Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 40, No. 4, 391–408, 2014.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article examines the teacher educator’s role in promoting resilience within new teachers in the light of tensions between what is healthy and sustainable for individual teachers vs. the institutions in which they work.
It first explores the literature on teacher well-being, resilience, resistance, morality and professional dispositions.
It then examines the policies and rhetoric of two countries, the USA and England, as examples of a global tilt towards the excessive promotion of institutional well-being at the expense of individual teachers.
The article concludes with specific recommendations for those in the international teacher education community.
1) Innovate University School Partnerships to Directly Link Individual and Institutional Well-Being
The authors recommend that teacher education programmes should transition to accentuating teaching as a clinical profession and develop stronger, more mutual school partnerships.
These reciprocal relationships can help novice teachers turn knowledge into competent practice, while simultaneously developing a more healthy sense of resilience in learning how to balance the needs of schools with the aspirations of the individual teacher.
A related point is that university programmes can supplement the residency programme by extending the mentoring process into the early years of teaching and provide opportunities for recent graduates to take professional enrichment courses and/or continuing education courses.
Additionally, providing recent teacher education graduates additional support and elements of choice in continuing education may encourage novice teachers to engage in professional development that they perceive to be beneficial for personal growth, which is an influential factor in individual teacher well-being.
These structural changes also have the potential to promote a more balanced approach to well-being by first addressing the individual well-being of teachers, and then equipping them to influence institutional well-being and the overall teaching and learning process.
2) Include Structured Opportunities for ‘Mindfulness-Based’ Training
A second recommendation would be the restructuring of teacher education programmes to include mindfulness-based wellness education programmes that focus on bringing present awareness to an individual’s well-being. Mindfulness-based training facilitates collective discussions of the challenges of the profession and explores tactics for becoming more ‘mindful’ when faced with adversity.
An ability to stand in opposition and resist when necessary, in a mindful manner, has the potential to enhance the overall well-being of individuals as well as the greater systems and institutions in which they work.
3) Provide Opportunities for Candidates to Analyse ‘Cases’ of Teaching From a Macro-Micro Perspective
One specific strategy for teacher educators to use in their own classrooms is to analyse ‘cases’ of teaching.
While case study within teacher education is not a new approach, here the focus would be on analysing situations, challenges and dilemmas of teaching better to locate aspects that are dependent on the teacher vs. aspects that are dependent on the system the teacher is in.
Ultimately, the goal would be to help new teachers differentiate between what teachers can change and adapt to as opposed to what they cannot or should not accept responsibility for.
This is arguably an essential approach to long-term career sustainability, and would foster a reasoned balance between individual and institutional well-being.
4) Learning How to Take a Professional Stance, Sometimes in Opposition to the Dominant Teacher Education Paradigm
A final recommendation for teacher educators’ classroom practice is to argue that they focus explicitly on the development of teacher ‘stance.’
This occurs primarily in two ways, although there certainly could be others:
(1) Illustrating ways to take a ‘stance’ within a standards and mandate-driven environment, including modelling how to modify existing curricula to address actual kids’ needs and educators’ personal passions; and
(2) Facilitating spaces for teacher education students to take a ‘stance’ within their teacher education classrooms, even when that stance differs with the perspectives and pedagogy of the teacher educator.