“Nathan started the games club at the school which was greatly needed. This club not only helps build a sense of community, but also allows students that are not involved in other extra-curricular activities to have a purpose in the school.” – PS3 Mentor Teacher
“Nathan experienced success facilitating social learning opportunities with students, and student desks were arranged to promote side-by-side student partnerships.” – PS3 University Consultant
“Since the start of the school year Nathan has made himself an integral part of the Bishop Grandin community.” – PS3 Administrator
#12: Engaging Parents/Caregivers
Know how to develop and implement strategies that create and enhance partnerships among teachers, parents, and students.
I try my best to keep open and honest communication with the parents of my students. To that end, I have attended parent-teacher interviews and there are parents that I keep in regular contact with by phone and email.
I address the matter of calling parents in regards to grades in my Classroom Management Plan, which involved me giving them a call if their child’s grades dip below a passing mark after a certain point. The reason for this isn’t to get the student in trouble at home, but to set up a plan of action to ensure that their child does everything in their power to be the best that they can be. This policy has proven useful already on a number of occasions where I’ve learned about problems with home-lives or even health troubles that the students are letting affect their grades. Overall, I’ve had great reception to this policy from parents of my students and they’ve always appreciated being kept in the loop of their students’ life at school.
One future project that I’d like to try is having students write a letter home as a summary of a lab experiment, explaining to their parents/grandparents, etc. what they’d learned in the lab that day.
#14: Making Contributions
Know strategies to independently and collegially, enhance, and maintain the quality of your school to the benefit of students, parents, community, and colleagues.
Without a doubt, the best evidence that I have for this KSA is my work as a coach with the school swim team and especially the planning and implementation of the Games Club.
The Games Club had not existed before and I created it from scratch. I wanted to create a safe place for those students who didn’t fit into the nice academic or athletic slots that are already so available at the school. Having grown up a geek, I knew what it was like trying to find friends with shared geeky interests, so this was my attempt at making a place where those students could come together and be themselves together.
We would use television sets to hook up gaming systems, we’d have Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic: The Gathering drafts, and have Pokemon, Super Smash Bros, and Mario Kart tournaments so that the students could compete against each other.
And the students loved it. Every so often when we had to skip a week, I would have students asking if we could make it up another day. At the beginning of the semester, I overheard one student say, “Where was this club when I was in grade 10?” This really speaks to me as a teacher because it shows that students are going to appreciate it when we take those few extra steps to look at their interests and provide for them. The Games Club is another thing that I’m going to take with me no matter where I end up going.
By coaching for the swim club, I was able to bring my experience in the sport to the students who joined and I was able to advise them on how to better themselves in regards to swimming and leading healthier lifestyles.
I was able to appeal to some students by showing them a new way to learn: with the worksheets that I developed from my research into Physics by Inquiry: where students can ask the questions and find the answers that they’re looking for themselves.
I was also able to help with yearbook by taking photos for the school at the city swim meet.
I helped to organize and supervise a field trip for Physics 20 students to West Edmonton Mall. The consensus among the students says: it was a smash hit!
Sometimes I would start a class with a segment of “Today in Science,” which showcases some discoveries made or birthdays of scientists from the current day. This is just a short intro to the class for the day, taking only a few minutes. You can see here an example of a few days of Today in Science.
These are only a few of the contributions that I made to Bishop Grandin High School while I was there. One of my goals for the future is to structure my classroom around the Classcraft app, thereby effectively turning my classroom into a Dungeons & Dragons-esque adventure for my students.
#15: Career-long Learning
Know how to assess your own teaching and to work with others responsible for supervising and evaluating teachers. Know how to use the findings of assessments, supervision, and evaluation to select, develop and implement your own professional development activities.
Along with attending all of the professional development that I can get my grubby hands on, one of the requirements of my final practicum placement was that I do a Professional Inquiry Project, and since I also have a specialization in technology, I needed to do something that fit. Since I have a great interest in 3D printing technology, and since there is already interest at the school in investing in a 3D printer, I decided to take that route. I set up a survey on Google Forms and sent the link to the teaching staff at BGHS to fill in.
The form consisted of questions about teaching experience, focus of teaching, and emphasis of technology in the classroom. In the end, I compiled a document summarizing the survey results and submitted it to the administration staff at BGHS as well as interested teachers.
#16: Vision of Teaching
Be able to communicate your vision, including how it has changed as a result of knowledge, understanding, and experience.
I feel like my vision of teaching can be nicely summed up in my philosophy of teaching.
As a result of changing my vision of teaching in regard to new experiences and knowledge gained, I will do short reflections on my lessons to make those changes in my views more solid and real so that I may better internalize them for future use.
Here’s an example of a reflection from my first field trip to West Edmonton Mall: