20 SES 11, Issues of Inclusion: Teachers' identity and intercultural practices
Paper/Ignite Talk Session
The purpose of this self-study is to learn how PWT-I has helped student teachers and teachers to identify their professional identity so we can continue the development and work of the PWT. The aim is to collect knowledge of the development of the PWT-I. The research question is: How is the PWT-I helping student teachers and teachers analyze their professional working theory and professional identify.
The focus is on the development of the Professional Working Theory Instrument (PWT-I) that teachers use to analyze their professional working theory (PWT). I will reflect on the issues we have faced as we developed the PWT-I and use with student teachers and teachers. Analyzingthe professional working theory with student teachers and teachers is a process based on the dynamic interaction between “practice” (what teachers do), “theory” (how they understand what they do), and “ethics” (why they do what they do).
One of the less positive “myths and legends” about teachers is that they are “practitioners” who are mainly interested in hearing about practical ideas for their teaching and that they most often resist theories behind their practice or theoretical analysis. The teaching profession calls for teachers to be much more than implementers of knowledge generated by researchers and presented by teacher educators (Cochran- Smith & Lytle, 2009). It calls for professionals with abilities that are theoretical, pedagogical and critical influencing teaching, learning and the regeneration of schools. It is critical that such professional dialogue filters all aspects of initial and continuing teacher education and is an essential aspect of reflective practice and the professional capacitation of teachers (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 2009; Day, Calderhead, & Denicolo, 1993; Freire, 1998; Fullan, 1999). The society is continually changing, and as schools and the education. These changes raise questions concerning the professional roles and identity of teachers.
Teachers’ rejection of theoretical explanations may be an indication of their concern about the abstraction of theory in teacher education and pedagogy. Additionally, that they do not reflect the issues they face in their practice. It could also be related to their responsibilities, and that many teachers might feel insecure or destitute towards all the requirements they experience. Because of this situation they call for regulations and standard curriculum to follow. The challenge then in teacher education is to draw out teachers’ theoretical backgrounds from their daily experiences. And in so doing introduce them to the skills and resources that will enable them to critically reflect on their practice and analyze and recognize their personal and professional resources.
Practical theory was defined by Handal and Lauvås (1987:9) as “a person’s private, integrated but ever-changing system of knowledge, experience and values which is relevant to practice at any particular time”. They indicate that “practical theory” is behind everything teachers do or wish to do in their teaching and is theory-based, practice-based and ethics-based arguments (Handal & Lauvås, 1982). The practical theory is both personal and individualistic because each teacher develops and adheres to his or her own practical theory from the experience and knowledge. They are also contextual, since teachers work in a context and not in isolation, no person is an island and therefore the environment effects teachers practical theory (Connelly, Clandinin & He, 1997; Sanders & McCutcheon, 1986). Moreover, practical theories of teaching occur in the terrain of lived experiences (Whitehead, 1993) or their “living theory.
From these ideas we began our development of the Professional Working Theory (PWT) more than 20 years ago, a process that offers teachers opportunities to frame their reflection on the living theories implicit in their practice (Dalmau & Guðjónsdóttir, 2000a; 2002a; 2002b).
This is a self-study of teacher education practice. The PWT instrument was created more that 20 years ago and I have used it in my teaching ever since. During these years I have collaborated through critical reflections and questioning, analyzing and relating to the broader context of teacher education (Berry & Crowe, 2010), as I developed the instrument and used it in the teaching of the PWT. I have kept a research portfolio that has become my retrospective data as I reflected on the development of the PWT instrument with my colleagues, documented the turning points, and discussed our struggle to get our students (student teachers and teacher learners) to deepen their thinking or relate practice and theory or to understand what it means to become a teacher. Data collection is from classroom practice, examples of course material, notes from my collaboration with colleagues, and recordings from meetings. The analytical process was ongoing, as we discussed and unfolded our experience at certain turning points, experiencing a problem or a gratifying surprise. This iterative and analytical process was often messy as I stepped back, critically reflected on our experience, peeled the layers and responded to our findings by changing our practice. However, by going back and forth with data collection and analyzing, going from present to past to present I created a dialogue and a practice along with my colleagues that has been both critical and analytical. The data analyzing was inductive as we identified conceptual categories, constantly comparing and looking for common patterns, themes and turning points (Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. 2008). And then using our analyzing to change our teaching practice. The trustworthiness of this research comes from ontology as well as from epistemology. The substance of the research findings is empirical and can be found in my experience, dialogue and critical reflections but also in the bridge between my students and me. My work is in focus both personally and professionally.
