17 months ago I successfully defended my thesis. Shortly afterwards, I sought a new role. I also felt, in a way, that I had earned one. No work change happened … Continue reading My Plan
On December 17, after many noon-hour and after-school practices, the Prince Arthur Drama Club performed at the school Holiday Concert. Their performance was magical. But Wow, preparing for and helping with and putting on a holiday concert was exhausting! That day, Thursday, I arrived at school at 7:30 a.m. and, except for an hour to run home and change, left school at 9:00 p.m., (and it was not report card time). Somewhere, earlier that week, driving up to the school in the dark morning hours, in spite of starting the day tired, I knew that I loved being this busy. I really love this journey.
The next day, Friday, December 18, was my last day of internship, and my last day as a ‘student.’ At 3:15 p.m. I officially had my B. Ed. I was ‘teacher’…
I remember being very worn out my first day of internship, partly because the day before I had written a six- hour final, spewing out answers that went against everything I believe. I had spent my summer planning, planning and dreaming! I dreamt up fun science and ELA units for my Grade Eights. I was ready. I was excited. And… I was nervous. Maybe nervousness was caused a bit because my co-op was only there that first day, and away on family obligations the rest of the first week. – Ahh!
But my “Ahh,” was not needed – my co-op, Angus, turned out to be a gift from the internship co-op gods, and the sub who covered for my co-op, a good friend, said, “Cori, this is gonna be good. Trust yourself. And do what you do best.”
Later that first week, an email arrived from Angus:
“You can get as far as you want. They can work at their own pace. If you want to read, by all means, read to them. (and boy did I)
How did the day go? Who is the sub?
Having a great time so far! The class is going to HATE ME when they see the fitness test I learned today! (And loved the fitness test they did, begged for it, both PE classes!)
Prince Arthur Community School is the same school where I had done my EPS 100 placement 5 years earlier. At that time, I had remarked that the experience, the kids, and my then coop had given me a “phenomenal beginning to my teaching journey.” On my first day, all those years ago, a boy remarked, “You look happy to be here.” Fast forward five years to internship and that same student returned to PA to say Hi. And, what do you know, I was still happy. And turns out, after my four months of internship, I even developed a Middle Years attitude. 🙂
Farewell Song from the Middle Years teachers, Dec 18, 2009:
There’s Donna and Dan and Warren and Sandra,
Trina, Angus, Linda and Amada,
But we will always recall…
The most enthusiastic teacher of all…
Cori, the awesome intern,
Had a very special way,
And if you ever worked with her,
You’d see she brightens up every day,
All of the 3rd floor teachers,
We will really miss her so,
Especially poor Angus,
He will hate to see her go!
Till one day, we hope real soon,
The boss will come to say,
Cori with your teaching so great,
Here’s a job in Grade 8.
Now all of the kids they love you,
You made learning so much fun,
We would like to thank you,
For all the things that you have done!!!
Prince Arthur felt like home. I loved teaching full time. However, during the subsequent days when I was required to return big chunks of classes to my co-op, I felt uneasy. I loathed not being busy. After three half-days of not being completely busy, I found other classrooms and other groups of kids to keep me busy – and there was the CONCERT!
However, I also understand that the discomfort of leaving is an integral part of internship. During my first pre-internship at Balcarres Community School in 2008, a student remarked, “You don’t lie, do you Miss?” I looked at him, and replied, “No.” He looked at me, this grade ten student; he looked at me on that, my last day, and read right through the fallacy of the situation, “Well, you’re doing it right now.” And he was right. I loved him. And in the loving there must be a promise to stay loving him, and at least, to allow the leaving to be his, not mine. The conflict lay in my behavior and in the certainty of my leaving. The truth was I could not really support him, really. I was leaving. Was my love a lie too? I’ve never forgotten the way he called bullshit on the ridiculousness of internship…
The unease of internship is, perhaps, a necessity. I need to know, if life has not taught me already, how to step away with a sense of grace, but, ahh, it’s not fair. And, you know, I agree with that wise young man from Balcarres, it’s not fair to the individuals who allow me to share their space. Trust should not feel this way.
I’ll not only miss my kids, I’ll miss my staff, miss my home. We all knew I was leaving, but what answers are there for questions such as: “Ms. Saas, next term, can we do a musical?” and, “I’ll see you in Girls Group…”
From my kids, posted with their permission:
“Teachers who believe in you, and make you feel better about yourself and always know what to say, and when to say it and someone who can relate to kids the way you can, are the teachers I’ll remember forever. Because NO ONE has EVER inspired me like you have. You have helped so much, and you probably don’t even know it. You didn’t feel like a teacher to me. You felt like a friend.”
