Things I Learned in Teacher’s College
Things I Learned in Teacher’s College
By Evelyn Chiu
For most, the mere nine months of a typical teaching program seems to fly by. At the end of it, you wonder how all that learning took place in such a short period of time. Yet the ride was exhilarating and you are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead. For me, obtaining my Bachelor of Education degree was a time for reflection and growth. After switching careers (like several other students in my program), it was nice to be able to start fresh in something that I believe is my true calling.
Your time at school will be essential to your teaching life. From my personal experience, I believe the most important part of your teaching program is to do well in your practicum placement. Of course the readings, essays, and assignments will help build the foundation for your learning as a teacher; however, the real life interactions with students is what will transform you into an informed and reflective practitioner. This will be the time to prove your talents, let your creativity shine, and allow you to demonstrate your capabilities as a teaching professional. Keep in mind, at any time, a principal or administrator could observe you teaching a class and if you do a good job at proving yourself a capable teacher, you may be able to find a job much easier once you graduate. Even if a principal does not get to see you teach, a great reference letter from your Mentor/Associate Teacher will also serve you well.
Doing well in your placement may not necessarily be a one-man (or woman) show. As mentioned in my first blog post for TEACH, part of being a teacher requires many hours spent planning, and preparing for units and lessons everyday. As a teacher, especially a new one, you probably want to come up with the most creative and unique lessons ever taught and sometimes get so caught up in perfecting every part of that one lesson that you end up scrambling to finish everything in time for class. As much as you probably want to be the all-star teacher, sometimes you need to consider the resources already out there for you and learn to collaborate with your colleagues. Working with people you already know (from your program, for example) is a great start since you probably are comfortable with them already. Conveniently, the Internet is our most precious resource these days. But don’t forget about the library or other teachers within the school community. Many times, they’ve probably already facilitated the same unit as you so all you need to do is tweak it to fit your classroom students’ needs. People you collaborate with may also bring new insights to the things you are working on. Plus, sharing the workload may leave you some time for that much needed work-life balance.
Reaching out to and collaborating with others brings along another advantage. It allows you to begin networking within the industry and your school community. When studying in a teaching program, you will be kept up to date regarding the latest conferences, seminars and workshops. Attend them if you can! You may not realize this, but the schools boards are actually not that ‘big’. You may be surprised at how many people actually know one another. When you build positive relationships with the people around you, you will be remembered and recognized when a job opportunity comes up. So, always have a smiling face, love teaching students, and genuinely care about improving your own learning to help further support the children we teach. The key is to get your name out there and let others know that you can do a good job and will work hard. Be creative and don’t just think about networking inside one school. Get involved with the board(s) you want to work at or schools you hope to teach at. You never know what opportunities may arise!
What are some of the lessons you learned while in Teacher’s College?
Evelyn Chiu is a Canadian teacher, entrepreneur and explorer. Although new to the profession, she has always had her heart set on helping people, especially young children. She recently taught in South Korea and is now employed by a local Toronto school board.