Jumping Through Spinning Hoops. Stories of the middle school and secondary practicum.

Research output: Book/ReportBook


There is a need to ensure that the practicum (previously known as 'prac teaching', 'student teaching', 'field experience' and 'clinical supervision for student teachers') is a valuable professional learning experience. My recent research indicates that practicum learning is currently often left to chance and many learning opportunities are wasted. It is evident that the practicum is frequently a time of tension, frustration, misinformation, confrontation, acquiescence and mis-communication. Preservice teachers (the current term for those who are undertaking teacher preparation) need to invest an immense amount of time for a successful practicum and in many instances, a complete rearrangement of lifestyle, work and family responsibilities is necessary. It is essential that practicum learning is not left to chance. Instead, it should be a time when clearly articulated outcomes are aspired to and achieved. It is my belief that there has been limited discussion about the purpose of the practicum beyond 'taken for granted' expectations developed from uncontested traditional understandings. This has led to preservice teachers reporting experiences of uncertainty or confusion and mentor teachers (those who 'supervise', guide and support preservice teachers in the classrooms) complaining of unclear guidelines and learning expectations.It is important that we theorise or 'make sense of' the practicum so that a clearer understanding of its purpose and what it can deliver emerges. To progress this view I have devised nine 'principles of practicum learning' and a workshop or 'learning circle' process during preservice university preparation (and as part of professional development for mentor teachers), based on 'stories of practicum learning' that have been created from classroom observation and much discussion with preservice teachers, their mentors and their teacher educators. In this book will find six stories that offertrustworthy and authentic evidence of the learning that is happening and not happening during the practicum. These stories resonate with preservice teachers who will find that they empathise with the story characters, their background experiences, the emergent themes and the story content. Robust theories that support learning and create spaces and opportunities for further learning during the practicum are presented. The receptivity of school cultures, contemporary views of young people as learners, productive mentoring and the importance of collaborative relationships between the schools and the universities re-vision a pedagogy of teacher education to make sense of the extremely complex process of the practicum. These themes then direct the reflective questions and tasks at the end of each chapter to enable conversations around authentic examples of the problematic nature of the practicum as well as understandings about developing teacher identity and critical pedagogy. Additionally there is a seventh story depicting how the book might be used as a part of a pedagogy of teacher education.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSouth Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Number of pages115
ISBN (Print)9780170137331
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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