Examining Teacher Educator Practice and Identity through Core Reflection

Aug. 20, 2010

Source: Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 6, No. 2, August 2010, p. 115–130.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The current article reports a self-study that used a model of core reflection to examine the identity and practices of two teacher educators.

The Model of Core Reflection

The model of core reflection used in this study was developed by Korthagen and Vasalos (2005). This model is a process by which teachers reflect on their practice, incorporating an examination of personal beliefs, mission and identity.
Korthagen and Vasalos (2005) argued that much teacher reflection involves the levels of behaviour and competencies, and it is at this level that teachers are often evaluated in respect to their teaching quality.
Korthagen and Vasalos (2004) maintained that it is at the deeper levels, particularly those of identity and mission, where the true essence of a teacher resides. Core reflection aims to identify the participant’s ideal situation (their aim or goal for their teaching) and the limiting factors, or obstacles that they can identify as preventing them from achieving their ideal.

The self-study presented in this article was undertaken at Victoria, Australia during the first semester of 2008.
The participants were the two authors who are early-career researchers: Judy is a former primary school teacher who has been a teacher educator for two years; Kerith is a former early childhood teacher who has been an academic for seven years.

Data for this pilot study consisted of notes taken at each meeting, entries in a research diary in which Judy wrote personal reflections after each session, and Kerith’s reflections on her experience of the core reflection process which were emailed to Judy at the end of the semester.
During three sessions of core reflection the authors examined the experiences of one of the participants in relation to her teaching ideals, perceived difficulties or obstacles to achieving these ideals, and sense of self as a teacher educator.


The findings from this self-study suggested that the core reflection model was a valuable tool for the participants in seeking to understand their practice and to improve their pedagogy, and in turn, to improve their students’ learning in teacher education. The authors draw two conclusions.
(1) The social dimension of reflecting on the authors' work as teacher educators is very important, as are opportunities to engage in collegial conversations and to establish trust as the basis for further discussions about practice and pedagogy.

(2) It is important to identify core qualities that influence our practice and identity as teacher educators.

Implications for Teacher Education

The process also helped the authors to identify the importance of qualities such as confidence and authenticity that teacher educators bring to their work. Furthermore, the study recognizes that teacher educators are learners too, and that the principles of learning through reflection that they encourage in their student teachers should also be applied to their own professional learning and identity.

The authors maitain that by acknowledging and exploring their vulnerabilities and beliefs, their core qualities and the obstacles that prevent them from engaging in authentic teaching, it is possible for teacher educators to improve their teaching and learning practices.

Korthagen, F. A. J. and Vasalos, A. (2004) In search of the essence of a good teacher: Towards a more holistic approach in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education 20:1 , pp. 77-97.

Korthagen, F. and Vasalos, A. (2005) Levels in reflection: Core reflection as a means to enhance professional growth. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice 11:1 , pp. 47-71.

Updated: Jan. 30, 2011