The best way to learn how to teach is by doing it. That's why all University of Auckland teaching programmes have a strong practical component. With a mixture of campus-based learning and plenty of time in schools, you'll be perfectly prepared to enter your first year of teaching.
Over the course of your studies you’ll spend a significant amount of time on placements (practicums) in a range of schools, kura or early childhood centres (depending on your specialisation).
While you're on practicum, you'll have dedicated days and weeks where you won't have any lectures or tutorials. Instead, you'll attend your assigned school where you'll have the chance to observe a range of teaching styles and teach within your allocated class. While on practicum, you'll have the support of a dedicated associate teacher who will support you and mentor you for the time you are in their class.
Practicum is your time to see how real classrooms work and put into practice everything you've learnt in tutorials and lectures. Practicum allows you to experience every aspect of school life, including planning, assessment, duties and meetings. Each practicum block you complete will be done through a different school or centre, allowing you to establish a range of professional connections and equipping you with the skills needed to enter the profession.
Read on for our frequently asked questions about practicums / placements.
How many weeks will I spend on practicum?
This depends on your programme. In a one-year programme you have at least 80 days of practicum. In a three-year programme you have at least 120 days (24 weeks) of practicum. This is equivalent to other teacher education providers.
What is a practicum?
Practicum is a period of time spent in centres or schools, working with ākonga and alongside a registered teacher. The idea of practicum is that you have a context in which to take on the role of teacher, while still being guided and supervised.
During practicum you take over increasingly large parts of the teacher role, and each practicum builds from the last, until at the end you can teach by yourself for a solid block of weeks. During this time, the teacher is still there to support you, but you will have full responsibility of teaching and planning as if you were running your own class. Some programmes have regular days in centres or schools and blocks of practicum time (such as the Graduate Diplomas in Teaching) and other programmes just have blocks (the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) programme, which usually has about 5-7 weeks per blocks with a total of 24 weeks over three years.)
How are practicums organised?
Practicums are organised by our practicum office in conjunction with the practicum course director. Our practicum office finds places for our students in schools and centres that offer quality opportunities to learn to teach. Your location and needs are taken into account when places are sought and allocated. You are prepared for practicum with sessions before you attend.
What will I do on a practicum?
Everything! To begin with you might work one-on-one with learners while your associate teacher (whose classroom you are in) directs the learning of the whole class, then you will build to groups and whole class work, eventually taking responsibility for the learning of the whole class for periods of time (a day on your first practicum, a week as you build confidence, culminating in 15-20 days in your final experience).
If you are in an early childhood setting, you work towards taking on the responsibilities of a teacher within the centre team. In addition, students try to do as much of what their associate does as possible: attending meetings, doing duties/supervision of learners at break times, planning, taking extramural groups, getting involved in sports and music and the wider life of the centre/ school. Basically you are a 'junior colleague' in the school and trying to learn as much as you can about teaching and learning.
Can I go on practicum to a school where my relative/spouse works or where my children study?
No, we place students in centres/schools where they do not have conflicts of interest of this type. Centres/schools are complex places, and difficult ethical situations can present themselves. The added complication of being a relative, parent or spouse can make things very difficult, especially for assessment of student teachers' teaching.
Can I choose my school?
No, because it depends on whether the centre/school has teachers who are prepared to take student teachers and are qualified to take student teachers. It also depends on the relationships between the centre/school and the University (some schools choose to work with different providers of teacher education) and whether the centre/school has commitments to student teachers on other placements (for example, some schools take only students who are on the Diploma of Teaching). We also balance out how many students we ask centres/schools to take, and know about centres/schools that have asked for a break. We ask student teachers not to approach schools/centres themselves.
What support will I have on practicum?
You will have an associate teacher who will be your mentor in the centre/school. You will work with the learners that your mentor is responsible for, so you will have a close relationship. In some centres/schools there is also a senior person who looks after all the student teachers in the centre/school. The University of Auckland also provides you with a mentor, who will visit you at the centre/school and provide feedback on your practice. This person also leads the assessment of your teaching, in conjunction with your associate teacher and you.
Will I be supervised?
Yes, student teachers must have a registered teacher with them at all times. They are also visited by mentors from the university who supervise their teaching practice.
How will practicum help me to become a great teacher?
Practicum is at the heart of learning to be a teacher because it is the space in which you can work with infants, toddlers, children or young people in an authentic centre/school setting. It is where you see how you can make a difference for ākonga and lead learning. You learn to relate to ākonga and create a learning environment where all can thrive - and you can investigate your assumptions about teaching and 'what works'. It's great fun, and gives you a chance to explore the full teacher role and gain confidence.
Will all my teaching observations be done in person?
Traditionally, yes. However an exciting new project is now being rolled out to certain programmes and will revolutionse the way observations are undertaken on practicum. Read more about IRIS Connect below.
We’re here to help with any questions you may have about applying for one of our programmes. Get in touch with your questions at email@example.com.