Courtney Langton

Courtney is an aspiring high school teacher. Her teachables are History and English, but she's happy to teach anything that doesn't involve numbers or formulas. Her particular interest is in promoting gender equity and anti-oppression both in and outside the classroom. She writes a detailed To-Do list every morning, and enjoys nothing more than a good book and a plate of bacon on a rainy Saturday.

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan's primary interest is moral education. His teachable subjects are English and Music. He encourages critical thinking and hopes to teach his students to recognize, and strive for, what is truly important to them without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way. He likes making analogies and his favourite is one that compares life to jumping on a trampoline.

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More Thoughts on Practicum
Thursday, July 23, 2009

Some first thoughts about practicum:

I think someone (some important, official-looking chap) at one of our final year meetings mentioned that it's no longer called practicum in final year. Not that the name makes a whole lot of difference, but I think the main purpose was to differentiate between the "practicum" as we've known it in Con-Ed and the "practicum" (as I shall continue to call it, lacking the correct terminology) of final year.

The main difference is, of course, length. Final year prac isn't merely a 3 week block (out of which the first is spent getting acclimated, a.k.a. getting sick), it is a good 15 weeks total, 12 if you wish to discount alternative prac in order to stick to "traditional" practicum. Still, 12 weeks. And for those in Con-Ed, remember our practicum assessment form? The one with a list of questions upon which we are rated from "Needs Improvement" to "Excellent"? And the small set of lines underneath for additional comments? That very important piece of practicum assessment paper (note the singular)? Imagine that but multiplied by like 50 so that it forms a booklet.

The reason why we are taking this opportunity to share some practicum tips with you is because practicum is very very important. It is the final step between being a student and being teacher and in those 12 weeks, you have to prove to the world that you can make the transition. For many of us, this can be an extremely daunting task (yes, even for us Con-Eddies who supposedly have done this before). I can only imagine what it can be like for those haven't had actual in class experience. Undoubtedly, there will be times when you make a mistake or trip over a part of your lesson and think "ZOMG, that's it, I'm done... I'll never be a teacher... they'll never pass me now!" Before you throw in the towel, try to keep some of these ideas in mind (seriously, don't throw in the towel):

Tips for Practicum:

1. You can always make up for a blunder. This was a very important thing I learned from Ms. V. back during third year prac. I remember blundering something. I think I was trying to ask the class a question and couldn't get them to understand it, no matter how I rephrased it. I talked to Ms. V. about it after, she gave me some tips, and I went back at it the next day with a different approach. And it worked (thankfully)! She told me the most important thing about teaching is that you can always make up for your mistakes. In fact, your host teacher might even be impressed that you're improving.

2. Try new things. Don't be afraid to try something creative if you think it'll help your lesson. The students always enjoy new things. Best of all, not only will your host teacher (hopefully) enjoy seeing something new, they might incorporate it into their own lessons (that's a sure sign that you've done something right).

3. Talk when you're given the opportunity. Obviously, we don't mean blather on endlessly as if you knew what you were talking about. But one of my host teachers in first year told me that she didn't think I talked enough. I mean, it's good to listen when other's speak. That should be a given. But it also doesn't hurt to share your ideas or reflect aloud with your host teacher or other candidates. If nothing else, it shows that you ARE constantly thinking about your job.

That's all I have for now. This is what happens when Courtney posts first. She's so comically thorough that I can only fill in the gaps. Oh yeah, one more thing...

Enjoy Yourself!

Remember why you got into teaching in the first place! Ask any Con-Eddie what makes it all worth it. Why do we spend hours and hours planning lessons and marking papers? Why do we pull ourselves out of bed at 7 (in Courtney's case, I imagine something like 4:30) in the morning? What makes it all worth while? The fact that you can stand up there and deliver a lesson worth being proud of, even if it flops here and there. The fact that you can engage with some fascinating young minds on a daily basis - minds that will sometimes think of things that blow you away. The fact that you get to make a difference in people's lives everyday, every period, every lesson. How could you possibly ask for a more meaningful job than this?

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Jonathan posted at 10:29 PM - Comments (1)


People ought to use the word "chap" more often. Thanks, Jon, for setting the precedent!

(I am not in Con-Ed, so have nothing to say about any of that, but wanted to indicate that I am reading nonetheless.)

By Blogger Christian H, at July 24, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

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