Updated: Dec 17, 2018
Congratulations friend! You have made it down the long road of course work to practicum. You have come a long way and have worked hard to get here. You must be excited to finally get in the field and start teaching. Others, like myself before every practicum, might feel shir panic and anxiousness shaking through every fiber of their body. Fear not, I got you! See practicum is a funny thing. Some people come back saying it was a fine and dandy old time, some come back saying it was the nightmare on elm street. No matter the option, each practicum is an invaluable experience and there is a lot you can learn. So now I am going to share with you my tips and tricks on how to not only survive, but make the most out of practicum, and so the padawan is now becoming the master. Look at you go! Here it is…
1) Self care in the form of social contact
Let take a closer look at the set up and some of the details behind practicum. You will spend the first week at your school observing your associate teacher and embedding yourself within the classroom. As of second week, you will finally begin your teaching journey. Are you ready for the battle? Well you won’t be if you don’t pay attention to the next few sentences, so listen closely scholar! When you begin teaching, you will need to spend many nights familiarizing yourself with material in textbooks and creating PowerPoints/chalkboard lessons that will match with your own teaching style. From my personal experience, I would plan lessons late night the day before, teach during the day, come home and crash of exhaustion into my ultimate form which is napping, and then repeat. Although I highly recommend naps as a method of self care and rejuvenating yourself each day, this approach can be very problematic.
During my first placement I heavily used this approach, and I will admit my mental health started taking a hit. Although it is important to work hard and complete your lessons so you can succeed at practicum, it is of equal importance that you take care of yourself by communicating with friends and family. Spending all of your time either teaching in class, sleeping, or preparing lessons at a desk is not a healthy thing to be doing every day. So you NEED, I repeat NEED, to make time to for friends and family. You will be shocked at how great and decompressed you will feel from just going out and talking with a loved one. It doesn’t have to be some big fancy shabang, it can be something as simple as calling up a friend and going for a one hour walk just to talk. Go out with your cohort where you can all talk and vent about your practicum. Without your own mental health, you can’t function properly, and you need to function properly so you can pass practicum, graduate, and get a job. So you plan that dinner with friends and shamelessly shove that burger and fries down your throat while salivating all of your shirt while everyone in the restaurant looks at you! Get to it my friend!
Okay scholar. As the kids say, I am going to keep it one hundred with you. I shall keep it real. It would be foolish to think that every associate teacher is going to be some god given loving human being. Thus, the truth of the matter is that your associate teacher might not be so great. They may choose to pile all of their work on to you. Maybe they will overwork you to the bone. Maybe they won’t give you any control of their classroom at all. Maybe they’ll conduct their classroom in a manner that is totally unfair to the students. There is not much we can do about these things. You are in their classroom and must abide by their rules. However, one thing you can do, is have a positive mindset and take notes instead of letting these things form a feeling of existential dread within you.
In my opinion, every practicum whether good or bad is a valuable practicum. If it does turn out that your associate teacher isn’t so great, this is where you must put your thinking cap on. Use it as an opportunity to test yourself and further develop yourself as a teacher. Make note of the things your associate teacher does that you dislike and think of how you would better handle these decisions and situations if you were in charge. This will come very in handy because one day when the beautiful responsibility of teacher is bestowed upon you, you will know exactly what not to do. In addition, if you let these things get to you, you will spend your entire practicum being miserable, paying less attention, and learning absolutely nothing. So take it all in, and use it to make yourself better my friend. The power is in your hands!
3) Get Involved
This can be very scary, especially in your first practicum! However, it is critical that you get involved with something at the school, not only for the students sake, but for your sake! The more you make yourself noticed within the school, the better your chances of getting a job when you get out of teacher’s college. Principals will remember you wearing that crazy funny halloween costume when none of the other staff wore a single thing. When a job positioning opens up, the head of the English department who so happens to be the volleyball coach will remember you and all the effort you put into helping the team during your practicum. Most importantly, getting involved around the school will just enhance your experience. Better experience, more relationships, and better connections for when you get into the field. Why not? So you join that debate club or that 3D printing club, or tutor students for extra help after school. Get to it!
How you feeling? Heavy? Excited? Still worried?
Take a deep breath. It is going to be a piece of cake. You got this scholar!
- Jordan Guerrero Martinez