From Practicum to Classroom: Melissa Read

February 13, 2023 3 min read

If you watched Grade 3 teacher Melissa Read in her classroom, you would think she was born to teach. If you asked her, she would tell you she’s always wanted to teach—she just didn’t know it. While she feels most comfortable working with children, her path to education wasn’t a straight line.

Living in Victoria as a dental assistant, Ms. Read was the lifeline children needed in their appointments. She held their hands when they were scared, and patients regularly asked for the “lady in the glasses.” While she appreciated her job, Ms. Read felt she needed a greater challenge.

Her boss encouraged her to follow her career aspiration: teaching. Before she knew it, Ms. Read was at Mount Royal University (MRU), balancing theory in the lecture hall and teaching in the classroom.

Preparing for the “Real World” of Teaching at MRU

Ms. Read describes her university degree as plenty of theory mixed with short bursts of classroom work. As student teachers progress from year to year, they slowly take on more responsibility, eventually teaching most of the time they’re in the classroom. Ms. Read believes her work placements were essential for her education.

By the time Ms. Read began her practicum at Calgary Academy, she already had classroom experience. However, she had never been fully handed the reins.

“I learned the most during my practicums. School can only teach you so much theory… You need to get into the classroom.”

The final year of Ms. Read’s degree brought her to Calgary Academy for a 14-week practicum, where she worked alongside a mentor teacher, spending almost all her time teaching. She first heard of the school when MRU students visited the campus, learning about Calgary Academy and its opportunities. Ms. Read credits this visit as the moment she knew where she wanted to spend her practicum.

“When they described Calgary Academy, it was what education is supposed to be… By the end of my practicum, I was like, ‘this is it—I found my place.’” – Ms. Read

Life as a Calgary Academy Teacher

Ms. Read certainly made an impression during her practicum and was eventually offered a full-time teaching position at the school. She started within a few days of graduation, stepping off the stage with her degree and entering the classroom with her lesson plan.

The support she’s receiving from her peers and mentor hasn’t changed even though Ms. Read’s practicum is over. She still has her mentor and the Calgary Academy community watching her back. Whether she has questions, ideas, or needs advice for her classroom, Ms. Read says she has the support of “anybody down the hallway. Everyone is so supportive.”

Already more than halfway through her first year as a full-time teacher at Calgary Academy, Ms. Read describes the experience as “surreal.” She understands that no one is an expert at the start of their career, but she has so many people cheering her on.

“I get that ‘imposter syndrome feeling,’ but it also feels great. I’ve seen so much growth, and I can’t believe I’m capable of what I’m doing.” – Ms. Read

As an MRU success story, Ms. Read hopes to see more graduates working at Calgary Academy. She offers advice passed on by her mentor for current university students: “if you can’t write your lesson plan on a sticky note, you’ve planned too much.”

She still remembers her response: “how big is the sticky note?