PSIII is the best practicum experience by far.
At St. Paul’s the staffs and colleagues are treated as family members including the interns. I didn’t feel such sense of belonging to a school/place until now. This factor made me happy to get up in the morning and step out the door to greet my students – it was like homecoming whenever I stepped inside the school. When PSIII started, my teacher mentor (the amazing Mrs. Primeau) gave me a week of blessing to get to know the class and the school to help me become familiar with the routine and to put my mind at ease. Despite this I was quite intimidated by Grade One students – although I did not show it.
Over the weeks, I bonded with my students as I taught math, drama, art, social studies, and physical education. Through my stern but fun personality, I gained their respect and became their leader in learning. I became to care and love each one of them – although at times, I feel disappointed at myself for not giving every student the same amount of attention.
One thing I focused on was incorporating technology. I utilized my SMART board in most of my lessons – especially in math and drama/social studies. As a video gamer/tech-geek, incorporating technology was an easy step for me. The new media element such as YouTube is very important to me and I truly believe that it is the new way of expressing oneself. We created several YouTube videos to make the students proud of their work, and connecting with others not just within the class but in the entire school, and with their family and the world. During every Christian Action school assembly, we put on our classroom video for the entire school to watch. My students’ reactions were always positive and enthusiastic and they also loved that the views are still climbing.
At the beginning, I conducted a classroom survey about the students' interest. Minecraft, an ingenious videogame, seemed to be the common denominator among my students. Therefore I began to develop my math lessons around Minecraft theme. At first I did not realize this, but it was a very time consuming work as I had to make all the math materials, worksheets, SMART board presentations, and comic strips from scratch. But I could not stop as my students were hooked – the learning did not seem like a chore but kind of fun. That is the only thing that keeps me going with this mammoth Professional Inquiry project.
Despite huge improvements in personal and professional development, I still have myriad areas which I would like to improve: efficient communication with parents, and meeting timelines. I have improved in communicating with the parents but I feel that it is still inadequate. I would like to create some sort of social network for the parents to communicate with them efficiently. I feel that phoning parents is an unreliable way to communicate as I cannot seem to reach them at time. I had some trouble with timelines in my PSII – in a middle school setting. And now with my Grade One class, it became hard to judge what an appropriate timeline is for these very young people (as I noticed huge difference between students). I hope I will improve on these areas as I gain more experience and wisdom.
This PSIII experience also gave me invaluable insight about school dynamics such as the interaction with administrations/board office, the parent/teacher interviews, the report cards, and the Catholic school environment. I am always overwhelmed and amazed by how much I learned each day – not just teach. It feels like I only skimmed the surface of the teaching profession and I am hungry to learn more to be the best teacher I can be for my students and the future.