The Tile Mosaic

Internship was a somewhat surreal experience for me, as I could not believe that I was actually putting all of my ideas, theories, strategies and skills to use in the classroom. It was joyous, exciting, confusing, a little stressful, and sometimes quite overwhelming. To put all of these emotions, thoughts, and experiences into just one image was going to be a challenge, so I chose somewhat of a conceptual image, that of a tile mosaic. This image has given me the opportunity to really express just how complex and amazing my internship experience was.

When I think of a tile mosaic, I either envision a beautiful, intricate design or pattern or picture that is made of individual, colourful tiles all working together to create an image, or I could also imagine a more abstract collection of colours colliding in this amazing swirl of visual delight. Both have a different end product as far as what the eye sees, but really, they are the same in execution and material. All tile mosaics have a base, a design plan, tiles of varying colours, and a grout medium to connect it all together. It is these elements and the implementation of them in the design of the tile mosaic that I feel has the potential to represent my internship.

It all starts with a solid foundation, a base. The base is the platform that holds and supports the finished image. My metaphorical base is everything in my life that has led me to this point. It is my education growing up, the trials I went through in my previous career, the soul searching that led me to discover my calling as a teacher, and ultimately it is my university education in the Faculty of Education. My teaching is rooted in my history, and it has been solidified by the exceptional education that I have received at the the University of Regina. My base is all of the theory, information, skills, and strategies I have learned to put to use in my teaching. This base also has all of the designs I had for my internship drawn out on it. Things like my unit plans, activities I want to try, and ideas of what my internship will look like are all drawn on the base, helping to guide where the tiles will be placed.

The tiles are where the beauty of the design can shine. It is the tiles that tell the story of what happened. The tiles represent all of the lessons that I actually taught; they are all of my experiences. A lot of them follow the original design plan, and the colours all match and line up, and it looks like the original design, but there’s the occasional tile that doesn’t seem to belong. Perhaps it’s the wrong colour or material, because there was a lesson or a learning opportunity that needed to happen in a place somewhat out of sequence of the original design plan. There’s also a few chipped and broken tiles. They’re the ones where though I tried to make a lesson work, because I’d worked so hard planning it, but it just wouldn’t work, and got a little misshapen and jostled in the process. Other tiles are just brilliant in colour and lustre. Those are the lessons and days that were exceptional, and almost dream-like. They represent the days where I felt like the world was shining and everything was clicking, going to plan, and everyone was having a good time too! There are many tiles, hundreds, and they all tell a story of a different day, and a different lesson.

Many of the lessons I learned also came in the form of the connections between the tiles. It’s the grout that holds all of the tiles to the base, and is what connects them together. Just like the grout, it is the relationships I built with my students, with my co-op, and with other staff members that helped really define and anchor all of the tiles in the design. For the most part, I developed really strong relationships with my students. Some were a little tougher to get through to, and in those places, maybe the grout is a little thinner, but still strong enough to hold that tile, that lesson, in place. Other relationships were so strong, especially with my grade seven girls, that you’d never be able to pry those tiles off the board. In fact, in some places in my design the grout gets a little thick and almost overshadows the tiles, because some days it was really more about the relationships than it was about the lesson or the design plan. The grout is really what holds everything, and without it, without those relationships, there would be nothing.

My tile mosaic is really an imperfect perfect work of art, as was my internship. It was rooted in all of my life experiences, and in all that I have learned through my journey in education. As a result, I was able to plan out some beautifully designed units and lessons for my students on the base of my art piece. Some things went so great, and those lessons, those tiles, fit perfectly into the design, and some even shone in brilliant metallic colours. Other lessons didn’t go so well, and perhaps don’t look like they belong, but in the art piece that is my internship there are no mistakes, only lessons learned. All of those lessons are held together by the relationships, by the grout. It is the relationships that made the lessons stick and connect to each other. Without the relationships, or perhaps where the relationships weren’t strong enough, the tiles loosen, fall and are lost from the design.  All together though, the mosaic is something to be inspired by, to build on, and to look back upon and be reminded of the wonderful experience that my internship was to me.

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