TIFA Learning Community

Internship was a great experience for me, one that I feared before I started, but absolutely enjoyed while I was in it. Before I found out where I was placed for internship, the fourth year Math Ed students came into our third year classroom to speak about a different sort of internship we could be apart of. As the fourth years explained what this special kind of internship was about I remember thinking to myself “there is no way I want to be apart of that, it sounds like extra work and I know I won’t have time for extra work.” On the last day of classes my professor Kathy Nolan (who would be the faculty adviser for this different type of internship) came up to me and asked if I would like to take part in this project. I was quite hesitant to answer her, but she immediately told me that a teacher from Kipling School was interesting in being apart of it and this would guarantee me a placement close to home. I agreed reluctantly and this started what I like to call one of the better decisions in my life.

What I agreed to was to be apart of what Kathy Nolan called the “TIFA Learning Community”. This community brought together 3 intern-cooperating teacher pairs and 1 faculty adviser. The reason for this particular community was for Kathy Nolan, a professor at the University of Regina, to do research on the role of the faculty adviser within an internship experience. She felt that faculty adviser’s were more of a middle man than someone who could help the learning and growth of the interns she was assigned. Because this was a research project, Kathy was granted money to help with her research, this started the TIFA experience. As a community we met up 3 times face-to-face in which we planned common lessons together, we watched each other teach through videos, and we had great discussions about teaching and everything that came with it.

The experience I had through this program was extremely rewarding. What I had to do that was “extra” work in order for this project to run smoothly was:

1) Tape myself teaching a lesson. This lesson was somewhat co-created with the other intern-coop pairs and Kathy. As interns we found a topic that was similar in the courses that the three of us were teaching. We then went back to our classrooms, planned for what would work for us and our students, and then taped our lesson. Once the lesson was taped we edited it to around 10-13 minutes and brought it back to the TIFA community when we chose to meet next.

2) Plan for a substitute teacher for 2 TIFA days. There were two days of school that we had to miss to meet face-to-face to collaborate on videos and lessons. One was in October and one was in December. These days involved the seven of us viewing the interns videos, completing a noticing process (look at attached presentation for what that entails) and collaborating on what our next lesson would be. These days were full of great food and great conversations!

3) Participate in an online TIFA meet. For one of our meetings, all of us intern-coop pairs and faculty adviser met online through Skype to almost do the same as what we would when we met in person. The main difference was that we did not all watch the videos at the same time, we had to watch them ahead of time.

4) Have lessons prepared 3 days ahead. Kathy still acted as a “normal” faculty adviser in the sense that she did come out and watch me teach 2 other times. However, she did still change this “normal” model slightly. Instead of pre-conferencing right before my lesson happened, Kathy had me send her my lesson that I would teach when she came out ahead of time. We would then pre-conference over Skype for about half an hour and Kathy would give any suggestions she thought might improve my lesson. This gave me enough time to make any changes and spruce up my lesson. When Kathy came out, she took notes while I taught and then we had great post-conferencing sessions.

I feel extremely fortunate to have been apart of such a great community. I learned a lot about myself as teacher, but also gained great experience as a learner. At the moment, Kathy is the only faculty adviser who does this type of internship and it is only for mathematics students. But if you are heading out into internship and are in the mathematics program, I highly recommend you get in touch with Kathy and express your interest in this program.

I have attached a presentation about the roles everyone played and the purpose for the program. If you have any questions you can email me at courtneyadams10@hotmail.com.

TIFA learning community presentation