Practicum Semester III (PSIII): The pinnacle field experience

In their final practicum, Professional Semester III (PSIII) University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education students spend a university semester teaching in a school setting guided by a teacher mentor and supervised by the local school administrator.

Chris Tuck currently teaches at Dr. Gerald B. Probe Elementary School in Lethbridge.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more in a PSIII experience,” says Chris Tuck (BA/Ed ’14). “You really get to be part of the school. You can see the kids learn, and I built some amazing relationships.”

“PSIII is the pinnacle experience in the Faculty of Education program. It is one of the components that makes the U of L program so powerful,” says Dr. John Poulsen, PSIII Coordinator. “The student teachers are called interns to signify the difference from previous practica. What is so special is that the interns perform much like a half time teacher for four months. They take on most of the duties of certified teachers, such as planning, teaching, and assessment. After PSIII the interns are confident and ready to teach.”

Tuck, who interned at St. Patrick Fine Arts Elementary School in Lethbridge, enjoyed collaborating with other teachers while he was there.

“One of the biggest things I learned was there’s more than one way to teach. If something doesn’t work the first time, it’s okay to reteach it. There’s time to try new things. I feel I can differentiate now, and do things that will work for each student. When I see kids grasp something, there’s nothing better.”

Faculty professors helped Tuck immensely.

“Professors model the instructional strategies they teach,” he says.

This allows students to discover what works for them as students, and then implement those strategies as teachers.

PSIII interns are required to engage in a professional inquiry project. Tuck focused on cross-discipline teaching, often using games to teach skills and competencies simultaneously in several subject areas. The shadow puppet plays his students produced for science also incorporated drama and language arts. Math and physical education merged in ‘Math Facts Bowling.’

Tuck created a website to share learning games He also values Twitter to resource with colleagues.

“In teaching we never stop learning,” says Tuck’s teacher mentor, Don Flaig. “Mr. Tuck brought a lot of fun and creativity to the classroom, and, as is often the case with student teachers, he has raised the bar for me.”

Flaig’s mentorship reinforced Tuck’s enthusiasm for teaching, originally inspired by a childhood soccer coach and several other exceptional teachers.

“I wanted to be them,” he says. “I had good experiences and I wanted to pay it forward. Coming out of this program, I feel I’m ready.”