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Section Two: Teacher Candidate Background Experiences

Introduction

In section two of my portfolio project I have included my experiences in education by

being the student as well as being the teacher or educator. My reasons and desires for being a

teacher go as far back as I can remember; from organizing my bedroom in to a classroom and

teaching my stuffed animals to wanting to go back to school recently to get my Master of

Education as a mature student! I have also included my reflection of my work experiences in

the educational field, my philosophy of education along with resume highlighting my strengths,

skills and familiarity with children and the educational system.

Educational Experiences

Ive been fortunate throughout my school years to have had many great and amazing

teachers, mentors and simply people around me that have influenced me and supported me

throughout my educational life and now to fulfill my dreams and career. My elementary school

principle Mr. H was and always has been someone I respected, looked up to and went to when I

needed guidance to pursue my goal of becoming a teacher. I spent 8 years with at the same

elementary school and he was the principle there for at least six. I remember him always saying

hello to the students walking in the halls but also redirecting those who did not necessarily

behaving in the halls either. He was feared but respected, firm but fair, kind and approachable.

Even after I had left my small town at the age of 16 and returned to visit during my final year in

University I went back to see Mr. H and ask him many questions I had about teaching, teachers

college and getting a job in the future. Mr. H was very happy to see one of his old students and

even gave me hug and began to ask me questions about where I was going to school and what
my future goals were. I was very excited to tell him and anxious to hear any words of wisdom or

insights he had for me. He made me feel so good about myself by telling me about how he

always believed in me and now as I finished up my BA that he would be more than happy to help

me to get my teaching degree and hire me when I have completed it. I walked out of my old

elementary school feeling confident and knowing I had made the right choices to become a

teachersomething I had always thought I wanted to be, but now I knew it was going to become

a reality. However life took a different path and I decided to put my schooling on hold and start

a family.

I always knew I would go back, just didnt know when the opportunity would present

itself again. Until after having my third child, I stayed home and did home child care. I had

many teacher friends and always stayed involved in the schools my children attended as well as

volunteering with reading programs and being fortunate to speak French fluently. A teacher

friend asked me if I would be interested in working at her school by managing the French

reading program for K-6 students. The principle of the school approached me and asked me if I

had ever thought of getting my Teaching Certification because they were in need of French

teachers in the board and many others in the area. Which made me realize now was the time.

My daughter was now starting school fulltime in the fall of 2016 and I was ready to start my

Masters program as well. Needless to say the rest is history and it was because two people one

from my past and one from my present made me realize my aspirations, guided me through my

decisions and facilitated my dream that lead me where I am know.


Work Experiences/ School Observations & Classroom Applications

My work experience is very child and educational based throughout my lifetime. I have

always found myself connecting with children, learning from them and truly loving what I do

day in and day out. The fulfillment they can give you by simply saying Thank you Madame, I

really loved French this year is for me an accomplishment in itself. Before I was old enough to

actually babysit I would always be in charge of the younger kids because I loved playing with

them, teaching them new things and enjoying their laughter and joy. I started by babysitting my

cousins, taking babysitting jobs after school and also volunteering at lunch time to lunch monitor

the younger grades. In high school I continued to babysit, did co-ops and summer camps. In

University I started working part-time at a French Day Care during the school year and move to

full time over the summer. I loved being able to surround myself with children and helping them

grow and develop. I found it very rewarding as well as validating what I wanted to do after I

was done school.

Once I completed my fourth year at University I was fortunate enough to begin my

teaching career at the age of 23 years old at a Montessori School in Kitchener, Ontario. I taught

the French Program to the Kindergarten to grade 3 students as well as being the teacher assistant

in the lower elementary (grades 1-3) classroom. It was a great first experience for me and I

knew I was where I was supposed to be. I loved the children, I loved teaching them French and

watching them learn and develop their French language was an accomplishment and gratification

I had never really felt before. Having parents, co-teachers and students tell you how much you

are appreciated, how much they have learned or even a hug to say good-bye is a feeling of joy

and realization that this was my true calling.


Two years later I had my first son and decided to stay home and do home child care so I

could continue something I loved but also stay home to be a mom. I incorporated the Montessori

philosophy and French language into the day with the four other children in my care. A couple

years later I had my second son and we moved to Georgetown, Ontario and I began with

volunteering in the Goodlife Child Care facility they had in the fitness center. A few weeks of

volunteering and then I was offered a job and became the Child Minding Supervisor for Goodlife

in Georgetown where we won the Award for Best Child Minding Centre in Ontario.

