4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Teaching Practicum

If you're a student teacher doing a graduate diploma or are in your final year of study, you'll probably be completing your final teaching practicum in the next couple of months. As well as being an amazing learning opportunity, this is a great chance to open doors for yourself and strengthen your future job applications. Here are four ways you can make the most of the next several weeks (in terms of your future job search): 

1. Make a great impression at the school or centre. This is your time to shine! Work really hard, volunteer for extra-curricular activities, get to know the other teachers and staff, be engaged, be professional. Your final practicum is the one potential employers will be most interested in - and it's the best evidence you have to show them what an engaged, committed educator you are. Make it count. 

2.  Get yourself on the radar of Principal, Centre Manager, DP, head teacher, senior teachers and/or BOT Chairperson. When a vacancy opens up at the school or centre you want to be one of the first teachers they think of. Be upfront and honest about it. Introduce yourself, have a chat and let them know you'd love to teach at the school or centre again, and ask them to consider you for any upcoming roles. Keep it light - you don't need to sell yourself or make a case for why they should hire you. The contribution you make to the school or centre during your practicum will do that for you!

3. Record, record, record! Your goal here is to gather the evidence to show what a difference you've made during your practicum - which you can then use to put together a fantastic teaching CV. Here a few ideas for of the types of information you could record: 

  • a story about an individual student who you helped in some way
  • a unit or activity you ran 
  • data about the class you taught
  • ways you contributed to the overall school or centre community

It doesn't need to be fancy - just keep a Word or Google document with your notes. When it comes to writing your CV, you can just copy and past them straight in.

The stories you record will also be great to use when answering questions during your interviews. Here's a list of the types of questions you can expect to be asked at the interview. 

4. Get some quality referees. Ask your associate teachers if they'd be willing to be a referee for you, and get their contact details to list on your CV (including email and phone numbers). Also ask if you can use the comments from your practicum report in your CV. Almost everyone will say yes, but it's always good practice to ask before you do this! 

It's also worth doing a bit of research and working out how respected the centre manager, DP or Principal is within the wider education community, and how much weight a reference or recommendation from them is going to carry - this might be the thing to get you on the radar of a hiring panel. Again, just be upfront and ask if they would be wiling to be a reference - though make sure you've got a positive relationship with them before asking this. If they have no idea who you are, it might backfire when they're called for a reference! 

Finally, get on the radar of your visiting lecturer and check that you've got their contact details. While it's always preferable to use your associate teachers as your main referees, visiting lecturers can make a good third referee if the school or centre you apply to asks for one. 

 First and foremost, our final practicum is an amazing learning opportunity, and important component of your qualification. You absolutely don't need to spend your whole time networking and thinking about your future job prospects - you won't have time! But by taking a couple of hours to do these four things, you'll be making things easier with your job applications down the line.