“Boys and girls,” I sigh as I try to get a group of 9 and 10 year olds to pay attention to the giant angry stick figure I’ve drawn on the board “eyes up here, please!”
But it’s no use. It is five minutes ‘til recess, and despite my best efforts, these kids have zero interest in examining the complexities that surround the psychology of anger and body language.
“What am I doing?” I think to myself. “Why did I ever think I could do this? If I can’t even keep a class engaged while recapping the plot of Inside Out how am I ever going teach the irregular conjugations of –ER verbs?”
Luckily, in the mists of my mini existential crisis, the classroom teacher has taken control; the students settle down, I wrap up my lesson, the bell rings, and everyone eagerly runs out to get ready for recess.
Defeated, I start packing up my things and thanking the teacher for her help. To my surprise she replies: “No worries, you are doing a great job. This is quite a rowdy class but they are really enjoying your program. You’re going to be a great teacher.”
I smile and thank her again. I admit that I still have a lot to learn before I take on a classroom on my own. “Well this is the best way to learn,” she tells me, “The more time you spend in front of the class the better. This is when you can mess up or make mistakes because someone’s got your back. You’ll never be perfect, but if you treat each teaching placement as a learning experience you will be much better off once you start working in the real world.”
This got me thinking…
So obviously mistakes are an inevitable part of life. They come in the forms of bad dates, broken limbs, fights with friends, and yes, embarrassment in front of elementary school students. And I think it is fair to say that when you are starting off in any career you will be making mistakes left, right, and center (except for maybe if you are a brain surgeon then let’s hope you get it right the first time).
Now in the BEd program you must complete classroom placements as part of your degree. The purpose of these placements is to give you the hands on experience that is oh so necessary if you want to be a teacher. (You could study every pedagogic theory ever written but that won’t help you when you are stuck with a bunch of restless tweens on a Monday morning.)
You may have heard however, that the BEd program at Glendon has recently changed to fit the new Ontario requirements and therefore teaching candidates (such as myself) don’t start their official classroom placements until fifth year.
If you are anything like me this may sound disheartening. I mean when I applied to the Concurrent Education program I hoped that I would be in front of a class ASAP.
Luckily I managed to cheat the system and get me a weekly teaching placement starting right in my first year. How you may ask? Well considering we are such good friends, I am willing to share my secret with you! So listen up!
Introducing the Glendon Chapter of Peace by PEACE.
Now I’m gonna let you click that link to get all the details about this wonderful program (bonus points if you can find my face) but in a nutshell Peace by PEACE is paraprofessional club (meaning it’s focused on skill building rather than being purely social) that trains groups of University students to teach an 11-week program focused on conflict management and community building to students in grades 4-6 (again that is a pared down description so I highly recommend you check out the website for all the details.) At the Glendon Chapter, we train our volunteers teach in either English or en français depending on their preference.
Joining Peace by PEACE has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my undergrad thus far and has taught me more than I would have ever guessed which is why I figured (seeing as we are friends…) that I would share with you:
3 REASONS WHY EVERY STUDENT WHO HAS EVEN SOME SMALL INTEREST OF MAYBE ONE DAY BECOMING TEACHER OR SOMETHING ALONG THOSE LINES SHOULD JOIN PEACE BY PEACE
1. We are established
Peace by PEACE is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. It has grown from a one-day workshop to a fully developed 11-week program. We are a tri-campus organization with chapters both at Glendon and Keele as well at UofT’s St George Campus. (We try to tolerate those UofT folks!) Our Board of Directors, which consists of professionals from all walks of life (teachers, principals, superintendents, lawyers, accountants, and more) insures the integrity of what we are doing. The TDSB and York University’s Faculty of Education recognize us as a legitimate organization. (Now that is some serious respect!) All of this is to say that when you walk into a school as a Peace by PEACE volunteer you are taken seriously. Unlike volunteering at a school independently where you are at the beck and call of the classroom teacher (a.k.a. spending the day at the photocopier.) Peace by PEACE’s credibility allows you more independence to actually teach a curriculum from beginning to end.
2. You are able to learn and grow as a teacher in a safe environment
Peace by PEACE volunteers teach in groups of 3-5. This is helpful for a few reasons: a. You have less material to cover and prepare for each week; b. You will always have someone to lean on, ask for help, or bounce ideas off; and c. You will feel less nervous knowing that you are taking the class on as a team. Not to mention that you will always be teaching under the supervision of a classroom teacher who will be your best friend throughout your placement. (see above story for example)
3. Anyone can join!
Whether you are in the ConEd program or not, you can take on a placement with Peace by PEACE. So if you have any interest of being a teacher or working with children in general (particularly if you are a psych student because a lot of the curriculum is focused on managing emotions and mental health) I highly highly recommend you give Peace by PEACE a try.
Get more information about Peace by PEACE and other on-campus organizations by visiting our Spring Open House on March 5th: RSVP here!
Life is full of mess-ups. What’s great about University is it provides you opportunities to learn and grow from your mess-ups as long as you are willing to take them. (and make them…the mess-ups, I mean !) So I challenge you to join any club or team or organization that will fuel your growth (I’ve already given my recommendation.) I promise it will be worth your while and you will thank me later.
À la prochaine,