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Section Two

Introduction

The second section of my portfolio includes four major topics: my work experiences, my

educational experiences, my classroom observations, and finally my philosophy of education. I

feel that these topics are of great importance in explaining both why I want to become a teacher,

and why I should become a teacher. This section will provide the reader with the opportunity to

learn more about myself and the work that I have done to get to this point in my educational

career.

Educational Experiences

Throughout my time as a student from kindergarten to postgraduate studies, I have had

many phenomenal teachers that have had positive and long-lasting effects on how I view myself

and education today. These educators are also ultimately one of the reasons I decided to become

a teacher in the first place. And while there were many amazing teachers from my past, there are

three that really stood out.

The first, was my sixth grade teacher. Sixth grade can be a very challenging time for

many children as it comes about in a time of their life that involves immense change, which is

why I feel that my experiences with this teacher were so important. Grade six was the grade

where we started to learn more about the various changes our bodies would be enduring over the

next few years. Because of this, the health curriculum would discuss many topics that would

require a certain amount of maturity from the students. My teacher handled the severity of this

topic by introducing it to us on the first day of school. She made it clear that for the entire year

she would be yelling out random words and body parts that had to do with that health unit, at any
and all hours throughout the school day in order for us to become more used to using them

without breaking out into a fit of laughing. Beyond her mission to helping us become more

mature during serious lessons, my teacher also showed us that it is okay to ask for help. That

year we had a very large number of students in a very small classroom, and thus we also had

quite a bit of troubling behaviours from some of the more outgoing students. At times their

outbursts would get out of hand and end up interrupting class time. Having used several different

techniques, our teacher was still having trouble keeping order in the classroom which was when

she finally took a few of the quieter and better behaving students aside and asked for their help.

She had asked us for our advice, and our help to show these students how disruptive they are

really being to the rest of us. Sometimes this would include us always asking to borrow their

things or continuously talking to them during silent work times. All in all, this experience

reminded me that teachers were people too, and that they can get overwhelmed and don’t always

know what to do in every situation. And that sometimes one of the best classroom management

techniques is working with you students rather than against them. In the end it only took one day

of us giving the other kids a “taste of their own medicine” for them to get upset and realize the

effects their antics were having on the rest of the class.

The second was my high school French and Italian teacher. During my last couple of

years in elementary school my French education was not as effective as the 13-year-old me had

wanted, which left me discouraged and carrying many negative feelings toward languages and

French in particular, especially when my final grades were what I had considered as subpar. So,

upon entering grade nine, I remember having arguments with my parents that because of my past

grades, I felt that I should enroll in the lower level French class rather than the upper, although

ultimately that did not happen. I remember my first day in my ninth grade French class being
filled with first slight nervousness and excitement, and then immediately following with sheer

panic, because I had learned that myself and other students from my elementary school were

lagging far behind our classmates from different schools in regards to our level of knowledge

and proficiency in the language. However, rather than my teacher telling us that we should drop

down to a lower level class, she confronted us and said that she would help us to catch up with

the others so we don’t fall behind. Where I had ended elementary school with a near failing

grade in French, by the end of grade nine, because of the extra care of my teacher I finished with

one of the highest marks in the class. Because of this success I had decided to take my teacher’s

Italian classes throughout the rest of my time in secondary school, making her my favourite

teacher during the rest of my time there. Many teachers would not have taken the challenge that

had been presented to her on our first day of class, but I believe she saw something in not only

me, but the rest of my classmates that told her that all we needed to succeed was a little bit of

time and encouragement. My time in her classes had such a positive effect on me that I ended up

taking both French and Italian throughout my entire undergraduate degree, which later resulted

in my minoring in Italian Language and Studies.

The third and final teacher that I felt had a huge effect on me, was actually not a school

teacher at all. She was my instructor for my Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross courses, that I

was required to take in order for me to become a lifeguard and swim instructor. These courses

involve immense amounts of swimming and strength as well as countless hours within a

classroom learning the theory behind all of the skills we were learning. However, no matter how

dull the material, this instructor always managed to make the classes fun and interesting. Part of

the course is that we must practice simulated injury-rescue scenarios, which more often than not

tended to be dull and tedious, except for when they were done with this instructor. I remember it
was our last class in one of the courses, and to celebrate she concocted a very elaborate and fun

rescue mission. She had put a large boat in the middle of the pool, and sent half of our class to

another room so she could speak to those of us who were playing victims. We all had a very

dramatic and convincing role to play, with various injuries and ailments that the rescuers would

have to recognize and treat. Once we had our assignments, she instructed us to get in the boat,

and as she turned the lights off she cued us to start rocking it until we all tipped into the pool.

