Posted in Miscellaneous

A Practically Perfect Practicum

By Clara Pusey
What is a Practicum?
This is a practical, teaching and learning experience and one of the first opportunities in their major to get out into the public schools.

When does it take place?
In the elementary education major, it is the two semesters before student teaching.

When do I sign up?
After students have signed up for all their classes, and once university registration is open to all, students have the opportunity to sign up for their desired school district on the date given to them in an email which is sent out a couple weeks in advance. Students attend practicums in Nebo, Provo City, Alpine, Jordan, or Wasatch County District.

How long is a practicum?
Each practicum lasts one month.

How many practicums will there be?
There are two practicums.

How do the practicums differ?
They involve different grade levels. The first practicum is centered around kindergarten through second grade. The second practicum is third through sixth grade.

Is there anything connected to the practicum?
There are two field Fridays where students have a seminar (this semester’s seminars were advisement and a career and planning workshop).

What happens during a practicum?
There are course assignments to do in the classroom, including teaching certain lessons, practicing literacy tests through a case study, learning about the technology in the classroom, and writing lesson plans. You will attend two seminars, often at the district building with your practicum seminar class professors to help you along the way. You will also be observed by your Clinical Faculty Associate (CFA). A CFA is a BYU faculty member who is connected to the school district. He or she attends your practicum seminar class the two months leading up to practicum and visits you in your classroom. Your CFA will observe two lessons at a time you sign up for and gives you great feedback about your strengths and what you can work on in the future. Finally, if you are lucky like me, you might be there during Teacher Appreciation Week and get to scooter on your stomach across the gym floor in front of the whole school.

What do I want others to know about a practicum?
While it might seem daunting now, practicum is a fun and real learning experience that is whatever you choose to make of it. In my practicum, I wanted to teach as much as possible, so I did 2­–4 lessons every day so I could experience the true highs and lows of the profession. Some days I have felt breakthroughs in new ways of teaching, new materials used, and new assessments, while other days the students would NOT STOP TALKING. In contrast, I know a lot of people who are happy just doing a lesson or two a day, and they are enjoying it as well. I got paired with a mentor teacher in the school who has specifically been chosen to guide and advise practicum students as they plan and execute lessons. I have loved having a teacher with vast experience who knows everything from how to get children to actually be excited about a PowerPoint on money word problems to how to make a student who talks like a baby when she wants attention to actually do her work. Notwithstanding this, she has also taught me how to be flexible in teaching because without flexibility in the classroom, teaching would not be fun.

The month you are in the schools will be a busy one, but you have such a line of support behind you. Professors, CFAs, facilitators, principals, mentor teachers, and many others are ready and willing to help you in any way you need. While it seems like practicum will be very overwhelming, and sometimes it definitely feels that way, it also goes by in a blink of an eye. Enjoy practicum—because it is really experiencing what you want to do with the rest of your life. Play freeze tag at recess when your students ask, plan that extra lesson when it’s a topic you’ve never tried teaching, and say yes to any and every opportunity because practicum is an experience you will never forget.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Connecting “Why” to “How”

By Lauren Bell

Studying speech-language pathology is more than a major—it’s a mission. My younger brother, Adam, was the catalyst in my decision to major in this field. Adam has autism and struggles to communicate with those around him. My desire, and the guiding focus of my education, is to help people like my brother navigate a world not built for them. As I become closer with my fellow students, I have realized that nearly everyone in this major has a personal motivation for being here.

For my friend and fellow communication disorders student, Elizabeth Turley, this motivation is intrinsically related to her identity. Having overcome a speech impediment, she is driven to help others do the same. I interviewed her to get her perspective on the career path of speech-language pathology.

1. What inspired you to become a speech pathologist?

I was inspired to become a speech pathologist after being enrolled in speech therapy for thirteen years of my life. I have been in these kids’ shoes and understand how being in therapy feels; I want to help them succeed, just like my therapist helped me.

2. How has being a part of the McKay School/Communication Disorders major affected your life?

Being in the communication disorders program has opened my eyes to the great impact speech-language pathologists can have. I have realized that I can change the world one person at a time with the skills I am learning here.

3. What are your future career goals?

After graduate school I want to experience as many areas of the field as I can: schools, hospitals, private consultant work, etc. I don’t know where my niche will be, but my goal is to find somewhere where I can be genuinely happy and helpful!

4. Is there a way you’re hoping to connect your past experiences to your future career goals?

When I am helping kids in therapy, especially teenagers, I want to share my experience with them to help them understand that it is never too late to work hard and try to ‘graduate’ therapy.

When I asked Elizabeth about her story, I was inspired to deepen my own commitment to connecting personal motivation with practice. I am so grateful to be a part of this program, where both people and practice spur me to reach a greater potential. Although I still feel uncertainty about the future and my abilities as a therapist, a Les Brown quote emboldens me to press forward:
“When your why is big enough, you will find your how.”

Posted in Miscellaneous


by David Squires
Seventeenth-century U.S. author and physician, Oliver Wendell Holmes, provides us with a blueprint as a model for developing our own mansion of thinking.

Holmes suggested, “There are one-story intellects, two-story intellects, and three-story intellects with skylights.

All fact collectors with no aim beyond their facts are one-story men.

Two-story men compare, reason, and generalize, using labors of the fact collectors as well as their own.

