On Tuesday morning I went to the elementary to get my first experience at a school. I was pretty nervous so I woke up extra early to get ready. I ended up being at the school earlier than my placement teacher – and I was locked outside for a little bit. The first staff member I met was the principal, who let me in the building. I was surprised by how warm and welcoming he was. I’m not sure why but I was expecting him to be sort of aloof, which, looking back doesn’t make sense because his job is to be a people person. He was very easy to make conversation with, and he guided my partner and myself to the teacher’s lounge to wait for our teacher – Jordan.
While we were there we met the Vice Principal and then Jordan came in. He gave us a tour of the school and the resources that they had and we got to meet some of the other staff as well. We met the custodian and one of the grade 6 teachers. One of the first indicators of a healthy teaching community that I noticed in the school was that Jordan said if we had any questions about teaching middle years children, we should ask her. That got me thinking about the different talents that each teacher brings to the education program. In a teaching community, recognizing and utilizing those are of utmost importance otherwise the school system would be lesser. The idea of sharing abilities and resources became a reoccurring theme throughout the day. It was my biggest takeaway from the community aspect of the school. Without this, there would be no extra-curricular activities because their school is low-funded and can’t afford to bring people in. For example, the school shares a nutritionist, speech therapist, band teacher, guidance counsellor and librarian with other districts.
Even in the classroom between Jordan and the teacher’s assistant (Mr. T) has to work together to manage the kids in the classroom. Some of the children have behavioural setbacks and so the assistant has the privilege to work with them one-on-one and give them the attention that Jordan alone can’t provide. There was another teacher who came into work one-on-one with some students – we didn’t have the chance to meet her formally yet. They all communicate with one another and the parents at home. That was the last piece of the community (besides the children who are the benefactors of the community and the imputers as well). Some parents invest in the school but what I found interesting was how the schools invested into the parents for the good of the kids. They provided breakfasts and lunches when parents cannot, they provide donation bins for parents who can’t afford food items and they try to help parents learn how to support their kids in learning.
When Clayton (my partner) and I came in, we immediately got to be a part of that teamwork and had the opportunity to work with students in small groups or individually on math and reading. I loved being a part of the flow so much! It came so naturally and each kid was so interesting to talk to, watching them think and learn things that I helped with was so rewarding. All of this made my first day in the teaching community a really positive experience.