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Teacher educators: evolving identities? Paper presented at ICET World Assembly, July 2011 Dr Margaret McCulloch, Dr Fiona Patrick, Dr Mike Carroll, Dr.

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Presentation on theme: "Teacher educators: evolving identities? Paper presented at ICET World Assembly, July 2011 Dr Margaret McCulloch, Dr Fiona Patrick, Dr Mike Carroll, Dr."— Presentation transcript:

1 Teacher educators: evolving identities? Paper presented at ICET World Assembly, July 2011 Dr Margaret McCulloch, Dr Fiona Patrick, Dr Mike Carroll, Dr Robert Doherty

2 The presentation will … present early findings from a project which seeks to identify key issues relating to ideologies and beliefs relating to teacher education held by colleagues currently working in the field in Scotland locate the project in a global, national and local context, in relation to both policy and research consider ‘developing identities’ at a personal, institutional and conceptual level

3 The context global: –changes in the political contexts which have impacted on perceptions of ‘the teacher’ – have led to an ongoing debate around teacher education – how, what, where, why? –moves to locate Initial Teacher Education in Higher Education institutions; mergers with colleges; implications for role of staff in HE context (Middleton, 2005; Robinson and McMillan, 2006) –but little research before the mid-1990s into teacher education/teacher educators (Murray and Harrison, 2008) –more recently, increasing research into the work and role of teacher educators, often from ‘the inside’ (Cochran-Smith, 2003, Korthagen et al, 2005)

4 The context national – UK –similar political issues as in the global context –in England and Wales teacher training (sic) is overseen by the UK government’s Department for Children, Schools and Families –different routes into teacher education through the HE route through school-centred ITT through the Fasttrack route (TDA, 2008) –resulting pressure on HEIs in England and Wales to demonstrate the importance of their role –the new role of ‘academic’ teacher educator, through mergers has led to research into induction and CPD of new teacher educators (Murray etc)

5 The context local – Scotland –General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) responsible for accrediting and overseeing teacher education programmes –currently the only route into teacher education is through university-based programmes –recent national review of teacher education (Donaldson, 2010) has affirmed this role while suggesting that other routes should be considered –review emphasised the role of all teachers in teacher education: ‘all teachers should see themselves as teacher educators and be trained in mentoring’ (Donaldson, 2010:73)

6 the research context ongoing research into the practice of teacher education, particularly at transition (eg Boyd and Harris 2010; Murray 2008; Swennen et al. 2008; McCulloch, 2009) ongoing research into the professional identities of educators in different contexts lack of research in the areas Donaldson was looking for – particularly linking TE to learning and attainment in schools (Menter et al 2010)

7 The contexts led to the questions … What are current teacher educators’ perceptions and beliefs about teacher education? How do they perceive and express their professional identities?

8 Outline of project two main strands: –to develop a typology of conceptions of teacher education –to develop the findings from previous research into the identity of novice teacher educators ethical considerations –advantages and dangers of ‘insider research’ (Goodson and Sikes, 2001; Sikes and Potts, 2008) data source –teacher educators currently working in the School of Education – approximately 40 volunteers

9 Questions arising from previous research … does the individual situate her/his professional identity within HE (with all its connotations of research/scholarship) or does s/he feel it is more closely related to ‘being a teacher’? is identity located as being a professional within the discipline of ‘education’, or is it located within the discipline of their first degree, or curricular area of specialism? what are the factors which impact on the individual’s sense of credibility/confidence

10 Important factors identified from previous research which impacted on how identity was formed and expressed … career path – including sector in which they taught, and engagement with post- graduate study groups which they join on entering HE, or with whom they subsequently mix (see Wenger, 1998; Becher and Trowler,2001; Trowler and Cooper, 2002; Trowler, 2009) role – university teacher/lecturer personal beliefs and values about education and learning and ‘the good teacher’

11 Career histories: case study A Principal teacher in a secondary school, seconded to ITE college, post made permanent at time of merger – university lecturer joined department with specific curricular focus undertook MPhil and then PhD engaged in research projects and ITE latterly, a management role research and teaching mainly within the curricular area

12 Career histories: case study B a ‘happy classroom teacher’, seconded to various local authority staff development posts seconded to ITE college, then permanent post just around the time of merger – university teacher joined department with specific disciplinary focus no subsequent post-graduate study minor involvement in research projects recently involved in programme developments which have required curriculum specialists to teach ‘educational studies’ courses

13 Career histories: case study C two years’ experience of school teaching after qualification returned to university as a PhD student, became Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) after 5 years of teaching in HE, now ‘associate tutor’ educational studies is the focus of most teaching, rather than disciplinary area

14 How identities were expressed

15 A A B B C C

16 teacher educator identity TE identity as ‘hybrid’ - ‘Often at conferences or working with other agencies it’s the research role that takes precedence. But you could be in a management context, where it is the management aspects of identity that come to the fore – as a manager of a department rather than teacher educator…. You are seldom in a context where it is purely teacher education, except at work.’ (A)

