Courtney Langton

Courtney is an aspiring high school teacher. Her teachables are History and English, but she's happy to teach anything that doesn't involve numbers or formulas. Her particular interest is in promoting gender equity and anti-oppression both in and outside the classroom. She writes a detailed To-Do list every morning, and enjoys nothing more than a good book and a plate of bacon on a rainy Saturday.

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan's primary interest is moral education. His teachable subjects are English and Music. He encourages critical thinking and hopes to teach his students to recognize, and strive for, what is truly important to them without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way. He likes making analogies and his favourite is one that compares life to jumping on a trampoline.

LINKS: Blogger
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Coffee, Calculations and Colombia!
Progressively Unnecessary
TeacHer Finance
It's Not All Flowers and Sausages
So You Want To Teach?
Classroom Confessions
Teach Hub
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Blogging the Renaissance

ARCHIVES: June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 March 2010

Practicum Wrap-up
Saturday, October 31, 2009

We're really REALLY sorry, by the way, about our lack of posting. Personally, my computer had been eaten alive by a virus for the past few days and I know that Courtney has a comical 5-hour commute. Not that that excuses us (or me at least) but such is life.

But anyhow! I am safely ensconced in my room at Kingston and I just thought I'd let the blogging world know that I'm alive. Overall, the practicum experience was pretty good. It did involve a ridiculous amount of work and I think that is a large part of the reason why teachers get so irked by students who don't pay attention in class. It's like, "I worked for hours on end to design this lesson in an interesting, clear and relevant fashion - you had damn well better pay attention!"

One thing I learn, though, was that the students really do appreciate the hard work you put into your lessons. They don't seem like they do, but I think in the end, they do appreciate what you do. One of the most important rules of being a teacher (I think) is to always remember that no matter what students say about how bored they are or how much "this sucks," they never mean it personally. As teachers, there's a tendency to take it as an attack against you, but I started to realize that it rarely is - especially if they're the kind of students that gripe about everything. And from what I've heard from all the other teacher candidates at my school, most of our students didn't want us to leave. That, in my opinion, is a HUGE compliment.

I had a chance to speak to a substitute teacher during my prac. She told me that she's been a substitute teacher all her life because she's actively chosen not to pursue teaching as a full time career (in the sense of being one teacher at one school). And she said one of the most interesting things about being a substitute teacher is that you always get a chance to gauge your performance based on your students' reaction to your departure. As a full time teacher, your students are the ones who leave you at the end of the year. As a substitute teacher, you leave your students. I never thought about it that way before, but it's an interesting viewpoint, I think.

Finally, I thought I'd leave you all off with a version of what I said to my grade 12 philosophy class on my last day. We had been studying the chapter on ethics. And I summed up my block with this:

I want to say something about “morality,” as it stands, before I head back to Queen’s.

Up until a few years ago, I wasn’t exactly sure about what the difference was between morality and ethics. I mean, like you guys, I recognized that there was a difference – but I didn’t quite know in what way.

We all kinda agree that ethics refers to “right vs. wrong” or “good vs. bad,” right? And Kant created this third qualification that had to do with leading a “good life”. And then we get into the whole issue of what a “good life” means. To some people, it means to experience a great amount of pleasure. To some people, it means living by great principles – Gandhi for instance, we would say led a good life… hardly pleasurable but he DID good.

And so, I realized something during my years at university about the nature of morality or what it means to have or demonstrate moral strength. And to some extent, morality DOES overlap with ethics. There are certain ethical principles that we might consider universally important. But more than that, I realized that moral strength isn’t just about doing “the right thing” as it is defined universally; it also has to do with recognizing what’s important to you… and this might change depending on who you are, but at the end of the day, we all need something to stand for.

University has taught me that the saying, “if you don't stand for something or you will fall for anything” is true in a lot of ways. And if you take nothing else away from my segment of “Ethics,” take this. To be able to recognize and strive for the things in life that are important to you, without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way… that’s what moral strength is all about.

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