I need to buy a foot-massager and a pair of good shoes. Not only do teachers spend an awful amount of time on their feet, they also have to think on their feet! There was two times in the three weeks I was there that an assembly or other unexpected event took place that ruined the lesson I had set up. I had to think on my feet quickly to make it work. This is something I’ve come to realize can’t be taught, but rather learned through experience.
4. Relationships are crucial. At the start of my three weeks, my students were very shy and unresponsive to questions I asked. After about the first week I noticed the comfort level of both me and my students to increase drastically. I truly believe that the moments I had to simply talk with my students and build a relationship with them was the only reason some of them listened to my lessons and did what I had asked of them. This is an area I hope to grow more in until I can have great relationships with every one of my students.
5. Patience truly is a virtue. I would classify myself as a fairly patient person; however, there was one situation I was surprised how annoyed I became. I was doing a demonstration in a Superlab (a huge lab that allows multiple classes to use at the same time) to my class of 38 (yes 38… that’s not a typo unfortunately) when another class came in and started doing their experiments. The one other time I had my class do an experiment in the Superlab I had no problems with other classes using the space as well; however, because I was doing a demonstration I was also having a conversation with my students about the concepts for the day. They could not all hear or see me and were completely distracted to what the other class was doing. To be fair, they were doing something which involved fire and colour change which is wayyyyy more interesting that seeing how fast we could dissolve an alka seltzer tablet in water, but they needed to know this for their assignments and test! I finished my demonstrations and we went back to the classroom, but I was very surprised when reflecting at how my patience completely left me in that situation.
6. Concepts you think are easy… may not be so easy. My pre-internship partner had taught balancing chemical reactions in one day. I thought this was really reasonable and so when it came time for me to teach it to my class expected about twice as long, but 3 days max. Yeah… this simple lesson turned into a week and a half. Classroom diversity is completely in control of how fast or slow students pick up on certain concepts. I feel like we had taught it with a similar approach; but, her approach met the needs of her students where my approach left a lot of them more confused than ever. I felt like I had failed my students because of this, but came to realize it just meant I had to alter my teaching methods to ensure all students had the opportunity to learn it.
7. Learning can’t always be fun. Before this experience, I was delusional at how easy it was to make every lesson and concept fun. I still believe students learn better when the lesson is fun, but there are those concepts for which that just can’t happen. I had brainstormed for multiple hours on ways of teaching types of reactions in a way other than direct instruction. Although they could do an experiment with it, that still did not ensure they were learning the concepts that were being experimented on. In the end, I had to give students a brief, and boring, slideshow on the information present. Not everyone likes taking notes, but not everyone likes being in the lab either. From this, I’ve learned that the best way to go about it is to just provide multiple methods of instruction. While some of these may be boring to some students, other students need it to understand and move on.
I absolutely loved my time pre-interning and can say this experience has allowed me to grow in my teaching career. I am feeling more prepared for internship, but also more reflective on areas I know I plan to improve. My Coop, students, and the school itself has been detrimental to my professional development and for that I am very thankful. I will end off with another important lesson I learned during my three weeks summed up by John Dewey:
“Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”