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What to Expect in a TESOL Practicum

Updated: Oct 2, 2023


Woman standing in front of a chalkboard with a book covering her face

Do you have a practicum starting soon and are you unsure what to expect to happen during your practicum? Let me help with that!


Here are 7 experiences you can expect in your TESOL practicum.

 

Your feet will hurt!

I was on my feet for a 2 hour long class, 3 times a week. 6 hours of standing and walking around a classroom each week doesn't seem like a lot, but you'd be surprised how much your feet and knees hurt.


Yellow flats

Definitely opt for comfortable shoes over dress shoes or high heels when picking out your OOTD.




You will put in more hours than required

Person typing

My practicum was a 20 hour practicum. This meant I needed to spend a minimum of 20 hours in the classroom. That does not mean I spent only 20 hours total.


It takes a lot of time to plan, practice, prep, and all the other steps that go into building and teaching a lesson. These hours are usually, if not always, outside of class time.


I had some late nights and early mornings spent building lesson plans, some late days spent practicing those lesson plans in my classroom, and many meetings after class with my professor to get feedback and plan out the rest of the week. Students also often come up to you after a lesson to ask questions. All this adds up to many more hours than required. That is a very normal part of a practicum and teaching as a whole.


I loved this. I love teaching and everything about it, even grading, so I'm more than happy to spend countless hours in all aspects of it. Knowing I needed to put in more hours than what was required was no difficulty for me. However, this will be different from person to person as we all have different responsibilities that demand our time and energy.



You will get frustrated/disheartened

Woman feeling dejected

Feeling frustrated and disheartened during your practicum is likely. There were a few times during my practicum when I felt as though I wasn't a capable teacher.


Feeling this way is completely normal though. All of us in practicum feel this way at times. It is hard to feel you aren't good at something. But we can't get better if we don't keep trying. Don't give up when it gets hard. Push through and show yourself just how much you're capable of as a teacher. You will be so proud of yourself at the end.


There is also a bright side to feeling this way. You're not alone in this feeling. Your students will also feel frustrated and disheartened at times. They will also question their capabilities.


By having these frustrating and disheartening experiences during practicum, you will be able to sympathize with your students' struggles to learn a new subject/skill as you've been there before. You will be able to better understand and support your students as a result of this feeling. It's a blessing in disguise.


You will be nervous

Whenever I had stage fright, my old music teacher would always say "If you're nervous, it means you care". That phrase has stuck with me ever since. It's what I tell myself whenever I get nervous to remind myself that feeling nervous in this manner is a good thing. It shows that teaching means a lot to me and that I'm fully invested.


If you're nervous before teaching, it is likely because you care about the outcome. That care will show through your teaching and will drive you to become a better teacher with each opportunity.


It's also important to remember that nervousness is a fleeting feeling. The nervousness will decrease each time you teach since you learn and become more comfortable with each lesson.


To mitigate some of the nervous feelings, practice your lesson(s) to help you feel prepared. Also, talk to your teacher about your nervous feelings. They know what it feels like to be a new teacher, so they may have some helpful advice.


Try to remember that the nervousness will pass and that you will likely be better off as a result.


You will make mistakes

Woman thinking

You might feel pressure to not make mistakes as a teacher since you're supposed to be someone who "knows it all". But that couldn't be farther from the truth.


Mistakes are a very normal part of any aspect of life. Mistakes are how we learn. They help highlight where we need to improve, which only makes us better learners and teachers. This is an important thing to remember as a teacher and it's an important message we need to pass on to our students.


Showing our students that even teachers make mistakes, learn from them, and are better off as a result, may help them feel more comfortable making mistakes during class.



You will learn a lot

Sign that says love to learn

Be prepared to learn a ton and learn fast during your practicum.


Teaching involves a lot of flexibility and split second decisions. You often need to adjust your lessons for a variety of reasons each class.


You may have misjudged your students' level of understanding on a given subject and need to increase or decrease the level of difficulty on the fly. Absent or late students may change the planned group work numbers. The systems might be down resulting in no computer access for you or your students. A lot of unexpected moments can happen.


In these moments is when we grow the most as teachers. They help us become more comfortable with the unexpected, learn what to do in the moment, and what we can do going forward to be better prepared when it happens again.


Click here to find out more about what you learn in practicum (hyperlink).


You will make connections

Handshake

Not just networking connections within the school your practicum placement is in, but also with the students.


I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with my professor during my practicum. I lucked out having an amazing professor.


I also had an absolutely amazing group of students. They were so curious, so funny, brave for studying abroad so young, and incredibly smart. I feel so lucky to have been their student-teacher.


Now that my practicum is complete, I find myself missing my students and my professor. I made so many wonderful connections and was able to positively impact the lives of those around me with my teaching. That is priceless for me and a big reason why I am a teacher.

 

I hope I've given you a better picture of what to expect during your practicum. Good luck to all the prospective teachers out there!


If you have any questions, leave a comment below.



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