17 teacher educator identity ‘To be absolutely honest, I think the terminology of primary teacher (as a description of B’s role) is inaccurate now, but it’s still instinctively what I say… I know I’m much more than what people perceive as a primary teacher and I know I’m not that, I wouldn’t want to be that now, but still think for my inherent belief in myself and credibility to a degree with the students, I still think that my role is primary teacher.’ (B)

18 The role of ‘academic’ in teacher education – questions of hierarchy? ‘… I don’t see myself as a strictly academic person in the way that other people in the university would [see themselves]. I still see myself as an academic within the role of teacher educator, and I’m not sure I would want to lose that.’ (A) ‘Maybe I have a problem that I’m not sure … … that I really really believe in my own mind that I’m actually in Higher Education’ (B) ‘Suppose it’s my own disbelief that they haven’t found me out yet, to be honest I think that’s what it is. My own perception of a university lecturer is not me.’ (B)

19 Confidence – from where? ‘It is my own insecurity, I’d be the first to say, because I probably have a lot more knowledge than I actually think I have, so I can sympathise with students who feel insecure, … when I start I realise I know more than I think I know, because just having worked in this environment, that’s a huge difference between being in a primary classroom. I don’t think you realise how much you have absorbed, I know so much more than I did 10 years ago, and so much more than I would know if I’d stayed in a primary classroom for the past ten years … about education’ (B)

20 Effect of changes in demands – teaching ‘education’ rather than ‘curricular area’ management perspective - ‘they can worry enormously and become very anxious… feel as if they’ve been taken away from their subject area, and it can cause hurt.. people can feel quite vulnerable… (A) ‘I tend … (not to) push it to the theoretical side, but tend to bring it back to my comfort zone, the practical application of it, and that’s not what it should be. I should be challenging them more to the theoretical side but that’s my own insecurities because I don’t want it to go in a direction that I’m not sure I can take it to – because I don‘t have the reading.’ (B) but – a real sense of personal development through having to teach the new courses

21 Evolving identities as a result of a range of factors … personal –pastoral role seen as key and ‘different’ institutional –influences of policy leading to fundamental changes in programme rationale, content, and requirements on staff –diminishing workforce – implications for practice conceptual –changes in practice lead to reflection on role, beliefs and values –individual notions of identity not well-formed

22 References Becher, T. & Trowler, P. (2001) Academic Tribes and Territories: intellectual enquiry and the culture of disciplines (2nd ed.). Buckingham: SRHE and OUP. Boyd, P & Harris, K. (2010) ‘Becoming a university lecturer in teacher education; expert school teachers reconstructing their pedagogy and identity’ in Professional Development in Education, vol. 36, no.1 pp Cochran-Smith, M. (2003) ‘Learning and unlearning: the education of teacher educators’ in Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 19, pp. 5–28. Goodson, I. & Sikes, P. (2001) Life history research in educational settings: learning from lives. Buckingham: Open University Press. Korthagen, F., Loughran, J. and Lunenberg, M. (2005) ‘Teaching teachers - studies into the expertise of teacher educators: an introduction to this theme issue’ in Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 21 pp. 107–115. McCulloch, M. (2009) From school to faculty: stories of transition into teacher education. EdD thesis, University of Glasgow. Available at (last accessed ).http://theses.gla.ac.uk/1273/ Menter, I., Hulme, M., Elliot, D and Lewin, J. (2010) Literature review on teacher education in the 21 st century available at (last accessed ).http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/325663/ pdf Middleton, S. (2005) ‘Disciplining researchers: teacher educators, professional identity, and New Zealand’s first Research Assessment Exercise.’ Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Glamorgan, September Murray, J. (2008) ‘Teacher educators’ induction into Higher Education: work-based learning in the micro-communities of teacher education’ in European Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 31, no. 2, pp Murray, J. & Harrison, J. (2008) 'Editorial' in European Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 109 – 115. Robinson, M. & McMillan, W. (2006) ‘Who teaches the teachers? Identity, discourse and policy in teacher education’ in Teaching and Teacher Education, vol. 22, no. 3, pp

23 References (cont’d) Sikes, P. & Potts, A. (eds.) (2008) Researching education from the inside. Abingdon: Routledge. Swennen, A, Volman, M. and van Essen, M. (2008) 'The development of the professional identity of two teacher educators in the context of Dutch teacher education', European Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 169 – 184. Trowler, P. (2009) ‘Beyond epistemological essentialism: academic tribes in the twentyfirst century’ in C. Kreber (ed.) The university and its disciplines: teaching and learning within and beyond disciplinary boundaries, pp. 181 – 195. New York and Abingdon: Routledge Trowler, P. and Cooper, A. (2002) ‘Teaching and Learning Regimes: implicit theories and recurrent practices in the enhancement of teaching and learning through educational development programmes’ in Higher Education Research and Development, vol. 21, no. 3, pp Wenger, E. (1998) Communities of Practice: learning, meaning and identity. Cambridge: CUP.


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