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My Wacky and Wonderful Education Experience

Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to visit a grade 3 classroom at Agnes
Davidson School in Lethbridge. It is a classroom that my TA described as wacky and
wonderful in her introductory email- wacky and wonderful it was. I have learned to connect to
students on a personal level. The opportunities I have been given in this placement go above and
beyond anything I could have imagined. I was allowed to run the morning meetings which are
important for getting the day started, I organized an Easter scavenger hunt that the kids seemed
to have a lot of fun with, and I was able to teach the kids some fun, new gym games. On top of
everything else I have learned many things that are important to being a good and successful
teacher, I have learned that I might have some characteristics that could make me a good teacher,
and I have learned that I still have a few things that I should work on. My wacky and wonderful
education experience is something that I will never forget. The things that I have learned will
stick with me as I continue on my educational journey.
One of the most important things that I have come to notice throughout my practicum
experience over the last few months is just how multi-sided teaching is. Obviously, having been
a student who went through the system, I did not think that teaching was just a stand in front of
the room affair, but I genuinely did not recognize how many different components there are to
teaching. This practicum, though, has shown me more. I now recognize that teaching is a
combination of things. A wide variety of skills, both natural and learned, are essential for being
a successful teacher. Teaching, to me, is patience, confidence, and time management, forward
thinking, and being a good role model.
Furthermore, teaching is a combination of skill sets that, in my opinion, are pulled from
other professions. Over the course of the semester I have seen my TA do things that have helped
me realize the wide variety of things that make up teaching. I have seen her act as a peace
keeper in the sense that she has worked to prevent or end any conflicts between her students. On
one of my first days she moved hooks around because the two people who had been placed
beside each other were fighting. I have also seen my TA act as a counsellor when students are
upset. This was made clear when I watched her talk a student out of being upset after PE,
managing to convince him to go to music. Teachers also serve as event planners. My TA planned
for a science workshop to come into her class months ahead of time. Planning is an essential part
of teaching. Teachers also serve as a liaison through which parents or guardians can maintain an
understanding of what is going on in the school. I have also seen that teaching sometimes can
involve being a bit of a guinea pig for system changes, as was demonstrated with the SLAs that
were implemented at the grade three level in 2014. I also think that oftentimes teaching can be
about being a buddy for some of the students. They are so excited to always share stories and
things they have created, and I think it is important for a teacher to express excitement as well.
Lastly, teachers are volunteers, my TA organized a science fair and was responsible for ensuring

everything ran smoothly, my Ed. 2500 professor volunteered to be a judge at the heritage fair.
My TA has also volunteered her time picking things up for the class, like the Easter eggs we
needed for our scavenger hunt. Teaching is not a black-and-white profession, and so it becomes
hard to define. However, I would define it, based on the things I have seen throughout this
practicum, as a profession that involves the passing of knowledge from one person to another,
requiring a vast array of skills and personality traits which enhance the leaners ability to
succeed.
All of the roles and attributes that I have observed in my TA will help make be a better
teacher. As I wrote about in my first reflection, I had a Social Studies teacher in high school, SC,
who really made me feel welcome and understood. As a result, I want to be the kind of teacher
who my students can turn to for anything. I think everyone has had teachers in the past who
maybe do not come across as welcoming or understanding. For me to achieve this, I think it is
important that I create a classroom that is quite laid back with a mutual teacher-student
understanding of what the expectations are. I certainly do not want an out of control classroom,
but I also do not want an authoritarian one. It will be a classroom built on mutual respect. I really
liked the description that Craig gave us of his classroom policy. Students can sit wherever they
want, but they know that he has a say if things get out of hand. Homework deadlines are lenient.
Overall, it sounds similar to something that I hope to establish when I become a real teacher.
I also hope to be a teacher who can get students excited about the material. I do not want
my students to feel as though they are in a classroom where they are expected to sit and listen. I
think that in order to get my students excited I will need to really involve them in what we
discuss. I also do not think that Social Studies is a discipline where sitting and listening is
sufficient. The classroom our class visited at Chinook High School was a Social Studies heaven.
I really liked it because it was a highly visual environment, but my favorite part was that the
desks were laid out in a design that would allow the class to debate certain things. As a
classroom where students learn about topics ranging from government, political ideologies,
dictators, to ship breaking in Bangladesh, I think it is important to have genuine discussions. I
believe that students will never be able to construct their own views of the world if they are not
given opportunities to defend their positions on certain issues. The layout of the Chinook
classroom resonated with me because I think it exemplified the type of classroom that I would
like to create.
If I end up teaching a younger grade level, debate might not be as big of a tool that I can
use. However, I support the idea of student-based learning at all age levels. Im not going to ask
kindergarten kids to debate the Keystone XL Pipeline, but I could ask them to find out something
about the months of the year, and ask them to compare their favorite months. From what I have
seen, many classrooms are moving toward a student-oriented approach. My TA has demonstrated
her support for student-based learning several times. One example that really stood out for me
was their Fantastic Mr. Fox assignment, where she gave them multiple options in terms of
what assignments they could do, and they could pick whatever they wanted. They could make a