“I wanted you to know that I’m grateful for your hard work in helping me to grow. For your constant understanding and for always being there, to tell me I can do it and to show me that you care!
Thank you for your encouragement and understanding this year. YOU HAVE BEEN THE BEST.
You do more than just teach… “
I learned a lot too. Think about this: eight short months ago, I sat in the computer lab in the U of R and claimed the only thing I knew about computers was how to word-process and send emails (without attachments). Now, I speak some of the same tech language as my students, I find this really funny! (Got a fancy new phone the first day after internship so I can follow my co-op’s tweets about the Epic Eights, being connected is great!). Heck, I was in Chapters a week ago, a professor from Brandon stopped me and said she has been enjoying following our classroom blog, has been sharing it with her student-teachers! Wild! Think about this: 5 ½ years ago I fell to my knees in tears at learning I’d been re-admitted to the Education Program at the U of R after years of health issues.
The Epic Eights, as my grade eights coined themselves, were amazing! They made every moment of my internship great. I remember so many specific things. I remember one student saying to me, “Hey Ms. Saas, you’ve never sent me to the office!” “Hey Ms. Saas, yours is the only class I didn’t fail.” I hugged my kids a lot. I laughed with my kids a lot. I laughed at myself, in front of my kids, a lot. I shared with my kids, a lot. I was honest with my kids, all the time. I loved my kids, and they knew it. They felt it. They will remember it.
The second last week of classes, I was gone for the day, and Angus and the kids got busy and made farewell videos for me. That final day, after gifts and cards, and after lunch and much puddling (Ms. Saas crying), I perched up on the counter to watch the videos. I laughed really hard, I cried really hard, and I’ve never been more proud. Wow, have these kids had an effect on me! My goodness I love my Epic Eights.
Sabrina S made me read this aloud. She said I could post it to my blog. She said she wanted to see my reaction. Other students kept handing me tissues…
Ms. Saas’s Poem by Sabrina S.
There once was a teacher
By the name of Ms. Saas
She is the greatest teacher, ever
Who has a great class
She is protective and strong,
With a mind of her own
We all admire her,
She belongs on a throne.
But now she is leaving,
And we shall miss her.
She made a huge difference,
Because she is a great teacher
There one was teacher
By the name of Ms. Saas.
She will be forever missed,
By her wonderful Epic Eight class.
So at 3:20 Angus handed me a card, “Congratulations on your Outstanding Internship!” “Cori, I’ve nominated you for the top internship award.” I cried and cried. Now the Great Distinction felt right; there were kids involved.
And so you may be asking, when the dust settled, what mark did I give myself, what mark did the kids give me?
Driving some of the team home after our final Drama practice on the 14th, I asked, “OK, Ladies, I’m done in four days, what more could I do to be a better teacher?”
“Miss Saas, you’re good enough, good enough!”
I laughed, “OK, OK, but Meg, you play on teams, you know we’re always practicing wanting to improve, what more could I do to be a better teacher?”
From the back seat, “I’ve got this Meg! You paint, right Miss Saas?”
Meg, jumping back in, “Oh, you read my thoughts; like when you’re painting and you know when it’s good enough, and you have to step away. There!”
Again from the back seat, “Yes, any more and all that love would slip away. Now, it’s good enough.”
More than my final internship IPP, my final B.Ed. report card ~ G ~ good enough.
These days, every time I begin a post I end up saving it to my drafts. Why? Cause I’m tap-dancing. There’s really no other way to say it. I wish I wasn’t but it’s the truth. How am I supposed to be transparent? When it comes down to it, what I am as a teacher is the three descriptives I used as a salutation in a ranting email to a friend in Regina last Friday: I’m a student-teacher, I’m a friend, and I’m a freak, and bloody heck, I’m really really OK with all that!
See, here is the conflict… early September as the teaching philosophy began to really be tested… meaning, no more pretty hypothetical lesson plans and thesis length unit plans for the University of This-is-Perfect. It’s the real world my friendly-bloggers and even though you may have shared with me a million times how the education milieu comes home to roost, nothing can make it real like kids, real kids, in real situations! OK, so that’s not new, but it’s always new to me, even for this mom of 12 1/2 years.
