Source: Studying Teacher Education, Vol. 4, No. 2, November 2008, p. 157–171
(Reviewed by The Portal Team)
Nine teacher educators in their first three years as tenure-track professors in an education faculty established a self-study group in 2006–2007. These professors met once a month to link their teaching and service to scholarship through the self-study of teacher education practices. In addition, members met in pairs or small groups to develop collaborative self-studies based on their shared interests.
This article by the group’s coordinators focuses on how conversations within the self-study group contributed to the faculty members’ development as teachers and scholars.
The nine new professors in this self-study group, many of whom had been classroom teachers, experienced tension as they sought to balance their commitment to teacher education with their interests in research and scholarship. One of the attractions of the self-study group was that it offered possibilities for resolving this tension. Each professor taught approximately four hours a week in a specialty field as well as two hours a week as a member of an instructional team leading a practicum course for a cohort of preservice teachers.
Each cohort team consisted of two or more faculty members who attempt to link theory with practice in weekly classes, supervise preservice teachers during practica, and provide feedback on field experiences.
Qualities of authentic conversation provide a framework for description, reflection and analysis of the group’s interactions.
This study suggests that inviting faculty members to join self-study groups is a form of faculty development that can strengthen commitment to teacher education as teaching and scholarship. Authentic conversations about practice encourage education professors to remain committed to teacher education while fulfilling their scholarly responsibilities. Such communities of practice and inquiry offer professors, pre-tenured and tenured, alternative ways of living as teacher educators within the university.