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Practicum Professor Spotlight: Early Childhood

Updated: May 1, 2023

All majors in the McKay School of Education have at least two semesters of practicum. Practicum is for gaining classroom experience applying what we have been learning in our courses in actual classrooms. Think of practicum as practice! As an Early Childhood Education major, your first semester of practicum will get be in our very own BYU Child and Family Studies Laboratory.

While Early Childhood Education majors complete their first practicum in the preschool here at BYU, their second practicum will be in one of the primary grades (grades 1-3) in either the Nebo, Jordan, Alpine, or Provo School District.

We recently spoke with Professor Dorie Haws about her experiences as a Practicum teacher. She shared some detailed insights into Practicum, what your experience may look like, and what to expect.

About Professor Haws

"I’m originally from a little place called Eagar, Arizona, but I’ve lived in Provo since coming to BYU as a junior transfer student. I’ve been here for about 30 years but still consider myself an Arizona girl."

"I Graduated from BYU with an El Ed degree, a Japanese minor, and later an ECE certificate. I did graduate work in Human Development and another graduate degree from the Romney Institute within the School of Business at BYU. These choices have provided amazing opportunities for my professional life that I never would have considered. I taught school in Japan for a couple of years, having previously served a mission there, before coming back to Provo to teach at Grandview Elementary."

"After 9 years there, BYU recruited me to be the first ECE CFA for 2 years. Absolutely loved my time supervising and working with cooperating teachers, but I found that I really missed having a classroom of my own. It was then that my current position at the BYU Child and Family Studies Laboratory opened. This lead teacher mentor position brought my love of teaching children and university students together for the past 23 years."

Work as a Practicum Teacher

"My day starts at 7:30 AM with the student-teacher meeting. The morning practicum students start at 7:45 with class and then the children come from 8:30-11:00 and we finish class with a debriefing session. The afternoon practicum students come at 12:30 with the children’s session running from 1:00 – 3:30. We finish up debriefing around 4:15. My days look very different from each other depending on the time of the semester."

"During the first four weeks, I am leading and modeling for the practicum students and student teacher. Then we start the transition and I move into the booth to observe the teachers in their interactions and assignments with the students. The practicum students start off with a couple of centers they plan and implement. Then they move into their large group assignments and teach a direct instruction lesson and a guided learning lesson. So, if I’m not teaching the little students, I’m teaching and observing the university students which are two of my favorite ages to teach! On Fridays, I get to teach a seminar for these university students."

"I work with the first practicum Early Childhood Education students as well as the ECE Student Teachers. Because we are on campus at the lab school, we don’t belong to a district. When we don’t have enough ECE students for the class, we end up hiring paid assistants to work in the classroom. These students range from pre-ECE to Psychology majors with many Elementary Education majors as well."

What is your favorite thing about being a practicum teacher?

"My favorite thing about being a teacher is making connections with the students – whether they be little or big. When we feel loved and cared for, optimal learning can happen. Connection is what creates that caring and loving community."

Anything else you would like to add?

"Teaching is such a wonderful profession – it is difficult for sure, but as we first love and care for students (whether big or little), amazing learning can take place!"

To learn more about practicum or the path to becoming a teacher, set up an appointment with one of our Student Ambassadors by clicking here!

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