Oh, the September thing, yah… well, way back as I was learning my way, my mom, with whom I often share about my kids, my day, my world, who is a retired administrator, who gained her fierce Dragon Lady, no shit-reputation for always putting kids first, shared that there are two kinds of teachers, those who are “documenting for dismissal and those who are celebrating success.” See, I only want to be transparent, and I feel I cannot because I’m not under contract… ….
But I’ve not been away these last few months. No, so what’s been happening? Using the line of one of the best RAP facilitators around, I’ve been becoming Irrationally Crazy about kids. I’m great at relationships, I’m a friend to my kids and I listen well. I swoop kids up into my arms whether or not they’re in grade one, grade eight, or just out of Dojack. I’m on their team, in their corner, and they know it! I’ll never forget the feeling of school wholeness that I had during pre-internship when another teacher said to me, “Hey, as long as he’s successful, run with it!” I know I’m incredibly thankful to my coop who puts kids first, always. I know cause not a week goes by where some of his former students don’t drop by for a visit – that’s a powerful kind of success, I’d say.
That’s where I’ve been, interning. Learning. Trusting. Solidifying. Believing. Listening. Laughing. Mostly, oh, mostly, celebrating. And, too, beginning….
The first few weeks of teaching were rough. I made fine connections with the kids, but what would be deemed as ‘my classroom management’ wasn’t happening for me. I was so very confused. I’ve never struggled with management before. I went to my internship seminar and was reminded about how much is expect from me. I shared with my Middle Years peers my fears and they too could not understand me struggling in this area. Heck, my coop was worried. I was worried. Inside I wondered if the dream of teaching and learning alongside kids was possible, ‘Give up, go be a social worker.’ But the internship seminar also reminded me to relax… that weekend I went home and my mom gave me the Keys to the Kingdom.
“Cori, you know how to deal with Jessy Lee right?”
“You know how to handle her friends, right?”
“Are you ever hesitant or nervous when you’re parenting?” I looked sideways at my mom and breathed in very deeply.
That was it.
I can’t be two different people. The trying to separate has never worked for me. I am just no good at pretending. And the kids picked up on it. I went back the next day and walked into the classroom as cori. The kids and I breathed a sigh of relief and I’ve not looked back. After my first lesson I asked Angus what he thought, he remarked, “You were totally different, ya, ya, I don’t know what you did…”
They are all my kids 🙂 And now, phew, we are happily sharing stories, giving hugs, and laughing together…
This week has been a heck of a week of lasts, my last on-campus university class, my last undergrad stroll through the green. But then, these last four years have also been a heck of a bunch of moments of firsts.
Thursday, for the first time, I went to my school to set up for the start of classes. I walked out in near panic because I didn‘t have a reading corner in my classroom! How can I possibly teach well without a reading corner in my classroom. The students will never learn!
Ok, I’m not completely nuts, I know there are six more desks yet to arrive and the room is already full … and NO to my daughter’s suggestion, “it could always go in that side storage room.”
Dilemma? Not for the reading corner, but for the lack of preparedness by me. I was feeling first day of class stress. I was feeling internship stress…
Another question: Do I bring my hundreds and hundreds of middle years novels to this class and then take them home with me when I leave in December? “Hey, Miss S, can read I The Breadwinner over the winter break?” “Heck no child, give me that book, I’m outta here!” Oh, give me a break! Monday I’ll work something out with my coop.
But The Panic Remained People… Life line number three – “Regis, I’d like to ‘phone a friend!” (Her name is Tanya, and she helped lots.)
Last year during her internship, she didn’t have time for the guilts or the glitz , she was too busy with students with exceptionalities, extra curricular and, oh yes, 31 kids crammed into a teeny room. Her reading corner consisted of a table-top station, and Writers and Readers Workshop still went wonderfully. Her bulletin board was so high she had to get a step ladder and a janitor and then move computers to reach it. She was too busy to fill her room with guilts or glitz and the kids were having too much fun to care.
So what did Tan and I talk about Thursday night … well, water actually. We chatted about the commodification of water, Aboriginal water rights, the Alberta tar sands and collaborating on a version of “one million acts of green.”
You know this note started out about events of firsts in the last four years, but blogging, for me, always turns into something else, it turns into tomorrows, not yesterdays.
So, here’s to Tuesday, August 25, 2009 my first day… And that’s really cool.