10 SES 12 A, Conceptualising Teacher Educators' Knowledge and Identities II
Symposium, Part 2
Across Europe ‘reforming’ teacher education has been seen as a powerful lever for bringing about change in school systems. Reflecting this, there has been much analysis of changing policies and practices in many European nations. Despite this plethora of activity, teacher educators remain an under-researched and poorly understood occupational group whose central part in teacher education is often overlooked. This symposium follows Furlong et al (2000:36) in seeing teacher educators as a vital part of teacher education programmes. Furthermore, it assumes that analysing the nature of their work, knowledge and identities is important. Since they are positioned between schools and universities, teacher educators are an intriguing occupational sub-group in their own right. Analysing them also offers potential to inform and clarify complex and inter-related issues around their practices in teacher preparation and development.
It is, however, important that research on teacher educators does not fall into the trap of other teacher education research by producing methodologically weak and under-theorised studies (Menter et al, 2010). Our focus in this symposium is therefore on how the findings of well designed empirical studies can be variously conceptualised or theorised in order to contribute to the strength of the research in the field and to help to illuminate practices and knowledge in teacher education across Europe.
The symposium brings together five methodologically strong and original studies of teacher educators from Finland, Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands and England respectively. Each makes a significant contribution to this field of research, not least through the conceptualisations of teacher educators’ offered. Paper 1 presents a study conducted in one Finnish education department, with the aim of understanding possibilities and obstacles pertaining to teacher educators’ professional learning and organizational change. The work draws on a conceptual framework drawn from workplace learning and influenced by the work of Stephen Billett. From an Irish context, paper 2 explores the professional development needs of teacher educators, drawing on conceptualisations of teacher knowledge, particularly Schön’s knowledge-in-action and Cochran-Smith and Lytle’s knowledge -of-practice to explore how knowledge grows and change across time spent in teacher education. The third paper draws on identity theories, including the work of Abbott and Wenger, to conceptualise the relationships between personal and communal identities and the development of the occupational group across time. The data is drawn from a socio-historical study into the profession of teacher educators in the Netherlands and empirical research into individual identities. The fourth paper focuses on the important question of building research-capacity in teacher education, exploring how a Norwegian university’s education faculty worked systematically in conceptualizing and building individual and collective learning about research and publication processes. The fifth paper deploys a theoretical framework based on the work of Bourdieu to explore how student teachers in England perceive the knowledge bases and identities of teacher educators in universities and schools. The sixth paper will take a synoptic focus on the previous five papers, as well as drawing on personal research, to consider the implications of the symposium for teacher educators across Europe.
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