10 SES 10 D, Reflections and Considerations from the Practice
A recent European policy document indicates that Initial Teacher Education (ITE) is an area where the foundations are laid for teachers’ capacity to adapt to changing contexts and circumstances (European Commission, 2015). It suggests that processes such as action research can be used in ITE to develop collaboration, reflection and inquiry. It also suggests that lesson study can be used by experienced teachers as part of their Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The use of action research as a development strategy for pre-service teachers is not a new one. Strategies have also been developed to further prompt pre-service teachers to reflect critically on their “personal theories” (Bullough and Gitlin, 1995) and to think about “who they are as teachers and students” (Cochran-Smith and Lytle, 1999, 283). This involves refining critical skills through systematic, autonomous and collaborative engagement in teacher led research. Toom et al (2010, 333) stress the need for “reflective teachers who are capable of using research in their teaching … able to base their pedagogical decision-making on a theoretical foundation.”
This paper describes the results of pre-service teachers’ research into their pedagogic practices through engagement in action research and lesson study projects. These activities are required components of a two-year postgraduate initial teacher education programme in a university in Ireland. In year 1, each pre-service teacher is tasked to individually identify a pedagogical dilemma, to undertake detailed Reconnaissance from which they plan and implement a course of action. The process and significant outcomes are presented in a research report which is formally assessed and accredited. In addition to the report, the pre-service teachers are asked to address the following three questions:
- What is your self-identified pedagogical problem?
- What assumptions about teaching and learning were challenged during your engagement with this project?
- What were the pedagogic benefits and challenges for you in conducting this research?
In year 2, the same pre-service teachers undertake Lesson Study in self-selected, cross-curricular groups. They are tasked to work together to identify an overarching, shared pedagogic goal common to all. Each group sets about researching, planning, teaching and critiquing (in evidenced ways) a number of study lessons (iteratively linked) based on the agreed pedagogic dilemma. The process and significant outcomes are presented in a public poster event which charts key points of learning. Posters are neither formally assessed nor accredited.
The frame for this research combines Schon’s (1983:40) concept of problem setting as “a process in which, interactively, we name the things to which we will attend and frame the context in which we will attend to them” with Loughran’s (2002:35) view that “a problem is unlikely to be acted on if it is not viewed as a problem” and Brookfield’s (1995) assertion that we should engage in hunting the assumptions that underpin our practice.
Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Bullough, R. V., & Gitlin, A. D. (1995). Becoming a student of teaching: Methodologies for exploring self and school context. New Yprk: Garland Pub. Cochran-Smith, M & Lytle, S. (1999). Relationships of Knowledge and Practice: Teacher Learning in Communities Review of Research in Education, 24: 249-305 European Commission. ET2020 Working Group on Schools Policy. (2015). Shaping career-long perspectives on teaching: a guide on policies to improve initial teacher education. Loughran, J.J. (2002). Effective Reflective Practice : In Search of Meaning in Learning about Teaching Journal of Teacher Education 53: 33-43 Schön, D, (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action London: Temple Smith. Toom, A., Kynäslahti, H., Krokfors, L., Jyrhämä, R., Byman, R., Stenberg, K., Maaranen, K. & Kansanen, P. (2010). Experiences of a Research‐based Approach to Teacher Education: suggestions for future policies. European Journal of Education, 45(2), 331-344.
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