• Katherine Chen

What I learned from my in-person practicum


A photo of a teacher standing my a SMART board while three students, facing the board, are lying on their stomach. In the middle of the photo is the text "Thank you Ms. Chen!".
A screenshot from the thank you video my associate teacher (AT) made for me on my last day. I didn't even know she took this photo!

It's hard to believe that I've wrapped up my first year at OISE! Last time I blogged about my adapted practicum experience, so today I thought it would only be fitting to go over my in-person practicum experience this time!

For my first practicum with students and an associate teacher (also known as an AT), I was placed with an in-person ESL teacher. While not a normal placement (most TCs are with a standard classroom teacher), I am so grateful to have been put in this placement. I truly learned so much from this experience, and if I were to recap everything, it would simply just take too long! So I've decided to highlight some of my key takeaways from the experience.


Before starting practicum, have a vision for what you want the experience to be

Going into this practicum, I had no idea what to expect, let alone what I really wanted to get from the experience. So when my AT asked me what some of my goals were, I was kind of stumped. I wasn't really sure what I wanted, besides just getting to spend some time with students and seeing my AT in action and just learning from her wisdom. Lucky for me, she encouraged me to go home and think about it, and I came back with some more specific goals, such as practicing balanced literacy techniques. That was really helpful because then we spent the next 4 weeks making sure I was able to design and implement lessons that had a different feature of balanced literacy every time, and I was really able to see the concepts learned in class in action.


Take extensive notes

Throughout the practicum, I carried a notebook around with me everywhere and took notes on everything I did with all the students. This was so valuable for me, as it provided me with an almost real-time record of everything that happened. It is important for all educators to reflect on their lessons, and having my notes made it a lot easier for me to look at what I was thinking after each lesson and where I thought there was the most room for improvement. I also found it super useful for when my AT made on the fly requests, because then I was able to note it down, and then look them up later in the evening when I might have forgotten what was said earlier in the day.


Be mindful of how you create files if your board uses cloud software

As we're all super virtual right now, most of us have adapted to some cloud platform for all our files. The TDSB has Google Suite available for all the educators, and you'll have access to it through your student teacher account. However, because your account is temporary, once the account is closed, everything that you own in your cloud account (regardless if it was shared or not), will be deleted! If you want to avoid having to do a mad scramble save on the last day, you can create everything in your personal account and then share it with the board account. Or if you've already created the document in your board account, you may need to share it with your personal account and then make a copy in that account to 'own' the document.


Routines, routines, routines

Any teacher will tell you the importance of routines in a classroom, and I found it extra important when you're teaching in a pandemic! Having a strong routine is key when trying to keep students socially distanced, using hand sanitizer, and just generally being able to get through the day. I was extremely lucky that all the educators I worked with really had their own strong routines, giving me insights into how to establish my own one day. I would definitely recommend making lots of notes on the routines you see in the classroom, and noting what teachers are doing to make them as seamless as possible for students! I can only hope I'll live up to the awesome examples I saw.

As I mentioned at the top, I learned so much that I could really go on and on. So to save you all the time, I'll leave you with something my AT said to the students that really resonated with me. "You're learning to read, so one day you can read to learn." It servers as a powerful for me on the importance of education, and why I wanted to pursue this career in the first place! Hopefully, you found some useful information for when you're about to start your own practicum!