Three-story men idealize, imagine, and predict. Their best illuminations come from above through the skylight.” Here is my model which I call Stone-Age Thinking.

Keystone is defined as the central supporting element of the whole. The keystone is that which other associated stone-age features lean upon.

Cornerstone thinking is something that has fundamental importance in thinking. It is often referred to as the foundation and is essential or basic to how you think.

Capstone thinking is the crowning achievement of your thought processing. It is defining success that caps your greatest thinking.

Gemstone thinking is associated with how brilliant your thinking becomes. Inspired thinking shines as a thing of beauty.  It is a stone that is prized because of its beauty or worth.

Grindstone thinking is the thinking within your processing that sharpens and shapes all other elements of your thinking. It requires hard work and perseverance.

Steppingstones are processes that serve as a means of advancing or rising to achieve goals. The path of well-placed steppingstones leads to advancement or improvement.

Milestones mark important events in life’s experiences. Great thinkers mark significant events in the stages of productivity or performance.

Millstones. Unfortunately, thinkers sometimes throw millstones into otherwise productive thinking. Millstones may completely destroy one’s thinking mansion. A millstone becomes a burden and thus an obstacle to successful thinking outcomes.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Teaching, No Greater Career

By: Annette Evans
2018-2019 Chair, McKay School of Education Alumni Society

Several years ago, I casually asked a colleague about her weekend.  “You won’t believe it,” she said, “but I ended up going to St George with my husband to buy a horse.”

She lived on acreage with corrals and a barn in Utah County, but with their children grown and gone, they no longer had large animals. “A horse?”  I replied, “I thought you sold all your livestock years ago.”

“We did,” she said, “but my husband saw this ad for a gentle horse, and he just had to buy it.”

She continued, giving me a recap of her Saturday.  “We drove all the way to St George and back in one day. I knew she was a good horse the minute I saw her.  The owner cried and gave her a big hug before letting her go. As soon as we got home, my husband took her out of the trailer and called all our family. By the time he got a saddle on her, we had a yard full of grandkids wanting to meet her and take a ride.  One little guy was so excited that he had to run home and get his cowboy hat and boots. We laughed and took pictures of our new horse, who gave rides until after dark. As everyone was leaving, I turned to my husband and asked, ‘After all these years without a horse, why did you have to buy one now?’  Watching the taillights of the last car, he simply smiled and said, ‘I just wanted to be their hero.’”

As a teacher, this conversation resonated with me.  Like many educators, I have an inner heroine that went into the profession because of a desire to make a difference in the lives of young people.

The “teacher as a hero” theme abounds in quotes and posters:

“Real heroes don’t wear capes, they teach.”

“To the world you may be just a teacher, but to your students you are a hero.”

“Teacher? I prefer the term ‘Educational Rockstar.’”

Like most teachers, I had countless moments when I felt like a granddad giving pony rides to kids, and I basked in the rewards:  personal notes (which I still have), gifts of lotion and candles and muffin mixes (which I do not still have), students who wanted to take their picture with me on the last day of school (made me feel like a celebrity), smiles, jokes, chocolate bars, or a simple “Thanks, that was a great class today.”

Despite these rewards, I must admit that I didn’t always feel like a hero when I was in the thick of teaching.  The daily pressures of parent emails, classroom management, lesson planning, grades, extracurricular assignments, new initiatives, etc., often left me exhausted and discouraged.  Often I felt underappreciated, underpaid, overworked, and even resentful.  Negative comments fueled my discontent, and I must admit that sometimes bought into the dialogue, thinking, “I’m a smart person. I should have chosen a better career—something that isn’t this hard and pays more.”

Now that I’m retired (after 25 years), I look back at my days as a teacher with such fondness, and I wish that I had been more proactive about promoting education and encouraging young people to choose teaching as a career. Here are my personal top four reasons why there is no better life than the life of a teacher:

  1. Although teachers don’t make as much money per year as many professionals, benefits such as health care, generous sick leave policies, and pensions are incredibly valuable and underrated. My husband and I were both educators, and because we both have a pension, we can enjoy traveling and serving others without the financial worries that many retirees have.
  2. Teaching is a great career for parents who want to be home when their children are home. We not only had every holiday off with our children, but we also enjoyed spending the summer gardening, fishing, camping, watching baseball games, going to the library, and sleeping in after staying up late.  Yes, I attended a workshop now and then in the summer, but for the most part, teaching gave us the most irreplaceable benefit of all—time with our own children.
  3. Teachers work with incredibly nice people—other teachers. Over the years, we celebrated each other’s triumphs and shared each other’s burdens.  We laughed and played practical jokes, published a cookbook, took students to the 2002 Olympics, played faculty/student football games, and socialized outside of school. My teaching colleagues are to this day some of my dearest friends.
  4. Working with young people is perhaps the most rewarding reason to choose teaching as your life’s work. I may have entered the profession with heroic aspirations, thinking I would bless the lives of students with my passion for learning and my caring heart.  But it didn’t take me long to realize that the students gave me more than I gave them.  I learned from their insights, marveled at their resiliency, and was inspired by their random acts of kindness. In countless ways, they are my heroes.

It’s time we change the dialogue about teaching as a profession.  Yes, it is important for educators to be proactive and advocate for positive improvements, but it’s also important for us to be cheerleaders for education as a career and encourage aspiring teachers.  If they could see the end from the beginning, they would run towards that path.