I will focus on the process of the PWT and explain the PWTI, the design of the instrument and how it has been used. The term PWT symbolizes the professional identity that evolves through the constant interplay of professional knowledge, practices and believes. Teacher professional identity represents how teachers define themselves and is brought through multi-dimensional, multi-layered, and dynamic process. It is formed through lived experiences and shaped by historical, sociological, psychological, and cultural influences. Explicit PWT is developed through systematic and comprehensive critical reflection and collegial dialogue, and also contributes to the construction of professional identity, the creation of professional knowledge, and the development of collegial approaches to practice. As the work processed we added a systematically exploration of socio-cultural and historical influences on the practice of teaching. For each component, three additional levels of reflective questions were provided to cover close/local, medium/distance, and broad/societal. From then the PWTI includes extended scaffolds at three levels. The student teachers, the teachers or other participants have used the PWT instrument in different ways. The participants can express their PWT in different ways but at the same time to express their opinions about their professional practice in a manner that can be easily understood. The PWTI has helped them organize their thinking and understand more deeply their actions and rationale. The teachers are innovative and have expanded the vision of how the PWT process can be useful to them. In the presentation I will introduce some examples of how participants have used the PWT to support their understanding or evaluation of their practice.
Berry, A. & Crowe, A. R. (2010). Many miles and many emails: Using electronic technologies in self-study to think about, refine and reframe practice. In D. L. Tidwell, M. L. Heston, & L. M. Fitzgerald (eds.) Research methods for the self-study of practice (pp. 83–100). New York: Springer. Cochran-Smith, M. & Lytle, S. L. (2009). Inquiry as stance: Practitioner research in the next generation (practitioners inquiry). New York: Teachers College Press. Connelly, F. M., Clandinin, D. J., & He, M F. (1997). Teachers’ personal practical knowledge on the professional knowledge landscape. Teaching and Teacher Education, 13(7), 665-674). Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures of developing grounded theory (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Day, C., Calderhead, J., & Denicolo, P. (Eds.). (1993). Research on teacher thinking: Understanding professional development. London: Falmer Press. Freire, P. (1998). Teachers as cultural workers: Letters to those who dare to teach. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 23(1), 41–55. Fullan, M. (1999). Change forces: The sequel. Philadelphia: Falmer Press. Dalmau, M. C., & Guðjónsdóttir, H. (2000b). The professional working theory instrument. Reykjavík: Hafdal. Dalmau, M. C., & Guðjónsdóttir, H. (2002a). Professional working theory revisited: International self-study conversations. In C. Kosnik, A. Samaras, & A. Freese (Eds.), Making a difference in teacher education through self-study. Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Self-study of Teacher Education Practices (Vol. 1, pp. 92–95). Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, England. Toronto: OISE, University of Toronto. Dalmau, M. C., & Guðjónsdóttir, H. (2002b). Framing professional discourse with teachers: Professional working theory. In J. Loughran & T. Russell (Eds.), Improving teacher education practices through self-study (pp. 102–129). London: RoutledgeFalmer. Handal, G., & Lauvås, P. (1982). På egne vilkår: En strategi for veiledning med lærere. Oslo: J. W. Cappelens Forlag A/S. Handal, G., & Lauvås, P. (1987). Promoting reflective teaching: Supervision in action. London: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press. Sanders, D., & McCutcheon, G. (1986). The development of practical theories of teaching. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision 2(1), 50–67. Whitehead, J. (1993). The Growth of educational knowledge: Creating your own living educational theories. Bournemouth: Hyde Publications.
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