School Library Practicum - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

From: Mary Wepking, SOIS School Library Media Coordinator
wepking@uwm.edu


What are the requirements for my practicum placements?

You need to work under the supervision of a School Library Media Specialist who has a 902 license and three years of experience. Your 200 hours should be divided between two schools at two different levels (elementary, middle, high school). When at all feasible, we expect you to do your fieldwork in two different districts, one of which should be urban.

What coursework is needed prior to practicum?

You should have completed at least 510, 520, and 511 as a minimum. You should plan to take 642 before or concurrently with your practicum. The later in your program you do the practicum, the more meaningful it will be.

Can I spread out the hours through the semester?

Your experience will be the most valuable if you can do all of your work in a concentrated time. However, this is not always feasible since many of our students have work obligations. Dividing the placements between two semesters may be desirable. Please discuss your plan with the program advisor before making final arrangements.

How do I approach someone about practicum

When possible and desired, the program advisor will make an initial contact on your behalf. If you are doing the contact yourself, call the library media specialist and ask for an appointment to discuss a possible placement. This gives you both a chance to determine whether you might be a good match. It is up to the librarian to clear a placement with his/her supervisor and to advise you whether a background check is required by the district.

What features should I look for in a practicum site?

You will want to work where there is a fully-functioning library and information literacy program including regular information skills instruction with students and staff, current technology, planning and collaboration with teachers and interaction with administrators and with parents.

Why don’t you assign practicum placements?

Students often have an idea of where they would like to work. Furthermore, we wish to avoid mismatches as much as possible. If you need help in finding a placement in the Milwaukee area, we will certainly assist you.

Will a SOIS representative come to visit me during my practicum?

Yes, we plan to visit once at each of your placements. For online students, we will visit one time if at all practical. At that time, we would like to see you working with students, have a three-way conference with you and your supervisor and then a brief time with the supervisor alone.

Is the visit the only contact I will have with you during practicum?

No, regular communication throughout the practicum is expected. A D2L site is provided and you will be expected to write and upload journal entries in which you reflect on your experience.

What should I expect to do during practicum?

Before you begin your practicum, you will do a self-assessment based on selected Wisconsin Standards and Benchmarks (644 Practicum Evaluation Rubric). File a copy of this report with the program advisor and use it as a guide as you plan your placement experience. You may also use the Student Fieldwork Checklist as a guide for experiences you want to include in your fieldwork. Avoid being told or shown in favor of rolling up your sleeves and doing it. Remember also that this is your chance to learn practical skills, like simple book repair.

Any other expectations?

Approach this experience with professional standards in mind at all times. This refers to everything from your appearance and comportment to punctuality. Absences should be avoided. If you cannot be present when you are expected, please let the cooperating librarian know in a timely manner.

How is my practicum assessed?

At the end of your placement, you will confer with your supervising library media specialist to prepare a new self-assessment based on the standards rubric. In addition, your supervisor will be asked to fill out an evaluation. You are asked to write a 3-5 page report covering both placements, describing your experience. Your journal will be useful as you prepare your summary report. Your report, your supervisor’s report, and my observations from my visits will be used to assess your practicum. These items will be placed in your portfolio, along with a video recording of a lesson if possible. Also, you should keep samples of any flyers, displays, or evidence of programs you completed during your placement.

For a concise overview of 644 Practicum, please see the Practicum Experience Overview Document
Information Request Form