10 SES 06 C, Research on Professional Knowledge & Identity in Teacher Education
This paper is part of a project funded by the Catalan Government called: "Building teacher identity from practice and research in the classroom: the role of Placements and Final Degree Assignment (FDA) in Teacher Education in the context of the Faculty of Education of UVic-UCC ". The objectives of the project are: 1) Promote teaching of learning through tutoring and exchange processes to follow-up the last school placements and FDA; 2) Develop the integration of practical and pedagogical knowledge that students do in the follow-up of the practices in the school and in the FDA and 3) Guide changes and action frameworks to improve the links between university education and school practice. In this paper, we will focus on the educational implications of the school placements in the Initial Teacher Education, which has emerged from the points of view of students and school teachers.
Learning to be a teacher is a complex process such as Cochran-Smith, & Lytle (2002), Elliot (1990), Braga (2001); Calderhead & Shorrock (1997); Flores (2001); Hauge (2000), Sancho & Hernández (2014) and Zeichner (2010) have already pointed out. Currently, being a teacher consists in experiencing the need for permanent renewal. The role of teachers is still fundamental to help students build their personal knowledge, but not only as a knowledge transmitter but also as a learning facilitator. In addition, the basic curriculum has become more complex so the pattern and culture of teaching and learning process has changed. It is needed an integral education, without forgetting the emotions and the ethical commitment in a global and diverse world. All these changes make the polyvalent task of the teacher more complex and require flexibility, constant updating and dialogue with the environment (Hostrawser, 2019; Sancho & Correa, 2013). Consequently, this research raises the challenge of investigating how the university learning and the period of school placements can contribute to the construction of the professional identity of the future teacher, who is understood as a dynamic process in which to give meaning and reinterpret their own beliefs, values and experiences (Flores & Day, 2006). The complexity of identity as a construct lies on the subjectivity as a way of seeing, living and feeling oneself (Day, 2004). From this perspective, we understand that teacher’s professional identities as an ongoing process of interpretation and re-interpretation of experiences (Beijaard et al., 2004) whose are built in professional spaces of relationship with other people, where each one makes different process of identification, representations and attributions, configuring a spiral of continuous construction or reconstruction (Branda & Porta, 2012). Therefore, this is a phenomenon of social interaction.
Our research is based on an interpretive and critical paradigm (Cohen et al., 2007) since it focuses on how the participants understand and comprehend their own actions in a social context and how they can reconstruct in different ways. From this perspective, we want to be able to construct and link the experience of the students in their placements with the complexity of school’s social processes, their nuances and conflicts. Consequently, we developed two research methods. Firstly, the team worked together as a community of practice to share the commitment to the domain in the context of tutoring of the two subjects, to build relationships that enable us to learn from each other and to be practitioners (Wenger, 2003). Each researcher of the team has supervised school placements and the FDA of one or two students. Secondly, the other method used was narrative Inquiry (Connelly & Clandinin, 1994). Therefore, we have interviewed five primary school tutors (some of whom have been teaching tutors in the project), in order to thus constructed and reconstructed meaning of their biographical stories to share together their understanding as a teacher. Initially the participants of the research were 12 students of the Degree in Primary Teacher Education, as well as their corresponding tutors from the school (active teachers) and their teachers from the university, members of the project. Finally, the completed data collected during the 2016-2018 academic years were from 8 students. Table 1 shows research instruments used: Questionnaires: To school tutors (8) Field diary: By school tutors (8) By students (8) Document analysis Placements’ Report (by 8 students) Final Degree Assignment (by 8 students) Class activities (by 8 students) Field notes about tutorial meetings (by 8 university teachers) Discussion groups To school tutors (8) Interviews-in-deep To school tutors (5) Table 1: Data collection techniques used. Source: developed by the authors during the fieldwork. Data collection involved the three agents: school tutors, students and university teachers. Relationships were established within the framework of 4th year school placements and the Final Assignment of the Degree. Data analysis was organized around the five dimensions of the research project: professional identity, educational contexts, teaching and learning situations, relationships among agents involved, and learning outcomes. These dimensions allowed us to present the results and the discussion with the aim of proposing improvement proposals on Initial Teacher Education.
Finally, we outlined main findings that emerge from the students and the school teachers who have participated in the research: -The experience around the complexity of the teaching task. They act assuming that teachers are role models. Being a teacher is not an individual or individualistic task. -The creation of the classroom-learning environment: School tutors most committed to student learning value opportunities to create a classroom-learning environment. -The educational action as the most valued learning: The learning that students value most in the practices are those linked to actions that help them solve educational situations. -Review the educational experience (Beijaard et al., 2004): Some teachers emphasized the importance of accompanying reflexive processes on the educational actions that have taken place in the classroom, far from evaluative processes. -Leave the classroom to understand the centre: Some teachers express the importance of accompanying the student in the reflection of the classroom in relation to the educational approach of the centre. The educational relationship among the three agents (the student and the two tutors) become fundamental in the student's learning process in the process of action -reflection -action (Meijer & Oolbekkink-Marchand, 2009). The research provides evidence that the transformation of the educational experience in school placements into a reflexive process is uncertain, far from a linear process (Flores & Day, 2006; Geijsel & Meijers, 2005). In this process, both tutors (from the school and the university) are key to promote and guide dialogical processes of knowledge construction with oneself, with others and with the world (Akkerman & Meijer, 2011; Charlot, 2010).This relational process is key to face and try new perspectives and possibilities for action in study programmes in Initial Teacher Education. Those findings may inform future research on this topic both at the national level and at the European level.
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