Education practicums typically focus on either secondary or primary education, and the experience can be different for students interested in entering either field. A practicum for a future educator is a process in which the student spends time in an actual classroom to have a better understanding of what being a teacher is like. For students interested in teaching at a primary school, this experience takes place in such a class and he or she works around younger kids. Education practicums for students planning on teaching secondary education are usually in a high school or similar setting and often involve the subject they wish to teach.
There are different ways in which education practicums can be conducted, though the basic format is usually the same. A student who wants to become a teacher spends many hours over a semester or two in actual classrooms with an instructor and students. He or she does not usually teach lessons, but observes and provides assistance as desired by the teacher. This ensures minimal interference by the student, and allows him or her to still learn a great deal while in the class. Students in education practicums may take on a more active role, if desired by a teacher, allowing them to begin practicing teaching in a classroom.
One of the most common types of education practicums is in a primary program, for students who plan on teaching to children. These courses are usually intended for future teachers of young people in the first six grades of education. The classes at this level involve multiple subjects taught by a single teacher, including history, geography, and reading, so all of these materials may be covered in a single session. Students in primary education practicums are likely to attend on different days throughout the week to see a wide range of subjects being taught and gain a better understanding of what teachers face at this grade level.
There are also numerous education practicums available for students interested in teaching at a secondary level. This covers the rest of a young person's education, usually through middle or junior high and high school. Future educators in this type of program focus on a particular subject, such as mathematics or science, and learn to teach that to older students. Education practicums for secondary students typically focus on this subject, and can involve multiple classes. A student might perform half of the practicum at a high school and the other half at a middle school, to gain a broader view of secondary programs.