The three Teaching Practica (Fall, Spring, and Summer Capstone) are essential and core elements of Teton Science Schools’ Graduate Program. The practica are the hands-on experience unique to this graduate program. The Teaching Practica have academic credit - two credits in Fall Semester, four credits in Spring Semester, and four credits in Summer Session.
Teaching Practica Objectives
The objective of the Teaching Practica is to improve teaching methods and expand professional education skills. These objectives are achieved by giving graduate students multiple opportunities to teach a variety of ages under the guidance of Teton Science Schools’ graduate faculty. The teaching practicum integrates the foundation of Teton Science Schools, applies coursework content understanding and develops leadership while seeking to build the core competencies of a skilled educator. The Teaching Practica inform teaching practice and nurture developing educators’ skills and instructional identity.
Teaching Practica Opportunities
Graduate Students teach in Teton Science Schools’ Educational Programs for 13 weeks during the academic year (four weeks in Fall Semester and nine weeks in Spring Semester) and six to eight weeks during the Summer Capstone Practicum. Teaching is supported through direct mentorship, seminars, observations and reflection. Teaching opportunities include rotations through multi-day residential field science courses, classroom and field instruction in K-12 schools, extended summer courses, Journeys School, and with partner organizations. In addition, there are up to seven teaching preparation weeks throughout the year.
Graduate faculty supervisors oversee each teaching practicum team. Faculty supervisors possess a master’s degree or higher and are in charge of supervising four to eight graduate students each semester. This includes the administration of programs, scheduling of graduate students in various teaching opportunities, supervising graduate students in the execution of programs, and mentoring graduate students in their development as educators.
Seasonal Developmental Emphases
Each season presents new opportunities for development of educational skills and topics; emphases will be approached on a continuum, with mentors and graduate students focusing on individual expertise and teaching goals. The seasonal progression includes the following topics:
- Fall Semester: Student management, positive learning environments, field teaching techniques, place based education and reflective practice
- Spring Semester: Winter - Instructional and assessment strategies, learning styles, developmental theory, and teaching science as inquiry. Spring - Curriculum planning, backwards design, advanced lesson plan development, questioning strategies and action research.
- Summer Session: The Capstone Teaching Practicum is the culminating experience where students synthesize their year-long learning in a challenging and practical way.
The Teaching Practica are letter grade courses. While it is difficult to assign a letter grade to the development of an art form such as teaching, faculty use a variety of means toward this end. Faculty facilitate multiple formative and summative assessments throughout the practicum. Rubrics are provided for each category of assignments.
Teaching Practicum Model
The teaching practicum focuses on instruction, curriculum design and reflective practice to develop skilled educators within the context of an institutional and programmatic foundation. The teaching practicum is supported by understanding of ecology and pedagogy built within additional graduate program courses and an emphasis on professional leadership.