10 SES 09 B, Lesson Organisation
This paper presents a study focusing on transforming teacher education through agency-promoting leadership. Teacher education and its development have raised considerable interest in recent years, since the teacher education profession has been identified as a key priority in developing and transforming societies to confront the demands of the 21st century (Futrell, 2008; Korthagen, 2010; Niemi, 2008). At the same time, many countries are struggling with numerous challenges, like educational restructuring, new public management, high retirement numbers and troubled teacher educator identities.
Recently, these new challenges in teacher education have been widely addressed. Nevertheless, most of the studies have addressed organizational issues (i.e., how to develop practices, structures and cultures) or individual teacher educator development (professional learning, professional identity) as key factors in transformations. These studies have revealed that changes in teacher education occur slowly (e.g., Peck, Gallucci, Sloan & Lippincott, 2009) and that the issue of teacher educator identity has become most salient (e.g., Hökkä & Eteläpelto 2014; Murray & Harrison, 2008). What has been largely neglected, however, is the meaning of leadership and leaders in the teacher education context, although in school and university contexts the issue has been largely addressed in the educational field (e.g., Spillane & Healey, 2010). In particular, there is clearly a need to understand how teacher education leaders can renegotiate their professional identities, and how they can support the identity renegotiation of their personnel and simultaneously lead the transformation processes in the changing and challenging climate in the teacher education field.
In this study, we aim to contribute to the discussion on transforming teacher education practices and cultures by focusing on agency-promoting leadership in one Finnish teacher education department. In the framework of a subject-centred sociocultural approach (Eteläpelto, Vähäsantanen, Hökkä & Paloniemi, 2013), the study elaborates on the main challenges, pitfalls and insights in transforming teacher education practices into a more innovative, creative and collaborative model. Theoretically, we understand professional agency to be manifested and practiced when professional subjects and/or communities make choices, take stances and have an influence on their work and professional identities. This means that professional agency is closely intertwined with subjects´ professional identity, competencies, knowledge and experience. Such agency is always temporally realized within sociocultural conditions encompassing resources and constraints such as material and physical conditions, cultures, power relations and discursive structures (Eteläpelto et al., 2013).
Agency-promoting leadership refers to the idea that educational organizations should be managed and led through communication, collaboration and interaction, highlighting people, relationships and learning, rather than strong management, externally set standards and accountability culture (Brennan & Mac Ruairc, 2011; Hökkä & Vähäsantanen, 2013). This requires educational leaders to be able to support identity renegotiations and professional agency of their personnel and deal with issues connected to their own professional identities as leaders. Furthermore, agency-promoting leadership means leaders’ competencies to increase collaboration, interaction, innovations and creativity within their organizations, which can further enhance organizational transformations (Vähäsantanen, Paloniemi, Hökkä, Eteläpelto, Herranen, 2013). In this paper, our aim is to elaborate on the question of transforming teacher education through agency-promoting leadership, focusing particularly on i) what kind of leader agency is needed in transforming teacher education practices and ii) what are the most important resources and obstacles in transforming teacher education practices and culture in terms of leadership.
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