Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Trainee Teachers' Guide To Teaching Practicum

"Teacher Appreciation" featured phot...Teacher Appreciation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)By Richard D Boyce

During your years of teacher training, you will have teaching practice in a real classroom. Your teacher supervisor will give you advice on what to do and where you need to improve.

However, it is important for you to set goals on how to expand your teaching capabilities during each practice session.

The strategies below are ways you can develop your teaching capabilities. They are not listed in order of difficulty. Each trainee teacher will have their own strengths and weaknesses. They need to take those into account when deciding the order in which the strategies are introduced into their planning.

Obviously, you cannot pursue all these strategies at once. Initially, select the ones you feel are easiest to attempt. Include them in your preparation and work out a way to assess how you incorporated them. Perhaps, you could ask your supervisor to comment on a particular strategy, e.g. using gesture to add meaning to what you are saying.

It is also important to prioritise the strategies you use and have a time line for when you will introduce them into your teaching practice. Don't expect that you will succeed on your first attempt.

This list is, by no means, an exhaustive one. You may find others you wish to add. Your supervisor may suggest others. You may like to discuss how you might incorporate these strategies within the supervisor's plans for you.

Remember, the supervisor is there to help and direct you so make sure you do all that is asked of you and try to incorporate the advice given to you in each lesson you teach. Be ready to discuss your progress at any time and the success or otherwise of all the lessons you teach.

The strategies are:
  1. Make sure you know the content you teach perfectly.
  2. Over-plan your lessons.
  3. Aim to teach a little amount initially but plan extra if all goes well.
  4. Always check for understanding as you go. Ask questions as you proceed.
  5. Always move around the class while teaching or while the class is working to offer help or to ensure students are on task.
  6. Make sure you start simply to ensure the students understand what you are doing. Then slowly increase the difficulty of the work you are teaching.
  7. Make sure your eyes roam over the whole class so every child feels your eyes are on them.
  8. Always have everyone's attention before you start.
  9. When you use a board or a screen, move away from them often so that you do not obscure what you have written on the board or have projected on the screen.
  10. Be flexible in your approach. If it is not working, change tack. Use a different approach.
  11. Plan your questions carefully, even having a set of written ones ready to use to test for understanding as you go.
  12. Remember to spread the questions around the class to help keep students wondering who will get the next question. This helps to encourage them to stay involved in the lesson.
  13. Rephrase questions that do not elicit the response you want. Offer hints to lead students towards the answer.
  14. Practise your board work often.
  15. Make sure you use various teaching techniques during your practice teaching.
  16. Make your introductions interesting, exciting, challenging and short.
  17. Get to know the students' names quickly and use them every time you speak to a student.
  18. Talk as little as you can. Get the class working actively and quickly.
  19. Always test the class's progress at the lesson's end with questions to check what progress has been made.
  20. Practise using your voice in different ways to excite, to warn and to question.
  21. Practise using gesture and body language to elicit different responses from your class.
As you can see, I have offered you 21 strategies to use to help you gain the most out of your time in front of a class during your practice teaching sessions. Since most teacher training courses take some years to complete, you can create a timeline in which you can incorporate these strategies over the total period of your training.

Begin with the easy ones. They will quickly become automatic in your planning and your execution of your lessons in the classroom. You will soon do them subconsciously. Add new ones regularly so that by the end of your last teaching practice they have become part of your teaching personae.

For further information on this topic, go to and the eBook "The Trainee Teacher's Book". Our author, Rick Boyce, had over 45 years' experience in the classroom. During that time, he supervised the teaching practice of many trainee teachers.

As Head of Department, he often spoke to trainee teachers about his role and how Heads of Department could be of great assistance to them early in their careers. He always spent time explaining to these trainee teachers how best to use their limited time at their 'pract' school. The above mentioned eBook is a summary of the advice given to those trainee teachers.

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