Practicum is an exciting, crazy and tiresome time. Four weeks are jam packed with lesson planning, discussions and long school days. During practicum preparation, they advise you to go to school at least 30 minutes before school starts. That way you can touch base with your AT and prepare to conquer the day. But, what they don’t tell you is when you should leave school. Obviously each class is different, and the needs are different. For my first two practicums, I left 30 minutes after the bell rang. I used to stay back, pick my AT’s brain on the day’s events and prepare for my upcoming lessons.
This practicum was a little different. I did all the said things above, but I spent a lot of time with classroom preparation. I used any spare moment to prepare my documentation panels, gather materials for my lessons or rummage through the cupboards looking for ideas. I tried to stay late and help my AT as much as possible. I’ve never met a teacher more dedicated to the atmosphere and feeling of their classroom. She was so dedicated that she often stayed late into the night. My school ended at 3:30 pm and I think the latest I stayed was 5:00 pm. There are only moments of down time during the day, that any moment of preparation is coveted.
With all that being said, this practicum was absolutely exhausting. I would come home from school and had to actively keep myself awake during lesson planning. All the hard work and exertion began to take a toll on my body. During the last week I caught a head cold and felt like my body was shutting down. I tried to be a trooper and stick it out for my last week. But by the last day I was losing my voice, I was drowsy and I was not myself. I ended up finishing my practicum, and went home to celebrate by falling asleep for 18 hours.
If you have been following my posts since last year, you will know that my last day in the classroom is one of my favourite days. It was unfortunate that I was not feeling good and not feeling like myself. But I want to put this out here as a reminder for Teacher Candidates to take care of yourselves during practicum! We are never advised on how crucial one’s mental health and well being is doing practicum. Yes it is a stressful and crazy time. But if you don’t take time for yourself you will burn out, like I did. Here are some of the tips I wish I followed…but will definitely follow next practicum:
- Eat well and take your vitamins! It could be tempting to eat out, but try and eat good food and nourish your body.
- Exercise as often as you can. I thought I would have gone to yoga at least twice a week during practicum. I went a total of 0 times….
- Sleep! I know it may be hard to get a good nights sleep especially with late night lesson planning. But try and get a good amount each night.
- Drink your liquids. Yes, coffee is life. As a former barista, I know coffee is life. But make sure you are staying hydrated and drinking lots of water.
- Be gentle with yourself. Take a break, don’t take practicum too seriously and try and remember that you are practice teaching. Not everything is going to be perfect. So accept practicum with its all its successes and all of its failures, and move on.
To read more about the better parts to my last day of practicum, read it here.
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