Source: European Journal of Educational Research, 11(2):965-980
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aims first at providing evidence about the sources of energy and professional development of teacher educators and to expose their experiences of proficiency, behavior, and job-satisfaction in their daily confrontations in competence-based programs.
Therefore, it also studies the work community and colleagues.
These aspects form the framework of the current research persons´ work.
Because the aim of this study was to reveal which factors contribute to teacher educators´ commitment to work, wellbeing and energy sources of self-development, that question was addressed to the teacher educators of one organization.
Their essays produced the data that were analyzed using qualitative research methods.
The reliability and credibility of the data were ensured.
Sample and Data Collection
The respondents are teacher educators (N=24), male and female, with extensive experience in teaching and training teachers.
Most of them are PhD´s in education and with Master´s degrees in some other majoring subjects than education.
They have recently started to teach in the competence-based teacher education system which they have developed with joint planning.
They wrote longer or shorter essays or expressed their opinions of their work either literally or orally, alone or in pairs, thus allowing possible discussion to inspire answering.
Oral interviews were recorded and transcribed.
The themes charted the daily work conditions, life-long learning, and attitudes toward work.
Research persons were encouraged to freely express their conceptions of the issues.
To avoid the temptation by subjects to respond only briefly, the actual research questions were not provided upfront.
The answers were treated as anonymous, confidential, and the data collection was carried out in consent.
The analyzed material comprises 775 statements.
The essays are preserved in the University of Applied Sciences.
Analyzing of Data
In this case study, a thematic, qualitative content analysis was used, one meaning (a word, group of words, one sentence) as an analyzing unit.
The research approach was phenomenographic.
It is a theory of how to describe manifestations of human experience and qualitative differences.
The object of analysis consists of expressed experiences.
It is argued (Marton & Neuman, 1989) that people’s different ways of understanding or experiencing the surrounding world is all there is.
We may then compare different understandings with each other.
We can compare teacher educators´ conceptions of a subject matter, but we cannot compare their understandings with reality itself.
The research questions were:
1) What critical experiences of well-being or challenges at work were identified in teacher educators´ essays and interviews?
2) How can the teacher educators promote compassion and co-passion personally, dialogically, and communally?
3) How can they make teaching attractive and well-being a shared experience?
4) How can the dialogue and pedagogical fellowships foster all teachers´ development?
This research shows strongly that higher education teachers need meaningfulness, relevance, appreciation at work and compassion and co-passion.
Feeling of sharing and togetherness with colleagues and reciprocity with students are rewarding, as will be seen in the following summary.
Answers to the research questions
1. What critical experiences of well-being or challenges at work were identified by the teacher educators?
The challenge and pleasure of teachers is the continuing pursuit for learning new things.
Because the contents and students change, teachers must be attuned to various subjects, heterogeneous groups and age differences that bring the need of finding context-sensitive solutions.
The strict timetables and long workdays are demanding.
On some days worktime is longer, on others shorter.
When enthusiastic, the teachers concentrate on their work conscientiously.
Challenges are the source of both hard work and great joy and satisfaction when the obstacles are overcome.
Autonomy inspires for volunteering in lifelong learning, research, and various ways to develop professional competence together with colleagues.
It includes conscious mentoring practices between more experienced and young colleagues.
It means responsibility within the work community.
Teachers pursue for continuing learning, reforms, and transformation trying to ignite students to strive for the same.
Wellbeing comes from the feeling of meaningfulness and the support of superiors and colleagues.
The atmosphere of togetherness and co-passion fosters energy.
2. How can teacher educators promote compassion and co-passion personally, dialogically, and communally?
Compassion is promoted with conscious attitude.
Empathy is understood and practiced in dialogues between the staff, including students.
Gradually, from teachers´ example all the staff and students have moved toward compassion, some without noticing it themselves.
Also, co-passion is contagious.
When you have experienced support and co-passion, you do not forget it, but want to pass it forward. It is important to make students conscious of the importance of compassion and co-passion.
3. How can teachers make teaching attractive and well-being a shared experience with their target groups?
Teachers give models in their courses aiming at positive or even enthusiastic experiences for students.
It often comes from the feeling of becoming heard or getting necessary tools for the future.
Placing the student in the center of teaching also leaves a strong memory trail.
Usually, students appreciate the teaching profession after their pedagogical education more than before.
Students are very positive about in-service training if the resources of their employers allow.
Training and working as peer mentors or as mentees will widen the scope of understanding the profession both cognitively and emotionally.
4. How can the dialogue and pedagogical fellowship develop and foster the teacher educators?
Dialogical peer support in the form of informal pedagogical fellowships encourages and widens teacher education and should be practiced continuously.
By supporting others, teachers and students promote their own professional competences, often unnoticed.
Mentor/tutor conversations pursue the same goal and help students reach the shared wisdom of practices.
“Seized by an elemental togetherness, we touch the genuine power of dialogue, and magic unfolds” (Buber, 1988, p. 76).
The following recommendations will be valid in all related situations:
1) Foster the dialogue between all actors in the field
2) Include teacher students in the togetherness and collaboration of the community
3) Reflect theories and their applications in your daily work.
Evaluate your activities and personal communication, successes, and obstacles, especially if the feedback gives reason.
Be honest to yourself and seek for self-development
4) Support reflective practice and listen to your student teachers
5) Think forward, be transformative!
Buber, M. (1988). The knowledge of man. Humanities Press International, Inc.
Marton, F., & Neuman, D. (1989). Constructivism and constitutionalism. Some implications for elementary mathematics education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 33(1), 35-46