Practicum Unit Overview
Different Teacher Academies call this portion of the program different things–practicum, field experience, internship–while meaning the same thing: a chance at hands-on experience in the classroom for high school students. Weekly internships in district classrooms require recruiting mentor teachers who are motivated to work with a high school student to further their growth, and who want to simultaneously benefit their students with a capable young person’s involvement in the classroom. Students have noted that classroom experiences are a primary motivator for their long term engagement in a Teacher Academy program. Students state they greatly appreciate the annual 60-80 hours of hands-on experience to work with younger students.
To facilitate a successful experience for both student and mentor teacher, understanding professionalism is facilitated with attention to the educator professional code of conduct http://www.k12.wa.us/ProfPractices/CodeConduct.aspx.
For example, Renton School District’s goals for this portion of the program are noted in their course description as:
- Create more experiences and opportunities in the classroom that allow students to be genuine inquirers
- Pay attention to how students interact with other students and mentors in group-work activities
- Help students work effectively as part of a team, both horizontal and vertical
- Create more opportunities to discuss the ethical issues that arise in the teaching profession
- Model empathy, compassion, and respect for others in our classrooms and around the school
Each RWT program will have to design their field experience based off what is best for their students and district.
Mentor Teacher Guidance from the Renton RWT Program Carla Smith, of the Renton RWT program, has shared some of the elements that go into selecting and working with mentor teachers.