I am in my fourth year of university, and have completed both my pre-internship and internship. The professional experience I currently hold draws from two different categories, my pre/early experiences in university and my pre-internship/internship. The two sections are below.

Pre-Internship and Internship

My experiences in both pre-internship and internship were invaluable in relation to my growth as a teacher. I have learned more than I could have possibly fathomed before beginning. I pre-interned at Michael A. Riffel high school and interned at F.W. Johnson Collegiate. As the former is a Catholic school and the latter is apart of the public section, I experienced two vastly different educational climates.

I would like to begin my summary by stating that the most important lesson I learned was the idea of “fair does not mean equal”. This idea seems paradoxical at first glance, but gains more credence the further you delve into it. To explain it simply, if you gave 10 students the exact same test and graded them all equally, that is a EQUAL way to do it. However, you may not be taking into account that 2/10 of the students do not speak English as their first language. As well, 3/10 of the students have to work part time jobs after school, and therefore cannot study as much. This is why the idea that being FAIR is a very important factor in education. It may simply be IMPOSSIBLE for students to complete the same test with the same proficiency. While grading itself is done equally, the prospect of being fair comes more into play with homework.

This idea of “fair does not mean equal” is extremely important because it helps you keep a “person first” mentality. You have to think about the individual students when crafting an assignment, instead of thinking of the assignment first. This prospect gave me a grand new perspective on education in it’s totality, and it is one I carry with me into any new classroom I approach.

Furthermore, I learned many small lessons that add up into changing how I view myself as a teacher and they are too many to list here. Therefore, I would like you, my dear reader, to walk away with the idea of “fair does not mean equal”, as it was one that I had to think a lot about before accepting as truth.

Early/Pre-university professional experience:

What I have learned as a swim instructor

I started my job as a swim instructor when I was in grade 10. It took 3 courses: AWSI (assistant water safety instructor), WSI (water safety instructor), and my Red Cross First-aid training. Only after completing all three was I certified to become a swim instructor. Quickly I discovered that I had a passion for teaching, but not a passion for swimming. I loved teaching the kids but I did not what I was teaching them. I taught children from ages 2-14 so I had a very diverse level of interaction with different age groups. I found that the older the children were, the better that we got along. I mostly attribute this to my desire of wanting to treat my students like equals. It became easier to do the closer they got to my age. This realization has steered me to become enrolled in secondary education.

After a few months of doing my job, I learned how to discipline the children. I began to figure out what punishments fit which crimes, as the bosses at the pool mostly leave the teacher to come to their own conclusion when it comes to punishments. This is a skill I am thankful to have learned early on in my life because it has given me the insight to determine proper penance for the severity of a crime. Furthermore, I have obtained the eyes to differentiate crocodile tears from real tears. This is a vital skill for classroom management as it tells you whether or not students have really learned their lesson.

Lastly, working at the pool taught me patience. I understand that every student learns at a different rate and that no two students are the same. Patience is key when trying to navigate through a sea of learning styles, focus levels and discipline. This lesson does not stop at the students however, it also encompasses the parents as well. While teaching as a swim instructor, the parents are free to sit on the pool deck so they can watch their kids learning how to swim. This makes it very frustrating when parents think they are the real professionals, and not the person they are paying to teach their kids. I know this will extend into the real classroom, therefore I am thankful to already comprehend that the only way to deal with frustrated parents is through patience.

What I have learned in ECS 100

In the fall semester of 2015 I was enrolled in ECS 110, which was mostly theory and just basic classroom work. ECS 100 is where real teacher knowledge is bestowed on the students. There are three different “classes” you go to while in ECS 100: a lecture, a seminar and a field placement. The lecture was on Tuesday nights from 7:00-8:50 and it mostly consisted of practical knowledge for the classroom and fundamental concepts that are to be expanded upon in future ECS courses. The seminar was on Wednesdays from 7:30-8:20 and it was a time to reflect on our experiences in the field placement. I would love to tell you I learned a lot from the lectures and seminars, but truthfully they were just to compliment the field placement.

The field placement was a whole different creature than the other two “classes”. I was placed at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic school (pictures are on the sidebar), in a grade 5 class with a lovely teacher named Suzanne Louttit. Strangely enough, I was one of the few ECS 100 students that was placed at a school by myself! I actually relish in the opportunity to prove myself whilst not having to worry about anyone else, so it worked out perfectly. I would arrive at 8:40 and stay until just after 12:00. In the 7 weeks that I worked alongside Mrs. Louttit, I learned a lot about teaching and myself.

First and foremost, I was greatly concerned about being a non-religious person at a Catholic school. Thankfully it was not an issue at all, in fact, none of the children even inquired about me being Catholic. By being surrounded by the Catholic faith and its teachings, I learned far more than I had previously known. For example I was flabbergasted to discover that the children do confession right at the school! I learned about some of the saints that they worship and of course, about Jesus Christ’s life.

Religious studies aside, I learned very practical knowledge in my practicum. I saw how kids react to them bullying each other, how kids react when they are forced to participate in class, what happens when you accidentally insult a child’s culture, what motivates students and modern teaching theories. To say it was an educational experience would be both humorous and an understatement. While in the class, I participated in teaching the children about math, history, social studies, English, physical education and the Japanese language. Well I only taught them how to count to ten, then gave them the ability to count to 100 (picture of the worksheet in the sidebar).

The main thing I’ve taken away from ECS 100 is professionalism, surface level educational theories, punctuality and what it takes to be a good teacher. My educational philosophy has been born in this class, and will continue to grow throughout the rest of my career. If you are interested in reading more about my educational philosophy, feel free to click on the “Educational Philosophy” link at the top.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my professional experience! If you ever have any questions about anything, feel free to drop me an email at garrett-bates@hotmail.ca.

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