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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Education
May 26, 2016

Canadian Excellence

A Year in the Life: TEC Blog

May 2010: The Tassel's Worth the Hassle!

Advice for the last two weeks of school:

∑ Find out who on staff does coffee runs during the day.

∑ Strategically spread out your assessments so youíre not marking everything at once.

∑ Pack some snacks you can eat at your desk in case you donít make it down to the lunch room.

∑ If youíre visible, youíre on duty.

∑ Donít assign anything during the last week of school.

∑ Nutrition break = extra help

∑ Planning time = lunch

∑ Talk to the supply teachers at your school to get an idea of what youíre life will be†like once you graduate.

Let me elaborate on some of those points. I had to start a new math unit during the last week of practicum, which was cool. The new unit was algebra and I had taught it during practicum 2 with grade 6. So, I assumed that the grade 8s would think that my first review lesson was easy. Wrong.

* Note to self: just because students have learned something before, that doesnít mean that they still remember it.

I had planned on two review classes before I got into the first new concept. I ended up extending it for the whole week.

I guess I forgot that itís been a year since they were last taught algebra and it takes a little while to get back into the swing of things. I also thanked my luckey stars that I reviewed my grade 6 lessons before I started this unit because a funny thing happened to me. I was about 3 lessons into algebra and I thought, "Wow, this lesson is going really well. The students really seem to be getting it." Then I figured out why. When I finished my lesson and said, "Now open your textbook to pageÖ" a student raises her hand and says, "We already covered this."

I laughed slashed panicked. I tried thinking of funny similes to the situation in order to buy myself some time until I figured out what to teach next. It turns out that everything I had planned from that point forward was already taught with a previous teacher who had retired earlier that year. Fortunately, I had printed off some of the lessons I taught in practicum 2 to grade 6 students, which totally saved me. I had enough in my binder to get me through the lesson, but honestly, it could have been ugly. I had felt relatively safe knowing that all of my lessons were saved on my laptop, which I brought to school every day. However, if I hadnít had the lessons already printed in my binder, chaos could have ensued. Okay, so a few more trees will need to die in order for me to survive. I can live with that.

What other pearls of wisdom can I give you? Future TECs, make sure that you donít assign anything major during the last week of your practicum. For starters, you will be busy marking everything that was due the previous week. Secondly, youíll notice that a lot of students are either off sick or take vacation, which means that you need to find a way to get them caught up. This is one thing I think every intermediate teacher struggles with Ė catch-up time. I think I worked every break (that I didn't have duty on) to get tests and assignments caught up with absent students. While kids do use class time for this, it just gets them even further behind. For me, I had two assignments due on the last Monday. Needless to say, there were students handing me assignments Friday morning Ė the last Friday morning Ė to mark before leaving. I stayed late to get all of the marks handed in, but some TECs chose to mark at home over the weekend. Both are fine, but it was nice to have the weekend off. Plus, the year-end formal was that night and how could I enjoy myself knowing that I had to wake up to marking?

While the weekend was nice, I didnít feel "finished" until our last class at Laurier on the following Tuesday. The day started off with a chicken pox scare. No, Iíve never had them! Some kids I had been in contact with had broken out in spots the week before and I woke up Tuesday morning with spots. I was able to squeeze in a doctorís appointment that morning and was "cleared" of chicken pox and rushed back to Laurier to finish the day. It wasnít until the very end of the day that I was finished! I immediately started dreaming about spending all of Wednesday in my pajamas. Yes, I was sad to say good bye everyone, but darn it, I was ready for a day off.

What does the future hold? I am scheduled back at my placement school for some follow-up volunteer days, Iím volunteering at WRDSB elementary track and field meet, Iím taking an additional qualification (AQ) course, Iím participating in an extended placement learning opportunity, Iím on the emergency supply list and I just applied to teach at literacy camp. And you thought I was done! No, a new life is just beginning; the learning never ends. With that said, I currently feel like Iím on vacation. Yahoo!

In the end, I would like to say congrats to everyone whoís finished and good luck to those who have yet to begin. Itís an intense year, with many highs and a few challenges along the way, but especially if you hope to work in the Waterloo-Region, itís the best head start you can give yourself.

Also, thank you to the professors for your expertise and guidance along the way. The Laurier support staff is fantastic and so efficient. My placement school was an amazingly supportive and friendly place to spend my year and Iím grateful to everyone for being so welcoming. Last but not least, my fellow TECs, thanks for the memories: early morning Timís runs, late night work sessions, back-of-the-class comedy, and for keeping my spirits high when my energy was low. Youíre the best!

Öoh, and Section D rocks!

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