10 SES 13 C, The ‘Practice Turn’ in Pre-Service Teacher Education: New Possibilities for Practice Development
In recent years, teacher education researchers have been responding to opportunities created by ‘the practice turn in contemporary theory’ (Schatzki, 2001) that increasingly characterises social research around the globe. They are exploring ways to take up the affordances of renewed attention to theories of practice in teacher education. Although questions of practice, and ‘the practicum’ have always received significant attention in teacher education, current approaches seldom provide novices with time and opportunity to practise what Ball and Forzani (2009) call the ‘unnatural act’ of teaching. While practicum experiences are intended to ensure student teachers enter practice well-informed by theoretical constructs supporting effective classroom management, curriculum design and pedagogy, and while they are provided with structured ‘observation days’ in classrooms, the question of whether this pays sufficient attention to developing and critiquing core practices remains. Although pre-service teachers practise in classroom settings, reflect on practice and receive support and feedback, the fact that their teaching ‘practice’ in these placements is actually assessed means that many have little opportunity to practise before they are required to enter into practice. From a practice theory perspective, learning teaching practice requires pre-service teachers to understand the profession – through practise and critique - by paying close attention to the particularity of the practice architectures (Kemmis & Grootenboer, 2008) encountered in sites of practice, since it is at this level of granularity that practice can be seen at work in shaping the learning process experienced by students in classrooms. The four papers presented address these issues by presenting research describing changing teacher education practices. Threaded through the research presented in each paper is a shift towards designing-in overt opportunities for dialogic practices as the foundation for understanding, practising and critiquing teaching. In particular Paper One examines the ways in which teacher education programs can be re-structured to provide pre-service teachers with different opportunities to practise and critique teaching; Paper Two investigates how mentoring conversations focused on the micro level of practice arrangements (ie; the interconnected sayings, doings and relatings) influence practice development; Paper Three presents research describing how creating different communicative spaces in teacher education programs enables critical transformative dialogues between pre-service teachers; and, Paper Four, presents an international comparative study investigating how narratives of pre-service teachers – as reflective professional dialogues - enable rich characterisations of practice as they critique ‘critical moments’. In a global environment of standardisation where national standards may constrain curriculum and content choices for initial teacher education and mainstream the production of a standardised graduate teacher, the question for teacher education globally is; how can teacher education renew itself and adapt to the diversity of sites of practice and needs of its clientele? The discussion here frames the move to re-conceptualise teacher education in a way that will enable teacher education to critique core practices in view of the current conditions of curriculum and program development in teacher education and theorise a form of teacher education curriculum renewal that accounts for and works with, and from, a ‘primacy of practice’ thesis.
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