10 SES 02 D, Teacher Educators’ Learning: Knowledge generation, policy change and professional agency
Teacher quality has become a global priority, with countries around the world engaged in teacher education reform (European Commission, 2015; Loughran & Hamilton, 2016). The U.S. is no exception and has been focused on improving how teachers are prepared and changing the standards by which their quality is measured. Yet, amidst abundant opinions about teacher quality, there remains little mention of the preparation of those who teach teachers—teacher educators. While it seems reasonable to assume that quality teachers depend on quality teacher educators; “[i]n most countries…there is not yet a shared understanding about the roles, competences or qualification requirements of teacher educators” (European Commission, 2013, p. 6). What should teacher educators know, and how should they be prepared? This paper tackles this question by asking university-based teacher educators about their professional development needs. The study involved two phases: 1) a survey of practicing teacher educators; 2) interviews of students enrolled in a pilot doctoral program designed to prepare them to be teacher educators. Phase one revealed that most respondents felt unprepared for the complexity of teacher education work which includes instruction, research, field placements, school partnerships, and more, all framed by shifting policy contexts. They also conveyed feeling inadequate to handle issues of diversity and expressed their need for mentoring and ongoing professional learning. Initial analyses of phase two data indicate that teacher educators-in-preparation are focused on issues of equity, specifically how to enact their social justice commitments through their practice. They are also wrestling with questions of identity, to understand what it means to be a teacher educator, versus what it means to do teacher education. This study provides insight into the work of university-based teacher educators—what they do and what they must know in order to do. Such “research on the teacher educator profession…[allows]…both teacher educators and policy makers to gain a better understanding of effective measures and conditions to strengthen the professionalism of teacher educators” (European Commission, 2015, p. 29). We conclude with implications for practice and policy in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere in the world where teacher quality debates must necessarily expand to include school-based and university-based educators.
European Commission. (2013). Supporting Teacher Educators for Better Learning Outcomes. Brussels: Author. European Commission. (2015). Strengthening Teaching in Europe: New Evidence from Teachers. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/education/library/policy/teaching-profession-practices_en.pdf Loughran, J. & Hamilton, M. (Eds.). (2016). The International Handbook of Teacher Education, Vol. 1. Singapore: Springer.
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