In 2016-17, MU Department of Education introduced a teacher education specialism into the M Ed programme, aimed at new teacher educators, working part-time or full-time within the continuum of teacher education. Modules within the specialism focused on quality teaching and learning, teacher education policy and developing as a teacher educator. This paper focuses on the experiences of participants in the module “From Teacher to Teacher Educator” and seeks to understand how the module impacted on the development of their knowledge, practices and identities.
There are three aspects to this study’s theoretical framework; who are teacher educators, what is the knowledge base, and how does identity develop? These aspects are conceived as interlinked within the study as the development of one potentially has an impact on the others e.g. as knowledge develops, it can impact on both practice and identity.
Teacher educators are defined as “all those who have a formal active role in the facilitation of professional learning by student teachers and teachers” including “workplace-based or university-based” (Boyd & White 2017, p. 126). The knowledge base of teacher educators is defined as “theoretical, pedagogical and practical knowledge” of the professional community (Lunenberg, Dengerink & Korthagen 2014, p. 6) while the third is grounded in Wenger’s (Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity 1998) connection between identity development and practice.
The research is located in an interpretive, constructivist paradigm and captures the development of the participants upon completion of the module and then after a year had passed. Date gathered included a reflective paper submitted at the end of the module and an on-line questionnaire completed one year later. Reflective papers and open questions from the questionnaire were thematically coded and summary statistics were generated for the closed questions.
Most participants were part-time teacher educators. Findings include an increased capacity for reflective practice, integrating theory and practice, and greater confidence in having professional conversations. There was an extended understanding of the work of the teacher educator that allowed participants to embrace the teacher educator identity for themselves. What has also emerged is the significance of ongoing access to a learning community in order to maintain some capacities. Some reported that aspects of their development were more difficult to sustain beyond the duration of the module e.g. knowing what to read, having others to discuss the literature with, opportunities to practice skills in a safe space. It raises the issue for all who are committed to the development of teacher educators: how do those who are part-time teacher educators access ongoing professional learning support within communities?