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HEARTcare for Preservice Teachers

HEARTcare planning for preservice teachers and other educational workers is a necessary part of preventing compassion stress, compassion fatigue, or burnout.

Mentorship and training are crucial for new professionals to recognize when their workplace well-being is at risk and the steps they need to take to prevent further distress.

This isn’t a job. It’s a calling. I really feel like I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. When I was a kid, I used to have a little desk, and I would set up my stuffed animals, and I would erase my homework book and make my brother do it. . . . And I went down a different path at first, but ultimately, I was brought back to teaching, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. But it’s the hardest job I’ve ever done.

(Research participant, Phase 2 Report)

Photo by Carlyn Volume-Smith

The practicum, or field experience, component of the Bachelor of Education degree is an important time to gather resources, meet practicing teachers and administrators, and apply theory to practice.

Taking time to care for your own well-being at this time is not selfish – it ensures that you can best meet the needs of your students while learning about the profession.

Self-care is not about setting big goals or making lifestyle changes, it’s taking time to check in with yourself by taking time away from work.


How can I make the most of my field experience practicum?

  • Build empathetic relationships with your students, partner teachers, and field instructors. 
  • Take time during your practicum to develop work/life boundaries, implement useful self-care strategies, and collect a variety of teaching and learning resources.
  • Schedule time during your work day to attend to your self-care. Try the #FieldSelfCareStreak.
  • Collect good news stories from your practicum advisors, instructors, and students. 
  • Take advantage of opportunities to collaborate with other practicum students either from your own or other post-secondary institutions.
  • Treasure your reasons for entering the field – save some of your first essays or projects as a reminder of your enthusiasm and excitement for teaching.
  • Be energized by caring for the educational needs of children and youth.
  • Investigate the supports and resources offered to you by your post-secondary institution and use them when needed.
  • Check out the Taking Flight website developed by the Alberta Teachers Association.

HEARTcare Planning for Practicum

Individual Strategies

Self-care is more than attending to physical well-being, and is not grounded in selfishness. Self-care is recognizing and making time for healthy habits that build and protect your social mental, emotional, intellectual, environmental, and financial well-being.

Professional and Post-Secondary Resources

Investigate the supports and resources available to you before you leave your campus to start student teaching. Connect with your university advisor or instructor and find out how to access mental health resources once you leave campus.

School/Placement Strategies

Once you know your placement school and grade level(s), read the curriculum, begin to look for resources and information about what you might be teaching, and learn about child and youth developmental milestones for your grade level(s).

What should I do if I feel stress or distress during practicum?

Individual Strategies

Individual strategies are the self-care habits that help to build a person’s physical, emotional, mental, environmental, intellectual, social, and occupational health. These actions are, by definition, self-directed and autonomous, but should be selected on evidence-based knowledge.

Professional and Post-secondary Strategies

Your post-secondary institution will have many supports and resources to help you manage your stress. Some supports may not be immediately available, so access them early rather than waiting until your stress levels are unmanageable.

School/Placement Strategies

Your school principal, partner teacher, and other staff can help you with managing your day-to-day stress, finding good teaching and learning resources, and building professional relationships to ensure


We know that true learning always involves some sort of struggle. Learning to teach is no exception.

In this podcast episode, we look at some of the common ways in which teacher candidates struggle during their practicum experiences, what is at the heart of those struggles and how mentor teachers and university advisors can help candidates make sense of those struggles.

In this episode, you’ll hear the voices of:

Dominique – Preservice Teacher: St. Mary’s University, Alberta
Gail – Practicum Advisor: St. Mary’s University, Alberta
Jay – Preservice Teacher: St. Mary’s University, Alberta
David – Practicum Advisor: St. Mary’s University, Alberta
Laura – Cooperating Teacher, Grade 6, Calgary Catholic District School Board
Kathryn: Assistant Professor in Education, Ambrose University
Patricia – Senior Instructor, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary

Photo by Astrid Kendrick

These occupational hazards can be prevented and reduced by enacting your HEARTcare Plan.

HEARTcare Planning Templates in English and French

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