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Lesson plan

Lifelong educator reflects on past decade―and what's next on his list

Teaching and Learning

By Marcia Porter

It’s a big year for Dr. Jerome Delaney.

The associate professor of education is celebrating two important milestones: the 10th anniversary of playing shinny hockey with an eclectic group of colleagues and the 10th anniversary of publishing Monday E-Memos for students.

Staying connected

Both are satisfying endeavours and exercise different muscle groups.

Dr. Delaney created the Monday E-Memo back in 2006 to help students in his Effective Teaching class stay connected to each other and to faculty members during their 12-week teaching internships during the winter semester.

“If you afford students the dignity and the respect they deserve, they will give it back to you a hundredfold.” — Dr. Jerome Delaney

He emails students every week, checking on their progress, asking about their experiences and requesting stories for the e-memo that can be shared with their classmates.

A few e-memo excerpts from this year’s group of interns follow below:

“I do not want any of my students to ever think that I don’t believe in them or care about them. I vow to always care about my students, no matter how many years I teach.”  

“There is no better feeling then coming back from a morning in-service to a swarm of children very concerned about your whereabouts before lunch.”

 “I was so nervous on my first day going to school I thought I would throw up…”

Submissions are published without names or identifying schools included, and students are careful about what they write.

Decade of insight

The Monday E-Memos have given Dr. Delaney 10 years’ worth of insight and research material into how teaching has changed over the decade, and the sorts of issues that new teachers face.

“These days many of them are concerned about the use of cellphones, and of course the whole issue of technology in the classroom,” he said, adding that in spite of the passage of time, many common concerns and experiences remain. “Students write about things like the amount of time it takes to prepare lessons, about involvement in extracurricular activities, about how to manage a class, and about how much they care about their students’ well-being.”

What stands out from submissions received over the past 10 years of e-memos, and confirmed by Dr. Delaney’s research, is that teachers get from their students what they give to their students, he says.

“If you afford students the dignity and the respect they deserve, they will give it back to you a hundredfold. Being reasonable, flexible, empathetic and fair will serve teachers well.”

Authentic connections

Over the years, his teachers-in-training have also learned the value of taking time to learn and use a student’s name in and outside the classroom.

“Nothing is closer to any of us than our name,” said Dr. Delaney. “How good do we feel when we hear our name, especially in a positive way?”

Dr. Delaney knows what he’s talking about. He spent the first 30 years of his career as a teacher, and later school principal, and counts himself fortunate that he still loves being an educator. It’s what he wishes for his students.

“It’s good for them to share their experiences, good for their self-confidence,” said Dr. Delaney, who still gets emotional when he reads some of their e-memo submissions. “It fosters cohesion among students, who are so busy and in so many different places. It helps them identify with their classmates, and starts conversations among them.”

And he’s gratified to know that students are handling different or difficult situations using and adapting techniques he’s taught them in Effective Teaching—techniques he’s honed and revamped over his many years as an educator.

Effective channel

Dr. Delaney spends many Sundays during winter semester in his office prepping the publication. The Monday E-Memo is circulated on a listserv that includes about 3,000 people, many of whom are former students now working as teachers, principals and in other educational roles. Even now they enjoy reading the publication, gleaning it for information that can help improve their practice.

So how does the associate professor plan to mark this 10th anniversary? Certainly there will be a game of shinny hockey to be played, but he’s also got something else in mind.

“I’m going to write a book,” he said. “I’d like to explore the various themes that have permeated internships over these past 10 years.”

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