Friday, November 21, 2014

Lessons from Prac: The Last Day

Yesterday was my last day with my students during this first block of practicum.  Tomorrow is a P.D. day and I will not get another chance to see them until next semester.  

It's hard to believe that six weeks have already come and gone by.  It doesn't feel like I've been with them and teaching for six weeks, but it's true.  And what a crazy six weeks it has been.  I feel like I've been constantly on the go, trying to keep up in a race from one lesson to the next.  Coming into this career path, I don't think I fully understood the type of difficulties and challenges I would face.  I knew that teaching would not be easy--I mean, I was the type of student who sometimes needed a concept explained multiple times and in multiple different ways, forcing my teachers to re-explain things that they probably thought were clear.  I recognized that I would have to teach lessons, make assignments, give tests and then mark( and for the most part I dreaded the marking).  I also understood that in a classroom full of teens, there are bound to be other problems that arise with the students, whether individual or group problems, and that as a teacher I might need to handle difficult situations.  

But what I underestimated was the time and the challenges that some of these different aspects would present.  Namely, I did not anticipate how long it would take to plan and prepare a lesson.  It's one thing to have taught a course for years and have oodles of materials available in the wings just needing to be printed and photocopied and another thing entirely to be creating worksheets and hunting down resources.  Thus was my battle.  The Ontario government recently changed for the grade 10 history curriculum and there is now a lot more emphasis on understanding the "big six historical thinking concepts" (click for an overview).  One of which is the evidence or the primary documents.  

I spent hours on Saturdays or weekday evenings hunting down different documents, reading and assessing whether they meet my needs, and then organizing them into different lessons.  My biggest problem: I was teaching an Immersion History class.  If you don't know what that means, I'll break it down: the class is in French. This means that the primary documents need to be in French.  My task just got 100x more difficult.

At the start of my placement, I thought I'd have more time at home to work on my classroom assignments from my professors.  Nope.  I have not touched a single thing; I haven't had the time.  Don't get me wrong, I have thoroughly enjoyed placement and I really loved my students and what I was teaching (I honestly wish I could be teaching about the Second World War next week with my 10s!).  But although I enjoyed it, it was hard and time consuming.  I did not have much down time for myself.  Now, I can say that I have a whole new perspective of this profession and a whole new respect for the teachers already working.  

This job may be difficult, but it sure is rewarding.

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