September 11, 2014
The composition of this post is admittedly somewhat belated and anachronistic. I’ve been at Forest Hill for a couple of weeks and so the lens through which I’m reflecting on this experience contains some affectations from later experiences.
Case-in-point: September 11 marks the only day so far [now the first week of October] that I did not teach or lead (together with Kiefer Schlosser-Shields, who is placed in the same classroom as me) at least one period during the school day. My reflection moving forward might take some of my current considerations into account, but for the most part, I will write as “in-the-moment” as possible.
That said, first, a transcription from my hardcopy teaching journal (which I abandoned after learning about the potential to store things online. For more on my interest in Digitality, click here).
Forest Hill Practicum Journal Week 1 – Sept 11 + 12 Day 1 – Sept 11 My first day of Practicum was a thrill. I met Tim Rudan, my MT, and his three classes, two of which are Economics [CIA4U]. Though technically a social science, Economics contains some math elements. I am looking forward to the opportunity to supplement my teaching style + knowledge with content and strategies from a foreign discipline. Because of some complications, there are two teaching candidates in Mr. Rudan’s classes: Kiefer Schlosser-Shields and, now, myself [my originally slated MT was transferred to a new school Tuesday, September 10th. She teaches music exclusively]. I am slightly concerned about having proper opportunities to spread my wings during this placement. Both Kiefer and I seem to be quite independent [not to mention slightlystubborn]. I have a strong desire to immerse myself in a holistic teacher experience atForest Hill CI and I’m worried I may only get half an opportunity to do so. Still, I’m looking at this [two TCs in one classroom] more as an opportunity and new challenge, rather than an obstacle. For one, team-teaching will be a unique experience that no other TCs will likely get. The kids have taken to calling me “Mr.G” and I find it particularly endearing. I’m excited to get to know them better this year. --MG
Being introduced to a classroom as a teacher for the first time is surprisingly nerve-wracking. For one thing, hierarchies and power dynamics are entirely uncertain. While I carry the title of “teacher” into the classroom, that means very little to a roomful of students who have no particular reasons to trust me. Thus, on the first day, I was “on the chopping block” for all intents and purposes. Luckily, most of the students in Mr. Rudan’s Grade 12 classroom are Western- (i.e. Ivey-) bound, and so they quickly asked to which fraternity I belonged (I didn’t), how old I was, what I studied &c.
Moreover, as indicated above, the students have taken to calling me Mr. Gyssels, because “Guy-zles” is too hard (and, frankly, I’m not even sure that’s how it’s properly pronounced). Crisis #1–namely, being welcomed by the students–seemingly averted.
As far as time and experience in the classroom, Tim immediately provided some basic marking on a knowledge-based map-colouring assignment for the Grade 10 students. While the first two months of practicum are meant to be Observation Days, Tim, as a former Course Instructor at York, understands our desire to learn to teach by actually teaching, or at least to get out of our desks at the back of the classroom.
I have a tendency towards prolific writing and profuse verbosity (see what I did there), so I’ll fire off a few observations and ‘plot-points’ to wrap things up:
-the staff at FHCI are excellent. They consider Kiefer and me to be teachers (and if you that phrasing gives you pause…pause a little longer) already, and are all very keen to provide advice on everything from photocopying to __________ something else that begins with a fricative.
-I’m eager already to begin teaching. History is, admittedly, very clearly my “secondary teachable” for a reason–but I’m a quick learner and have cracked open a few different textbooks (aside from the one my class uses) to round out my knowledge.
-To that end, Tim has been quick, insofar as I can make such a judgement, to bestow his trust upon us (and it is now ours to lose). In fact, he’s calling in sick tomorrow and entrusting us to run his classroom. It will certainly be…entertaining, if nothing else.
-As a note to my past self (herein contained as a journal transcription) working with Kiefer has actually been highly generative. More later, but rather than cutting in half our opportunities, working together has doubled productivity and allowed us to work on more tasks simultaneously and to develop more/better lesson plans.