A couple years later we moved to Guelph and I got a job at another Montessori school

where I taught the French and Physical Education program for grades Casa (kindergarten) to

grade 6. I was back to teaching fulltime and loving being back in the classroom. Being able to

develop a French curriculum for students of all learning styles, levels and needs was a humbling

and sometimes overwhelming but was an achievement for myself as a teacher getting back into

the field. Teaching had changed in some ways after 5 years. There were students with IEPs,

assessments, EAs, technical support and other accommodations to support their needs and help

them to succeed and inclusion. It opened my eyes and heart to want even more to create an

environment where the students would be confident, successful while still developing and

learning the French language. It took me a few months, with the support of the teachers and the

director of the school to help get to know my students but I felt after the first term, was in the

groove of teaching successful lessons, achieving goals as well as having classroom management

and routine for all the diverse students in each grade.

Teaching at the Montessori school for 5 years, having my third child and then returning

to the Montessori school for a year after I felt I needed to be home with my daughter but still

doing what I enjoy by teaching children French in my home and again incorporating the
Montessori philosophies and teachings. While I was still doing home child care I was able to

take a day or two a week to get back into the public school board in my area and work as the

French reading tutor as I mention above and also become a supply teacher for many of the

schools in the area. I was very fortunate to get a lot of connections and referrals for my

upcoming job opportunities when I complete my MSED. Being a teacher in the school board

has really given me various experiences and to appreciate the diversity of children, their cultures

and accommodations needed to engage their learning process and the lessons we need to

incorporate into the classroom. My present teaching job has been one of my most satisfying and

fulfilling experiences thus far. Teaching French and Drama at this private school has been the

most prevalent and instructive practice that I have encountered so far in my career. I feel I have

connected my years of experience, my education at Medaille, my maturity and being a mom all

into one. Teaching this past year while taking my MSED has put everything into perspective and

given me the opportunity to take the knowledge from school into my teaching practice. Its like I

have been doing a practicum throughout my semesters and courses at Medaille. When we were

learning about CRT; I used many aspects into my lessons and teachings to the very diverse

groups of students that I have ever taught. When we were learning about theorists and

philosophies; I incorporated those into my classroom management and into my own philosophies

of teaching. When we were learning about lesson planning and unit planning; I was able to

develop and build on to my own lessons that I had previously prepared because I had the

knowledge and practice from the courses.

Presenting information based on school observation and classroom application I have

included many aspects above because several of my work experiences are based on already being

in the classroom and teaching for almost 15 years. Some applications that I have used and plan
on using in the future are constantly changing based on previous years of teaching. Some of

what may or may not have worked or been successful I have changed or adjusted to improve the

learning of the students and their specific needs. Therefore while I am continually learning and

reflecting on my teaching and now completing my MSED I believe it is all relative. I am making

connections to my experiences while being educated on the various teaching methods, lesson

planning along with classroom management and all the different factors that come with teaching

a diverse group of students each year.

As Gardners theory of Multiple Intelligence implies that students/children all learn

differently and uniquely so should educators ways of teaching them. Therefore teachers need to

adjust lessons, ideas and activities to accommodate the various styles of learning. Accepting

Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences has several implications for teachers in terms of

classroom instruction. The theory states that all seven intelligences are needed to productively

function in society. Teachers, therefore, should think of all intelligences as equally important.

Thus, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences implies that educators should recognize and teach to a

broader range of talents and skills (Multiple Intelligences: Gardner's Online Education Theory.

(nod.). Retrieved June 20, 2017, from http://ericae.net/digests/tm9601.htm).

I did have the opportunity to observe during our EDU 504 course. We observed the

Buffalo Prep School which I found very interesting to see in a different setting with a group of

students who were so gifted. The students had so much to offer and wanted to expand their

learning to show their abilities and talents. The teachers were just as quick to keep these students

engaged and pushed them to their full potential with high expectations for each one of them. I

enjoyed observing these teachers and watching the way they set a specific routine, discussed the

classroom expectations and the course plans for the semester. I felt it was a great introduction to
the year and to get each student aware of what the teacher wanted. I do believe as well that it is

important to establish a solid routine, class management and set high goals for your class. I plan

on incorporating many of these ideas and representations that I observed at Buffalo Prep.

Philosophy of Education

It is my belief that as an educator it is our responsibility to create an environment for

children to enrich their minds with equal opportunity for everyone regardless of their color, race,

religion, culture or gender. We teach them to value, believe and respect themselves as well as

others around them in a classroom environment. We guide and follow them through their

educational journey and hope to impact a part of their present and future. While I reach my goal

of becoming a teacher and reflect on my philosophy of education I feel it has reassured me in my

dream of becoming what I have always wanted to be.

The School

School is traditionally an environment where children go to learn, preparing them for life

by providing them with information and acquired skills. If refers to the relationship between the

student and the teacher in an established classroom with rules, curricula, exams and class

organization (Dewey, 1998). From the colonial times to the present time, schools have changed,

influenced and impacted many greats of the past and present.

