The teaching practicum as an opportunity for professional growth: perceptions of three associate-teachers /
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The purpose of this study was to examine the student-teaching practicum as an opportunity for professional growth for associate-teachers. Three associate-teachers from one school board in southern Ontario were purposefully selected to participate in the study. Participants were interviewed before and after one 4-week teaching practicum. They were asked to keep a reflective journal during the practicum, and provided with questions to guide their reflection. The literature suggests that meaningful professional development is contextual and requires reflection on practice. For example, Schon's (l987b) hall of mirrors phenomenon occurs when teachers reflect on their own practice while observing and guiding the practice of others. Findings from this study suggest the teaching practicum has the potential to be a valuable professional development opportunity for associateteachers, but that the university and the school board affiliated with the participants do not conceptualize it as such. As well, the research suggests that although all participants found the teaching practicum valuable, the extent to which they were able to grow professionally depended on their professional personality. In addition, it was found that the reflective journal enhanced opportunities for associate teacher reflection. This research suggests that universities and school boards may wish to consider the studentteacher practicum as a professional development opportunity.