I spent my final professional semester teaching at Bishop Grandin High School in Calgary, Alberta.
It’s been a whirlwind 16-week adventure where I taught both a Physics 20 and Math 20-2 class for nearly the entire semester. In addition to those experiences, I was observed and critiqued by my TA, administration, and other science and math teachers at the school, all of whose feedback I took to heart.
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.
West Edmonton Mall Field Trip
The West Edmonton Mall has actually developed two curricular field trips with related workbooks for two of their attractions: Galaxyland and the World Waterpark. My TA had done the Galaxyland trip many times before for Physics 20 classes, so she was able to show me some of the inside ropes into planning for and running field trips. The trip consisted of students from three different Physics 20 classes and some Physics 30 students as well.
There was a lot of planning to do: planning check-in times, food times, rules for behaviour and boundaries within the mall, planning for internal class coverage, business office information and forms to have filled out and signed, renting a bus and driver, making sure that students were packed and prepared, among other things.
In the end, it was a fun and educational trip. I overheard groups of students talking about the forces acting on them in the rides and some good questions as well, such as, “When we went on the loop, why did it feel like my head was being pressed forward?” Their feedback was great too, and it’s definitely led me to believe that it’s a trip I’ll want to take again with my future classes.
One of the things that I’m most proud of in regards to my time at Bishop Grandin High School is the implementation of the Games Club. This 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.
I also coached for the swim club. I used to be a competitive swimmer, so I have a background in the sport that the other coaches and the swimmers appreciated. I was able to help students improve their times and compete so that they could join in the school’s athletic community.