Finding spaces for educators to practice collaboration, idea creation and exchange in Initial Teacher Education programs: What else is possible?

Year: 2017

Author: Lee, Ingrid

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Higher education institutional accountability and sustainability has influenced the ways idea creation and innovation exchange are practiced by Pre Service Teacher Educators (PTEs). These tensions for PTEs in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs are arguably affected by factors of government and institutional policy, bureaucratisation and new managerialism (MacLaren, 2012), globalization, mediatisation and technology phenomenon (Crosling, Nair, & Vaithilingam, 2015) as well as Neo-liberal economic and socio political reform (Ingleby, 2015). Meanwhile, the expectations of PTEs appear to increase as education and innovation policies of universities, schools, community and government demand more than just the preparation of skilled new teachers (Harris & Ammermann, 2016; Silius-Ahonen, 2013). A consequence of this discourse has resulted in a standardization of policy and a privileging of certain types of knowledge, innovation and creativity. There is also evidence to suggest that the espoused rhetoric may not align with practices that are helpful in promoting innovation and creativity in higher education settings. MacLaren (2012) continues the debate, elucidating that universities can address issues such as increased competition, lack of risk taking or standardisation of curricula by developing collegial communities or practice to provide opportunities for idea creation and exchange. Research by Silius-Ahonen (2013) and Kandiko (2012) concur with MacLaren's view, also suggesting spaces and opportunities for collaboration.

As an upshot of this debate is a focus of my doctoral study, which explores how PTEs who work in Australian universities conceptualise the opportunities and engagement in collaborative practice, creativity and innovation. The aim is to consider the experiences of these educators as a way to deepen understandings about relationships between collaboration, pedagogy, teaching and learning in ITE programs. The data for this study were gathered via Mixed Qualitative Methods, involving both an online questionnaire and semi-structured interviews from PTE's in various Australian locations.

In this presentation I will tease out some initial findings including vignettes and anecdotes of PTEs' voices with a view to understand how they find spaces to practice collaboration, idea creation and exchange in Initial Teacher Education programs. In particular the emphasis during my presentation will be to engage in a practical discursive collaborative activity with colleagues. The intention is to seek feedback about the emergent data while exploring the notion of 'What else is possible?' and at the same time considering how universities prioritise space, time and place for collaboration.