Source: Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 42, No. 2, 149–162, 2016.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study that explored student teachers’ learning experiences in initial teacher education (ITE) in relation to competence to work in schools.
The authors conducted in-depth interviews with 12 student teachers on an undergraduate ITE programme in Hong Kong.
The findings demonstrate that the development of competence to work in schools was characterised by deep contextualised learning.
It was found that student teachers attributed great importance to learning in ITE fieldwork the development of competence to work in schools. This finding shows that deep contextualised learning characterises the development of this competence.
The authors reveal that the findings offer understandings of how student teachers make sense of the three facets of competence to work in schools.
First, these participants learned about the micro-political realities of school with greater understanding of teachers’ work in the bureaucratic organisation of the school, and professional demands on teachers.
Second, the participants' engagement in social capital building was manifested in proactive networking. They also gained access to affective and cognitive support from mentors and peers.
Third, the findings reveal that two of the student teachers adopted various social strategies to handle their ideas and actions in the face of institutional constraints.
The authors argue that student teachers’ development of competence to work in schools entails three facets:
First, they need to learn about the organizational dimension of teachers’ work and develop understanding of the micro-political realities of schools.
Second, they should develop competence in social capital building, which involves soliciting affective and cognitive support through establishing networks with multiple actors in schools. Third, the authors note that expanding one’s repertoire of social strategies helps foster a sense of agency in the face of institutional constraints. The authors conclude that developing these three facets of competence enhances student teachers’ readiness to navigate places for themselves and negotiate complex school organisations.
The authors recommend that the knowledge about the three facets of competence to work in schools, namely the organisational dimension of teachers’ work, social capital building and social strategies, can be introduced into the ITE curriculum content.
The authors also argue that developing growth-fostering and positive micro-political sites for ITE fieldwork is important. They offer to prepare mentors, who address student teachers’ affective and cognitive needs, as well as broadening their understanding of mentoring in the micro-political realities of school.