10 SES 06 C, The Role of Mentors and Institutional Factors in Teacher Education
The characteristics of teacher education programs as complex systems challenge the conventional, teacher-directed/ textbook-based positivist approaches in teacher education literature which has tried to reduce the complexities and ambiguities of the life in teacher education programs to something knowable, measurable and controllable. But teachers live in ‘situations of complexity’ in culturally and linguistically diverse school settings.
Consequently teacher educators realize the constant transformation and change occurring in educational phenomena for which traditional paradigms based on mechanistic and positivist accounts are no longer valid. Rather than seeing complexity and ambiguity in diverse classroom settings as a provisional deficiency arising from preservice teachers’ inadequate or partial understanding of classroom reality, or as something that has to be eradicated in order for objective teaching and learning to proceed, complexity and change have now been acknowledged as an emergence in diverse educational settings, teachers and preservice teachers help to co-create in which they live.
However, the increasing interest towards complexity in teacher education has brought with it some challenging questions which this narrative research study aims to address: What is complexity and ambiguity in teaching and teacher education? Do preservice teachers identify or do they experience complexity in classrooms? How do preservice teachers deal with diversity, complexity and ambiguity in their teaching practices? What kind of strategies do preservice teachers develop to deal with complexity and ambiguity in diverse school settings? How do preservice teachers define and interpret Practical Wisdom, Pedagogical Fitness and Tact of Teaching to deal with complexity and ambiguity in culturally diverse classrooms?
In this study, I aimed to exlpore the meanings, essences practices and processes of educational change and growth in preservice teachers’ understanding over time, through deliberation, dialogue, and performance in complex, ambiguous and diverse teaching and learning environments.
Using a narrative inquiry approach as research methodology led me to explore how preservice teachers conceptualized teaching in complex and ambiguous situations through their personal experiences while locating the preservice teachers’ understanding and preconception about notions of “complexity” and “good teaching” in diverse classrooms setting within the theoretical frameworks of “teacher education as a complex system” and “practical wisdom, pedagogical fitness and tact of teaching in teacher education.”
There is a constant dialectical interplay between what the literature theorizes about “complexity” and “good teaching,” what research participants bring as a prior understanding, and what the realities of the actual classroom setting are. This dialectical interplay between theory and practice through narrative inquiry provided us with a frame to recognize how the preservice teachers were thinking about teaching, and the connections they were constructing between their actual classroom experiences and their course work.
Clandinen, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. San Francisco. Gomez, M. L. (1996). Prospective teachers’ experience on teaching “other people’s children.” In K. Zeichner, S., & M. L. Gomez (Eds.), Currents of reform in preservice teacher education (pp. 109–132). New York: Teachers College Press. Van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience: Human science for an action sensitive pedagogy. Albany, NY: Sate University of New York Press. Van Manen, M. (1991). The tact of teaching: The meaning of pedagogical thoughtfulness. Albany, NY: Sate University of New York Press.
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