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Practicum Perspectives: Special Education

Updated: May 7

Hey! It's Ashley here and I'm studying special education with an emphasis in severe disabilities. I just finished up my second (and last) semester of practicum.

Practicum is when you have the opportunity to go into a real classroom in one of the five districts that BYU partners with. You observe the classroom teacher, teacher some lessons, and have lots of fun with the students! As a special education major, I had the opportunity to go in classrooms from grades K-12 over two semesters.

This semester I had the opportunity to be in two settings for practicum! For the first half of the semester I was in a middle school, and for the second half I was in a high school, both in Nebo School District. In each setting, I was in a self-contained special education classroom. There were about 16 students in each classroom. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be in these classes and to learn from my two mentor teachers!

Confidence! One of the teaching skills I tried hard to focus on this semester was confidence. To be more specific, confidence while teaching lessons. Students can tell when their teacher is confident, and it makes such a big difference with how effective the lesson is. Confidence in the teacher also affects how well the classroom is managed. This semester especially I learned that confidence comes from practice, practice, practice!

Have fun! Another thing I learned this semester was to have fun with students! There is so much to worry about as a special education teacher from making and planning IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) for each student, planning lessons, teaching those lessons, attending staff meetings, communicating with parents, etc. that we often forget to enjoy the little moments with our students. Something one of my mentor teachers did with her high school students was a spontaneous 5-minute Just Dance break during class, and the students loved it! It was so fun to see the students dance and sing along to the songs.

Another thing my mentor teacher in my middle school practicum class did was a pajama day. During the month of February the students chose to work towards a pajama party at the end of the month. It was such a great idea for the students to choose their reward, and they really enjoyed it!

I have loved my experiences in the schools the past two semesters. I have learned so much from my mentor teachers and all the students that I have been able to work with. I am so excited to student teach next semester and to get to know another classroom and teacher.

If you have any questions about practicum, special education, or anything in the McKay School, click the link to schedule a meeting with an ambassador!

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