25 Feb 2021
Practicum- A new Approach in teacher education at the College of Education
Teacher education programs are designed to produce effective classroom practitioners who are well prepared to address the various challenges in classroom setting. This must aim to develop the knowledge, skills and attributes of pre-service teachers to prepare them to teach effectively in the schools systems. In this regard, different approaches to teacher education have emerged in teacher preparation program around the world. At the University of Rwanda’s College of Education (UR-CE), a new approach known as “ practicum” was introduced, with the support of Mastercard Foundation through “Leaders in Teaching Initiative (LIT) Project, to strengthen teacher education.
Practicum is “a school-based experience that teacher trainees have in the classroom to put theory into practice before they take on the full range of responsibilities required for teaching students.” It is the context in which pre-service teachers are given the opportunity to grow and develop as future members of the profession, to apply their skills in the teaching practice, and reflect on what it means to them to be a teacher.
Therefore, students’ practicum at UR-CE is conducted as a practical part of the existing modules on different subject teaching methods. Dr. Philothere NTAWIHA, Coordinator of School Attachment in the UR-CE School of Education, noted that the effective implementation of practicum activities requires of a student-teacher to conduct four school visits, and for each visit student-teachers are required to produce a reflective report.’’
According to the schedule of practicum implementation activities, at the first visit/observation, student-teachers visit the school to get familiar with the general school environment. During this visit student-teachers will be introduced to the school life and challenges faced and at the end of the visit student-teachers are required to write a reflective report. This will be part of the module of EDC 1243 : Theories and Practice of Teaching and Learning.
At the second visit, the student-teachers job-shadow an experienced teacher at the beginning of the specific teaching methods. This will enable the students to compare the realities on the ground with the theory they take in classroom.
During the third and fourth visits which take place at the end of specific teaching methods, the student-teachers go into secondary schools/Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) to deliver a lesson in their subjects of specialization. The mentor and the supervisor observe the lesson delivered by the student-teacher and provide him/her with constructive feedback.
Besides providing student-teachers with opportunities to put theories into practice, practicum activities are designed to prepare student-teachers to conduct school attachment. The latter is conceived as an extended school-based placement in which student-teachers are expected to consolidate their knowledge and experience across all facets of the role of the teacher in the school.
Public Relations and Community Engagement Officer
University of Rwanda-College of Education