I strongly believe in the importance of pre-internship, field experiences, and internship placements. They provide a true, living experience of the career and expectations we are about to take on. In my first semester of Education, ECS 100 to be exact, I was already placed in a school for half a day, once a week, to dip my toes into what it will be like to be a teacher. There are very few programs available out there that allow for hands-on-experience at such primary stage in the degree. From this experience, I believe one of the main reasons for field experiences is for student teachers to identify whether or not this profession is made for them or not, instead of waiting until fourth year internship when they find out they absolutely hate it. Fortunately, the field experiences have confirmed my passion for teaching, and I love it more and more every time I enter a new classroom. Another purposes these placements represent is the ability for student teachers to learn from other educators; whether it be teaching strategies, classroom management techniques, copies of resources, and so on. I was able to learn so much from my previous cooperating teacher, and anticipate the experiences I am about to have with my pre-internship and internship co-ops. A huge reminder when discussing what we learn from other teachers is to remember that we can also observe what not to do. Not one teacher plans, teaches, or marks the same way, so we take all suggestions and criticism with a grain of salt and have the opportunity to choose what ideas we want to take into our own teaching. Most importantly, I appreciate the interactions and additions to our professional learning networks we are able to make by getting to know many other educators around Regina and Saskatchewan. Nothing is more comforting than knowing you have colleagues you can fall back on if you ever need any support or guidance during our internship and first few years of teaching.
Teacher education programs are useful in the sense of hearing about different teaching strategies, how to deal with racism and bullying, practice making lesson plans, teaching to our peers, and providing those field experiences for us to practice these approaches. I find the actual lectures to be very repetitive in the sense of always discussing the same controversial topics, realizing they are important, but I wish we were taught how to go about confronting these issues opposed to realizing they exist. I also wish some courses would provide resources or opportunities to explore various grade levels in the curriculum as I have generally only been able to work in the Grade 10 Mathematics area. For the most part the textbook resources are beneficial and are something we can take with us in the future. But I definitely feel I learn the most about teaching once I am exposed to the real life experience through field placements.
There are a few commitments and beliefs that I have about becoming a mathematics teacher that I look forward to implementing during my pre-internship/internship experiences and do not feel they will change. I believe there is a need to incorporate as much student involvement as possible; no child will be engaged in any subject where the teacher stands at the front of the room, dictates notes and examples, then they go to work. I have recently been introduced to inquiry based teaching, which is difficulty and timely to plan, but the learning experience is extremely authentic and engaging. If this is overwhelming still, even as far as ensuring to call upon all students while doing examples on the board can maintain their attention longer, knowing that the teacher values their ideas too. A commitment I want to maintain is returning assignments and exams the next period, just as I expect their work to be completed on time. There is nothing worse than a teacher who takes off late marks for each day an assignment is late, but will then take weeks to return it to them with their feedback. Lastly, I believe math should not be kept as a memorize-regurgitate-repeat type course. I want to keep math fresh, relatable, and continually available for students to make their own personal connections with. There are an endless amount of transferable skills in mathematics that relate to the world around us, so why not ignite this prior knowledge in our students and allow them to be successful in their own way? Building strong, responsible relationships with our students is essential as well, and I am confident to say that none of these beliefs or commitments about being a mathematics teacher will change during my field experiences.