Source: Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 9, No. 2, 187–200, 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This work had two purposes. First, the authors wanted to organize an experience for the preservice teachers in which they would engage in inquiry into their own practice.
Second, as teacher educators, they hoped to learn about their own practices and the ways they encourage an inquiry stance during student teaching.
The participants in this study were six preservice teachers, who studied at secondary education program in Integrated Social Studies, and three teacher educators.
The authors invited social studies teacher candidates to learn about taking an inquiry stance through self-study. This collaborative self-study of teaching practice took place in varied school contexts and within a student teaching seminar course.
All authors met over the summer of 2011 to discuss the projects and a plan for writing, after which the group discussed the influence the projects had on the student teaching experience.
A formal inquiry into practice helped these beginning teachers develop a way of thinking indicative of reflective practice and a deeper understanding of problems of practice. Candidates worked in collaborative groups to consider their analysis and discuss findings and learning outcomes for their practice.
During these pre-conference meetings, the authors discussed findings, learning outcomes, writing process, and presentation format and plans. As a result of their self-study work and these pre-conference meetings, two common themes emerged across all of their experiences:
First, all of these teacher candidates found it beneficial to collaborate during the self-study process.
Second, the teacher candidates’ work focused on the self, with close attention to the needs of their students and the implications of their work for student learning.
Overall, the three teacher educators found that structuring a student teaching seminar course around collaborative inquiry, self-study in this case, offered preservice teachers a systematic means through which to learn about one’s teaching practice and grow as a teacher within a framework of support and guidance from peers and the instructor.
The student teachers who took part in this self-study expressed a variety of learning outcomes related to their individual papers, but commonly emphasized the relationships they built with students and the importance of structured and systematic reflection for learning from experience.
As teacher educators, the authors found value in the ways this project focused on teacher learning and encouraged them to connect what they had learned in the program with what they were doing in practice.
One recommendation for improving this process might be to offer a guidebook for the inquiry work preservice teachers undertake in courses similar to this student teaching seminar. With a focus on improving this aspect of teacher education in the authors' own programs and the broader field, they remain committed to their attempts to integrate self-study, and other inquiry work, into preservice teacher education.
Introducing self-study to preservice teachers can be a way to encourage deeper understandings of practice and critique-oriented reflective experience that emerged from the data collection, analysis, and collaboration processes. The experience promoted collegial talk among groups and prompted questions about practice that reframed experiences.
The teacher candidates and teacher educators also experienced collaborative self-study in ways that perpetuated their view of teaching as an intellectual and reflective act. The authors argue that self-study of practice has the potential to develop and reinforce the dispositions and skills necessary to view oneself as a creator of knowledge about practice. Engaging in self-study from this early stage in their lives as teachers, we hope to support our preservice teachers in being able to transform themselves, transform their classrooms, and transform their schools as we work together to improve education.