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Vol 39  No 16
June 28, 2007


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Faculty of Education’s post-internship program

Classroom is the heart of the action
by Heidi Wicks

Nothing prepares new teachers for a career in the classroom better than actually being in the heart of the action, the classroom. In light of this, Memorial’s B.Ed. program has just wrapped up the fourth year of its four-week post-internship program.

Sponsored in part by the provincial government, the internship provides opportunities for students to receive authentic teaching experience in the province’s rural and remote schools. Since students are compensated for their efforts, it also provides them with the opportunity to reduce their student debt.

Interns were placed all over Newfoundland and Labrador – from Black Tickle in Labrador to McCallum on the south coast of the island – and returned bubbling with enthusiastic determination on how to become the most inspirational teachers possible. Julia Benoit is one of those people.
“The opportunity is invaluable, because employers seek individuals with a wide range of experiences and there is no better way to get that than to work in a variety of schools,” she said.

Ms. Benoit boasts of the exposure to all aspects of education the program provided.

“I was given the opportunity to teach all grades, 7 through 12, in both of my teachable areas, which gave me confidence in my subject areas and allowed me to see many different classroom dynamics,” she said. “It has definitely helped me to become a teacher, and until my post-internship, I did not feel that I had fully made the transition from student to teacher.”

Chris Coleman, another program participant and vice-president of the Education Society, concurs that the program helped him see existing obstacles, yet made him more determined to discover solutions to these problems.

“I loved the program and continue to tell people about it,” he says, “I feel that I’ve become more confident in my teaching abilities.”

Dr. David Dibbon, one of the program facilitators and associate dean of undergraduate programs, is especially pleased with this year’s outcome.

“One of our greatest challenges is to help students see the relationship between theory and practice,” he said, “By combining the work placement with a structured inquiry-based learning project we are able to make this happen.”

Dr. Dale Kirby, another faculty member currently not involved with the program, has been administrating a blog since January, comparing and contrasting Newfoundland and Labrador’s education system with those in other provinces and countries. Dr. Kirby believes that this type of paid, experiential learning opportunity can work wonders for Memorial’s students,

“The University of Waterloo has been known for its co-op programs for years, so there are lots of examples of this system being effective. Experiential learning is why we have internships in the first place – it helps students consolidate the things they have been taught in their courses into a work situation. The fact that they’re now getting paid I think gives them more responsibility and extra recognition in the way that they are now practitioners in this field.”

The post-internship field placement program is offered to graduates who have already completed the regular 14-week internship, and is followed by a two-week period of intensive, formalized reflective practice, presentations and independent work on campus, facilitated by Dr. Dibbon, Dr. Barry Bonnell and Hayward Blake.

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