video of themselves reading, a puppet show, and some even created a rap. When I was watching
the students I could see that they were having a great time with the assignment. I would really
like to recreate such an atmosphere in any future classroom that I create.
Aside from things that I think will make a great classroom, I think I also have some
characteristics that will make me a good teacher. I have always had a love for learning. I think
that as a teacher there will always be something to learn, whether that will be new material or
new teaching methods. I think that as a teacher it is important to want to be in the classroom. I
once met a teacher who told me that she was counting down until retirement, though I did not
ask why. I think that my love of learning and being in the classroom will be something that will
sustain me through all of the high points or low points that I may encounter during my career.
Also, I get very excited about things. All things related to history, political science and
anthropology really spark something inside that interest me. Such passion would be reflected in
my teaching. That being said, I really enjoy learning other things as well. I re-learned a lot of
interesting things about rocks during one of the science classes in my practicum. Beyond all that,
I think I am a nice person. I like seeing other people succeed and I like to help people. I have a
sense of humor which, though pretty bad, can make things fun. I also think I am good at
understanding things that other people are going through, which might help me form a good
relationship with my students. Over the course of this semester I have really tried to connect with
the students in my practicum class. One day I was bored on Netflix and started watching Dr.
Who because I thought it would make a good point of conversation with one of the kids in my
class who is obsessed with it. Lastly, I try to stay organized, which is an essential part of any
profession.
While I know many things that I think will make me a better teacher, there are a few
things that I have learned throughout my practicum that I did not know before. Prior to the
practicum I had this vision of myself as a high school or junior high teacher, and I had never
really considered teaching in an elementary school as an option because I thought I would not
like it. I have done other practicums in elementary schools and really enjoyed them, but this
experience was different. The classroom I am currently in is one that my TA described as wacky
and wonderful, and its environment has taught me much more about myself as a teacher. I have
been able to get much more involved with the students that I had in previous experiences. I have
come to develop an understanding of who they are as people, and I have had a chance to see
some of the challenges associated with teaching in an elementary school. In short, elementary is
much more interesting, challenging, and rewarding than I had previously imagined. If I were to
end up in an elementary classroom, I would be very happy with that placement.
I also did not know that as a teacher, perfection is not something that will ever likely
happen. University has conditioned me into becoming a person who really wants to achieve
perfection, because perfection is an A+. However, I have come to see that things that do not
always go so well in the education field are beneficial because they allow room for improvement.
I have had the chance to run morning meetings, and organized an Easter scavenger hunt in this

practicum. While I was doing the meetings and the scavenger hunt all I could think about was
how wrong things were going. The first morning meeting was really hard because I was nervous.
In the scavenger hunt some of the eggs had been mixed up and it was causing some of the
students to become confused. However, as my TA told me at the time, things were not bad at all.
Looking back I can see some things that went well, and some things that could be improved. To
me, all the difficulties serve to do is make next time better. I can take those things and grow.
Of all of the things that I have seen and done, I think trying to break such a mindset has been one
of the most challenging things, and by doing so it has really opened my eyes to teaching as a
profession. My TA told me that the field trip they did to the Galt Museum did not work very well
for this class because it was a lot of looking and not a lot of doing. She told me that sometimes
there is no way to know until you try.
I have also learned that, as an educator, I should never underestimate the abilities of the
student. I feel a little bit guilty to admit that I had, particularly in the beginning, underestimated
them. The first instance was where I was helping a student with one of his assignments and I was
not quite sure exactly how to help him, so I tried to simplify it. He told me that he knew what he
was doing. He basically told me to back off, which is totally OK because it marked a point after
which I really began to understand that helping does not mean basically revealing the answers. A
similar experience happened to me after one of the TAs placement ended, and I was working on
a math test with the student she normally worked with. I had assumed beforehand that I would
need to really spoon feed him through the test because I knew that he had certain difficulties.
However, all of the answers he provided were his own, and most of them were correct. Without
this practicum I never would have known this about myself, nor would I be able to stop doing it.
This practicum has also given me plenty of examples in terms of areas I can improve.
First is my composure. My composure problems have been demonstrated in my group lesson, the
Microteach, and the first morning meeting that I did. In the group lesson and the first morning
meeting, there were things that happened that caused me to become flustered. In the group
lesson, we had some technology issues at the beginning which threw me off because I just felt
that things were not going according to plan. I got flustered in the first morning meeting because
I had written the actual date on the board, rather than the word date and one of the students
called me out for it. It threw me off because I know how important the morning meetings are and
I felt as though I was doing it wrong. Conversely, in the Microteach I was, I think, overexcited to
teach my group about Stalins death, and so my composure failed a bit in that regard. Composure
is important because it ensures that things run smoothly. In the Microteach I forgot to state the
outcome of the lesson and ask what my group members found interesting about him because of
my loss of composure.
As a teacher one of the biggest challenges I will face is planning. It became clear to me
just how important planning is to a teacher when my TA told me that she had to submit a rough
draft of her lesson plans for the entire year in September. I am also aware that at the high school
level some courses have so many curriculum requirements that planning and time management