Once the lights were on we all immediately fell into character. Throughout my many years

swimming lessons, and water safety courses, I had never had an instructor who created a

storyline for us. She had even brought in props so some of us could pretend we had severed

limbs, or if we needed fake blood. It was obvious that she loved what she did, and that she

understood how dry and boring a lot of the subject matter could become in such courses. And

this is something I so greatly admired, and even carry into when I’m teaching my own students

how to swim every summer.

Work Experience

As I had mentioned previously, I am a swim instructor, and have been for several years.

Being a swim instructor was actually what had led me to fall in love with being an educator, and

decide that I wanted to make it a lifelong career. Throughout the years I have taught many kids

from ages three to thirteen, from neuro-typical children, to children who battle autism, ADHD,

and more. Some students have been more challenging than others, which while at times it can be

frustrating, I find that it can also be enlightening. It would teach me that techniques that work

with some children, don’t work with others, which makes this job so important in my journey to

becoming a school teacher. I found that because being a swim instructor involves teaching only a
small amount of skills and techniques compared to being a school teacher, and that most if not all

of which tend to be physical, it forced me to become more patient and more creative in my

techniques, by learning how to breakdown these broad skills into smaller more manageable

chunks; a skill in which I believe requires a deeper understanding of the skill and curriculum, not

only in swimming but within the classroom as well.

Currently I am employed as a sales associate in a more often than not, very busy shoe

store. While on the surface this job may seem that it would not have any connections to

becoming an educator, I’ve found that after having worked there for over a year, I have gained

some very useful skills that I plan to bring with me into the classroom. This job can sometimes

require large amounts of patience from its employees, especially during busy seasons. Before

starting this job, I considered myself to be rather soft spoken, which I’ve learned can be very

dangerous in a retail job that requires constant interaction with customers, in both positive and

negative situations. However, I’ve found that having been at this job for a considerable amount

of time, its taught me to become more confident and authoritative in my actions, while also

teaching me how to remain calm and professional in hectic situations; which I feel will be

extremely useful in a classroom to maintain students’ attentions and keeping the lesson running

smoothly through any interruptions.

Throughout my first two semesters at Medaille, I was required to complete a set number

of field work hours, in which I was to observe and participate in elementary classroom, so I

could begin to get acquainted to the work. While I did spend time in junior age classrooms, I felt

that I spent a slightly more significant amount of time in primary classrooms, which I feel has

taught me a lot. In the younger grades, classroom management is incredibly important in order

for the school year to run smoothly. This experience I think has been very helpful to me in
learning about which techniques tend to work better than others, as well as helping me to realize

what kind of teacher I plan to be when it is time for me to have a classroom of my own.

School Observations

Throughout my time at Medaille I had the privilege of observing and interacting with

students and teachers within the classroom. I found that these observations allowed me to see

both the application and practicality of the methods, activities, and theories I had been learning

about in class. As well as providing insight on effective ways to combat various issues within the

classroom like disruptive student. The time I spent in these classrooms I feel helped me greatly

in learning more about the nature of students themselves, what it takes to be a positive teacher, as

well as some techniques and activities that weren’t as effective as they were intended to be.

My first field experience placement was in the Buffalo Prep program, which is offered to

excelling students to prepare them for private and secondary schools. While the majority of the

students were in seventh grade, I felt that my observations were still very helpful in learning

more about the teachers’ actions, words, and overall demeanor. I was able to observe the students

in two different subjects. English Language Arts, and Science.

I found that the students relatively enjoyed their science class. The teacher incorporated

fun and engaging activities while still relating them to the students’ real lives. It was during these

activities however, that the students tended to get slightly loud and off topic. When this

happened, the teacher’s natural reaction was to speak louder than the students in order to attempt

to regain attention, although I found that on occasion, this would only result in the noise in the

room getting louder. In regards to lessons, outside of the activities, the class was usually taught

lecture-style, with the teacher in the front of the room speaking to the students sat in rows in their
desks, however this would only amount to a minor portion of the lesson, as the activities usually

took up more time.

