It always comes as a surprise to me that there are those individuals within this building that are here entirely of their own free-will– not to get paid or to enjoy the company of teenagers because those are the most complex interactions they can manage. No, there are individuals who, as part of their education in becoming teachers– something they want to do– spend a small amount of time teaching and learning what they can here at CCH. But why? I had the opportunity to sit down with a small handful of our lovely intern teachers to chat about their motivations in teaching.
I proposed to Ms. McPeake, Mrs. Martin and Ms. Steinborn a theory of mine: that you can place any teacher-to-be on a simple spectrum. On one side are those who had such an awful experience in school that they now wish to nobly dedicate themselves to providing future generations with a far more fulfilling experience, and on the other end of the spectrum are those who had a really good time in school, and just want to keep those days going. Ms. McPeake quickly agreed that she would fall in the former category, having had a poor high school experience but eventually finding her passion in her art, which she now hopes to teach. Ms. Steinborn, however, claims to be quite the opposite. Coming from a multi-generational teacher family, she’s always found herself drawn towards school, apparently possessing an attitude of “Yay! School is awesome!” in her glory days, but still wanting to make a difference for those who might be having a more rough time. Mrs. Martin shared a more mixed experience of high school, noting the difference between her awesome teachers and her rubbish ones. Having learned from these experiences, she claims to try to do her best to push her students even if they might not be as enthusiastic as she is, and reported a willingness to “make a fool of [herself] if it means they get the concept”, even inventing a silly dance to accompany a lesson if need be.
Both Ms. McPeake and Ms. Steinborn (art and drama respectively), bring to the table a more relaxed, liberal approach, with McPeake adding that this comes directly from her own high school art experiences which were very hands-off and very problem-based. Steinborn referred to her own philosophy to explain to students why she makes a particular rule, as one is then more inclined to follow it. Martin continued to speak to the extent she values talking to students as people, and not condescending to them. As well, Martin discussed the challenges posed to her teaching in the quarter system, and the lessons she learned. She claims that the quarter system pushed her to engage her students in a way she wouldn’t have had to otherwise, given the length of class time. Both of the other interns agreed that the quarter system originally seemed rather intimidating, but it has been something they’ve all overcome, eventually taking advantage of it.
My final question for the teaching trio was an inquiry for any advice they might have for their students before parting ways with us, and they were eager to provide. From McPeake: “Take advantage of the quarter system….You can take classes that might be a little more challenging; you can get a really deep thought process going [and it’s about] taking advantage of that. You’re not going to get that again. Ever.” Steinborn added that one should “just enjoy high school in general…This is one of the best times in your life. Learn something new…when you’re not paying for school!”Martin took a more serious note, drawing from her experience: “Don’t make a total idiot of yourself on [substances]…don’t be promiscuous.” And finally, “Every time you get a question wrong, say ‘so close!’, and [then] try again.”
Thank you to all of the intern teachers that have worked with us at CCH, and good luck to you on your future endeavours.
Jack Harvey is a grade twelve student at CCH. He enjoys (famously) participating in CCH activities and spending as much time as possible making new friends of his classmates. His favourite thing about CCH is the beautiful gift of education he is receiving.