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  • Writer's pictureJoan Halsey

What is Practicum?

Updated: May 1, 2023

A practicum experience is a required stepping stone to earn your degree and teaching license with the McKay School of Education. You may be asking yourself what is a practicum and why is it beneficial to future teachers? Today we are going to answer these question for each majors and see what some McKay school alumni have to say about their practicum experiences!

Early Childhood Education

For Early Childhood Education (ECE) you will participate in practicum your last two semesters before your student teaching or internship. The first practicum semester is on campus with the BYU preschool or kindergarten and the second is in elementary schools up to grade three. Taylor Baird, a first grade teacher in Spanish Fork, Utah said this of her practicum experience, "it helped me get adjusted to the school routine and get comfortable with how school works, what is expected of teachers, and what a typical day and the life of a teacher looks like."

Elementary Education

If you are studying Elementary Education (ELED) your practicum is also in your last two semesters before your student teaching or internship experience. The first practicum places you in grades kindergarten through third grade. In the second practicum you work with grades four through six. Makenzie Quada, currently a 5th grade teacher at Geneva Elementary School said "My practicum has definitely helped me realize how to connect with kids and it showed me how much work and effort that goes into teaching multiple lessons everyday. Practicum was a great stepping stone to my internship."

Special Education

Special Education (SPED) is a bit different than the other majors! The day you start the Special Education major, you start your practicum. Each semester you will receive two placements, one in an elementary school and one in middle/high school. You do half the semester in your first placement, and the other half in your second placement. You receive a lot of support and the classes you take during your practicum correlate with what you are doing in the classroom. Emily Reed, a junior in the SPED program, explained "We are learning about how to conduct functional behavior assessments in class. Then, we have to conduct the assessment in our practicum setting." When asked about how Practicum has effected her Emily said "It has helped me see the real aspects of the classroom. Learning about it is only so beneficial, whereas practicum is where we can put our training into action."

Physical Education Teacher Education

In the PE Teaching/Coaching (PETE) major you have three semesters that include practicum experiences. In the first semester, you get to go into the elementary schools and work with different grades. The next semester you go observe and teach in a middle school setting. The third semester you get to apply your teaching skills in the high school setting. Austin Brower, a Senior in the PETE program, said this of his practicum experience, "it teaches you how to teach a wide variety of student ages. It helped me get a lot of good connections with the districts and administrations".

When you go into the schools for your practicum, you will be going to a school in a district that is a part of the BYU-Public School Partnership. The districts in this partnership are the five closest to BYU—Alpine, Nebo, Jordan, Provo City, and Wasatch County. If you are interested in learning more about the specifics of practicum, click here to meet with one of our Student Ambassadors!

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