The students’ ELA class, I felt held a different atmosphere. The students all clearly

enjoyed this class as well, as did I and the rest of my classmates. The class would usually begin

with the students sat in rows, while the teacher began a short lecture exploring the topic or

central focus of the lesson, before allowing the students to break off into groups or pairs to

continue working on their essays. One thing I admired about this teacher was that she was never

phased by interruptions. She would simply allow the student to voice their thought, on occasion

she would offer her advice or opinion, before gently directing the students back to the lesson.

This teacher also pushed her students to think deeper, and make more meaningful connections in

their writing. She would often ask students to find connections in their writing to more mature

topics like race, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, etc. Thus, keeping the class

relevant and interesting to the students.

My second field experience placement was in a catholic school in Oshawa, Ontario which

is a small suburban city outside of Toronto. While at this school I had the opportunity to work

with four different teachers in their classrooms. The first teacher was Mme. G. Mme. G taught a

French immersion grade 1/2 split. Mme. G had the desks arranged into groups of 4, with a rug in

the middle of the room in front of the projection screen, as well as an extra table beside the far

window. There was student artwork on the walls, as well as a “word wall”, lists of French

vocabulary words, the daily agenda and a calendar. I had the privilege of working with Mme. G

both in the fall and the spring so I was able to see how the students progressed over time. I found

that in the fall, Mme. was speaking the majority in English, with the occasional French words

inserted in her explanations to the students. However, in the spring I found that the amount of
French used in her speaking had dramatically increased as the students’ proficiencies increased.

Mme. G often utilized group work and collaboration, as well as activity stations in her lessons.

One activity I found particularly interesting was her use of stations in helping the students to

grasp a math skill. This skill was broken down into different activities which would allow the

students to choose which station they would like to participate in with the opportunity to switch

stations to keep interest while still following the curriculum. I even found that in the execution of

these activities, the students knew exactly what to do and what was expected of them. They knew

where all of the supplies were, and knew exactly where to put them during clean-up, which I felt

showed immense planning from the teacher. Lastly, the one thing I liked most about how Mme.

G conducted her classroom was that her activities and lessons were in the majority, student

driven which I found could coincide with the theories of Maria Montessori.

The second teacher, Mrs. P taught third grade. While I was only in Mrs. P’s classroom for

a short time, I did notice that she did tend to use the lecture method of teaching. Mrs. P’s class

had the desks set up in rows with an aisle down the middle, with a rug in the far corner. One

lesson I was able to observe focused on grammar and punctuation. Students were all seated on

the rug with Mrs. P in front with a short story with punctuation and grammar errors written on

chart paper beside her. Mrs. P read aloud to the students, and then proceeded to ask students

what they thought about the story, and specifically what they thought about the writing. While

this lesson did involve group collaboration, I noticed that students were becoming more and

more unsettled and fidgety, which I found became more prominent when the students were asked

to return to their seats to fill in their agendas before the end of the day. At this time, I was asked

to sit with one or two students individually to ensure that they remained quiet, and on task. I felt

that the amount of order and structure Mrs. P expected of her students, as well as the anticipation
of the last bell, students become more and more unsettled, fidgety and talkative which was

hindering the students’ abilities to perform well on the task at hand.

The third teacher I had the pleasure of working with was Mrs. R, who taught a grade 2/3

split. Mrs. R’s classroom was set up with desks in groups of four or five, a rug in the middle, and

an extra table in the far corner. Because this was a split class, the students would often be

separated by grade during direct lessons and independent work. I observed that when Mrs. R was

teaching directly to a group of students in the same grade, the rest of the students were engaged

in group or individual work which was a continuation from a previous lesson. I found this

technique to be very interesting and effective as it ensures that all of the students are engaged

and on task either learning a new skill or practicing a skill they just learned.

Lastly, I spent a fair portion of my time at this school in Mrs. C’s kindergarten class. In

this class, students sat in groups of 4 at small round tables rather than desks. The classroom also

had a rug in the front centre of the room, a “chill out zone” with beanbags in a far corner and an

“office” for a student with and IEP/504 plan that consisted of a desk with cardboard on the front

and sides to act as barriers to help minimize distractions and external stimuli. I felt that the layout

of the classroom had a positive impact on the student’s day to day activities and learning as it

allowed for both group collaboration and independent work, that the students could complete in a

variety of places within the classroom. The kindergarten programs in Ontario had recently

switched from a half day, to a full day within the past few years. I personally feel that this can be

positive for students because it can help to prepare them for when they enter first grade.

