Confusion in the prac: What role does the classroom teacher play during the professional experience?

Year: 2015

Author: Ambrosetti, Angelina

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Learning to teach is a complex process. Classroom based teachers are increasingly being called upon to accept pre-service teachers into their classroom for practice teaching. Thus, the role classroom based teachers’ play within the process of learning to teach has become increasingly important and has the potential to significantly impact the success or failure of the professional placement. In Australia, the classroom based teacher who hosts a pre-service teacher is referred to as a mentor, supervisor or cooperating teacher. Each term is unique in its definition, but within pre-service teacher education, all are used at one time or another to describe the role of the classroom teacher as a field expert. Within the teacher education literature the terms mentor, supervisor, and cooperating teacher are often used interchangeably without any notable differences in meaning. Therefore, the use of such varied terminology has the potential to cause confusion and misunderstanding of both the approach taken and roles played during a placement. This may be specifically the case when a school or classroom based teacher is dealing with more than one university. This paper begins by defining the various terminology used to describe the classroom-based teacher during the professional practice. The results of a pilot study will be presented in order to examine the types of roles that the classroom teachers undertake and the practices they use whilst hosting a pre-service teacher. Using the results of the research presented, a picture of the approach that classroom based teachers typically use will be offered. The paper concludes with the proposal that a classroom teacher typically uses a combination of mentoring and supervisory practices, therefore using a unique blend that is specific to the context of pre-service teacher education professional practice.