10 SES 02 D, Teacher Educators’ Learning: Knowledge generation, policy change and professional agency
Recent European policy statements (European Commission, 2013, 2015) have recognised the centrality of teacher educators in pre-service provision. Whilst this explicit level of recognition of centrality may not be found in policy statements from other countries, the importance of teacher educators in planning, teaching and evaluating teacher education programmes is clear.
With increasing recognition of the importance of teacher educators, has also come identification of what and how teacher educators’ need to learn in order to ensure that their knowledge is ‘fit-for-purpose’ and up to date. There are also discourses – again either explicit or tacit - which identify deficits in these educators (Goodwin & Kosnik, 2013; Mayer et al., 2011) and suggest that competence profiles or standards be generated and imposed. In this symposium we contrast such ‘top-down’ implications from policy with analyses of how teacher educators see their professional learning and the senses of agency they use in developing both knowledge and practice within the fast changing educational contexts in which they work.
In presenting and analysing the professional learning needs and strategies of these different educators, working in three different Anglophone contexts, our objectives are: 1) to learn more about both ‘responsive’ and ‘proactive’ strategies for knowledge generation as an integral part of practice in teacher education; 2) to consider the relevance which our findings might have for understanding and developing ‘agentic’ forms of professional learning in other national contexts, particularly those in Europe, North America and Australia.
Our specific research questions are: what does national policy, either explicitly or implicitly, say teacher educators should know and be able to do? How do these statements compare and contrast with how teacher educators see their practice and think they should know? What strategies do teacher educators use in order to meet their professional learning needs? How do these strategies and the knowledge bases on which teacher educators draw shift in relation to policy changes and which might best support and develop both teacher educators and the student teachers they teach?
The first paper looks at both serving and aspirant university-based teacher educators in the fast changing policy context of the USA, surveying their professional development needs. Issues of equity, particularly embedding personal commitments to social justice in practice, emerge as important for many. The second paper analyses primary (elementary) teacher educators’ professional learning needs in England. It draws on two recent projects - one on professional learning needs, the other on primary pre-service provision. The third paper provides an illustration of what professional learning in response to policy change looks like in practice. It draws on a qualitative study of the implications of how policy affects the professional learning of teacher educators in Australia, a context where ‘partnership’ between schools and universities has just become mandatory.
We draw on various conceptual perspectives including policy analysis, situated cognition, communities of practice and psycho-social concepts of knowledge generation, identity formation and professional agency. All three papers include empirical studies, using both qualitativeandquantitativeresearch methods,including survey, documentary analysis, case study and interviews.
Our symposium indicates different strategies in use for teacher educators’ professional learning, including both ‘responsive’ and ‘proactive’ strategies in relation to policy changes. These differing strategies are used by varying types of teacher educators, but key continuities are commitments to high quality, relevant and, crucially, research-informed perspectives which support and develop experiential and research-informed learning for teacher educators, whilst also benefitting the student teachers they educate during pre-service programmes.
The symposium contributes new knowledge on teacher educators’ professional learning which will be relevant in a wide range of national contexts across Europe and beyond. Papers will be published in 2018.
European Commission. (2013). Supporting teacher educators for better learning outcomes. Brussels: European Commission. European Commission. (2015) Strengthening Teaching in Europe: new evidence from teachers compiled by Eurydice and CRELL, June 2015. Goodwin, A. L. And Kosnik, C. (2013) Quality Teacher Educators = Quality Teachers? Conceptualising essential domains of knowledge for those who teach teachers. Teacher Development 17.3, 334 - 346 Mayer, D., Mitchell, J., Santoro, N. and White, S. (2011) Teacher educators and ‘accidental’ careers in academe: an Australian perspective. Journal of Education for Teaching 37(3). 247-260
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