The notion of a school system and the purpose of having one has become a requirement

for everyone in todays day and age. As times have changed so have the goals and objectives of

schools and the impact they make in todays society. Social change has impacted schools and so

has the worlds diversity. Therefore, so must the goals and practices of the school must change

as well to accommodate all who are involved.


I believe that a good school is an environment where students feel comfortable and safe.

It is a place where children go to become students and develop a desire to go and learn and

explore what the world has to offer. School becomes a students second home where they not

only learn to become a part of society but also where they learn to become a friend, to share, to

create and to discover their abilities.

The Curriculum

According to Jean Piaget, the aim of curriculum and teaching is to encourage children to

explore and experiment. Instruction should be individualized instruction so children can learn at

their own level of readiness and classrooms should be designed as a learning centre stocked with

materials that children can touch, manipulate and touch (Ornstien, A., Levine, D., Gutek, G.,

Vocke, D.E., 2015).

It follows the same ideas Maria Montessori conceived by having a curriculum that is

divided into areas and subjects for children to explore; Ideas such as practical life skills and skills

to learn about how to care for yourself and things around you, a sensory table with hands on

activities and manipulation to develop their senses and imagination, formal skills and studies like

math, science and language which are formative and meet the traditional curriculum standards

(Ornstein et al., 2015).

My teaching style would incorporate both of these philosophers concepts into my

teachings by using centres to build my curriculum in areas to attract childrens interests and

cognitive learning processes. What you are teaching and how you are teaching it directly applies

to the essentials of a childs development.


Learning

Children learn at their own pace and we need to understand what each individual gets

from the knowledge they acquire in school. They are guided by their own designs and find

solutions to problems they may encounter. Knowledge is constructed by an environment which

is supported by active and collaborative learning and in which every interaction establishes

cognitive structure in children to build to their learning process (Ultanir, 2012).

Teaching students and having them learn is achieved by example. We create what we

expect from them; we enable them to become the products of what we display; and we believe in

what they can do. Learning expectations are based on what we believe the students can or

cannot do. Everyone learns differently, in different ways, in various areas and at their own pace.

The uniqueness of each child as a student is what we should want for them- to be their own

person- and therefore I believe we need to treat it as such. Let students guide us, their educators

towards what will help them succeed and achieve their goals. Their ability to learn and grow is

something to embrace and is like an open book waiting to be discovered and enriched. As I

become a teacher I am grateful that I have the chance to be someone that children can look up to

and help them become the person they want to be.

The Learner

As educators we are role models and we need to guide students that look to us for

answers during their educational years. We have to use the rights tools, language and behaviors

that will enlighten them and teach them what is right and wrong. Children use what they learn

and develop skills because of where they are in the life. By recognizing the levels or grade they

are at we are able to enhance our teaching and increase the capacity of what they can understand.
By developing skills in accordance with Piagets four stages of cognitive growth, the way you

teach and how you teach is essential to a childs progress. The stages of cognitive growth are

described: as sensorimotor stage that is from birth to 2 years old; the preoperational stage from 2

years to 7 years old; the concrete-operational period from 7 years to11 years old; and the formal

operational period from 11years old through early adulthood (Ornstein et al., 2015).

These learners are developing their sensory, motor and intellectual skills by using

materials in a structured environment. Therefore we as educators need to assess them

accordingly within the expectations of the stage they are in. We are here as teacher to help

guide them and show them how to work collaboratively, self-monitor and learn independence.

We need to base their learning abilities by their stages and use that experiential knowledge from

what they have experienced as we guide them into the next stage of their development.

Assessment

When assessing students, I believe a key idea is our expectations of each student along

with grading and evaluating their work. Assessments can be made in multiple ways but I feel we

should place more emphasis on summative learning through projects, presentations and their

efforts so we can bring out their creativity, their imagination and see what they can do rather than

what they cannot do. Once they have completed their work it is also important to have them

self-evaluate and see how they feel they did. Getting their opinions on what they have learned

and how they can improve for next time can allow them to make their own assessments and take

responsibility for their outcome. I do believe in having some evaluation components but I want

to ensure that all learners have an opportunity to show their strengths. We can achieve this by
developing tests or exams that are divided by sections, for example; writing, reading, listening,

oral and comprehension sections.

Classroom management

In order to accomplish these ideas I think its important to manage a classroom with

positive guidelines, structures and daily routines. I want an environment where everyone can

work and learn together. I want the students to respect each other, the class room and their space

within the classroom. By implementing responsibilities by having job charts and a classroom

system it helps to build independence and ownership where they learn and grow. Furthermore

incorporating reward methods and positive reinforcements that acknowledge good deeds,

behaviors or actions also encourages students to want to succeed and be part of a great

classroom.

The Teacher

A teacher is a guide, facilitator, and co-explorer who encourage children to question,

challenge and formulate their own ideas, opinions and conclusions (Ultanir, 2012). I understand

the importance of all the above characteristics of being a well-rounded teacher but I also

understand the challenges that may also arise and change my plans for the day. That is why I

will be open to change and flexibility within my classroom and with my students.

