Jessi Zandbelt is a teacher candidate in the Primary-Junior division and she shared with us some of her classroom experiences on practicum. Read about Jessi Zandbelt's experience below.

Jessi Zandbelt poses smiling outside of Duncan McArthur Hall.What was your most memorable experience during practicum?
Throughout my time in the classroom, I had a lot of fun learning and trying new things, one of which was incorporating project-based learning into my practice. My most memorable experience comes from this, where I was able to facilitate building a 3D city with a Grade 3 class. This involved planning, designing, building, and revising our own city! Students worked hard to learn about different 2D and 3D shapes and their attributes, land uses in Ontario, and characteristics of maps. This cross-curricular project allowed students to showcase their personalities and make their section of the city unique to them. For me, it was so rewarding to see the excitement and engagement from students and hear many of them say how this project made learning fun.

What surprised you about your time in a classroom?
Because I was in each classroom for just a short amount of time, I was surprised by the strength of my relationships with students. I loved learning about each child, their interests, strengths, needs, and unique personalities. These connections, however, made it extremely hard to leave at the end of the practicum block. I was shocked at how much I had become a part of each class and how difficult my last day was emotionally. A second element that surprised me was my growth throughout my time in the classroom. Not only did I see a difference from my first practicum to my last, but I also noticed myself improving within the same block, week to week. I was more comfortable with students, the material, and the school community. I found myself more willing to try new things, take on a larger teaching load, and gain experience with various elements of the profession (e.g., documentation, assessment, parent contact, school events). Looking back, I can largely attribute my growth and success in the classroom to my amazing associate teachers and their continual support.

What did you learn that you will incorporate into your own teaching?
Over the course of my practicums, I learned so much about myself and the teaching profession, which I have adapted into my pedagogy. One thing that I am excited to bring into my own teaching is structured literacy. I was lucky to have my practicums in a school that embraced structured literacy, allowing me to observe “code” lessons and later gain experience using this approach myself. I was able to see multiple classrooms foster students’ reading and comprehension skills through explicit instruction. Overall, I am so grateful for these experiences and am excited to incorporate these elements into my own teaching to create a more equitable program for my students!

Have a practicum, module, or teaching experience you want to share? Send a brief story about the cool things you are doing as part of your program to Education Communications.