Education, News

Practicum In a Turbulent Time

Over the past eight weeks of my practicum I have seen myself grow within my field. I have used the theoretical knowledge that I was taught in school with my students within my last practicum. One of the biggest helping tools that were given to me were my books from school. I remember telling one of my classmates in September that I will be selling my books after I complete this program. However, I have found myself going back to several of my books for answers when I struggle upon a situation. One of the books that helped me the most was, “Becoming A Master Student” by Dave Ellis. This book is remarkable. In my second practicum I was at war with myself; I was agitated and stressed out to the point that it limited me in my bonding with my students. I came across the “Becoming A Master Student” by accident. I automatically pulled out the book and started reading the section under “is it just me who feels stressed out?”. In it I learned many great insights. After reading several pages of the book I felt like a refreshing breeze had just swept through me. I felt energized and I started to take control over my life again. I kept referring to the book and found more significant information relating to my circumstances. Prior to finding out the new insights I was stressed and fatigued to the point that I was not effective with my students. However, I slowly noticed myself bonding with the students I was working with because I could clearly see and observe them. I started to become very positive in my approach which enabled me to become very creative, persistent and energetic in my work. I started to create visual tools for one of my students in order for him to follow my directions without having to repeating myself — this method turned out to be a great success.

The only thing that I had a disadvantage in within my practicum aside from being stressed out at the time was that my time with my students was very short. The cut back was due to the teachers’ strike and some of the holidays that fell within my practicum calendar. All together I missed a week of my practicum experiences, three strike days, one pro-d day and one holiday. The strike was not only stressful for the teachers but it affected me as well. I could not get the daily feedback that I wanted, the teacher that I worked along side with was very busy and focused on her own materials, this created a communication gap between us. Furthermore, the teacher was not able to communicate with my monitor in giving me feedback on what I could work on and what were my strengths. During her lunchtime she would be picketing and after school she had little time to prepare her lessons for the next day. I tried to help her out in any way that I could but she liked things her own way.

Reflecting back on the situation it all reminded me of the time when I was in high school and how I was affected as a student by the teachers strike in Oct 2005. Once again, my learning experience was affected but not completely hindered by this strike.  Of course I am with the teachers and support them for fighting for the public’s education and I do not agree with how the government is handling the issue. I find it unprofessional how the government continues to bring the image of the teachers down by advertising that teachers want more money. The government has no obsequiousness for the law as they ignored the Supreme Court’s ruling that ordered the province to pay $2 million in damages for stripping teachers of their collective bargaining rights. When I was still in high school I thought the teachers wanted more money as well because that was how it had always been advertised. But when I entered the school setting from the other side that is when I witnessed how hard teachers work and how unfair it is for the students with exceptionalities for not having the support they need and deserve. That is when I truly realized that teachers are fighting for a good cause. They are fighting for kids who do not have a voice to stand up against the government. If these children do not get the support today, the government will pay a bigger price in the future for their injustice and ignorance. 

Though I was affected by the teachers strike I did not let it get in my way of learning, improving and growing in the short period of time I had with the students. In general, Stenberg College has prepared me well to enter the workforce with knowledge, strength and confidence to succeed in my profession. Being in this field does not just mean that one has to have the passion to support others, although that is a key tool. The select individual should learn and have all the tackles to support his/her students so they become successful and independent functioning adults of our society. The challenges and obstacles I went through within my school and my practicum experiences have certainly made me a better Educational Assistant. As Lucius Seneca once said “Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body”. 


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