How to Get Through the Education Department

Written by Andres Salazar

People come to the University of Lethbridge for a variety of reasons. Some enroll because it’s already close to home, others come to be part of the UofL’s many athletic teams. However, many come to the windy city specifically to start their adventure in the university’s renowned education program.

Getting through the education department seems simple and complicated at the same time. While it’s only three internships and a handful of courses, some of it will seem easy to go through, while other sections of the program will leave you ripping hairs off your head. However, with a little bit of guidance, getting through the program can seem like a walk in the park. So, from my experience, here is a short and simple guide on what to look out for in the education department.

ED 2500

The first step of the education department journey, ED 2500, is a snapshot of what the rest of the program would look like. You will create your first lesson plans and write many reflections and journal entries. Passing the course is usually very easy; staying on track with your weekly homework being the most important part. However, the critical part is getting a recommendation to the department by your professor. Though, a solid, honest effort in your assignments is just what you need to get that recommendation and enter the education department.

Professional Semester I

This is where the real work starts. The coursework for the in-class portion of PSI is easy enough, with it being more busy than difficult. What will keep you anxious is waiting to find out which school and grade you’ll be working with. The practicum itself will be very busy. Getting used to writing out all the plans and keeping up with your observations will be more tiring than you expect. However, the good thing is that your attitude and effort are the most important aspects of PSI. Similarly to ED 2500, getting an outright fail is quite hard; this is the semester to make mistakes and learn from them. In short, as long as you don’t punch a kid in the face, PSI should be smooth enough to pass.

Professional Semester II

Unfortunately, this is where things become more difficult. PSII is widely viewed as an endurance test. The course portion of PSII is way harder, and your observations in PSII are much stricter than they were in PSI. While learning how to make unit plans in this practicum is incredibly useful, a much more valuable lesson is realizing that most of the time, whatever you plan will fall apart — pretty much right away. The university doesn’t say it, but it’s well-known that PSII is where the ed department weeds out those who are not deemed fit for teaching. While the six-week internship might be a nightmare, if you can keep your lesson plans on time and your sanity in check for that month and a half, you’ll finish the most challenging part of the entire program.

Professional Semester III

After you pass the hardest semester in the program, PSIII feels like a vacation. Although you’ll be in the classroom for the whole term, it never feels as deadly as those first two practicums, a sign of your growth as a teacher. University professors and the school administrations will give you more freedom to do whatever you want, as long as you’re still hitting those precious curricular outcomes. PSIII is the semester where you genuinely start to feel like a teacher. The assessments you’ll get from the university and your assigned school focus less on the “teaching” part and will center more on general management skills and learning to tailor your lessons to the particular classroom. While this semester will be consistently busy, as long as you stay on top of your lesson and unit plans, you’ll pass your final internship with little problems. If anything, use your newfound freedom this semester and be bold; come up with fun projects and learn from any mistakes you make.

Education Electives

These courses are a blast to go through. As part of the program requirements, you must take, depending on your program, about five education courses at the university. These courses will cover topics such as teaching in Indigenous communities, using technology in the classroom, or even improving your creativity as an educator. For the most part, the professors for these courses are very generous graders. As long as you put in a decent amount of effort and hand in work on time, an A- or A is a likely outcome.

Conclusion

Going through the education department is incredibly interesting and rewarding. Although it might not be easy, every completed semester feels like an achievement. Funnily enough, being a student in the education department will also teach valuable lessons outside the classroom, including learning how to write professional emails and build better workplace relationships. Though it can be complicated at times, you will ultimately finish your practicums and courses with an understanding that you still have much to learn. Enjoy the journey!

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