will be even more important. Planning is essential because it ensures that everything runs
smoothly and efficiently. In fact, looking ahead, I think that planning is something that I am
going to find quite challenging. Up until now, the biggest thing that I have ever had to plan is a
vacation. All of my schedules are generated for me by someone else or a computer and as a result
I have never really had much experience with planning something as detailed as a lesson. It is
hard to judge how long things will take, for example, and so it might become a bit of a struggle
for me. Planning issues, particularly with regard to time, were clear during the group teach and in
the Microteach. I am sure that with time and practice I will become better at planning. I have
only had a few chances to try it so far!
Another area that I want to improve is my ability to think ahead. I think I have really
been good at reflecting on things, as my TA and my professor have told me but there have been a
few instances where thinking ahead would have really helped me. The educational issues
presentation is one example. Overall I think it went very well but there are a few things that I
think we could have planned better. All of us had taken for granted that the technology and the
links would work, that the group members would be comfortable enough to move around during
the presentation, and that time would run in our favor. But while most things worked well, there
were a few just in case situations I think we could have worked on. I think that being able to
think about the possible directions things may go would be an asset in the sense that I can create
backup plans in case something does not go according to plan. I think I started to do this during
my Microteach by adding a component that could be used or removed depending on time, but I
think that overall this is an area that I should continue to work on. I think being able to visualize
effectively is as important as being able to reflect effectively, because both provide opportunities
for improvement. Related to this, I think I need to continue to work on the understanding that
things will not be flawless.
Another challenge that I will face as a teacher is turning the curriculum goals into
learning. Over the course of the semester I have seen so many creative ways that people have
taught certain things. My TA has very engaging and creative lessons. My group members had
really cool lessons during their Microteach. The chopstick lesson was particularly fun. I do not
consider myself to be overly creative so I think it could be a challenge for me to create fun and
engaging lessons that meet curriculum expectations. That being said, at the 2500 level this may
not be the biggest concern, but looking towards my PSI, which is hopefully in the fall, it is
something I could start to think about.
As I mentioned during the reflection relating to my mid-term formative, one area that I
want to work on is my non-verbal language. This practicum has shown me that teaching can be
quite a physically tiring exercise, and as many people have told me before, when I am tired, it
shows. My smile disappears, though that does not necessarily mean I am unhappy, and some
people have noted that I can seem unapproachable. It may seem small, but to me this is an
important thing to work on because, as I mentioned earlier, I really want to build an environment
in which I am 100% approachable and welcoming.

I also think that one important thing that I am going to need to remember is who I am
teaching for. Sure, teachers collect a paycheck, but it takes a special type of person to be a good
teacher. There is so much commitment in the education profession that is rewarded in ways that
go beyond money. Sometimes I can get caught up in whether or not things are going well for ME
and I forget what it is all about. Being a good teacher is more than that. I went to the Valentines
Day party at my school and one of the kids came up to me and asked Mr. Williams, you came
here just for us? There is a reason I did not forget that question. It highlighted the fact that
sometimes just being there means a lot to some of the students, and I hope that as a real teacher
with lots of stress and expectations that I never forget the reasons why I chose to become a
teacher in the first place or who I am there for.
My dream teaching position would be teaching in a big city Junior or Senior High School
in a classroom that is solely dedicated to Social Studies. I would also love the chance to teach
French because it is my minor. Ideally I would want a class with 15-20 students because I do not
think it would be too big, but at the same time there would be enough students to hold
meaningful debates about things. Class size, though, is out of my hands. I would also like a
position where I can get involved in things like cultural/heritage fairs, UN clubs, or a French
club. At my high school there was a teacher who organized all of the Europe/Asia trips, and I
think one day when I have experience I think I would like to be the person who gets to organize
such trips. The memories they create are truly unforgettable, and I think that as a Social Studies
teacher, the chance to explore the world would be perfect.
Five years from now I am really not sure where I will be. Part of me wants to get out and
explore the world. I could take a position in some picturesque European village teaching English
or something like that. One of my friends took a position in Thailand three years ago and has
never come back. I would really like some sort of opportunity to go on an adventure for an
extended period of time so I can immerse myself in another culture and experience a different
life. The other part of me just wants to get real, enter the workforce, and start my career.
However, if budget cuts continue I do not know whether there will be a job for me in Alberta. So,
in five years I will either be experiencing this awesome world, or travelling across this gigantic
country accepting a job where I can find one. It is really hard to say!