Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Comparing Transitions: the Professional Development of Teacher Educators (#ecer2009)
Live blog capture of a session by Vivienne Griffiths* (Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom); Stavroula Kaldi (University of Thessaly, Greece); Simon Thompson* (University of Sussex, United Kingdom)
Comparing Transitions: the Professional Development of Teacher Educators in the UK and Greece
Most teacher educators in the UK move into universities have a dual transition: first the move from school to university teaching; second is the transition from school teacher to academic and researcher. Often there is a poor induction into academia and teacher educators often have a lower status in universities. This is not so common in other EU countries, for example, in Greece most teacher educators come from a research background.
Case study approach. Looked at the previous experience of UK teacher educators. Most had extensive school experience most were working on Masters level (or higher) qualifications which they started after arriving at university. Only one had managed to get promotion in university. (Contrast with coming from promoted positions in schools.)
In comparison, in Greece, only one teacher educator had come from school. There is an expectation that they have PhDs and school experience is seen as a requirement rather than compulsory. However, in Greece, tenure is very difficult to secure - some working for ten years or more on temporary contracts.
The issue of tenure is becoming more of an issue with UK teacher Educators with more being employed on temporary contracts. Greek educators were expected to be leading major research projects and their teaching was largely supervising research students. UK teacher educators were more typically involved in direct teaching and administration.
Skills and Strengths: Greek teacher educators valued theoretical knowledge and research skills whereas UK educators valued pedagogical experience and practitioner perspectives.
Challenges and Barriers: UK educators had low confidence in their research skills and felt the pedagogical skills they had were not valued by the university. Greek researchers found there was a lack of formal support both in terms of research mentors and administrative support (although there may be informal support.)
Buddying, structured induction, a balance of teaching and research and more funding. The study indicates the importance of: collaborative research; the need for better integration of research and teaching; mentors modelling research practice; strong institutional support for research as well as valuing teacher education; an active research culture.
Do teacher educators have to leave their teacher identity behind, to become researchers, in order to progress in the university.