Bringing theory and practice together
A practical guide for early childhood teachers on how to make the most of their practicum experience and successfully transition from student teacher to professional.
FELICITY MCARDLE teaches undergraduate and postgraduate education students at Queensland University of Technology and Charles Sturt University. She publishes nationally and internationally, and is co-author of The Trouble with Play. She has led the design and implementation of programs of study for pre-service teachers, and regularly conducts professional learning programs for in-service teachers.
MEGAN GIBSON is a lecturer in the School of Early Childhood, QUT. Her key areas of interest for research and teaching include teacher professionalism, leadership and management, and policy and sustainability. She currently works with pre-service teachers and leads professional learning programs with practicing educators in the early childhood field.
LYN ZOLLO is a lecturer in early childhood education at QUT. She has extensive experience teaching in a diverse range of early childhood settings both in Australia and internationally. Her particular interest with pre-service teachers is preparing them to create and enable quality learning and teaching in the early years.
McArdle, Gibson and Zollo bring their years of knowledge and experience together into this book that should be on every Early Childhood Educators reading list prior to their first prac. It offers pre-service teachers an insight into a reality that can sometimes feel like stepping off a cliff edge. It encourages pre-service teachers to ‘check-in’ with the focus being largely on their role as a teacher and their connections with the children and families they will work with.
The book explores what it means to be a professional and offers tips and ‘What if’ possibilities and solutions. Throughout the chapters’ practical advice, comparison tables and activities offer pre-service students the reflective lens to view and succeed during their practicum placement. It offers multiple opportunities to reflect on who they can call on for support and the roles that these people play in helping them to, as the chapter suggests, ‘step up and step out”.
As a Beginning Teacher Mentor I shared this book with some of my mentees and they all wished they had it before they started their first prac. I also had the opportunity as our schools’ practicum supervisor to share it with a third year student and her recommendation was that this text should be offered to all students as they headed out into placement for the first time. The teaching toolkit in chapter 8 was a particular highlight for her and it is something that I will now include as part of my induction program with pre-service teachers.
Sandra Marx, Head of Mentoring / Pedagogical Coach, Pine Rivers Special School, QLD
This book is a useful tool for new teachers to the Early Years. A student teacher seeking clarity and examples of how to stream both the practical teaching and learning experience will find this text most helpful. It can take time for the theoretical information from university lectures to transfer into the ‘hands on’ experience in the classroom. This is due to the complexity of the teachers’ role, as teacher, administrator, first aider, carer, colleague, planner, assessor… Although this can be overwhelming for many beginning teachers, support of good experienced teacher mentors, other staff, and supportive leadership can all assist in creating highly effective Early Years classroom settings.
The text will be a great resource for experienced teachers to have on hand when working with student teachers, to support written and verbal advice, to improve teaching practice. This will also allow new teachers to reflect on, and improve, their practice.
This text has a great ‘quick reference’ guide throughout, including side notes: ‘Did you know?’ ‘Activities’, ‘In conversation’, ‘Think about it’ and ‘Taking it further’. There are useful tables, forms and checklists. It would be ideal for a University level textbook, for student teachers, as they embark on practicum in an Early Childhood setting.
There are three main ideas interwoven through this book: images of children, relationships and pedagogies, which are linked to AusVels standards. The conversation sections give the first hand reflections of pre-service teachers. The activity questions allow for practice reflection as goals and further planning for improvement, including what is expected on practicum.
Alyssa Chalhoub, North Fitzroy Primary School, VIC
This book is relevant for all pre-service teachers working in childcare settings, kinders and lower primary schools, grades prep to two. It will also be an essential resource for those in their first year of full-time employment.The authors successfully bring together theory and practice to guide pre-service teachers through their training. It is written in an extremely accessible style and has a practical layout, with a good, clean design.
Throughout the book readers are encouraged to reflect on what good teaching looks and feels like, and to challenge their assumptions, values and beliefs. Readers are navigated through teaching rounds, or pracs, in different settings and stages of training, and suggested activities encourage research, deep and critical reflection, and self-evaluation. I found the activities thought-provoking and meaningful. The teachers toolkit section contains useful strategies, tips and reminders and of course, links to many external resources.
Particularly useful are the insights from “real” pre-service teachers and the responses from experienced teachers mentoring them. I found I could identify with many of the situations and dilemmas mentioned and the mentors’ responses were valuable. It caused me to reflect on my own experiences during my teaching rounds and how they have shaped me as a qualified teacher. I wish I had had access to this book whilst doing my training - it would have been tremendously useful. This is a useful, practical book, and one to refer to over and over again.
Anthea Barrett, CRT, VIC