FAQ – Practicum and Workload

Our weekly series of Frequently Asked Questions will be posted to TheTeacherCandidate every Wednesday. Subscribe to be notified of new posts.

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When will I know my practicum placement for Practicum 1—the one that starts in November?

Wilson:  We know you want to know your practicum placements as early as possible. Our goal is to have your placements ready approximately 1-2 weeks before practicum starts.

One of the challenges in making practicum placements is that things often change in schools and in teachers’ lives, and not all Associate Teachers who volunteer in May and June can follow through when the November practicum actually arrives. As well, some teachers who did not volunteer months ahead of time may decide closer to the practicum block that they would like to host a Teacher Candidate after all. It is really stressful for Teacher Candidates to be given a practicum assignment and then to have it changed when an Associate Teacher withdraws. That is why we try to seek a balance between notifying you early (when the placement could change!) and notifying you later (when the placement is much less likely to change).

Can I be placed in a French First Language school? I am in the French specialty and am a native speaker of French.

Wilson:  The Ontario College of Teachers does not permit us to place you in a French First Language school because this Faculty is not accredited to offer a French First Language program. If we were to place you in a FFL school for a practicum, the OCT would not accept that practicum as part of your program and you would be short on credits and practicum days when it came to graduation. The good news, however, is that we can help you arrange placements in French First Language schools for your two Alternative Field Experiences in Year 2!

Why is the workload so heavy?

McNay:  We know the workload is heavy. To help you manage, we deliberately planned…

  • no classes on Fridays;
  • a couple of free hours for meetings, group work, or just a break, on some Tuesday afternoons;
  • reading weeks in each term.

All your instructors know your feelings about your workload, and are considering carefully the amount of work they ask of you. They can be flexible with due dates if you ask them. They all know you have lives outside this program, and that many of you . . .

  • absolutely must hold part-time jobs to get through the year financially;
  • commute from up to 3 hours away—because you simply cannot afford to stay locally;
  • have family responsibilities (such as small children, and sometimes no partner).

There is only so far we can go, though, in mitigating your workload. This is, after all, a full-time professional program. You are going to be teachers, and the expectations are high. Pretty much everything in your program is required by the Ontario College of Teachers—required in order for the Faculty to be accredited and required if you are to be certified to teach. The OCT expects you to have theoretical as well as practical knowledge, and to be taught by academics as well as by practitioners. We know the program is crowded and intense. If you find yourself not able to manage, come in to the Teacher Education Office and talk to us. We want you to succeed and will do all we can to support you.

 

This week’s Expert Contributors:

  • Dr. Margaret McNay, Associate Dean
  • Carolyn Wilson, Practicum Manager

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