Preservice Teachers Transforming Professional Pathways: coursework & developing sense of professional self for ethical and professional conduct confidence

Year: 2018

Author: Babaeff, Robyn, Clarke, Sharryn, Keary, Anne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Leadership in early childhood is observed to be at an early point with necessary changes needed to “develop and empower … professionals with confidence” (Sims, Forrest, Semann, & Slattery, 2015, p.164).  Essentially as preservice teachers (PSTs) graduate it is anticipated confidence and knowledge is present for relevant decision-making, problem solving, teamwork and relationship collaborations.  Expectations such as these are regulated requirements for teacher registration in accordance with the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) through the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT).  Furthermore, the professional qualities are a necessity for the early childhood code of ethics as established through Early Childhood Australia (ECA).
This qualitative study has been designed to investigate third year undergraduate students’ developing insights of their professional self-in-motion. Through PSTs’ ongoing reflexivity and coursework participation, based on professionalism and ethics, the pathway of conceptualising a professional sense of self as teachers in early childhood education is made available through a variety of workshop and placement-based learning experiences.  The study investigates changing perceptions of the professional self. Beliefs and values connect with professional action (McCrea, 2016), to interrelate with policy and specified standards for early childhood teachers. Establishing confidence for professional action and decision-making are essential attributes of PSTs’ reflections for this study. 
Data generation progressed over 12 weeks to include initial deliberations on commencing the unit, midway, and final comparatives in relation to perceptions, attributes and conscious actions of professionalism. Visual-imagery representation and reflections of professional placement experiences in connection with workshop material have also been gathered to insight personal perspectives. Data generation is finalised through focus group interviews, deliberately unstructured to facilitate PSTs self-expression and content direction choices.  Lecturer-researcher narrative contextualises the data through reflexivity of workshop activity.
Data analysis correlates generated data from PSTs with workshop outcome aims, and the related governed requirements for professional conduct (VIT) and ethics (ECA).  The discussion provides (i) a critical examination of the data and (ii) reflexivity for the connections and transforming of workshop materials to support student autonomy and sense of self in professional attributes and (iii) discuss future developments of this research project- Graduates sense of professional self in teaching action.
McCrea, N.L. (2015). Leading and managing early childhood settings: Inspiring people, places and practices.  Port Melbourne: Cambridge University press
Sims, M., Forrest, R., Semann, A. & Slattery, C. (2015).  Conceptions of early childhood leadership: driving new professionalism? International Journal of Leadership in Education, 18(2), 149-166