However, I feel that this can also put strain on teachers and supporting educational staff, in

ensuring that the students remain engaged for such a long period of time. To help combat this

Ontario schools incorporate 2-3 recess periods per day where students from all grades can spend
15-30 minutes outside under staff supervision, thus leading the kindergarten students to be

limited to one outdoor recess time per day in the afternoon. I felt that by only allowing these

young students to burn off their energy for 15 minutes once a day, it tended to lead to them

becoming bored and disruptive within the classroom as the day progressed. I observed that the

limited recess time had a large effect on students who had IEP/504 plans, whom I found would

become increasingly more disruptive as the school day progressed. In the case of Mrs. C’s class,

there were a small handful of students who would consistently act out and disrupt their

classmates. As a result, Mrs. C also had the help of a teaching assistant, as well as myself to help

the class run more smoothly. Some techniques that Mrs. C employed to aid in these situations

were child-centred yoga videos that the students would watch and participate in daily, as well as

contests during their snack and lunch times, clean up times, and silent work activities. These

contests would usually consist of rewarding the group of students who remained quiet while

eating, the group who finished cleaning up first, or the group who played the quietest. I found

that in the vast majority these contests would work quite well, with the occasional exception of

some of the more energetic students. In the case of specific students that acted out often, Mrs. C

would utilize an individual point system with a behaviour chart, where students would be

rewarded with special privileges like iPad time if they showed positive behaviours within the

classroom.

Some activities and techniques I found very interesting in Mrs. C’s class was that in the

first few months of the school year, I order to allow her students to get to know each other better

she created the “student of the week”. Each week she would choose a student, and that student

would be required to create a poster about themselves with their parents that shared things about

themselves like their favourite food, what toys they liked to play with, etc. In addition, this
student would be granted special privileges like being able to pick which students were allowed

to for example, get ready for recess first. I felt that this technique was a great way to learn more

about the students, as well as celebrating each student individually in a positive and fun way.

Philosophy of Education

The School

In general, I believe that schools should be positive and encouraging places for students

to learn both from their teachers, as well as from each other, for them to become adults that can

contribute positively to society. In a school where the staff does not care about their jobs or their

students, there will be immense amounts of negativity, that children can very easily pick up on.

As we have seen in some of the more underdeveloped and impoverished neighborhoods, it can

be common for teachers and school administration to care less and less about their students. This

then exacerbates the problem, continuing the cycle of teachers and students caring less and less

about their educations. Therefore, I feel that the overall environment in a school is incredibly

important. Educational staff must act as role models to teach students that it is important to be

educated, and to work hard for the things that they want, to continue the legacy of producing

strong successful students.

The Curriculum

As educators, we are taught various ways to convey subject matter to our students, with

some being more effective than others. Gone are the days of lecturing in the classroom, as hands-

on approaches like games, activities, and tech tools are being utilized more and more to help

bring the curriculum standards to life for the students. However, even with all of this training, it

is still not always possible to find a method that works for every student in the class. Which is
why I firmly believe that it is incredibly important for teachers to work together with their

students to ensure that no one is left behind. Only the student will know what does and does not

work for them, and I feel that as a teacher it is my responsibility to check in with them so that I

can learn and adapt my techniques to better suit their needs.

Learning

The theorists I find to be the most meaningful for me are John Locke, Maria Montessori,

and Henry Giroux. Locke believes that students should be taught wisdom and values to become a

functioning member of society in the future (Bynum, 2016). Similar to Montessori, he advocates

for experimental and hands-on learning. Montessori believes that children should take control of

their education (Lillard & Mchugh, 2019). She believes that students learn best at the things that

they are interested in. Giroux takes a slightly different approach in that he believes teachers

should educate students on more diverse topics (Giroux & Penna, 1979). He believes that

teachers should be helping students become more aware of social issues so they will be able to

engage the media in important topics such as culture and politics. Overall, I feel that these

theorists will continue to impact me throughout my teaching career. I believe it shows growth

and change compared to how education was viewed in the past. According to philosophers like

Aristotle, Confucius, and Plato, education separated the higher from the lower class. It was

meant to educate children according to their place in society. To supplement my ideals of giving

students opportunities to take their learning into their own hands, I plan on providing students

with access to various forms of educational technology within the classroom. By doing this I feel

that it gives the students more power to find out how they learn best, while also having the

option to continue this learning at home on their computers. I hope that by employing these
techniques, each of my students, as well as myself, will be able to learn more about each other,

and the things we do and do not like to ensure that everyone reaches success.

