Transitions from expert students to emerging teachers

Year: 2017

Author: Renwick, Kerry

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In a number of countries including Australia and Canada pre-service teachers/ teacher candidates complete their studies in specialised undergraduate programs. Subsequently they come to the teacher education programs with an undergraduate degree and the expertise of being a student. Within twelve to twenty-four months they are called upon to transition into teachers of that specialisation.

In the process of becoming a professional educator, teacher candidates face many challenges including shifting their understandings about the work of teaching and developing their professional identity. Through this process teacher candidates gain both technical skills and knowledge of the profession but a question remains about their understanding of teacher professionalism.

Research has shown that reflective practices, inclusive of a deliberate and conscious set of dispositions, can improve the way in which teachers are able to utilise their experiences, and reflexivity to enhance their practice. Providing opportunities for teacher candidates to explore the complex processes that underscore successful practice within their teacher preparation program has been shown to be important for their long-term satisfaction in their preparation for teaching and their ongoing professional confidence.

This paper reports on a research project that followed a group of teacher candidates through their twelve-month Bachelor of Education program in Canada. The project focused on understanding of how experiences within a teacher education program impact on and support teacher candidates when they transition from expert students to emerging teachers. Findings provided insights into how teacher candidates were able to consider the dilemmas, challenges and achievements faced within the program and informed their subsequent teaching practices.