Source: Professional Development in Education, Vol. 36, Issue 1 & 2, (March 2010),
p. 339 – 356.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
The linkage between writing and professional development of teacher educators has hardly been investigated in the past. The aim of this study was to explore and describe the teacher educators' experience in writing a book.
The questions that interested the authors are: How do teacher educators perceive the process of writing a book, and to what extent do they view it as promoting their professional and personal growth?
In order to answer these research questions, the authors applied a narrative approach on personal stories of teacher educators.
The participants in this study were 18 experienced teacher educators who completed writing a book through the publishing house of MOFET Institute. Personal interviews were held with nine participants in which they were invited to tell the story of their writing experience uninterrupted, in any manner they chose. A focus group session was carried out with nine other participants.
The findings reveal that the wish to externalize accumulated practical knowledge and make it public was the most prominent motivation for writing. The same motivation was articulated by teacher educators for their engagement in research (Ashwin & Trigwell, 2004). The junction between the need and desire of experienced teacher educators to integrate writing and teaching, with the supportive framework of the MOFET Institute, encouraged them to realize their wish and take this journey.
While these teacher educators did not mention an explicit desire to improve their teaching as a motivation to write, during the actual writing process they recognized the impact of the writing on their teaching. Improvement of teaching was indicated as a motivation of teacher educators to engage in research (Livingston, McCall, & Morgado, 2008). It seems that writing a book is conceived by the teacher educators as parallel to conducting research, not only as a way to externalize and share their knowledge with the professional community, but also as a means to improve their teaching.
The teacher educators did not mention personal promotion as a motivation for writing a book. However, considering the fact that the writers include their books in lists of publications they issue to the collegial academic committees for personal academic promotion, it may be assumed that the motivation for academic promotion existed, though tacit, or taken for granted.
The trails taken on this journey create different stories: some tell a story of becoming a better teacher educator; others tell a story of making a difference within one's professional community. Some writers relate a story of struggle to bring about an educational or academic change, as also indicated by others (Gordon, 2004). The common denominator for all these trails is the writing and the new knowledge it generates.
The difficulties that some of our participants report reflect the process of becoming expert writers, during which they invest profound efforts in finding the appropriate information resources (in themselves or in others) for the writing (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 1991). However, the team work provided a fruitful learning space in which each participant contributed with his or her own personal expertise and knowledge, collaboratively yielding a synergistic new outcome.
The findings of this study show that teacher educators perceive writing and publishing books as important, satisfying and academically promoting for them, though not necessarily easy, as also reported by others (Hanilton, Loughran & Marcondes, 2009) The authors therefore suggest providing teacher educators with a supportive infrastructure - budgetary, editorial and managerial - in order to encourage them to write and publish. In this way, we can elevate the academic status of teacher educators and broaden our knowledge on practical and theoretical aspects of teacher education.
Ashwin, P., & Trigwell, K. (2004). Investigating staff and educational development. In D. Baume & P. Kahn (Eds.), Enhancing staff & educational development; The staff and educational development series. London; New York: Routledge-Falmer.
Gordon, G. (2004). Locating educational development: Identifying and working with national contexts, policies and strategies. In D. Baume & P. Kahn (Eds.), Enhancing staff & educational development; The staff and educational development series. London; New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
Hamilton, M.L., Loughran, J. & Marcondes, M.I. (2009). Teacher educators and the self-sudy of teaching practices. In A. Swennen, M. Van der Klink (Eds), Becoming a teacher educaors: Theory and practice for teacher educators. Amsterdam:Springer.
Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (1991). Literate Expertise. In K. A. Ericsson & J. Smith. (Eds.), Toward a general theory of expertise: Prospects and limits (pp. 172-194). Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.