The Learner

I believe that I would excel most in teaching students grades 4-6. These students are

among the oldest of elementary-aged students and therefore are more mature and able to

participate in more complex and interesting activities than would students in the primary grades.

With a background in psychology, I find that youth in these grades are at a critical time in their

lives where they are learning about themselves, and their places in the world, and so something I

am very passionate about it helping to guide others to become more responsible in the impact

they can leave on their peers. Students at this age can be very vulnerable and tend to need extra

care in ensuring that they remain on a healthy and positive path in life.

Assessment

Assessments are a necessary part of one’s educational journey, and so I feel that they can

be very important to gauge a student’s understanding of a topic. However, I do not believe in

using student assessments to evaluate teachers or schools. Completing a test or exam can be

extremely stressful for some students, and can result in scores that may not accurately represent a

student’s knowledge. Therefore, I feel that as teachers we must be aware of how we administer

tests as well as how often. One way I plan on being conscious of this is by finding different ways

to assess my students, that does not always involve a traditional test or exam. I believe that

formative assessments like class discussions and projects can be very effective ways to find out

how well students are grasping the content being taught.


Classroom Management

Having effective classroom management techniques is essential as a teacher. Not having

enough guidelines and rules in place can easily bring about chaos. However, having too many

could lead to the classroom feeling cold and uninviting, or it could result in students acting out

even more. I feel that it is important for teachers to work collaboratively with their students to

create a set of classroom rules, that everyone feels are fair and realistic, while also holding the

students accountable to follow the rules that they helped to create. I feel that one technique in

particular that is incredibly important to practice, is the act of being equitable rather than equal.

Being equitable shows students that we as educators are listening to them, and we understand

that every one of our students comes from different circumstances, rather than just using a “one

size fits all” mentality. I also feel that it is important to maintain a sense of class community and

openness. Students should not feel uncomfortable or unsafe in class, and so they should feel that

they can say something, without having it be dismissed, or ignored. Because in the end, a safe,

positive, and welcoming classroom provide students with the most successful environment to

learn in.

The Teacher

As a teacher, we spend roughly 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, and 180 days a year with

our students. And within those 6 hours each day, we are a role model for our students. We help

to mold them into our future generation of CEOs, doctors, educators, and politicians. And so

because of this, I feel that teachers must have experience beyond what they learned during their

teacher training program. I feel that teachers should have had experience working with children

of all ages, teachers should have an education that appropriately prepares them to teach the

different subject matter within the classroom, and teachers should have experience in working
collaboratively with other adults. I believe that to have a long-lasting and positive imprint on a

child, teachers should be able to look beyond the curriculum and educate students on how to be

positive roles models themselves. And to accomplish that, I feel that some important

characteristics for teachers to have are empathy, the ability to be flexible, organized, and

passionate. No matter how much we prepare, things don’t always go as planned, and so I think

that being able to adjust one’s plan to better fit a situation is a must-have for an educator. As

well, students are very impressionable, if they have a teacher who does not care about their

students or the content that they are teaching, children will model that, and begin to care less and

less about their educations. Therefore, I believe that to provide students with the most positive

educational experience, teachers must have passion. They must believe in what they are doing

and in what they are teaching, to show students that having an education is important.

Resume

I believe that a resume is the first impression of yourself that you provide to a potential

employer, thus one’s resume should accurately portray their skills and experiences in a

professional manner. Below I have attached a copy of my resume, which I feel will give future

employers a glimpse into my qualifications and skills that I can bring into the workforce, and

specifically into the classroom.


Conclusion

I hope that throughout your time reading this section you will have been able to learn a

bit more about who I am as a person and who I plan to be as a teacher. I believe that all of my

past experiences have led to me learning more about myself and showed me that I can truly make

working in the field of education a lifelong career.