Tag Archive | Internship

The Fourth-Year Ego

Lately, I’ve developed into a keen people watcher and observer of the human condition. Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but I’ve definitely become more aware of my surroundings, especially my social surroundings. Experiencing internship, where I was transplanted into a real school for four months, then transplanted back into university with many aspiring teachers, has been a bit of a contrast. My people watching began in internship–learning to emulate teachers, figuring out what traits I wanted to develop within myself based on certain teachers, and figuring out what traits I didn’t want to develop–and has continued back into university. I’m especially keen on observing the phenomenon that I deem “The Fourth-Year Ego.” Before this sounds like I’m going to complain about “egos,” I should remind everyone on Sigmund Freud’s definition of an ego where he suggests that the ego is what helps us to define reality, helping us make sense of our world. I’m not going to use it exactly as Freud did, but I do want to highlight that the ego I’m talking about has a lot of positive use.

For starters, a Fourth Year Ego (FYE) is the self-confidence and perceived knowledge/experience acquisition of post-interns. FYE is particularly helpful when reflecting. My FYE is huge. I’ve got a big ego about my beliefs, what I think will work in my future classrooms, what I think won’t work in my future classrooms, my opinions on assessment and evaluation, my beliefs about personal PD, and so on. Basically, FYE is the manifestation of the beliefs system that we’ve been developing over the last three and a half years in the Faculty of Education. Actually, my beliefs system probably started developing the day I told my parents I wanted to be a teacher (so about 15 years ago?). FYE is rooted in passionate beliefs, which is key to understanding how and when to make use of it.

Having a FYE is key in engaging in conversations and reflections. It helps ground us with some experience and strong morals regarding education. It’s a powerful tool. It helps us speak confidently and honestly in job interviews, it leads to great reflections, fantastic conversations, and inspired projects. It lets us dream about our utopian classrooms. It lets us debate and converse on a whole new level that wouldn’t have been possible before internship.

Now, a FYE is a double-edged sword. It does cause a few problems. Firstly, strong opinions all trapped in one room can be, well, a little intimidating. As in any environment, opinions can be taken personally, things can get heated, and people get frustrated. Recipe for disaster, I’d say. I’ve been in many situations where I’ve felt uncomfortable or unable to express my opinion for fear of being shot down. Because people are so passionate about their beliefs, they will defend what they perceive to be right. Sometimes that defense does get personal. Sometimes it does create conflict. Sometimes things don’t end in harmony.

Sometimes, FYEs may result in a bit of head-butting. Flickr photo credit to Steve Courson.

So far, the most deadly case of FYE is when combined with a lack of motivation. This manifests itself as an attitude of “I’m right, so why do I have to be here.” There’s no arguing with that. It’s impossible. It would be a “Hunger-Games-esque” dual — a fight to the death. I’m not about to do that!

So I guess I really am looking to make sense of all this. I know I’ve got a pretty strong FYE, to say the least. It comes in quite handy when I want to reflect. I’ve had the opportunity to watch it develop, evolve, and grow over the last few months by perusing through my blog entries. It came in really handy when I wanted to explore flipped classrooms, and it is coming in even handier now that I working through the viability of “normal” assessment (blog post coming soon) for my Moral Ed class. I know that I’ve been on both ends of the heated debates in class, and I’ve also been one of the people sitting and watching a debate unfold, terrified to jump in.

So what am I getting at? It’s all a matter of perception and regulation. As for perception, it’s hard to do, but I need to remember that everyone has a FYE. These people aredeeply passionate about all things education. They may come across as a bit abrasive or aggressive, but only because they are fighting for what they believe in. As for regulation, this is my job. I need to remember that I have to check my FYE at the door some days and just be a student. Some days, I need to bring it in full force. Like everyone, I need to use my FYE for good, not evil. This would imply respectful debating, thoughtful reflection, and careful contemplation. It’s easy to get aggressive and jaded — it’s like our armor when we are defending our beliefs systems.

