School practice plays a very important role during an Erasmus study period at the University of Education Upper Austria.
During the first part, students have the opportunity to observe highly professional practice teachers in their classrooms, and later on the students will teach (sequences of) lessons by themselves.
Every student is supported by the practice teacher and a mentor provided by the university.
Three courses at the university give theoretical background, show practical solutions and give the possibility to reflect on the practice experience in a group supported by an experienced professor.
In the beginning, they give an introduction to the situation in their class (the diversity among the pupils, rituals in the class, methodogical approach, forms of assessment, team-teaching, etc.) and about the demands the students could meet.
Practice teachers give specific instructions and guidance on lessons (sequences) that the students will teach in their classroom. After each lesson, they provide individual feedback.
They provide support and comment on students’ written reflections about their weekly teaching by giving written feedback. They observe students’ lessons from time to time and give oral feedback afterwards. They are also mediators if any problems should arise.
Two courses – Innovative Teaching Strategies and Classroom Management – help students to get theoretical background information on classroom management techniques and modern teaching strategies.
A Tutorial course for practice supports students planning the lessons in the practice groups and enables them to plan and produce material according to the pupils’ needs and the practice teachers requirements.
School practice is organised as a weekly practice which takes place each Wednesday. There are 14 dates each term. Each Practice day consists of two lessons in the classroom and time for reflection, as well as the Classroom Management and Innovative Teaching Strategies courses in the afternoon.
A start-up conference for students, practice teachers and tutors at the University at the beginning of the term guarantees that all needed information for all people involved is provided.
Students get assessed at the end of term after they have written a development report. This report deals with highlights and critical incidents during the teaching practice. Written feedback on this report will be given by the tutor. Practice teachers write a short report for students focused on lesson planning, teaching, classroom management techniques, contact with pupils, thoroughness, personal commitment, etc.. Finally two forms are signed by students, teachers and tutors. At the end of term a conference in order to evaluate the school practice is planned.