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Practicum Professor Spotlight: Special Education

Updated: May 1, 2023

In the Special Education program, students get two semesters' worth of practicum experience. During this time they are in a classroom setting, observing and teaching. Practicum correlates with classes taken during this time so it is the perfect time to practice what you learn!

Shauna Raby is a professor at BYU who teaches one of the practicum classes. Recently we interviewed her about the practicum experience.

About Shauna Raby

"I grew up in St. Anthony, Idaho--the same town as Dr. Charlton (another professor in the special education program), although I lived there many years earlier. I met my husband, David, when I first began teaching in Provo. We live in Wallsburg (close to Heber) and have four children and nine grandchildren. I have always enjoyed water sports and hiking in the mountains. I like to read, (I know, that is so unusual for a teacher!), and I also enjoy writing. I love to travel and especially try local restaurants and regional foods. One of my favorite places to visit is Boston because I love walking the Freedom Trail and love the feeling that is given the city by all the different cultures."

What is practicum, and why is it important?

"Practicum is a chance for BYU students to get into classrooms in a teacher role for (maybe) the first time. It offers the students an opportunity to try out the things they are learning on campus and practice managing behavior. It also is a great time to see what seasoned teachers do--how they arrange their classrooms, how they teach, how they collect data, how they interact with parents and how they interact with children."

How is special education practicum different from other education majors?

"The structure of the SpEd practicum is a little different. We like to give the BYU students more opportunities to interact with students in public schools. Both programs, [severe and mild/moderate,] offer two semesters of practicum. However, SpEd practicum covers both elementary and secondary classrooms. To get a license to teach in a secondary content area, BYU students work through their major college in conjunction with the McKay School and have one semester of practicum."

What is your best advice for practicum students?

"My best advice for practicum students is to enjoy the experience, observe closely and ask questions."

Anything else you’d like to add?

"Practicum is a great time to see if you really are a match to working with children with disabilities--it is a great career, just make sure it is right for you."

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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