How to get the most out of your teaching practicum - a guide for pre-service teachers.

Uncategorized May 17, 2020
It’s that time of year when teaching pracs are about to begin! First of all, can I just say how amazing it is that you have chosen this career path. To be able to make a difference in another person’s life is so rewarding, and as a teacher you will get the opportunity to do this every day for so many of your students.  
Teaching pracs are an invaluable part of teacher training and it’s important that you get the most out of the experience. I have mentored a number of prac/ pre-service teachers in the past, so I thought I would put together a list of handy tips that will hopefully make your prac less stressful and more rewarding. 
  1. Be intentional - before you start your prac, think about what you want to get out of it. Are there any particular areas of focus for you?  Write out some goals, and when you meet your mentor teacher, let them know about them, and ask for feedback on those areas regularly. If you aren’t sure what areas to focus on, check the AITSL national standards (if in Australia), or your own country's national teacher standards. 
  2. Be professional - make sure you look and act the part. The dress code may depend on the school that you are doing your prac at - some schools are quite corporate in their dress code whereas others are a little more casual. Find out in advance of your prac what the dress code is so that you have enough time to buy or borrow clothes if you need to. 
  3. Be punctual - try to arrive at school at least 30mins before the official start of the day. This will give your mentor teacher time to check in with you and go over your plans for the day. 
  4. Be involved - attend meetings, go to the staffroom for lunch, accompany your mentor teacher on their yard duties, join in extra-curricular activities, etc. This will give you the full experience of being a teacher, and also provides you with more opportunities to talk to your mentor teacher as well as other teachers. Of course, if you are struggling with workload (as I know many prac students are also working part time in another job to make ends meet, or trying to do uni assignments at the same time), this is an area that you can scale back when needed. 
  5. Be organised - meet with your mentor teacher in advance of your prac (if you can’t meet then at least email or call). Find out your allocated classes, get a copy of the timetable, any teaching and learning programs that you will need, as well as copies of the school’s behaviour management policies, and any other relevant material. Plot out the lessons that you will be teaching on a term planner to give you an overview (I have some free term planners available here if you would like to use them). 
  6. Use a lever arch file, organised with dividers, to store all of the paperwork you will collect along the way. You can also use this to collect and organise any evidence that you might be able to use in your teacher portfolio to show that you are meeting the national standards. 
  7. When observing your mentor teacher, make sure you ask them any questions that came up for you after the lesson. Get their tips on what strategies they feel works best with the class. 
  8. Create lesson plans in advance and show them to your mentor teacher so that they have time to give you any feedback or tips before you teach the lesson. 
  9. Sit down with your mentor teacher after each lesson that you teach to go over any feedback that they may have. Remember to ask for feedback on your particular areas of focus. If there is something else that you mentor teacher thinks that you need to focus on, make a point of implementing their feedback in the very next lesson that you teach, and ask them afterwards if they think you still need to work on it. Always show that you are willing to take on constructive criticism and implement any feedback that you get.  
  10. Write reflections on each lesson you gave. What were your areas of strength and what do you feel you need to focus on? 
  11. And lastly, keep it in perspective and give yourself a reality check. Let go of perfectionism - you cannot control everything. Your lessons won’t always go to plan - and that’s ok! Part of the skill of being a teacher is being able to improvise when needed. Also, if you are feeling nervous or self-confident standing in front of the class, try to re-frame the situation - it’s not all about you, but rather it’s about your students - focus on how you can best help them and you will find that you won’t feel as self-confident anymore. 
Some other free resources that I have that you might find useful are: 
Good luck! Feel free to reach out and ask any questions at any point if you feel you need more support. My email address is [email protected] 

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