A new practicum at Missouri Southern is moving future elementary school teachers into the classroom earlier.

Education 415 takes place the semester before student teaching. Students spend all day in an elementary school classroom on Wednesdays. They attend classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays but get a substitute certificate and are free to substitute on Mondays and Fridays.

Sheila Damer, director of Clinical Field Experiences, says students are taking part in elementary school classes in Joplin, Webb City and Carthage. One student has also been placed into an elementary school in Grove, Okla.

“This practicum will better prepare our future teachers by giving them an earlier authentic experience in a school setting,” says Dr. Deborah Brown, dean of the School of Education. “It combines several smaller practicums into a more integrated experience.”

“It is important to get candidates out in the field early to begin the connections between theory and practice,” says Lorinda Hackett,
Teacher Education department chair.

Damer says Education 415 candidates can be placed in grades 1 through 6 (although most schools only offer classes through the fifth grade). During the spring semester, a total of 18 teacher candidates are taking part in Education 415. Currently, the practicum is only
being offered to Elementary Education majors.

“We plan on reviewing the results and we hope to expand the concept to middle schools in the future,” Damer says.