Jade Bloom, a graduate student in the teacher education program and soon-to-be French teacher, was offered a teaching position during her student teaching experience! We spoke with Jade about how NU prepared her to land her dream job and she offered advice for future student teachers.
College of Education: Jade, congratulations on receiving a job offer during your student teaching semester! Where did you complete your first student teaching placement during the teacher education program here at NU?
Jade Bloom: For my first placement, I had the opportunity to teach at Branksome Hall. It’s an all-girls private IB school located in Toronto. I taught grades 7 and 8 extended French, which is an advanced French class.
COE: What did you do to distinguish yourself as an exceptional teacher during your first student teaching placement?
JB: During my first student teaching placement, I made sure to get involved in as much as possible inside and outside of the classroom. In the classroom, I offered to do things such as grading, lesson planning, and sittings (which were kind of like one-on-one tutoring sessions offered before school, after school or during lunch once a week) from day one. I also attended the school play, offered to help out with a couple of clubs, and assisted staff in administration!
COE: What have been your greatest successes in the classroom? Can you attribute any of these successes to skills or practices you learned during your program at NU?
JB: My greatest successes in the classroom have been creating lessons that engage students and staying organized! It is essential to make sure that students remained engaged throughout the lesson because it is the best to way to ensure that they learn the material. If students are bored, they lose focus; however, if they are having fun, they learn without even realizing it! I can definitely attribute this success to the pedagogical skills and abilities I developed at Niagara, especially in my Methods class! I have always been an organized person, but my time at Niagara definitely helped me expand and perfect that skill. When you’re managing several different classes and courses all at once, you need to be organized. I always had my photocopies and lessons made in advance and tested out the technology before class started. Being organized is essential when it comes to teaching!
COE: In what ways has your first student teaching placement challenged you? How has Niagara’s teacher education program prepared you to overcome the challenges that you have faced while in your first classroom experience?
JB: The only challenge I faced during my first student teaching placement was timing. I have never had an issue getting things done by a specific due date or staying on task while doing work. However, during student teaching, I always felt like there were not enough hours in the day to get everything done! Niagara’s teacher education program definitely prepared me to overcome this challenge. I can’t even imagine how stressed I would have been if I hadn’t had the support from faculty and supervisors in the program and learned everything I had in my courses at Niagara. When lesson planning and working on my edTPA, I was able to quickly refer to the theories and methods I learned in the courses I took. Having access to my notes, my mentors and the knowledge I gained during the program made it possible to successfully accomplish everything in a timely manner. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been to student teach and work on my certification without the preparation and support I received from Niagara’s teacher education program.
COE: You’ve conducted research and led a workshop on incorporating cooperative learning into the classroom. In what ways have you already begun to implement cooperative learning in your student teaching placements and what have you discovered about the strengths of this approach?
JB: I implemented cooperative learning into my student teaching experience whenever I could because I know how beneficial it can be for students! For example, when reading a text, I had the students get into groups and each take on a different task, while working together towards the same goal. This type of activity helps students gain a sense of accountability and develop relationships with their peers. Though the activities take time to prepare (it’s not just about creating the activity – you need to create “ideal” groups, too) and the classroom sometimes gets quite noisy as the students work, benefits like better student engagement and fostering a supportive environment far outweigh any challenges! I definitely think incorporating cooperative and collaborative learning experiences into the classroom can create authentic and effective learning experiences for students!
COE: What advice would you give to teacher education candidates who have not yet begun student teaching?
JB: I have a few pieces of advice for a teacher education candidate about to start student teaching…
- Be open to learning from your CT (cooperating teacher): He or she knows the students well and has likely been teaching for a while. Although your teaching styles may differ, be open to learning from him or her. There is no doubt that I’ll be a better teacher because of the things I learned from my CT!
- Make yourself known in the school: Being a teacher is much more than teaching a couple of classes. Take the time to meet the teachers and administrators and get involved in the school community!
- Start working on your edTPA ASAP: Student teaching is a lot of work but don’t put the edTPA on the back burner. Make sure you set deadlines and work hard to meet them so that you don’t fall behind.