Communication is vital with children and making them aware that they are welcome to come to

you for anything is important. Building a rapport with them and setting out individual goals will

allow them to feel they are able to achieve their full potential. Teaching them different ways of

learning, teaching them something new or developing their skills by having choices and positive

guidance throughout their learning years can do many amazing things for a child.
I am passionate about making a difference in a childs life; Showing them compassion

and confidence while appreciating them, embracing their exceptionalities and creating equal

opportunities by culturally responsive teaching. By being an agent of change to create a future

for all children to be successful and become themselves, an agent of change for their generation

and future generations.

Children are given to us, their teachers, by their parents to teach them, care for them and

guide them for the time they spend at school. They believe in us and depend on us as teachers to

do all we can do to lead them in the right direction. I appreciate how they teach me as well about

how to love life, be open to anything and enjoy the simple things. Jump in a puddle with them,

laugh with them, show them how to be great and wonderful people. In choosing to become a

teacher I am committed to being someone they can learn from, being proud to be their teacher

and being a positive influence in their life!

Let us wait, and be always ready to share in both the joys and the difficulties with the

child experiences; Let us have endless patience with his slow progress, and show enthusiasm

and gladness at his successes (Montessori, 1914, P.88).


Resume
Melanie Zarzycki
191 Couling Cres.
Guelph, On
519-803-4648
Mz476@medaille.edu

CERTIFICATION
Seeking New York State Initial Certification in Childhood Education, Grades 1-6

EDUCATION
Masters of Science in Childhood Education, anticipated December 2017
Medaille College, Buffalo, New York

Bachelor of Arts in French - Minor in Education/Child studies December 2000


Brock University, St. Catherines, ON

OAC Notre Dame College School - 1996


Welland, ON

RELATED EXPERIENCE
Wellington Hall Academy, Guelph, ON
French Teacher / Drama/Gym Teacher September 2016 to Present

Home Based Child Care Provider (Integrating Montessori Philosophy),


Guelph, ON

Teacher/Child Care Provider - January 2014 to August 2016

Upper Grand District School Board, Guelph ON


Occasional Teacher September 2015 to Present

French Reading Tutor - October 2014 to June 2016

Guelph Montessori School, Guelph, ON

Toddler Teacher - January 2013 to December 2013

French/Physical Education Teacher - September 2008 - December 2011


The Royal Academy of Arts and Education, Georgetown, ON

French/English Tutor and Little Readers Program - January 2008 to June 2008

Goodlife Fitness, Georgetown, ON

Child Minding Supervisor - June 2006 to June 2008

Sunshine Montessori School, Kitchener, ON

French Teacher - September 2000 to June 2002

La Petite Etoile de Niagara, Niagara Falls, ON

Early Childhood Educator - May 1999 to September 2000

TRAINING School Violence Prevention and Intervention - April 2017


Identification and Reporting of Child Abuse and Maltreatment - April 2017
DASA December 2016
Certified Infant and Child CPR -2015
Montessori French Curriculum Workshop - 2009
Montessori Physical Education Curriculum Workshop -2010

TECHNOLOGY Smart board, Kahoot, Symbaloo, Emodo, Remind, Class Dojo,


IPad,Computer -Word, Excel, Power Point

CO-CURRICULAR Guelph Ladies Hockey Association, EGGS

EMPLOYMENT
Steeped Tea, Guelph, ON
Steeped Tea Consultant - December 2012 to Present

VOLUNTEER
Co Manager Guelph Pee Wee Minor Baseball Association
Conclusion

Section two breaks of my portfolio gives me the opportunity to share my experiences,

both personal and professional as well as my philosophy of education and how all these pieces of

my life fit in and express who I am as a person, teacher and role model for my future educational

endeavors.

Becoming a teacher has been a lifelong goal and dream for me. Everything Ive done,

became a part of and surrounded myself my entire life has been with teaching in mind. Ive

always saw myself standing in front of enthusiastic, innocent and whole hearted children whom

look up to me to help shape them as people of our future and become the best they can and fulfill

all their aspirations and dreams.

I have had many experiences in the classrooms, with children and in various settings that

have all lead me to continue what I love and know that it was time to be able to complete my

goal of becoming a certified teacher. I believe in lifelong learning as a teaching and providing it

for my students as well. I am not only fortunate to have been able to accomplish this but also

proud and excited to see what the future holds me as educator and the many opportunities it

holds.

I anxious to create a collaborative, welcoming and educational classroom where students

can develop their innate abilities, form amazing relationships with others as well as learning

about the world around them. I am excited to be a part of this, for the children that I will

encounter and I will be privileged to become their teacher, role model and someone who they

will remember for years to come.