Source: Professional Development in Education, Vol. 36, Nos. 1–2, March–June 2010, pp. 25–44
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This article focuses on aspects of the professional development of beginning teacher educators in four higher education institutions. The authors examine trends in the teaching practices reported by these same teacher educators—and focus in particular on their developing pedagogical reasoning.
From the beginning of the project, three research questions formed the basis of this study:
● What characterises the developing teaching practices of the beginning teacher educators?
● In what ways does their professional pedagogical learning develop?
● What are the particular workplace influences on the development of their pedagogical practice and professional identities?
A longitudinal case-study approach to this allows the authors to explore how beginning teacher educators learn in their new work (i.e. their workplace learning). Examples of their developing pedagogic practices and reasoning and conceptions of their roles and identities as teacher educators in their new settings have been generated from interviews.
The ‘cases’ described in this paper are five beginning teacher educators in their first three years in post at different types of higher education institution in England. All are substantially involved in initial teacher education. Four are involved in the secondary phase; one in the primary phase. All have been practising teachers. Backgrounds are varied; two are undertaking Ph.D. studies, one has a Master’s degree and two have no higher degree.
The beginning teacher educators’ pedagogic practice and reasoning demonstrated a developing understanding of teaching and learning within teacher education together with greater awareness of the needs of their students as beginning teachers. They increasingly focus on students’ learning and development, encouraging students’ critical thinking to question practice and become independent learners.
The beginning teacher educator learns from both the formal and informal practices of their workplace. In relation to new teaching activities and new pedagogical approaches, the beginning teacher educators in this study (experienced teachers when they entered teacher education) function as both novice and expert, with high expectations in their communities of their initial proficiency in teaching.
Facilitators for professional pedagogic learning indicated by all participants include: effective induction programmes; formal and informal opportunities for indepth, reflective, learning conversations with a designated mentor or other colleagues; and support to navigate the boundaries and practices of different communities (e.g. through their involvement with curriculum development or projects) in order to construct work-related identities that sustain their positive self-esteem
This study indicates that the highly individual learning about the pedagogy of teacher education demonstrated by the beginning teacher educators appeared to reflect not only their past and starting identities as teachers and academics, but also their vision of their future within teacher education.
Insights are being gained into the ways in which professional pedagogical learning has developed and into the particular workplace learning influences on the formation of their emerging professional identities as teacher educators.