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This week’s Expert Contributors
Carolyn Wilson, Practicum Manager
Bill Tucker, Practicum Consultant
What is a double practicum placement?
Wilson: Placing one Teacher Candidate with one Associate Teacher is a widely used model for the teacher education practicum. There are other models, however, that have various advantages. Two TCs can be placed with one AT, for example, or several TCs can be placed within a single secondary school department where they can all work with several ATs. Many ATs really like hosting two TCs at the same time, and TCs who have experienced it agree. The arrangement helps to create and support a real professional learning community.
What are the benefits?
Tucker: Associate Teachers have told us, and their Teacher Candidates have concurred, that double placements have benefits:
- Having two TCs means each has a ‘buddy’ with whom to share experiences. They can help each other, support each other, and tend to feel more at ease in the school and more willing to take initiative—which is really good!
- Two TCs together can discuss and reflect with each other, helping them each to see another perspective and to prepare for talking to the AT. Having another TC to share the experience is really valuable.
- The ATs found it easier to arrange TC involvement with school activities. The TCs were more confident and willing to go to other parts of the school to observe or work together without the AT always having to be there.
- Two TCs can work together on planning and teaching lessons. They tend to show more confidence because they do not have to “go it alone.” ATs see it as a good way to ease into taking on more and more teaching responsibility.
FAQs about Double Placements
- I won’t get as much teaching time as I would like if I have to share the class with another TC.
- Wilson: For this reason, we won’t be arranging double placements for your final Year 2 practicum. But in Year 1 you are not expected to teach more than half time—MAX!—so the double placement is not a problem.
- ATs don’t have a lot of time to spend with TCs. I don’t want to split that time with another TC.
- Tucker: Actually, ATs usually find they have more time to spend with each TC because while one TC is teaching and supervising the class, the AT has a little extra time to talk with the other.
- What if the other TC and I don’t get along with each other?
- Tucker: When you enter your practicum, you are entering a professional setting, not a social setting, and you are not expected to become personal friends with any of the ATs and TCs whom you encounter. You are expected to work together during the work day and to respect each other. If you are the kind of person who gets along with most of your fellow students, you probably do not need to worry about a problem on your practicum. That said, if another TC at any time behaves inappropriately towards you, you should immediately call us so we can send a Practicum Consultant out to remedy the situation.
- What if the other TC is not as strong a teacher as I am? Will that affect my evaluation?
- Tucker: Absolutely not. Most ATs are well able to separate one person’s performance from that of another. If at any time you are not sure your AT is being fair or evaluating you on your own merits, call us so we can send a Practicum Consultant out to provide another assessment.
- May I choose my partner for the double placement or could I be placed with just anyone?
- Wilson: Of course you may choose your partner, provided the program requirements for both of you can be met! Keep in mind, however, you do not have to have thought of a partner for this kind of placement. We have many teacher candidates who contact us individually, expression an interest in being placed with another TC.
Wilson: A double practicum placement is an option, not a guarantee.
- We have a list of ATs who have asked to host double practicum placements. We can’t, however, guarantee we will be able to find one who wants to host a double placement and who suits your particular program requirements.
Tucker: A double practicum placement is an opportunity for an enhanced professional experience.
- Be cautious about how much time you spend with your partner when you are in the professional setting. It might be easy and tempting to spend more time with and pay more attention to your partner than to your learning about teaching, students, the school, etc. Do not let socializing detract from your professional-izing!