Real World Initial Teacher Education Partnerships and Teacher Identity Formation

Year: 2016

Author: Curtis, Elizabeth, Tangen, Donna, Beutel, Denise

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Learning to be a teacher is seen to be just as important as learning how to teach. This transformation in self-perception necessitates the development of a professional teacher identity that commences on entry to initial teacher education (ITE). Developing a robust teacher identity promotes improved quality of teaching and links to an increased likelihood for early career teachers to remain in the profession. Pre-service teachers enter initial teacher education with pre-conceived and often idealised images of teaching and of teachers and who they want to be, or not be, as teachers. Tensions between these idealised views of teaching and the realities of the classroom can lead to disillusionment with teaching and burnout. Strong, coherent school-university partnerships have been identified as critical in creating powerful and more effective teacher education programs and in facilitating the development of strong, positive teacher identities. This paper reports on a qualitative case study conducted with pre-service teachers, teachers, principals and directors of sites involved in a school-university partnership. The partners are committed to providing first-year pre-service teachers with an early exposure to relationships with practising professionals in education sites to support them in developing their teacher identity. In particular the paper reports on a one-day conference held for ITE pre-service teachers enrolled in their first year of a Bachelor of Education or Master of Teaching course. The conference was organised by the authors of this paper who invited speakers from outside the university who all are currently employed as professionals (teachers, principals, directors, deputy principals) in schools and early childhood sites to provide ITE pre-service teachers with real world understandings of the teaching profession and what will be expected of them when they enter schools for their first Field Experience placements. The value of real world connections to school personnel facilitated through this conference and the ensuing positive impact on pre-service teachers’ developing professional teacher identify will be discussed.