Teacher Training by Alternating Classroom Work and Work Analysis: From the Perspective of a Social Conception of Meaning and Action

Dec. 25, 2009

Source: Teachers and Teaching, Volume 15, Issue 6 (December 2009), pages 653 – 667.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article investigates teacher training by the alternation of classroom work and work analysis. The links and/or lack of links between these two professional situations have been identified and analyzed from the perspective of a social conception of meaning and action.

The advantage of this approach is that it allows the development of professional activity in preservice teachers (PTs) to be assessed by tracking how the reflective tools acquired in training evolve in work and/or work analysis situations.
The concepts of 'meaning' and 'expectation' are helpful in discussing the empirical data from a research program designed to evaluate the potential for PTs' professional development offered by the alternating work/analysis programs of French University Institutes of Teacher Training.


Three preservice teachers (PT) – cooperating teachers (CT) pairs participated in the studies illustrating this article.

The first pair was a PT and CT in a secondary school in the northeast of France who were not sharing any classes. The CT's visits had to be scheduled and were followed by work analysis sessions during which the CT analyzed the PT's work and gave advice about alternative actions to take in the future.

The second pair was a PT and CT from a secondary school from the southeast of France who were sharing a class of 14- to 15-year olds. This pair had chosen to alternate weeks of giving lessons such that one week one taught the class while the other observed and the next week the other taught the class while the first one observed. The observer also participated in the work analysis sessions and co-planned the following lesson.
A focus of this case was the 'advisory visit,' which differed from the more usual work analysis session in that both the CT and university supervisor (US) participated. This visit generally occurs only twice a year, given the cost of paying two trainers instead of one.

The third pair was a CT and PT in a secondary school in the southwest of France who were sharing a class of 14- to 15-year olds and who had opted to co-teach. Following every lesson, they met for a work analysis session to evaluate the lesson and prepare for the upcoming class.

The context for data collection was the same for the three cases: the PTs had requested help from their trainers, the CT and US, regarding perceived teaching difficulties. As part of the second-year UITT requirements for teacher certification, they had to produce a written analysis of their professional difficulties and a presentation of perspectives for development. In this aim, the researchers established the conditions for collaboration: they collected the data on site so that it could be utilized as a support for the analyses of PT, CT, and US, as well as for the research program. In the three cases presented here, the classes were considered to be 'ordinary,' with none of the students having particular academic or behavioral problems.


The main conclusions concern the need to organize PTs' professional experiences within a training network so that PTs are not left on their own to face the diverse and complex situations of daily professional exercise.

The effective procedures are those that allow PTs to construct concrete and circumstance-based expectations that the professional rules they have learned are still operational. These expectations help PTs to efficiently calibrate and interpret the meaning of their work experience, while also allowing them to prepare to act differently.

Updated: Jan. 31, 2010