Being and becoming TESOL educators: Embodied learning via practicum

Year: 2016

Author: Andrew, Martin, Razoumova, Oksana

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper reports on a qualitative study of the practicum learning experiences of twenty teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages enrolled in a Masters of TESOL at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, where the teaching practicum. The practicum comprises 22 days of placement including seven observations and 15 days of planned, supervised teaching, and its unit, Professional Practice, is a core course. The study draws on current thinking about the value of learning beyond the classroom, the importance of assessment to be flexible and not prescriptive, and the role of reflective practice in teacher education and the viability of the practicum portfolio as an album of embodied on-site performances. The enquiry aims to identify the types of learning that occur during practicum placements in terms of enhancing learners’ knowledge and skills, increasing their self-reliance and self-confidence and contributing to their growth as both educators and as individuals. We argue that both the professional and social identities of practice teachers are impacted. ‘Becoming’ a teacher, Graham and Phelps (2003) wrote, is a multi-faceted process involving individuals intellectually, socially, morally, emotionally. Utilising key documents from a portfolio of authentic narratives as data – reflective diaries and surveys – the researchers create narratives of ‘being and becoming’ which foreground the salient themes previously mentioned. At the same time, the reconstituted narratives chart ESL practice teachers’ 'interpretations and reflections’ (Mattsson, Rorrison & Eilertsen, 2011). We report on their realisations of their agency as practitioners, their perceptions of their increased professional competence and the value of applying theoretical learning from the classroom to their professional practice. These results suggest the importance of teacher identity in the process of planning, implementing and evidencing practicum work. ReferencesGraham, A. & Phelps, R. (2003). Being a teacher: Developing teacher identity and enhancing practice through metacognitive and reflective learning processes. The Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 27(2), 11-24.Mattsson, M., Eilertsen T.V. & Rorrison, D. (Eds.) (2011). A Practicum Turn in Teacher Education. Rotterdam/Boston/Taipei: Sense Publishers.