Tag Archives: student teacher

missing lyric found!

On the last day of my practicum, I gave my grade 10 History students copies of the song I wrote as a mnemonic device when I was in high school. I wrote a post about this song  last week and I know you’re all waiting to hear what the missing lyric is.

I am truly proud of this class – I started out dreading teaching them – all 33 of them. My Associate Teacher warned me about them before I even met the kids.  She pretty much told me her goal is just to get through every period. (To her credit, she had a very good relationship with individual students, but I think she felt they were out of control and so she resorted to compromises like giving them 7 minute breaks to socialize during class if they would agree to pay attention once the breaks ended).  Many of the things she told me about the students were true, but after the first few classes, I found myself really looking forward to this period. By the end of the month I felt that the kids knew I was on their side.

I gave the students the song as my parting gift – I told them it might help them study for their exam. I had thought I might get off easy, but of course they insisted that I sing it. I told them, “OK, we’ll sing it together. Who knows the song ‘We didn’t Start the Fire’?” Blank stares. No Uptown Girls or Piano Men in this classroom. I was on my own. I squeaked out a passable rendition of the song, my face turning as red as my hair. Lecturing in front of a class is one thing; singing is quite another!

They loved it. I went over each line and quizzed them – and to my amazement, they recognized some of the events and were able to elaborate on some of the causes of WWII. One of them even remembered that “Mein Kampf” meant ‘my struggle.’ As for the missing lyric, after a few suggestions were thrown out (“Lots of blood and gore” “The Holocaust left a sore” etc.) the class decided on…

World War II is hard core!


my philosophy of education

My Philosophy of Education word cloud created at http://www.wordle.net

The Talmud tells of two prominent sages, Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva. A question is posed to both: “Which is greater, study or action?” They finally agree, “Study is greater, because study leads to action.” Inspired by this Talmudic parable, I believe that education is not an end in and of itself but a means to the most important end: acting to create meaningful change in the world. In Canada’s diverse classrooms, critical pedagogy, guided reflection, and education for active citizenship can help students understand, model, and enact a vision of a pluralistic ad productive society. As a teacher, I see my students as my ambassadors of goodwill, capable of creating far more change in their communities than I could ever bring about on my own.

Education can clarify values and prepare students for a lifetime of active citizenship, helping them understand the implications of their decisions and participation in civic life. Rather than presenting students with one “right” view of a subject, educators must offer diverse and even conflicting perspectives from among which students can piece together an intellectually and emotionally authentic narrative. When given the opportunity to examine and challenge the roots of accepted discourse, students can arrive at grounded conclusions, take ownership of their beliefs, and formulate meaningful opinions. In my experience, after studying multiple perspectives and examining how their beliefs are informed by their values, students feel empowered to address the root causes of these issues and to pursue social justice in their communities. In order to guide students through this process, I must attempt to be sensitive to my students’ lived realities both in and outside of the classroom, and draw them into curricular materials by addressing issues that are culturally relevant. I will not shy away from conflict or controversy, but rather harness its transformative potential.

I have high expectations of all students, and I realize that to meet them I must provide the necessary conditions for success. In my experience these are: manageable amounts of required background knowledge, proper scaffolding and meaningful formative assessments, learning tasks that respect diverse learning styles, teacher and peer support on the ground, and adequate and well-managed time. I hope to facilitate my students’ discovery of their own intrinsic motivations to learn by creating meaningful tasks whose completion are their own reward.  Placing students’ learning in the cognitive space where challenge and enjoyment meet creates a feeling akin to Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘flow’ experience. This is an ambitious goal in our world of distractions, but I have seen it happen, and have experienced this powerful immersion in learning myself on numerous occasions.

My teaching style draws on my experience in informal education. Thanks to two of my extra-curricular passions – painting and dance – I know that colour and movement deserve a place in the classroom. Where possible, I use constructivist methods and encourage co-operative learning.  My classroom management strategies emphasize relationships built upon mutual respect. I have a hard time enforcing rules that I myself cannot buy into, and I maintain an authoritative but relaxed presence in the class.

