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Professionally Speaking: Qualitative Research and the Professions Professional Practice – beyond restructuring and a merger. Using qualitative research.

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Presentation on theme: "Professionally Speaking: Qualitative Research and the Professions Professional Practice – beyond restructuring and a merger. Using qualitative research."— Presentation transcript:

1 Professionally Speaking: Qualitative Research and the Professions Professional Practice – beyond restructuring and a merger. Using qualitative research to evaluate professional teaching practice in a 3 year pre-service teacher education degree Stephanie White

2 Introduction  College and University to merge in 2007  Changes to the programmes offered by the College were immanent - cutting out the first professional practice for Year 1 students therefore reducing total PP from 27 weeks to 24 weeks  Capture professional practice as it stood at the end of 2006 by acknowledging and considering critically the professional teaching practice component in the College’s three year primary pre-service teacher degree  Evaluation of professional practice - what we value and why we should keep it

3 The practice of professional practice  Professional Studies is a course which teaches theory-based principles of how and what to teach  Professional Practice is a course that allows the art of putting what students have learnt into practice in real classrooms with real children  These 2 courses are co-requisites and must be passed together  Students work with an associate teacher for up to 5 weeks each placement and take increasing responsibility for the class including planning, teaching, assessing and evaluating for up to 15 days in their final placement.

4 Professional Practice - 2006  Professional Practice for our 3 year primary teaching degree for a standard student looked like this up until the end of 2006: Year 1 student – 3 weeks mid year - 4 weeks October Year 2 student – 5 weeks May - 5 weeks September Year 3 student – 5 weeks March - 5 weeks July

5 Why Professional Practices?  Provides student teachers with opportunities to: - observe experienced teachers in their numerous roles - plan, teach, assess and evaluate in authentic settings - refine their teaching strategies and techniques - experience the life of a school outside the classroom - manage a sustained learning programme and environment - develop other skills and interests within the school community  Develop excellent teachers through the provision of high quality theory, research and practice – College’s mission  Professional Practice is one of 5 key areas to be included in pre- service teacher education- Teacher Education Manifesto (Draft 2006. ASTE)

6 Literature- NZ and Australia  NZ Teachers Council states at least 14 weeks are necessary, but preferably 20 or more weeks in teacher education programes  Providers need to assure the quality of the placements by building successful relationships with schools  NZ Ministry of Education’s review of initial teacher education summarises key points in relation to professional practice: - provides some of the most powerful learning for student teachers - one of the most rewarding aspects of initial teacher education (Kane, 2005) - essential component of learning to teach for student teachers, teacher educators and teachers in schools (Cameron& Baker, 2004)

7 Literature -continued  Successful completion of professional practice depends on the knowledge and skills of, and the quality of the interactions among, the student teacher, the associate teacher and the visiting lecturer (MOE,2006)  Partnership building with schools and school -based teacher education training are being investigated in parts of Australia as part of University training (Education Review, 2006)  Bachelor of Learning Management (BLM) of CQU builds on strong partnerships with the teaching profession with a strong link between theory and practice and an authentic partnership between schools, employing authorities and the University  Teaching schools provides students with extended opportunities within that school for a year (Turner, 2006)

8 The evaluation  Open-ended schedule sent to 15 lecturers who teach Professional Practice asking for responses based around PP and their perceived comments about its place in our pre-service teacher education degree  Discussion group initiated with 9 lecturers who teach third year PP and had just completed a round of visits in schools  Interviewed 2 groups of students from second and third year about their thoughts on the perceived value of PP and how their practical experiences assist them in becoming teachers  Responses from each of these were analysed through identification of key themes

9 Findings- lecturers’ perspective  Practical teaching component at the forefront of their philosophies about pre-service teacher education  Enjoyed interacting with a variety of school communities and their staff, principals and children and observing classrooms in practice  Prepared students for professional practice by providing them with a platform of :academic credibility, educational capacity, enlightened implementation of theory to practice and a spirit of educational inquiry  Placed very high value on professional practice with emphasis on linking the theory and ideas taught in professional studies to the students’ teaching experiences  Enjoyed supporting, coaching and mentoring students through the professional aspects of teaching  Enjoyed professional links to school communities and opportunities to keep up to date with teaching and learning initiatives in schools

10 Voices from the heart  “Having a chance to take risks and experiment is important for a student’s growth and self discovery. When completing sustained teaching placements with real children, student teachers learn to become better learners and far better teachers.”  “ It is the real world learning that is so significant and the application of theory and classroom learning to practice. Students see that the College requirements make sense and begin to see the real purpose of planning, organisation, evaluation and assessment. It enables them to understand the richness, complexity, toughness and relentenessness of classrooms so they can realistically question if teaching is right for them.”

11 Findings- students’ perspective  The things they valued most about PP were : being able to experience a range of teaching styles and techniques, observe a variety of teachers and programmes, be involved in a mixture of schools with varying resources, children, communities, gain confidence and trial different strategies and methods of teaching  The students expressed that PP helped them to : experience all that goes with being a teacher, putting what they have learnt into practice, take on responsibilities outside the classroom, and gain confidence in sustaining a real learning programme under the guidance of an experienced teacher  Other key themes about professional practice were the preparation it gives you for a teaching career, feeling comfortable in staffrooms and engaging with different adults, developing their philosophies around teaching based on their practical experiences

12 The students’ last words  “ Professional practice is THE most important part of the training”  “It is the main part of the degree – the practical component is the only chance we have to actually practice what we have learnt”  “The first practice gives you the chance to see what being a in a real classroom is like- waiting until the end of the year could be a waste of a year if you find you don’t like it!”  “ The kind of teacher I am now (at graduation) and the philosophy I have about teaching and learning comes from my experiences in the classroom on professional practice- what would I be without that?”

13 What we value and why we should keep it  Professional teaching experiences are vital to pre-service teacher education and possibly the most important component  Maintaining integrity, reflecting critically and providing authentic, positive practical teaching experiences for student teachers should always be at the forefront of our decisions around pre-service teacher education  Ensuring positive outcomes are prevalent for associate teachers and their children  Year 1 students were allocated a mentor teacher in place of the first mid year professional practice in 2007 and spent one afternoon a week for up to 6 weeks as a non-threatening, gentle introduction to life in the classroom and life as a teacher

14 Personal response  Discussions need to continue around professional practice in our pre- service primary teaching degree  There is value in researching and evaluating professional practice as it stands, to remind us in later years of the key issues raised by students and lecturers at this time  Evaluations like this should continue to challenge our thinking and encourage us to reflect on how we deliver teacher education now and for the future - especially in terms of professional practice  Evaluating professional practice 5 years on from this 2007 merger between 2 different tertiary institutions, will enable us to compare what we as lecturers and students value and the impact the merging has had

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