Creating a Rich Field Experience

Whether you are working on a teaching internship or a practicum we want your on-site experience to serve as your culminating project in your program. Either experience will help you to develop competencies in teaching, classroom management, resource assessment, budgeting, collaboration, and technology integration. Our Education Technology Integrators usually take the teaching internship, focusing their days on teaching, planning, collaborating, and integrating technology across the curriculum. Our School Library Media candidates usually take the practicum in which they observe and document what a variety of school librarians do each day. Both options have plenty of crossover and a rich field experience means doing a variety of other learning opportunities.

I have found the more well-rounded the experience, the more fulfilling the internship or practicum is for the candidate. Consider adding some of these activities to your field experience:

Professional Development at a Variety of Levels
You may want to attend a PD meeting at your elementary, middle, or high school to see the differences. Think about how grading, classroom management, and teaching varies for different ages. The next time you attend a conference or workshop check out the other grade level teachers. I know I usually stick to my high school colleagues, but there is a lot to learn across the grades (and a great way to log some hours at an alternative level).

Planning with Your Mentor
I have so many wonderful experiences working with candidates on their planning skills. For instance, when you are trying to schedule meetings with your mentor, set up a Google Calendar and a Doodle Poll to establish times. While you are at it, you may want to research several digital To-Do lists and choose one to keep track of your tasks. This may be the time to develop a mind-map of your learning process over the course of the field experience. Test some different mind-mapping tools and gain some insight into how to progress this semester and into the coming year. Be sure to log any hours spent researching, assessing, evaluating, choosing, and learning new technology tools.

Planning for Instruction
Now that you have developed an effective plan for your field experience, let’s do some instructional planning. The ETI and LMS programs have a subscription for you to learn how to use LibGuides before you consider purchasing it for your own program. If you do not already have access you can request an account from Pam Harland. Spend some time curating resources for an upcoming student project at your school. Use LibGuides or another digital curation tool to bring vetted information sources together for your students. Can you find primary sources? Open educational sources? Fiction and informational texts that pair together? Readings at a variety of levels?

Plymouth also has a subscription to a Destiny test site. If you haven’t administered a relational  database of patrons and items you may want to try it out. This is your opportunity to test self checkout modules, reports for missing items, global changes, or other seldom used tools in the database. The help tools in Destiny are incredible and walk you through many options. Be sure to log your hours watching the tutorials and testing the system.

Now is a great time to read across grade levels, content areas, and genres. Read articles, journals, novels, and picture books. Delve deep into a topic you have always wanted to learn about. Create a Review of the Literature on a topic and add it to your ePortfolio as a sample of your scholarly writing abilities. While you are at it, log all of your hours reading and writing.

Since we mentioned it, this is a great opportunity to write. Start your blog. Tweet every day. Get in the practice of reflecting on and sharing what you learn. You may think you are not experienced enough to share your thoughts, but there are thousands of people who want to hear from you. Trust me! Consider submitting a book review or a project you have developed. I would be honored if you would write for this blog. Let me know and log those hours!

Now is the time to develop your professional portfolio that you will continue to use and reflect on for years to come. Choose a tool and start adding your Mahara documents into your Google Site, VisualCV, or other free site. You will not regret that decision and you can link your updated ePortfolio to your resume as you begin applying for jobs.

We want you to have a rich and fulfilling experience during your internship or practicum so you are better prepared for your career.