Initial preservice teacher education is undertaken predominantly in the university context with blocks (typically) of time in schools/educational settings under the guidance and support of a classroom teacher.
There is a small level of payment to the teacher for undertaking the role.
Preservice teachers are expected to “teach” a fractional load with the site-based teacher educator’s support.
Initially -What is the emotional impact of problematic preservice teacher on a school-based teacher educator?
Kinds and range of emotions
Emerging - through a reflexive stance, the “changed” researcher and my place in the academy (Gregson & Rose) helped me read the text through a different lens…….the duality (Luke) of teacher as outsider
Asked more questions of myself and of the literature – then went back to the participants!
The interpretation of texts ‘depends on the multiplicity of subjectivities that accompany their readers’ ... and the analysis is the consequence of the ‘specific biographical, ideological and professional concerns of the author’ (Weiner, 1994 p. 82)
‘ by studying and interpreting self-narratives, the researcher can access not only the individual identity and its systems of meaning but also the teller’s culture and social world’ (Lieblich et al., 1998 p. 9).
Yvonne : No teacher worth their salt would fail to familiarise themselves with their students' past records so as to provide optimum learning opportunities & enhance positive results. Uni students should be no different. It is unprofessional to believe that having access to preservice teacher's prac reports would prejudice teachers’ judgement.-
Renee recalls university staff saying there was no need, no need for them to come back. And I really wanted them to.
Natalie’s preservice teacher did get a supervisory visit and she attempted to outline her concerns to the university lecturer but felt she was treated poorly by her.
“ she was aware of it but she very short, like she was virtually half out of the door while I was talking to her. So she wasn’t that interested in what I had to say about him. She didn’t want to hear it; she didn’t want to hear anything bad about him”.
Final Outcome - most teachers never find out what is the final outcome for the PST – unless the “network” informs them
W: How do you feel you are positioned by the university in the program? Bryce: The uni dumps preservice teachers on us, there isn't a lot of consultation, they are just churning through their graduates, it's just a business, the quality isn't important, it's the quantity of teachers they can push through their program.
W: How would you want to be positioned in the program? Bryce: Be valued, have the uni have consequences for preservice teachers that are not up to standard.
W: Do you feel that the university sees you as an important part of the preservice teaching program and how do they let you know?
Bryce: I think the uni thinks we are important, because without us they wouldn't get all their students through their program. Whether that equates to professional courtesy? I think they just expect that we will take them on. How do I know that they appreciate us?? Well they send us a nice letter at the end of the year. And they pay us. But they do not support their preservice teachers in the school; they might come and see them once in 4 weeks, so there is not a lot of involvement or support in that area.
I definitely feel more of an outsider, rather than insider, of the Uni community. Rather like an out-sourced factory worker! The only contact I have is usually once a year for an inservice of school-based teacher educators at the beginning of each year at the Uni (after school)-Hasn't happened this year. We are not even notified personally by Uni of when the lecturer is to visit to observe the pre-service teacher (Just an e-mail would be enough). Last year, the observing lecturer 'didn't have time' to discuss the pre-service teacher (Grad Dip) with me following the observation session- Just a 'How's it going?' would have been nice.
With regards to my failed student, I remember feeling very pressured & 'at fault' when called to the office one morning (by the Assistant Principal/Co-ordinator of the time) to find my mature-age pre-service student crying. I was asked to sit down & 'fix up the problem' with her - with the obvious implication that I was the problem. Seeing that I had gone out of my way, over the previous week, to develop a positive relationship because she often showed signs of being stressed & worried in the classroom environment, I felt totally unsupported & needing a good cry myself! I hope I will be more assertive next time.
W: Where would you like to be positioned by the university?
Yvonne: we should be more in the loop with [the university] and … I would like pracs to be portrayed more positively by Uni staff. Pre-service teachers should view them as chances to try out new methods and skills & 'show off' within a safe & supportive environment. Unfortunately, I feel that many see pracs as 'artificial', 'hard work' & just another 'test' to be passed/endured.
And poor communication is an area where the university lets itself down -
Outsiders or insiders? Marginalised or othered?
W: How do you see yourself positioned in terms of the preservice teacher program?
Alison: To answer your questions I think that mentoring/supervising teachers are positioned outside of teacher education . On many occasions mentoring teachers are not given the practicum information booklet until halfway through the practicum and are only given a weeks notice (if that) to prepare for a pre-service teacher . Mentors/supervising teachers are on the whole are left out of the planning and timing of practicum experience.
I really feel that we are the others and the unknown variable in teacher education. How to change this I am not sure but I think greater communication and inclusion would be a start. ... [her university] does have a practicum experience committee where primary and secondary school representatives included. Before I went on leave I was the secondary school representative on this committee and I also was a part of many working parties investigation the relationship between [Uni] and the schools. Whilst being a member of these committees I felt my concerns were valued and included. Even though I had been a mentor a number of times, I don't think I would have felt included in the teacher education process had I not been on these committees. Before being on these committees I often wondered what the UNI was teaching the students and felt it would be good to know what the pre-service teacher had covered at UNI so that I could contextualise my information and feedback.
How does the new lens help me make sense of the text?
The process - program, placement, assessment - that is in operation in relation to fieldwork in teacher education is typically not of teachers’ making – teachers are rarely invited to participate in the development of preservice programs – but they have to operate within the program as designed by university staff.
SBTE are subjected to a discourse that is originally not of their creation. The supervision process/discourse is constructed by the university. By accepting the preservice teacher into their classroom, they are subject to (and consequently construct) a discourse that in fact positions them as less powerful/powerless.
Alison, Bryce and Lyndall – mobilise other discourses to ‘refuse’ the positioning by the university. Bryce and Lyndall take on the identity of gate keeper in what they see as professional responsibility to assert the importance of their practitioner knowledge, contesting the hierarchical place of the university.
Larry has developed a very strong long-term working relationship with his university supervisor so much so that he sees himself as an equal partner in the school-based component of preservice teacher education
It could be argued that school-based teacher educators have the right to be recognised as full participants in constructing knowledge about their experiences, their sense of self and that their individual and collective representations be visible (Ellsworth, 1994, p. 10) rather than the current marginalised silence.
A feminist post-structuralist lens allowed me to develop deeper understandings of the multiple subjectivities at play in these particular sites of teacher education. Findings provide the impetus for university staff and teachers working together to develop shared understandings of discourse and identity construction in relation to preservice teacher education.
By speaking about and recognising the effects of marginalisation of teachers involved in preservice teacher education, I hope I am contributing to processes that can interrupt such discourses with positive outcomes for teachers and preservice teachers.
It means I have to work to ensure our policies reflect these findings.
- SBTE involved in developing field-based programs; developing support materials and assessment documentation;
- If SBTE have a “difficult time” then the university will ensure they are supported through the process with follow-up support after the event – can not afford to lose their support for a whole range of reasons.