I’m always reminded of one last tidbit: Keep an open mind. I preach life-long learning (part of the beliefs system that my FYE defends), and learning from others is one way of doing that. A good, healthy discussion can yield a lot of useful information, if nothing other than helping you to question, confirm, and extend your thinking.

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E-Advisership: Great on So Many Levels

At WestCAST, I had the pleasure of presenting about my internship with my faculty adviser. Why? My faculty adviser designed a new framework for advisership. The best way to explain this is by giving you a run down of our presentation.

It started off with Kathy explaining her plan and how it fit into the U of R. She wanted to enhance the engagement of the faculty adviser and build a stronger relationship with their interns. The basic set up we had was that she would visit me once or twice in person (as per a usual faculty adviser set up), and a few times I would either Skype her directly into my class or record a lesson and send it to her. However, the modification was that before each time she came to visit/watch, we had about a week lead up of planning, reflecting, fixing, and improving. We would set up a time about week before, then a few days later, I would send her my initial lesson plan. She would send it back to me a few days later, and we would have a Skype meeting talking about the highlights and the things I needed to improve upon. She would then watch/visit and we could post-conference about how the lesson went, how the changes did or didn’t work, etc. It definitely lead to deeper conversations and greater learning on my behalf.

For my portion of the presentation, I got to speak to the benefits and drawbacks of the E-Adviser Model. To save time (and avoid rehashing the twenty minutes), I’ll give a quick summary below.

Skype

  • It was very good to have 1 on 1 pre-conference conversations prior to teaching a lesson
  • It worked great to get in touch with other interns
    • More diverse feedback
    • Good to see how others are doing (not stranded on my own “island” wondering if everyone else was doing what I was doing)
  • I used it on the iPad 2 to Skype Kathy into a lesson, which enabled me to literally take Kathy with me wherever I went. Ultimately, she was more connected and observed the conversations better than had she been there in person.

Electronic PDP

  • This referred to the emails and Skyping back and forth prior to and after a lesson.
  • The feedback on lesson plans was constructive.
  • It enabled both pro-active and retroactive feedback. A typical Faculty Adviser Model (FAM) only allows for retro-active feeback on a lesson.
  • Emailing opened up the conversation/pre-conference on Skype. It was less about me telling her what I was planning and more about getting feedback on what she thought worked/didn’t work in my lesson plan.
  • Having another set of eyes reviewing my plans made me a better planner, which doesn’t typically happen within a typical FAM.

Flip Video

  • Kathy provided each of her interns a Flip Video Camera to use during internship.
  • Initially, it was very intimidating; however, forcing myself to watch the video before I edited it down and sent it off to her was very useful for my own professional growth. It was like getting double the feedback.
  • It forced deeper analysis of my teaching since we both got to watch me teach.

Top Ten Reasons Why  E-Advisership Is a Good Idea

  • I had all the support of a typical FAM — I knew Kathy would come in person if I needed her too.
  • It built a community of learners within the interns she was advising for.
  • It enabled deeper conversations and reflection.
  • Both sides (both Kathy and I) saw what each other was seeing/thinking.
  • I had a closer and better relationship with Kathy because we were so connected. I knew she had a lot to offer, so I was able to get as much of that knowledge as I possible could.
  • Because of the timelines and the constant connection, it forced me to be more accountable and more prepared (no “night-before-at-2-am” lesson plans)
  • It enabled me to have better reflection on my own planning.
  • It enabled me to have better reflection on my own teaching.
  • It opened up the conversation with my cooperating teacher as well.
  • It helped me to become more excited about using technology within my classroom, and pushed me to build my own PLN through twitter, this blog, and beyond.

Downsides

  • The interns need to have a good internet connection
  • All the software needs to be installed and up-to-date
  • Each intern needs to be sold on the idea of the E-Advisorship or it won’t work out as well as it could

Overall, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I am ever so grateful to Kathy, and I certainly hope that I can incorporate some of the the professional development we did into my future classroom teaching.