Through my experience with adolescents – be it in a classroom or a museum, in Algonquin Park or on Capitol Hill – I have seen that in order for true learning to occur, adolescents need challenge and meaning. Educators working with teens must above all be authentic, attentive to a plurality of ideas and equipped to manage a diverse range of learning styles and expressions. I see teaching as an exchange of ideas rather than a transmission of information. As a teacher, I hope to be able to facilitate transformation and growth in my students, and to learn as much from them as they do from me. It would be an honour to be in a position to open students’ minds to the power inherent in each one of us, and the potential that young people have to shape their futures and achieve meaningful measures of success.

you seemed like a legit teacher

I just finished my first month-long practicum at a crazy cool alternative school. I gave my grade 12 English and Philosophy classes a form, asking them for qualitative feedback on my performance in four areas:

o    Lesson design & delivery

o    Content

o    Interpersonal

o    Additional feedback

Some of the feedback was instructive, edifying, and heartwarming. Some of it was highly entertaining.  Overall, the reviews were positive (phew!), confirming that my first attempt at applying my pedagogic values to a formal classroom setting was successful. A few students commented that I should have been more assertive or authoritative, but most appreciated my relational approach to classroom management. Here is a selection of the feedback I received from my students:

Saw you less of as an authoritative teacher, but more as a mentor, sucks that your leaving kinda began to look up to you. Your pretty cool in my opinion.

1 thing: when no one had read the article and you told us to read for a few minutes, most people started talking. I had to plug my ears and enter a noise cocoon which ended up making me feel kind of ill.

Good, Good, Good, Good, Good,
Good, Good, Good, Good, Good,

hi im pikachu. for future student I would suggest you be more strict friendship is great its fun, but that’s perhaps not the most efficient way to teach as students/children were used to power structures that involve giving power/responsibility to someone else. the idea is if your not strict with us we will not be strict with ourselves this dependency is perhaps bad because some people never evolve beyond it. but it is a stage we must all pass through wouldn’t it be easier if their were answers we could act upon instead of just questions.

You should speak to each student as an individual rather than in a group. (That way each student feels okay about themself)

Of course you smart ☺

I know you sometimes had trouble controlling the class, and I think an effective way to help will come with time and you’ll develop your own method. All the teachers who I know who are able to control the class al have their own individual method. It was GOOD that you never raised your voice.

Students are like animals. Show no fear.

I actually understand logical fallacies.
Maybe a little less reading.
I hate readings.
Take a bit more initiative.
Enjoyed activities.

Don’t be afraid to raise your voice and yell

Don’t say “I don’t want to have to raise my voice.” It never works.

I thought that you came off as a friend which is great for a teacher because then the students respect you you didn’t yell at us you dealed with conflict well

You did help with a lot of my knowledge.
When we asking very direct questions
You were really good at answering
You knew like everything ☺

You never talked down to us and that was amazing.

It’s like you were Plato!

The activities you came up with always made me think, and although sometimes annoying (in a good way) they weren’t just assignments my brain could slide over. Like the logical fallacies assignment, it made me confused and anxious but I further progressed my knowledge.

You seemed like a legit teacher and I would like it if you were my actual teacher

I especially like the fact that you don’t stutter or say “filler words” (ex. Like, you know, um, uh)

You seemed to know what you were talking about and if you didn’t know then you hid it really well.

Be more dominant. Show we can’t push you around or bullshit you. But that wasn’t a huge problem.

Your lesson plans were fantastically linear, and you have a magnificent ability to allow discussions to flow in a manner that does not divert the class from the direction of the lesson. Your activities were underpinned strongly by your in depth knowledge and humanized communicability.

I think on a scale of 1-10 you ranked an 8 ½ because you helped out a lot and tried to explain to the best of your ability.

You might need to be more of a hard-ass in a tougher crowd. Students at our school aren’t that HXC

I learned quite a bit (especially considering it was lit. theory)

If there’s ruckus in the class, don’t go directly to a person, try addressing the class.

When you ask “does everyone get it?” When everyone is silent → doesn’t always mean we get it

It really was good that you got to know our names. It makes us know you care/are trying.

Not trying to suck up, but you were one of the best student teachers I’ve had.