Silver Lining: to the practicum students

March 7, 2014

to the practicum students

This is my amazing team of 5th grade teachers. It's okay to be jealous of how cool we are.

Yesterday we got some new little practicum students at our school. They're not actually little (they're college students) but they're little in the sense that they don't really know about teaching yet. They come to observe and teach a little. I remember what it was like when I was a practicum student. So excited, so nervous, and NO CLUE what to expect.

When I was being introduced to two of the practicum students, one of them asked what advice I would give, as a young teacher myself. Uhhh. Asking me for advice on the spot is a virtual guarantee that my mind will go blank. I'm pretty sure I said something stupid like "did you know we have an ice machine in the faculty room?" haha

And then I spent the whole day thinking about it. Advice? Advice? Hmmm. Frankly, I still don't know anything. Two years down the road, and I still feel like one of those little practicum students. So excited, so nervous, and no clue what to expect.

Technically, yes, I do know a lot more than I used to when I was a practicum student. I know how to do all those things they teach you about - differentiation, inquiry and collaboration. I can do schedules and unit plans and sub plans. I can tell the difference between a kid who actually has to go to the bathroom and one who just wants to get out of class. I can spot gum in a mouth from across the room (this skill took me most of last year to develop).

But honestly? I still don't know anything.

All I could think about was the Bloody Nose Incident of 2014. There I was last week, during recess, with a garbage can in one hand and clorox wipes in the other. I was crouching in the hallway and wiping up drips from the bloodiest nose a basketball has ever bestowed on a ten-year-old. Your college professors can sit in their classrooms and tell you all about theorists and Best Teaching Practices and make you memorize values and ideals. And those are all good things to know. But until you're wiping up blood during your break so the kids coming in from recess don't slip on it, you don't know what it's really like to be a teacher.

In the end, it's not about how many Best Teaching Practices you memorized that semester. It's not about the deadlines or the politics or the letter grades. It's about the kids. It's about your crazy, hyper, capable, bright, happy, volatile, full-of-personality students.

Try to remember that each day, is what I would say to the practicum students. Remember it's about the kids. I know we work early mornings, and I know we don't get paid enough, and I know it's easy to be weighed down by a lot of things. But it's not about any of that. It's about these kids. These incredibly emotional, vulnerable, talented kids. These kids who, in the end, just want to please you. These kids who will blow you away with how far they're capable of advancing, how much they're capable of growing and learning and helping each other. How incredibly kind they are in this world of unkindness. Of course they'll drive you crazy at one point or the other (ahem, the week before spring break and the third week of May). But they're still your kids. Especially that kid whose blood you're currently cleaning. That kid who didn't want to miss class that day, so he called his mom for a clean pair of clothes and shoved toilet paper up his nose so he could come back to class.

That kid is what it's about. Focus on the kids, and you will LOVE this career.

And hey, doesn't that sound way better than the fact that we have an ice machine? If only I could think of these things on the spot! :)


  1. Love this post, Brooke! I agree that the kids make it all worth it.

    But I don't think your first answer was terrible. We just got an ice machine in our faculty room and it has been the best thing about my job lately! Definitely gotta hit that thing up every day!

    1. HA. Seriously though. We have a pebble ice machine and I can't go a day without it (trust me, I know. Last week it broke and those were a rough few days!)

  2. Ok, so my heart did a little flip because you called them practicum students!!! My college is the ONLY one around here that calls them that, the rest call them pre-interns. So people look at me oddly whenever I mention my practicum experiences (which were forever ago!)

    And I agree. It's all about the kids. It's about figuring out what makes them tick and realizing that even though they are little, they are not robots and will never be robots!

    1. Pre-interns? How funny, I've never even heard that! We always call them practicum students or cohort students. The only true names :)

  3. I love this. It is true. I feel that the most important thing a teacher can do is get to know the personality of her students and recognize the strengths and talents of they have.

    1. I couldn't agree more. Thanks for the comment Tayler!


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